UCF Professor Receives RIHA Grant

Dr. Sarah Barber, a UCF anthropology professor, recently received a grant from the Religion and Human Affairs (RIHA) Program of The Historical Society funded by the John Templeton Foundation through the University of Colorado Boulder.

The grant will allow Dr. Barber to study the role of religion in the social and political innovations that led to the emergence of the Mesoamerican civilization. The RIHA program awards two-year projects and selects applicants that will enhance the understanding of how religion relates to innovation in human affairs.Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 3.07.17 PM

“The study is a collaborative project that entails archaeological field research, archival research, and will result in a book”, says Barber. “We’re looking at how religion both enabled and hampered political change in ancient Mesoamerica between about 1500 B.C. and A.D. 250.” “Because many widely-held religious and political ideas in Mesoamerica developed during this time, our work will also provide insight into important later historical events like the Spanish conquest of Mexico.”

The co-authored book, which will be written with UCB professor Arthur Joyce, will examine religion and political centralization in four regions of Formative Mesoamerica: the Gulf coast, Valley of Oaxaca, lower Río Verde Valley, and Soconusco coast.

Dr. Barber is currently an assistant professor at UCF and specializes in the archaeology of Mesoamerica. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Ph.D. in 2005. Barber has received other grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society to help fund her research. Her research has been published in both English and Spanish, in journals such as Ancient Mesoamerica, The Journal of Archaeological Science, and The International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.

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