Andrew Balkansky | Anthropology | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Andrew Balkansky



Dr. Balkansky has done archaeological fieldwork in Mexico since 1991. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin (1997), and was a scientific assistant and post-doctoral researcher at the American Museum of Natural History (1996-1998). His principal research has been settlement pattern surveys, and excavations at pre- and proto-urban sites in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca. He taught previously at George Washington University (1999-2003).

Research Interests

Archaeology; the Mixtec and Zapotec civilizations; prehistoric chiefdoms, cities, and states.

  • Middle American archaeology and Latin American civilizations
  • General issues in ecological anthropology and cultural evolution
  • Settlement pattern surveys and regional analysis
  • Studies of ancient and modern pottery making


  • ANTH 104 The Human Experience
  • ANTH 205 Latin American Civilizations
  • ANTH 208 Lost Cities & Buried Treasures
  • ANTH 240 Introduction to Archaeology
  • ANTH 304 Origins of Civilization
  • ANTH 410 Ecological Anthropology
  • ANTH 430 Archaeology of Mesoamerica
  • ANTH 500 Method & Theory in Archaeology
  • ANTH 576 Anthropological Research Design
  • UHON 351 Archaeology of Religion

Recent Fieldwork

Mixteca Alta Formative Project

The ancient Mixtec are best-known as master goldsmiths, and as painters of screen-fold books depicting royal genealogies in late Prehispanic times. This study of the Formative Mixtec (ca. 1st millennium B.C.) concerns the archaeological precursors of the Mixtec kingdoms or cacicazgos as described in early colonial documentation. Dr. Balkansky and his students use ethnohistorical sources, regional settlement patterns, and large-scale excavations to reconstruct early village life, household economies, and changes in regional and interregional dynamics. Field research has been supported by the H. John Heinz III Fund, the National Geographic Society, and the National Science Foundation.

Selected Publications

  • The Mixtecs of Oaxaca: Ancient Times to the Present (2013), by Ronald Spores and Andrew K. Balkansky. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
  • Origins of the Ñuu: Archaeology in the Mixteca Alta, Mexico (2009), by Stephen A. Kowalewski, Andrew K. Balkansky, Laura R. Stiver Walsh and others. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.
  • The Human Experience: A Recitation Manual for Anthropology (2008), by Andrew K. Balkansky, Robert Corruccini, and Meghan Harrison, eds. Kendall/Hunt, Dubuque, Iowa.
  • The Sola Valley and the Monte Albán State: A Study of Zapotec Imperial Expansion (2002). Memoirs No. 36, Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.