Over the past few months since the MSU DAI workshop ended, Lisa and I have been hemming and hawing about our OssuaryKB project. We were hitting road-blocks in design, functionality and audience- unable to get a solid idea of how exactly the entire project would work, what tools we would use and how this would appeal to stakeholders.

But then we realized the problem: the project that we really wanted to make, a tool for the public to learn more about mortuary archaeology, was not what we were actually doing. So we are changing things up and producing something that we are passionate about and really think will be an asset in today’s digital landscape.

We are proud to announce… TOMB: The Online Map of Bioarchaeology

 Increasingly the public is becoming interested in human remains in the past, however, there is no single place that they can go to for a simplified education on the topic that hasn’t been created by popular media. This site will act as a resource for the public, students, educators, and scholars alike. It will provide transparency about the use of human remains for research, and show the diverse range of research and locations where this is occurring.

Using Pleiades and Atlas Obscura as exemplars for the site construction, we will be creating an interactive map of case studies and examples from mortuary archaeology and bioarchaeology. The purpose of this site is to provide a place for students and the public to learn more about the amazing diversity of mortuary research that is occurring in the world, but also about variation in funerary methods. It will also serve as a place for anthropologists to share their research on these topics, and provides updates on what it occurring in the broader study.

The project will begin by adding sites from around the world that are organized based on broad topics, such as type of disposal, type of research, period, location, researchers, etc. It will primarily be based around a map interface that will allow users to select certain variables for exploring mortuary sites, such as type of disposal, research done, period, cultural affiliation, etc. Each site can be selected to view more detailed information about who completed the research and what has been written about it. The goal is to provide a brief overview of each site. The site will be based on a combination of Bootstrap and Leaflet, and will pull data from a GeoJSON file.

For the first iteration of the project, we will have a selection of five different types of burials, and five different foci in bioarchaeology and mortuary archaeology. Users will be able to search for specific themes, like paleopathology, and learn about where this research is going on, or look up disposal types like cremation and see where and when this practice is in use. In addition to this, we will have resources on the site for users to learn the background of this type of study, where to learn more, and how to integrate this into teaching and education.

We are excited for this development in our project, and are looking forward to creating TOMB.