Dr Michael Gantley
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Tremough Innovation Centre G07
I am a postdoctoral research associate employed on the European Research Council (ERC) funded “The cultural evolution and ecology of institutions” project, with Dr. Thomas Currie as the Principal Investigator. My research focuses on the use of statistical models and computer simulations to develop a theoretical understanding of the micro-evolutionary processes that lead to the emergence of institutions for collective action within populations, as well as the processes that shape institutional variation across populations at the macro-evolutionary scale. In doing so, I systematically test the predictions of these models against data collated from an extensive number of cross-national archaeological, ethnographic and real-world big-data datasets of institutional diversity, using comparative statistical models. I have previously engaged with applied data science methodologies to examine the role of ritual activity in generating and maintaining group cohesion during the initial transition to agriculture—integrating both Mesolithic and Neolithic archaeological data (from north-western Europe and south-west Asia) as well as cross-cultural ethnographic data.
Funding Body: European Research Council
DPhil Archaeology (University of Oxford)
MA Human Osteoarchaeology (University College Cork)
BA Archaeology and Music (University College Cork)
Prior to starting in University of Exeter, I engaged in post-doctoral research at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology (ICEA) which utilized statistical modelling to examine the emergence and maintenance of hierarchically organized, extended group networks in the prehistoric archaeological record of south-west Asia. My DPhil research (University of Oxford) integrated archaeological and ethnographic data gathering, database management and statistical analysis to comprehensively assess the causal link between social cohesion through ritual practices and the increased controlled utilization of resources in the context of the initial transition to agriculture (Neolithic Transition) in both south-west Asia and north-western Europe. My MA in human osteoarchaeology (University College Cork) focused on developing a new methodology for the examination of cremated remains by integrating techniques used in both standard osteoarchaeological analysis and forensic analysis, as applied to modern samples. I have been involved in a number of national and international collaborative research projects. From 2014 to 2016, I was the main human osteoarchaeologist with the “Living in the Shadow of Angkor” project funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund. More recently, I have worked as a researcher on the Seshat Global History databank.
Group cooperation, evolution of culturally-inherited social rules, evolution of social complexity, cultural evolution, human cognition
- Evolution of group cooperation
- Statistical modelling
- The archaeology of the transition to agriculture
- Human Ostearchaeology
Publications by category
Publications by year
Freelance writer and archaeological consultant: Historia National Geographic, Barcelona, Spain
Conferences and invited presentations
Organizing panel for the 2014 and 2015 graduate archaeology Oxford (GAO) graduate conference.
Invited lectures & workshops
Teaching a series of workshops on Human Osteoarchaeology at Choeung EK Genocidal Centre, Phnom Penh, Cambodia: 2013 - 2015