Research

Located in the heart of the Puuc Hills, Millsaps College’s Kaxil Kiuic Biocultural Reserve conducts important research and education in archaeology, biology and conservation.  Our research program focuses on providing understanding about  the past and present, conserving the Puuc´s unique natural and cultural heritage and contributing to regional development by working with state and local governments, Puuc Maya communities and NGO´s.  Our programs are internationally recognized, and our partners include Mexico´s National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH), the University of Yucatan (UADY),  National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (SEMARNAT), C.I.C.Y., UNDP, USAID, U.S. Forest Service, National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation, Annenberg Foundation and the Nature Conservancy.

The Bolonchen Regional Archaeological Project (BRAP) has carried out archaeological research at Kiuic and the Puuc since 1999. BRAP is under the direction of Tomas Gallareta Negron (INAH/Millsaps) tomasgallareta@gmail.com, George J. Bey III (Millsaps) beygj@millsaps.edu and William M. Ringle (Davidson) biringle@davidson.edu.  The project includes survey, mapping and excavation between Labna, Huntichmul and Kiuic, extensive work at the site of Xocnaceh and more recently in the Yaxhom region of the northern Puuc. Millsaps supports a program of excavation at the site of Kiuic, located within the reserve, that focuses on both the urban core and the site’s periphery. A multi-disciplinary regional project, BRAP has changed our understanding of the rise of civilization in the Puuc region, as well as providing detailed knowledge of the socio-economic evolution of Classic Maya society. The scientific efforts of Millsaps College and INAH have been recently highlighted in the National Geographic documentary “Quest for the Lost Maya” (http://www.pbs.org/program/quest-lost-maya/).

Millsaps’ reserve undertakes a wide range of biological research projects providing important  information on the ecosystem of Kaxil Kiuic and the surrounding countryside.  Investigations are overseen by Millsaps Professor Markus Tellkamp tellkmp@millsaps.edu in coordination with Reserve Director James Callaghan kaxilkiuic@gmail.com and Conservation Management Advisor, Ricardo Pasos Enríquez crax@hotmail.com.

Biological projects range from studies of forest succession and key plant community dynamics, to the ecology and behavior of birds, butterflies, larvae and large mammals.  Dr. Markus Tellkamp conducts investigations on the natural history and annual cycles of birds, as well as the energetics of birds in the reserve’s seasonally dry forest. Since 2008 Tellkamp and his students have been monitoring mammal populations with a regional system of motion sensor cameras. This work has expanded to now include the Millsaps Puuc Jaguar Conservation program, a regional project that protects the highly threatened jaguar and its habitat in Yucatán State´s Puuc Hills through research, education and community outreach: (https://www.facebook.com/PuucJaguarConservation/info).

Research opportunities at Kaxil Kiuic are enhanced by its “off the grid” Research and Learning Center and the Millsaps Puuc Archaeological Research Center in the municipal capital of Oxkutzcab, which provide excellent environments for students and scientists to carry out their field projects. MPARC serves as the year round base for the BRAP project and also houses its laboratory and collection.

Research at Kiuic also extends to the campus of Millsaps College which houses the W.M. Keck Center for Instrumental and Biochemical Comparative Archaeology. This laboratory facility, directed by Dr. Timothy Ward, is devoted to the interdisciplinary, scientific study of past human behavior and the education of undergraduate students in advanced archaeometric and biochemical research methods: (http://www.millsaps.edu/academics/keck_center.php).