Campus Life

Professor explores U.S. in archaeology show

Visiting anthropology professor Duncan McKinnon is one of three researchers using geophysical methods at various sites on the PBS television series “Time Team America.”

“Time Team America” first aired 20 years ago in Great Britain and pilot episodes were filmed for a U.S. version of the show five years ago.

The National Science Foundation funded a grant for “Time Team America” to film more American episodes.

The show originally had two people that focused on geophysical studies, but producers wanted three.

That’s where McKinnon came in.

The show has filmed at the sites of the Lost Pueblo Villages in Cortez, Colo., the Bones of Badger Hole in the Oklahoma panhandle, the search for Josiah Henson in Bethesda, Md. and a lost Civil War prison in Jenkins County, Ga.

McKinnon said he didn’t have a favorite filming site, but if he had to choose, he said it would be Cortez, Colo.

“It was pretty fun because I’ve never worked in the southwest before and we had the chance to see the Mesa Verde Range,” he said.

McKinnon said his favorite part of being on “Time Team America” is integrating ongoing research at each site and working with other researchers on the show, the community and middle school students.

He said when members of the community get involved, they get to learn about their history.

When McKinnon is not involved in “Time Team America,” he teaches a variety of courses in anthropology, archeology and Native American studies.

He came to teach at UCA after he received his Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas –Fayettville in 2013 because he said he liked the people and atmosphere of comradery in the anthropology department.

McKinnon said he also came to UCA because he likes the way the school is moving and it’s close to his research area, the Caddo Indians.

According to McKinnon’s website,, the Battle Mound site served as a significant place for the Caddo tribe until they were removed from the area in the 19th century.

The Battle Mound site is located near the Great Bend region of the Red River basin in Lafayette County.

McKinnon is in his second semester of teaching. He said his favorite classes to teach so far have been the Native American studies classes and biological archaeology.

“I really enjoy these classes because I am learning right along with the students,” McKinnon said.

McKinnon said his interest in archaeology began after spending 10 years selling computers and high-tech at Dell and Apple stores in Austin, Texas.

He said he was always interested in history.

He took a class at Texas State, where he got his Bachelor’s degree, and became interested in Native American cultures.

“I was captivated by Native Americans,” he said. “I wanted to understand their culture more, which caused me to pursue anthropology.”

Freshman sociology student Patrick Wockenfuss said McKinnon’s experience brings a new outlook to the department.

“He brings new aspects of teaching with his experience of going to the different locations,” he said.

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