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Dr. Bey discusses Mayan civilization


Kaitlyn Bell

Staff writer

On Wednesday November 9th, Dr. George Bey visited Roanoke College to discuss an ancient civilization that many find mysterious. During the lecture, Dr. Bey discussed the discoveries he and his team of students and fellow archeologists have made while digging in the Yucatan Peninsula and talked about some of the behind the scenes with the film crew from National Geographic.

Dr. Bey’s lecture explained the details about the Mayan civilization as a whole and how there are several discoveries yet to be made about particular areas throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Kaxil Kiuic in particular was considered a major center of civilization, but not the largest center. Bey continued on about the rise and fall of Yucatan Maya and the discoveries that he and his team has made while doing the archeological dig.

Many believed that the Mayan culture only thrived in this area from 700 to 1000 CE due to the lack of natural water sources in the area, but Dr. Bey has found proof that they were prospering in this region as early as 900 BCE. Dr. Bey explained that he had originally chose the area because he wanted to look at ceramics from a very small span of time, and as it was believed that the Mayans only lived there for a span of 300 years or so, he thought it would be perfect.  But as he began digging in the plaza area of the palace, he found artifacts that were carbon dated from 1,600 years before the Mayans were originally believed to have lived in the area.  Dr. Bey also used this evidence to conclude that the society was primarily a farming culture that survived on growing crops such as corn and squash.

A number of what appeared to be the rock foundations of houses of the indigenous peoples were found throughout the area. Dr. Bey explained that several of these houses contained what appeared to be ancient artifacts of broken pots and utensils that were left behind which causes him to believe that they left in a hurry. Dr. Bey also believes that the indigenous people may have fled the area with the expectation of returning at a later date. He is uncertain of what may have occurred to cause the disappearance of people living in areas densely populated with Mayan ruins, but hopes to find out when he returns for more research next summer.

Overall, Dr. George Bey’s own experience to the Ancient Maya site of Kaxil Kiuic offered a new and interesting perspective on a fascinating culture. His lecture allowed many students to become enthused about history as well as the upcoming National Geographic documentary about Dr. Bey’s discoveries in the Yucatan Peninsula.


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