About Us

About Us

The Sustainable Preservation Initiative (SPI) seeks to save and preserve the world’s cultural heritage by providing transformative and sustainable economic opportunities to poor communities in which archaeological sites are located.

SPI’s mantra is “Saving Sites by Transforming Lives” and we want to empower local communities to preserve their cultural heritage by embracing them as economic assets. “People can’t eat their history”, says SPI Executive Director and University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Larry Coben, “we need to provide an alternative to other potential economic uses of archaeological sites such as looting, agriculture, grazing, and residential and commercial uses. By doing so, we can help people better their lives and give them a powerful economic incentive to preserve our shared heritage”. By creating a new class of entrepreneurs, SPI promotes a truly sustainable cycle of preservation and economic growth.

Neglect and Erosion

Destruction at the site of Angkor Wat, Cambodia


Tourists climb the Inca gate of Rumicolca near Cuzco, Peru

War and Looting

Looting and Destruction at Umma, Iraq