The Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge of the Latin American experience in the Western Hemisphere. We would like to welcome, Dylan Clark as the new Program Director for InHerit: Indigenous Heritage Passed to Present to our ISA community.
Dylan Clark is an anthropological archaeologist who specializes in the ancient cultures of Mesoamerica, particularly Maya culture. He has conducted archaeological excavations at several Maya sites in Mexico and Honduras, as well as historic period sites in the U.S. Prior to joining the team at InHerit. As the new Program Director, Dylan Clark assists the Executive Director of the program, Dr. Patricia McAnany of the Department of Anthropology, to coordinate the educational and conservation projects we help design with the communities we work with—most often in Latin America.
InHerit is housed within the Research Laboratories of Archaeology here at UNC and connected to a non-profit organization called the Alliance for Heritage Conservation. InHerit partners with indigenous communities to develop collaborative programs of education, conservation, and public interpretation related to cultural resources, archaeological projects, and heritage sites. This is very important when it comes to archaeological resources because ancient sites and artifacts are kinds of tangible heritage, material things from our past, that communities connect with today in deep, meaningful ways that speak to our sense of shared identities and experiences
InHerit has been awarded the National Geographic Society Grant for Yucatec Cenotes Heritage and Conservation Project. This grant allows InHerit and the Research Labs of Archaeology at UNC to collaborate with students and faculty from the Universidad de Oriente in Valladolid, Mexico and secondary school teachers in Yucatec communities in proximity to cenotes. Cenotes are natural sinkholes formed when the porous limestone bedrock of the Yucatan Peninsula collapses, exposing the vast underground river system beneath and creating unique cavern-like habitats with deep, fresh water pools. Cenotes serves as the primary source of cool, fresh water for Maya communities well into the 20th century and as sacred pilgrimage sites for centuries. Additionally, many cenotes contribute to the tourist economy.
This grant will allow the teams to develop innovative, sustainable, and interactive educational programs and community activities that explore the geomorphology, oral history, cultural and archaeological heritage of cenotes. By working together with college students, teachers, and younger students in Yucatán, our objective is to develop a generation of highly knowledgeable cultural stewards who will advocate on behalf of the responsible and sustainable use of cenotes, conservation of their ecosystem, and promotion of continued education and research at the local level. As this program develops, we hope to include Chapel Hill undergraduate and graduate students to emphasize the transglobal importance of environmental sustainability and heritage initiatives.