George Bey III
Standing by excavations Author: Ken Seligson
2022

George Bey III

Archaeologist

protecting community and landscape through archaeology

meet george

George Bey, PhD, holds the Chisholm Chair at Millsaps College. He is a Maya Archaeologist who has been carrying out fieldwork since 1984 in the tropical eco-systems of Yucatan, Mexico. He sees archaeology as a powerful tool for supporting cultural heritage and biological sustainability. To make this vision a reality, he and his colleagues created the Kaxil Kiuic Biocultural Reserve, 4500 acres of protected dry tropical forest. As president, he supports programs from excavation to community reforestation and jaguar conservation. Bey is dedicated to understanding the rise and fall of the maya civilization while working with surrounding contemporary maya communities and others.

protecting community and landscape through archaeology
Nominated by: Joe Rohde FN'10
Class of 2022 Location USA
Ben Ringle, Tomas Gallareta, and George Bey at Uxmal
Ben Ringle, Tomas Gallareta, and George Bey at Uxmal Author: National Geographic

I have contributed to our understanding of the rise and fall of Maya civilization, especially the Maya of northern Yucatan, and have shown how archaeology can be used to create a model for sustaining the dry tropical forest and cultural heritage of the region. Our research shows that culture in the northern Maya area began as early as the southern lowlands, and that monumental architecture and social complexity have roots as early as 1000 BC, almost a millennium earlier than previously thought. Our work at Kiuic has provided some of the most detailed information ever recovered from the abandonment of the so-called Maya collapse around 1000 AD. Discovering abandonment at the site of Stairway to Heaven, along with evidence of major monuments at Kiuic which was abandoned while under construction, is giving us a level of understanding of the collapse previously unknown.

“By being a part of the community, together we can conduct research and education that will best serve the needs of the local Maya communities as well as the tropical forest.”

- George Bey
Ben Ringle, Tomas Gallareta, and George Bey at Yaxhom
Ben Ringle, Tomas Gallareta, and George Bey at Yaxhom Author: Takeshi Inomata

By helping to create the 4500-acre Kaxil Kiuic biocultural reserve where the site of Kiuic is being used to study and sustain the surrounding biology of the reserve, we offer a new model. The surrounding natural environment is preserved along with the cultural resources. This has had a major impact on site preservation and sustainability.

Our work is based on the idea that exploration is becoming a permanent part of how we conserve community and landscape. Through our non-profit organization, we have established ourselves as a permanent member of the regional community. We work together with a wide range of stakeholders, from local villages to regional governments and global institutions. Our job in exploration is to make a varied set of programs and projects that are constantly expanding our understanding of biocultural relationships at a large scale. By being a part of the community, together we can conduct research and education that will best serve the needs of the local Maya communities as well as the tropical forest.

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