Millsaps professor on team earning NSF grant

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Millsaps College

Pictured from left are Dr. Tomas Gallareta Negron, Dr. William Ringle, and Dr. George Bey, professor of sociology and anthropology and Chisholm Foundation Chair of Arts and Sciences at Millsaps College.

Dr. George Bey, professor of sociology and anthropology and Chisholm Foundation Chair of Arts and Sciences at Millsaps College, is one of three researchers to receive a $286,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Millsaps College announced this week.

Joining Bey in receiving the grant are Dr. Tomas Gallareta Negron of Centro Yucatan-INAH in Merida, Yucatan (Mexico) and Millsaps Scholar of Maya Studies and Dr. William Ringle, chairman of the department of anthropology at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., a college press release said. Dr. Ringle serves as senior investigator on the NSF project.

Grant funding will be used for a three-year project to carry out research focused on understanding patterns of cultivation and architectural construction by the ancient Maya in the eastern Puuc Hills of Yucatan, Mexico, shaped the regionalism of the area during that time, the press release said.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us to research the agricultural sector of the ancient Maya, along with stone working and architectural construction, which will help us better define the growth of the region, its social hierarchies, and its political organization,” Bey said in the release. “This project will also help us strengthen our long-time collaboration with our partners in Mexico, and provide new opportunities for Mexican and American students to work together.”

A key component of the multi-year project will be the use of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR). LiDAR is a method of surveying that utilizes laser to provide high-resolution maps. The use of this survey method will aid researchers in determining features such as roads, architecture, and the layout of centers of activity. The terrain of Kaxil Kiuic, a 4,500-acre biocultural reserve owned by Millsaps College, will be completely mapped.

“Millsaps College has a long history of significant and important archaeological work in this area, and the introduction of the LiDAR technology will have an immediate and important impact on our work,” Bey noted.

The Puuc region of the Yucatan was densely settled between 600-950 A.D., but was later largely abandoned, the release noted. The region remains largely uninhabited to this day.