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Sociology & Anthropology

College of Arts & Sciences

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William  N.  Duncan Ph.D.

Department Chair/Associate Professor
423-439-6650 /
Rogers-Stout Hall 223B



Introduction to physical anthropology
Forensic anthropology
Race and human variation
The Aztec, Maya and their neighbors


Full CV

My primary research emphasis is Mesoamerican bioarchaeology, which is to say I study human remains from archaeological sites in northern Central America and Mexico. This covers a range of topics including issues microevolution, trauma and taphonomy, cultural modification, mortuary practices, and indigenous ideas about embodiment. My particular interests include identifying evidence of violence among individuals buried in distinct ritual contexts among the Maya, Mixtec, and Zapotec cultures and understanding biological relationships among individuals subjected to ritual violence. In addition to my work in Mesoamerica I am currently involved in a historical forensics case as a part of the canonization process of a martyred 16th century Spanish priest and a study of dental morphology among populations in the United States.


2011 National Science Foundation - $250,000
Integrating developmental morphogenetic theory with dental biodistance practices
CM Stojanowski, WN Duncan, J Femiani, GR Scott

2008 NSF-Research Experiences for Undergraduates - $7,950

REU Supplementary grant for BCS #0640170
AK Balkansky, WN Duncan

2007 National Science Foundation - $176,222
The archaeological precursors of the Mixtec civilization.
AK Balkansky, WN Duncan


Studies in Forensic Biohistory

2017    Stojanowski, CM, Paul, K, Seidel, A, Duncan, WN, Guatelli-Steinberg, D. Heritability and genetic integration of tooth size in the South Carolina Gullah. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 164(3):505-521.

2016 Stojanowski, CM, WN Duncan.  Editors. Studies in Forensic Biohistory: Anthropological Perspectives.  Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology.  Cambridge University Press.

2015 Stojanowski, CM, WN Duncan. Engaging bodies in the public imagination: Bioarchaeology as social science, science, and humanities. American Journal of Human Biology. 27:51-60

2015 Duncan, WN, K Schwarz. A Postclassic Maya mass grave from Zacpetén. Journal of Field Archaeology 40(2) 143-165.

2014a Duncan, WN, K Schwarz. Partible, permeable, and relational bodies in a Maya mass grave. Commingled and disarticulated human remains: working towards improved theory, method and data. A Osterholtz, K Baustian, D Martin (eds), Springer. pp. 149-172.

2014 Duncan, WN, CM Stojanowski. Why some bodies matter: Defacement and narrative in historical forensics cases. Forensic and bioarchaeological approaches to violence. DL Martin, C Anderson (eds), Cambridge University Press. pp. 148-168.

2013 Stojanowski, CM, K Johnson, WN Duncan. Beyond sinodonty: hemispheric, regional, and intracemetery approaches to studying dental morphological variation in the New World. Anthropological perspectives on tooth morphology: genetics, evolution, variation. GR Scott, J Irish (eds), Cambridge University Press. pp. 408-453.

2012 Duncan, WN. Biological distance analyses in contexts of ritual violence. In The Bioarchaeology of Violence. D Martin, R Harrod, V Pérez (eds). University Press of Florida. pp. 251-275.

2011 Duncan, WN. A bioarchaeological analysis of sacrificial victims from a Postclassic Maya temple from Ixlú, Petén, Guatemala. Latin American Antiquity 22(4):549-572.

2011 Duncan, WN, CA Hofling. Why the head? Cranial modification as protection and ensoulment among the Maya. Ancient Mesoamerica 22:199-210.


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