Anthropology Department Directory


Mark D. McCoy

Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

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

  • Geospatial 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

Please note that I am on academic leave for the Fall 2017 semester. 


PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 2006
MA, University of Auckland, 1999
BA, University of New Mexico, 1997


I started my academic career teaching at San Jose State University and then the University of Otago in New Zealand. In 2014, I moved to Southern Methodist University where I teach an introduction to world prehistory (ANTH 2302), an in-depth course on the application of spatial technology called geospatial archaeology (ANTH 4388/6388), a survey of the archaeology of the Hawaiian Islands (ANTH 3321), and graduate seminars in world archaeology and archaeological theory.


I am a landscape archaeologist whose research centers on the development of ancient political economies and human ecodynamics. My methodological expertise is in geospatial archaeology. Geospatial archaeology is the application of spatial technology to study how people in the past inhabited and shaped the world around them. Spatial technology, like Geographic Information Systems (GIS), gives archaeologists powerful tools to detect and analyze spatial patters in all types of archaeological datasets. In my own research I use a broad range of datasets, from remote sensing, to detailed archaeological and environmental surveying and excavations, to looking at what artifact collections can tell us about how people interacted with each other.

I am currently recruiting students for projects on a number of research topics. 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.

Media and Lectures 

Fox News. "Mysterious Pacific island burial site is older than thought, study says" http://www.foxnews.com/science/2016/10/19/mysterious-pacific-island-burial-site-is-older-than-thought-study-says.html

Archaeology Magazine. "Island Chiefdom May Offer Insight Into Complex Societies" http://www.archaeology.org/news/4961-161021-pohnpei-nan-madol

SMU Research Blog. "The making of Maori society: An archaeological analysis of social networks" https://blog.smu.edu/research/2016/11/18/the-making-of-maori-society-an-archaeological-analysis-of-social-networks/

I will be on the 2017-18 American Institute for Archaeology lecture series at the following dates: Cleveland (13 September), Albany (Van Tilburg Lecture) (10 November), and Orange County (25 February).

Recent Publications

For a current list of publications see my profile at Academia.edu, Researchgate.net, or Google scholar.

Horsburgh, K.A., McCoy, M.D. (2017). Dispersal, Isolation, and Interaction in the Islands of Polynesia: A Critical Review of Archaeological and Genetic Evidence. Diversity 9, 37. doi: 10.3390/d9030037.

McCoy, M.D. 2017. Geospatial Big Data and archaeology: Prospects and problems too great to ignore. Journal of Archaeological Science 84:74-94.

McCoy, M.D., Mulrooney, M.A., Horrocks, M., Cheng, H., Ladefoged, T.N. 2017. Evaluating Agricultural Bet-Hedging Strategies in the Kona Field System: New high-precision 230Th/U and 14C dates and plant microfossil data from Kealakekua, Hawai'i Island. Archaeology in Oceania 52:70-80.

Flexner, J.L., Mulrooney, M.A., McCoy, M.D., Kirch, P.V. 2017. Visualising Hawaiian sacred sites: The archives and J.F.G. Stokes's pioneering archaeological surveys, 1906-1913. Journal of Pacific Archaeology 8(1):63-76.

Maxwell, J.J., McCoy, M.D., Tromp, M., Hoffman, A., Barber, I.G. 2017. The Difficult Place of Deserted Coasts in Archaeology: New archaeological research on Cooks Beach (Pukaki), Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15564894.2017.1285833.

McCoy, M.D., Alderson, H.A., Hemi, R., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L. 2016. Earliest direct evidence of monument building at the archaeological site of Nan Madol (Pohnpei, Micronesia) identified using 230Th/U coral dating and geochemical sourcing of megalithic architectural stone. Quaternary Research 86:295-303.

Mulrooney, M.A., Wong, C., Esh, K., Belluomini, S., McCoy, M.D. 2016. Integrating Research and Collections Management: The Ho'omaka Hou Research Initiative at the Bishop Museum. Museum Worlds 4:52-62.

Flexner, J.L., McCoy, M.D. 2016. After the Missionaries: Historical archaeology and sites of traditional religious ritual in the Hawaiian Islands. Journal of the Polynesian Society 125(3):307-332.

McCoy, M.D., Codlin, M.C. 2016. The Influence of Religious Authority in Everyday Life: A landscape scale study of domestic architecture and religious law in ancient Hawai'i. World Archaeology DOI:10.1080/00438243.2016.1164073.

McCoy, M.D., Robles, H.R. 2016. The Geographic Range of Interaction Spheres during the Colonization of New Zealand (Aotearoa): New evidence for obsidian circulation in Southern New Zealand. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 11(2):285-293.

McCoy, M.D., Codlin, M.C. 2015. Decoding the Rock Art of Old Hawai'i: A brief report on petroglyphs in Manuka, Ka'u District, Hawai'i Island. Hawaiian Archaeology 33-45.

McCoy, M.D., Alderson, H.A., Thompson, A. 2015. A New Archaeological Field Survey of the Site of Nan Madol, Pohnpei. Rapa Nui Journal 29(1):5-22.

Mulrooney, M.A., Esh, K.S., McCoy, M.D., Bickler, S.H., Sinoto, Y.H. 2014. New Dates from Old Samples: A revised radiocarbon chronology for the Wai'ahukini Rockshelter Site (H8), Ka'u District, Hawai'i Island. Hawaiian Archaeology 17-16.