Anthropology Department Directory


Mark D. McCoy

Associate Professor

Ph.D. 2006 University of California, Berkeley
Heroy Hall 413

  • Landscape Archaeology
  • Spatial Technology (GIS, Remote Sensing, Geophysical Survey)
  • Political Economy of Complex Societies
  • Human Ecodynamics and Agriculture
  • Geochemistry and Lithic Analysis
  • Monumental Architecture and Ideology
  • Community Archaeology
  • Pacific Islands


I began my academic career as an assistant professor at San Jose State University after finishing my PhD at the University of California, Berkeley. I later taught at the University of Otago in New Zealand before moving to Southern Methodist University in 2014. I have ongoing field research across Oceania, including the Hawaiian Islands, and I have received support for this work through grants from the National Science Foundation, the Royal Society of New Zealand, and the National Geographic Society. Like many anthropological archaeologists active in the field today my research involves collaborative teams that represent the wider scientific and local communities.


I am a landscape archaeologist whose research centers on the development of ancient political economies and human ecodynamics. My methodological expertise in spatial technology gives me powerful tools to detect and analyze spatial patters in all types of archaeological datasets. This data sometimes comes from the types of sources often used in landscape archaeology, such as remote sensing and detailed archaeological and environmental surveying, but also from excavations and looking at what artifact collections can tell us about how people interacted with each other, and their environment, in the past. I am currently recruiting students for projects on a range of research topics.

Selected Publications

McCoy, M.D. (in press) The significance of religious ritual in ancient Hawai'i. Journal of Pacific Archaeology.

Lawrence, M. McCoy, M.D., Barber, I. & Walter, R. (in press) Geochemical Sourcing Obsidian from the Purakaunui Site, South Island, New Zealand. Archaeology in Oceania.

McCoy, M.D., & Carpenter, J. (2014) Strategies for obtaining obsidian in pre-European contact era New Zealand. Public Library of Science One (PLoS One). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084302.

McCoy, M.D., Ladefoged, T.N., Codlin, M., & Sutton, D.G. (2014) Does Carneiro's circumscription theory help us understand Maori history? An analysis of the obsidian assemblage from Pouerua Pa, Nwe Zealand (Aotearoa). Journal of Archaeological Science 42: 467-475.

McCoy, M.D., Browne Ribeiro, A.T., Graves, M.W., Chadwick, O.A., & Vitousek, P.M. (2013) Taro (Colocasia esculenta) farming in ancient Hawaii: sedimentology and soil nutrient analyses of irrigated pondfield soils. Journal of Archaeological Science 40(3): 1528-1538.

McCoy, M.D. & Athens, J.S. (2012) Sourcing the Megalithic Stones of Nan Madol: an XRF study of architectural basalt stone from Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. Journal of Pacific Archaeology 3(1): 105-114.

McCoy, M.D., Ladefoged, T.N., Graves, M.W., & Stephens, J.W. (2011) Strategies for constructing religious authority in ancient Hawai'i. Antiquity 85, 927-941.

McCoy, M.D., Mills, P.R., Lundblad, S., Rieth, T., Kahn, J.G., & Gard, R. (2011) A cost surface model of volcanic glass quarrying and exchange in Hawai'i. Journal of Archaeological Science 38, 2547-2560.

McCoy, M.D., Asner, G.P., & Graves, M.W. (2011) Airborne lidar survey of irrigated agricultural landscapes: an application of the slope contrast method. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(9), 2141-2154.

Ladefoged, T.N., McCoy, M.D., Asner, G.P., Kirch, P.V., Puleston, C.O., Chadwick, O.A., & Vitousek, P.M. (2011) Agricultural potential and actualized development in Hawai'i: an airborne LiDAR survey of the leeward Kohala field system (Hawai'i Island). Journal of Archaeological Science 38: 3605-3619.

McCoy, M.D. (2011) Geochemical characterization of volcanic glass from Pu'u Wa'awa'a, Hawaii Island. Rapa Nui Journal, 25(2), 41-49.

Potts, K. & McCoy, M.D. (2011) Geophysical survey and excavations in search of Pa a Tu Pare Taniwha (144/11), Taieri Plains, Otago. Archaeology in New Zealand 55(1):21-32.

McCoy, M.D., & Graves, M.W. (2010) The role of agricultural innovation on Pacific Islands: a case study from Hawai'i Island. World Archaeology, 42(1), 90-107.

McCoy, M.D., Ladefoged, T.N., Blanshard, A., & Jorgensen, A. (2010) Reconstructing lithic supply zones and procurement areas: an example from the Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand. Journal of Pacific Archaeology 1(2), 174-183.

McCoy, M.D., Graves, M.W., & Murakami G. (2010) Introduction of breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) to the Hawaiian Islands. Economic Botany, 64(4), 374-381.

Kirch, P.V., Millerstrom, S., Jones, S., and McCoy, M.D. (2010) Dwelling among the gods: a late pre-contact priest's house in Kahikinui, Maui, Hawaiian Islands. Journal of Pacific Archaeology 1(2):145-160.

McCoy, M.D. and T.N. Ladefoged (2009) New developments in the use of spatial technology in archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Research 17 (3):263-295.