Sustainable Preservation Initiative (SPI)

This week we are looking at archaeology, activism, and business. Joining us is the executive director of Sustainable Preservation Initiative (SPI), Dr. Larry Coben. SPI words to preserve cultural heritage sites by providing life-changing and sustainable economic opportunities to poor communities in which archaeological sites are located. The organization has been active since 2010. In the words of our guest, “We 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 help people better their lives and give them a powerful economic incentive to preserve our shared heritage.” This is going to be a revealing discussion on cultural heritage, protecting it in a turbulent world, and how economically empowering local communities may be the best way to deal with these threats.

Dr. Larry Coben

814cdbec-508c-4f88-8c82-61a018688ccbDr. Coben is the founder and Executive Director of the Sustainable Preservation Initiative , a not for profit organization providing sustainable business and entrepreneurial opportunities to poor communities where endangered archaeological sites are located. SPI believes the best way to preserve cultural heritage is creating or supporting locally-owned businesses whose success is tied to that preservation. SPI’s grants provide a “two for the price of one” benefit: they create transformative economic opportunities for the local residents while saving archaeological sites for future generations to study and enjoy.  SPI is the leading preservation organization utilizing this exciting and effective paradigm

Coben is also an archaeologist and a Consulting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.  His most recent archaeological work focuses on Inca imperial expansion and the role of spectacles, rituals and theatricality in ancient societies. He co-authored the seminal volume Archaeology of Performance: Theater, Power and Community, a study of the importance and use of theatrical performance at public events, rituals and spectacles in ancient societies to create and govern states and empires. Dr. Coben co-directs Proyecto Arqueologico de Cañete in Peru and was the director of Proyecto Incallajta, a multidisciplinary project at the Inca site of that name in Bolivia.  He has published numerous articles on various subjects related to archaeology, the Inca, and sustainable preservation and development.

Coben has started and run numerous energy companies. He heads the Tremisis Energy group, and was CEO of its two public vehicles.. Coben is a former CEO of the NYSE-traded Bolivian Power Company and a founder of Catalyst Energy Corporation. He serves on the boards of NRG Energy and Freshpet, Inc., and as an Advisory Partner for the Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Fund. You can read more at




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