San Andres Semetebaj

Education. Community Development. Opportunity.

Background

Located near Lake Atitlán, University of the Valley of Guatemala (UVG)’s San Andres Semetebaj site is an extension for the UVG-Altiplano campus and serves as a living laboratory for archaeology, ecology, and community development. Among many notable features, it contains a significant Mayan archaeological site confirmed by UVG and Stanford University’s Departments of Archaeology to be one of the oldest Mayan sites in the highlands of Guatemala. An excavation in the 1970s led by Dr. Edwin M. Shook (the well known field director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Tikal Project) and UVG’s Dr. Marion Popenoe Hatch confirmed that the site dated to as early as the middle Pre-Classic period (900 BC–600 BC).

The land was donated to UVG in 2007 from the Mack Family, an American family based in California with long-standing ties to Guatemala. The community development initiatives in San Andres Semetebaj continue the Mack family’s legacy of empowering the people of San Andres Semetebaj.

Initiatives

USFUVG takes a two-pronged approach to supporting progress in San Andres Semetebaj:

Scholarships

Funds are raised for Scholarships for indigenous Mayan students that live in and around San Andres Semetebaj to be able to attend the UVG Altiplano Campus in Solola. Students awarded scholarships are encouraged to work with UVG in San Andres Semetebaj on projects involving ecotourism, archeology, education, ecology and many other related fields to help support the development of their community in association with UVG.

Economic Investment

Funds are also raised to directly support initiatives in the San Andres Semetebaj site and community that are the focus of UVG and the local UVG scholarship students. These funds have supported myriad projects including; development of a museum to display artifacts and educate, eco-forestry preservation work, various environmental research projects, demonstration gardens, language education, community development projects, local anthropology projects, local artisan support, astronomy projects and many more. Most fundamental to all of this is support for the exploration of the significant Mayan archeological site in San Andres Semetebaj. This site is a classic “Community Archeology” project – archeology by the people for the people – which creates of wonderful synthesis of the local community with UVG in San Andres Semetebaj.

Read more about Community Archeology.