Maia Dedrick has been awarded a National Geographic Society grant as part of a call for proposals entitled “Enduring Impacts: Archaeology of Sustainability.” The project itself is called: “The Deep History of Biodiversity Conservation and Agricultural Practices at Tahcabo, Yucatán.” She will serve as project leader alongside community partners and a team of scholars that includes Adolfo Iván Batún Alpuche, Marcello Canuto, José Miguel Kanxoc Kumul, Elizabeth Webb, and Patricia A. McAnany.
The project will focus on issues of biodiversity conservation in agriculture and the management of common forest reserves amid moves for privatization in Yucatán, Mexico. In particular, the research will identify past and present cultivation practices that optimize resilience and productivity amid climate, demographic, and political change. Project methods include interviews with current farmers, plant surveys, airborne laser imagery for the study of canopy height and archaeological features, ground-based settlement survey, and the study of paleoenvironmental data from sinkholes, which have served as important agricultural features (as represented in the artistic rendering of a cultivated sinkhole cross-section by M.K. Smaby).