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Pilar Luna, Pioneer of Mexican Underwater Archaeology, Given J.C. Harrington Award
Divers exploring submerged cultural heritage. Photo: File/Subdirección de Arqueología Subacuatica.

MEXICO CITY.- As an acknowledgement to her 30-year trajectory, devoted to research and preservation of the submerged cultural heritage, archaeologist Pilar Luna Erreguerena, pioneer of Underwater Archaeology in Mexico, was awarded with the J.C. Harrington Award by the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), becoming the first Latin American researcher -and the 4th woman- to receive this prize.

The award given every year by the American society that gathers the greatest number of academics in the subject recognizes as well the labor conducted in Mexico regarding research and safeguarding of cultural and historical goods that lay in the depths, headed since 1980 by the expert from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

The award named after the father of American historical archaeology, J.C. Harrington, is the most important honor conceded to those who had contributed to research and preservation of the world cultural heritage.

This is the second time that the award is presented to a researcher of the Underwater Archeology field; the first was given in 1999 to George F. Bass, Ph.D., considered the “father of underwater archaeology in the world”.

“When I was informed in 2010 that the Society for Historical Archaeology had decided to give me the J.C. Harrington Award, I did not know what it was about and I needed a few minutes to understand the importance of this acknowledgement”, recalled the head of the INAH Sub Direction of Underwater Archaeology (INAH-SAS).

“I consider myself a privileged being, I am convinced that there are more persons that deserve acknowledgment for their achievements and do not receive it. To be given it in life, in company of my dear ones, is truly a gift from God”, she commented.

The ceremony took place as part of the 44th Annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology in Austin, Texas, United States of America, where the archaeologists Margaret Leshikar-Denton, Ph.D., and Toni L. Carrel, Ph.D., presented a biographical sketch of the Mexican archaeologist.

The specialists quoted fragments of letters written by acknowledged specialists from several countries to support Pilar Luna as a candidate for the award. Pilar Luna and other 9 researchers from INAH-SAS gave a lecture titled Thirty Years of Underwater Archaeology in Mexico. Current Investigations.

The team announced the projects to be developed during 2011, “The Sub Direction of Underwater Archaeology will continue the research of the New Spain Fleet as well as the Inventory and Diagnosis of Cultural Resources in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Exploration of the Manila Galleon in Baja California; Nevado de Toluca in Estado de Mexico, and Banco Chinchorro, in Quintana Roo, as well as the integration of new sites in the Underwater Archaeology Atlas for the Register, Study and Protection of Cenotes And Flooded Caves in the Peninsula of Yucatan, and other tasks focused on protection, conservation, investigation and divulgation of submerged heritage in Mexico will continue.

“In brief, objectives of this INAH area will continue being achieved in benefit of the cultural legacy that lies in continental and marine waters of the Mexican Republic”, concluded the sub director of Underwater Archaeology.

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