'Ancient Water-Supply Secrets of the Maya' topic of Feb. 27 lecture

A free public event, titled "Lessons from the Past: Research Reveals Ancient Civilization's Water-Supply Secrets," will feature Kirk French, a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Penn State, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 27, in room 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The presentation is the last in this year's Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science series, a free minicourse for the general public with the theme "Water: The Next Frontier." No registration is required. More information is online at http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/frontiers/French2-2010 online.

French will describe how the large cities of the Maya prospered for centuries as a result of this ancient Central American civilization's sophisticated water-management system. He will discuss the lessons that the Maya civilization of the past can teach civilizations in the Americas today about protecting the Earth's water resources.

French's research focuses on the relationships between humans and water, with particular emphasis on investigating how the Maya managed their water. In 1998, he began working at the Maya site of Palenque, where he was impressed by the remains of the hydrological system, which had long been famous among archaeologists.  Since that time, he has been working to develop a better understanding of the interplay between the Mayans and their environment. He uses archaeological tools, watershed modeling, and documentary films to investigate this topic.

In 2009, French organized the DVD release of "Land and Water: An Ecological Survey of the Teotihuacan Valley of Mexico," a film created by Penn State Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology William T. Sanders in 1961. In 2007, he was interviewed by Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (German Public Television), and in 2004, he was interviewed by the U. S. History Channel for a program titled "Lost Worlds: Palenque -- Metropolis of the Maya." From 2004 to 2005, he was a board member for the Maya Exploration Center. French has been honored with the 2009 William T. Sanders Graduate Award in Anthropology and the 2004 Hill Fellowship Award, both given by Penn State.

French has been a lecturer in the Penn State Department of Anthropology since 2009. From 2003 to 2008, he was a teaching assistant and research assistant at Penn State. He earned a doctorate in anthropology at Penn State in 2009, a master's degree in anthropology at the University of Cincinnati in 2002, and a bachelor's degree in anthropology at Texas State University in 1998.

Contacts: 
Last Updated November 18, 2010