Current Projects News

March 16, 2015

Site Preservation Grant to Preserve 17th Century Church in Mexico

Barrel of Tahcabo church

BOSTONMarch 10, 2015—The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) awarded a Site Preservation Grant to The Alliance for Heritage Conservation (AHC) under the direction of Patricia McAnany, AHC Executive Director and Kenan Eminent Professor in the Department of Anthropology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Sarah Rowe, AHC Program Director and Research Staff at the Research Laboratories of Archaeology at the UNC, Chapel Hill, in support of a conservation and education program focused on the remains of a 17th century church and organized in collaboration with the community of Tahcabo in northern Yucatan.

Occupation at Tahcabo, a small Yucatec-Maya village of around 500 people, can be traced back from the present day to approximately 400 BC. The arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century brought Christianity to the region and by the 17th century a church was built at Tahcabo. The remains of the church include a stone façade and a portion of the stonewalled sanctuary or apse. Currently, religious services are held in a chapel attached to the original façade. A wooden bullfighting ring sits next to the present-day church within an area that would have been the courtyard of the original church.

The grant will be used to implement a project designed to promote community stewardship of Tahcabo’s archaeological remains and an understanding of the historical significance of the site. The program will feature heritage workshops for local primary-school students; an initiative in which secondary-school students will create an archaeology and conservation themed script for a marionette performance; community meetings to provide a forum for discussion of the research and conservation plans; formation of a Tahcabo community heritage committee; refurbishing of a room within the town hall as the Tahcabo Heritage Center; installation of durable display panels that feature the history of the town from early pre-colonial to recent times; and grooming of the church grounds. Additionally, a demarcated trail will be established through the churchyard and sanctuary with durable, weather resistant signage posted along the trail.

About AIA Site Preservation Program and Grants 

The AIA Site Preservation Program emphasizes outreach, education, and the spread of best practices in site preservation. The Program supports projects in more than a dozen countries around the world. In addition to awards and grants, the program conducts advocacy campaigns to stop the destruction of archaeological sites; presents outreach activities for children; maintains online resources for the public and professionals; and hosts workshops at AIA Annual Meetings. All aspects of the program, including grants and awards, are made possible through donations to the AIA Site Preservation Program. To learn more, please visit

About Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) 

Founded in 1879, The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) is North America’s oldest and largest archaeological organization. Today, the AIA has over 200,000 members and 110 local societies in the United States, Canada, and overseas. The AIA exists to promote archaeological inquiry and public understanding of the material record of the human past worldwide by promoting research; advocating for preservation of the world’s archaeological heritage; and educating people of all ages.

For more information and images please contact: 

Samantha Craig, AIA Site Preservation Program Administrator— 617-353-9364

Ben Thomas, AIA Director of Programs—

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