Mongolian art historian Jacobson-Tepfer receives Kublai Khan Gold Medal

Professor Emerita Esther Jacobson-Tepfer of the Department of the History of Art and Architecture has been awarded the Kublai Khan Gold Medal, the highest honor offered by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and a Presidential Citation in recognition of her work on the preservation of Mongolia's cultural heritage. The awards were presented at the international conference "Rock Art: History, Memory, and Dialogue" on May 30-31 under the auspices of the President of Mongolia and UNESCO.

The medal was presented to her by Dr. Dorj Regdel from the Academy.

An Asian art historian and the Maude I. Kerns Professor Emerita of Asian Art at the UO, Jacobson-Tepfer began field research in Mongolia's Altai Mountains in 1994.

“Our projects involved the identification and documentation of rock art and other surface monuments,” she said. “In the second project, we undertook to record this material with detailed mapping of a largely unmapped area.”

The medal honors her life’s work.

In addition to her original work on Altai rock art, Jacobson-Tepfer collaborated over a period of several years with the Mongolian government on the successful nomination of two large UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the petroglyphic complexes of the Mongolian Altai (2011) and the Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and surrounding sacred landscape (2015).

Her first project involved collaborations with Russian and Mongolian colleagues. The second phase of the project involved James Meacham, Director of the University’s InfoGraphics Lab, and Gary Tepfer, photographer.

Professor Jacobson-Tepfer has published many refereed articles and eight books. Her book Archaeology and Landscape in the Mongolian Altai: an Atlas, produced with James Meacham and Gary Tepfer was awarded the 2010 Globe Book Prize by the Association of American Geographers, and received a CaGIS Honorable Mention for the best atlas published that year.