An Interactive Family Tree for Archaeology PhDs

I recently presented a paper at Morph2016 on a project that synthesizes the geometric morphometrics literature in archaeology. As something of an interactive literature review, this resource also allowed us to delve into issues of epistemology with regard to the materials analyzed, dimensions (2D v. 3D), statistics and theory. While I am very pleased with how the interactive figures turned out for this project, it also reminded me of a project I ran across some time ago by Andrew Barr that laid out something of a family tree for physical anthropologists. Since I think that archaeologists are deserving of a similar resource, I have begun work toward that end.


Geneaology of PhDs in Terrestrial Archaeology from Texas A&M University (data collected from the TAMU anthropology website).

While a very small test of the method, this helped me to wade through the various (and often challenging–dedicated server space, etc.) logistics associated with this manner of undertaking. In addition to the interactive family tree itself, I wanted to include a way for others to submit information that will be included in the tree, and I opted to use the Qualtrics platform. This will let users enter their information using either a computer or a mobile device.


I opted for a short, mobile-friendly platform where users can submit additional data. 

There are a few more things that we need to sort out before this can go “live,” but the good news is that it’s in the works. My goal is to have all of the infrastructure completed prior to the 2017 SAA’s, where we will begin to encourage folks to add their information to the tree.


Written by zselden

Selden (PhD, Texas A&M University, 2013) is a US Marine Corps veteran, cyclist, kayaker, backpacker, hiker, climber, fisherman and general all-around outdoor enthusiast. His research is focused at the confluence of archaeological methods and digital technology, and he is particularly interested in the application of 3D technologies to archaeological problems, geometric morphometrics, network analyses, predictive modeling, archaeological theory, and archaeological science.