Dr. Allan Maca
Dr. Allan Maca is an archaeologist, historian, and social scientist affiliated with Colgate University. His current research projects focus on the study of ancient cities, architecture, ritual plants, and the philosophy of science. He received his PhD from Harvard University and has done archaeology in Israel, Central America, California, and Kenya. He continues to work in Latin America, is fluent in Spanish, and for fifteen years has led excavations at the ancient Maya city of Copan in Honduras. Allan has appeared in documentary films and television, most recently for Lucasfilm and the History Channel. He grew up in and still lives in New York City.
The north gate of the Iron Age city of Ashkelon, in Israel.
Secret Dig Kit Weapon:?
4 inch spackling tool for cleaning pit walls (dirt sections).
When did you first know you wanted to be an archaeologist?
In general terms, I knew at 16 years old. When I was 19 and began to study the archaeology of human evolution and the brain I knew I wanted to be an archaeologist who explores consciousness and cognition.
What is your favorite thing about working on Time Team America?
The camaraderie (the Team!), exploring incredible US sites, working with dedicated local and regional archaeologists.
What does Time Team America mean to you?
I’m not sure there’s a more important show on US TV. Time Team delves into the incredible depth and diversity of US history, and explains how archaeology and science are critical tools for constructing the past in the present.
What do you hope is the take away for viewers of Time Team America? That the US has an incredibly rich history, and that archaeology is not so much about dead people and broken things, but about how history and historical objects operate in our lives today, to help teach us about ourselves and especially to help us negotiate new meanings for our societal memory.
Who inspires you?
My team members! Viva el equipo de Time Team!!!
What’s an important lesson you’ve learned from investigating the past?
That the past doesn’t really exist. We create meaning for the “past” in the present; this is why interpretations and uses of knowledge about the past are constantly changing, because we and our society and our values are also constantly changing.
What was the most challenging obstacle that you overcame to become an archaeologist?
Getting my PhD. People joke about it being a major life hurdle, but for so many of us it really is one of the greatest challenges in our lifetimes: getting into school and funding your degree, doing well in classes, finding a doctoral project, getting the money for it, digging, doing the lab work, and writing a dissertation. During my PhD research, I spent half a year out of the country for four years, in a poor mountain village with variable running water and electricity; the social challenges alone were substantial.
What does it take to do what you do?
Passion and perseverance, and above all patience. The three P’s!!
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on the final reports for my recent excavations in Copan, and on a book that explores how US archaeology can resolve its history as an instrument of neocolonialism in Central America.