NIU art professor to study Mexican temple

By Steve Carasso

An NIU professor will be leaving next week to co-direct an archaeological investigation of a round temple in Mexico.

Art Professor Jeff Kowalski was named a Fulbright scholar, and as part of this honor he received a research grant to study in the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal, located in Yucatan, Mexico.

An additional grant is being provided by the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society.

“The Fulbright grant is provided to American students, teachers and scholars to study, teach and conduct research abroad,” said Kowalski. “The recipient is chosen because of his academic or professional ability.”

“I feel extremely pleased to get two awards concurrently. This will enable me to have the time to carry out the project completely,” he said.

Assisting Kowalski will be Mexican archaeologist Alfredo Carrera Rubio. “I will be responsible for assisting in recording data and I will be interpreting the temple’s religious and cultural significance,” Kowalski said. “Rubio will be responsible for the basic excavation.”

Round temples are very rare in the Maya region. One of the most famous is at the Jucatecan site of Chichen Itza. Kowalski said the round temple he will be researching was discovered in 1988.

“The nature of political, economic and cultural relationships between Uxmal and Chichen Itza during the so-called Terminal Classic period of Mayan history should become clear after the excavation of the round temple,” he said.

NIU has been home to Kowalski since 1982. He studied pre-Columbian art as an undergraduate at Columbia University before going on to Yale University, where he received a doctorate in art history.