Maya Exploration Center: Education Through Exploration
Staff and Associates
Dr. Kirk French
»Ph.D. Pennsylvania State Anthropology Department 2009
»Director of the documentary film "Land and Water Revisited" 2009-2011
»Director of the Palenque Hydroarchaeology Project 2005-2008
»Presently a faculty member of the Pennsylvania State Anthropology Department

» Dr. Edwin Barnhart
» Dr. Christopher Powell
» Alonso Mendez
» Carol Karasik
» Chip Morris
» Dr. Kirk French
» James Eckhardt
» Dr. Michael Grofe
» Lilia Lizama
» Dr. David Hixson
» Dr. Gerardo Aldana
Dr. Kirk French is a professional archaeologist and an authority on ancient Maya water management systems. He was a senior member of the Palenque Mapping Project and headed up the team's water management research.

His 2002 University of Cincinnati Master Thesis, Creating Space Through Water Management at the Classic Maya Site of Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico (PDF), documented dozens of newly discovered water features and presented compelling evidence that Palenque expanded its habitable land by controlling the flow of water.

French recently completed his PhD at the Pennsylvania State University. His dissertation, The Hydroarchaeological Approach: Understanding the Ancient Maya Impact on the Palenque Watershed (PDF), introduces a new method for measuring the effects of human impact on the environment. Surprisingly, French concludes that the major cause for fluctuations in the water cycle at Palenque is landcover alteration (deforestation, urbanism, etc.) not climate change.

In addition, French spearheaded "Land and Water Revisited", a project that documents the effects of modern day urbanism on the Teotihuacan Valley of Mexico through ethnographic film. In 1961, Penn State archaeologist William T. Sanders (1926 - 2008), filmed "Land and Water: An Ecological Study of the Teotihuacan Valley of Mexico". This documentary captured a way of life that is all but gone in the Valley today due to the urban growth of Mexico City. French has in his possession all of the outtakes and notes of the original film. His goal is to return to the Teotihuacan Valley and record the changes through juxtaposition of past and present footage and with interviews of the local people.

French has presented his cross-disciplinary research at multiple professional conferences and published almost a dozen articles. His goal is to develop a better understanding of the interplay between humans and their surroundings by providing views of what landscape alteration can and has done to the environment through archaeology, watershed modeling, and ethnographic/documentary film. Currently, he is a Lecturer of Anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University.
Suggested reading books can be bought at JungleCasts with Dr. Barnhart