January 29, 2007

Archaeology project in Mexico wins NSF support

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The National Science Foundation will provide $176,222 to support an archaeology project at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Andrew K. Balkansky, assistant professor in anthropology, is the director of "The Archaeological Precursors of the Mixtec Civilization" project. The Mixtec are an indigenous Mesoamerican people inhabiting the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

Balkansky and his team, which includes scholars from Mexico, Canada and Japan, will study the origins of the Mixtec civilization, social inequality, change in early village societies and the transition to urbanism.

The researcher has been excavating the 3,000-year-old Tiyata site since 2003 and studying that region of Mexico since 1997. "I felt relieved when I heard the funding came through," said Balkansky. "We want to get a better understanding of the beginnings of complex societies."

The H. John Heinz III Fund and the National Geographic Society are also funding the project.

Balkansky is a three-degree graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, earning his bachelor's in 1990, his master's in 1992 and his doctorate in 1997.