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Dr. George Bey Receives Prestigious Archaeological Institute of America Award


The Archaeological Institute of America has named Dr. George Bey, professor of anthropology and associate dean of international education at Millsaps College, as a recipient of the 2013 Best Practices in Site Preservation Award.

Dr. George Bey at Kaxil Kiuic, Yucatán, Mexico
Learn more about Millsaps archaeology in Yucatán

The AIA recognized Bey for his work at the College's 4,500-acre biocultural reserve, Kaxil Kiuic, in Yucatán, Mexico. Kaxil Kiuic, located in the Northern Maya lowlands in the Yucatán peninsula, was established in 2000 to carry out a sustained and integrated program of educationally centered research. The reserve is home to a number of Maya ruins, including the site of the Maya city of Kiuic.

"The award honors archaeologists and the institutions they work with, and it is as much an award for the College as for me," Bey said. "This is probably the most prestigious award in world archaeology recognizing ground-breaking success in archaeological site preservation. The efforts of Millsaps College, our donors, and our Mexican colleagues have created one of the most innovative archaeological projects in the world, and this award validates this effort."

Established by the AIA Conservation and Site Preservation Committee in 2011, the award identifies and promotes best practices in the interdisciplinary field of site preservation. Bey will attend an awards presentation at the AIA's 114th annual meeting in January in Seattle, Washington.

The Archaeological Institute praised Bey and his work in a news release, noting:

At Kaxil Kiuic, George Bey demonstrates that archaeology can not only be used to preserve cultural resources but also endangered environments. Bey spearheaded Millsaps College's efforts to purchase and develop 4,500 acres of land in Mexico that included turning the archaeological resources into a bio-cultural reserve. To preserve the cultural materials, Bey developed a method of conservation that focused on preserving standing architecture while monitoring and mitigating any damage that occurred to buildings through natural processes. The project's archaeological conservation goes hand-in-hand with the monitoring and preservation of the natural environment around the site. In keeping with the conservation ethos of the project, all archaeological materials uncovered by the project are processed in an environmentally-friendly lab facility. To promote the long-term preservation of the site, Bey implemented a number of educational outreach activities, including site visits and conservation training, for local communities. Through his efforts Bey has ensured the preservation of this important Maya population center.

The Best Practices in Site Preservation Award includes a $5,000 cash award intended to further the work of the recipients. The AIA Conservation and Site Preservation Committee was impressed by the high level of commitment to preservation, conservation, and public engagement shown and believes that Bey will inspire many others in the field of site preservation.

Click for a photo slideshow of Kaxil Kiuic

"Millsaps College is extremely proud of Dr. Bey and the extraordinary work he and his colleagues are doing in this one-of-a kind, interdisciplinary program in Yucatán," said S. Keith Dunn, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. "We're particularly pleased that the Archaeological Institute of America has recognized their work as best practice in site preservation. We congratulate Dr. Bey and express our gratitude to all faculty, staff and friends of the College who have played a role in supporting this wonderfully successful program."

The AIA Site Preservation Program emphasizes outreach, education and the spread of best practices in site preservation. The Institute also supports preservation projects in Belize, Cambodia, Chile, Cyprus, Ireland, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Montserrat, Syria, Turkey, the United States, and Peru. In addition to awards and grants, the program includes advocacy to stop the destruction of archaeological sites, presents outreach activities for children, maintains online resources for the public and professionals, and hosts workshops. All aspects of the program, including this award, are made possible through donations to the AIA.