Catrina Banks Whitley

Catrina Banks Whitley
Research Associate profile:

Ph.D. Southern Methodist University, 2009

M.A. Southern Methodist University, 2006

Archaeology was part of my upbringing. I spent weekends surveying in Cooper and Granny’s Neck, Texas, with my grandfather who served as a local liaison on the Cooper Lake project, which was construction of a lake on the south Sulphur River. After finding an abandoned cemetery, at 8 years old, that needed to be moved due to lake construction and the countless hours searching for sites, my interest in archaeology and bioarchaeology began. My yearly family vacation to Colorado introduced me to the historic lifeways of settlers, through participation at the living history farms in Rocky Mountain National Park, and Southwestern archaeology, which shaped my research focus. I completed my PhD thesis, Body Language: An Integrative Approach to the Bioarchaeology and Mortuary Practices of the Taos Valley with support from the National Science Foundation and Southern Methodist University, and continue to study mortuary practices and bioarchaeology in the southwest. I occasionally teach courses in bioarchaeology, human evolution, and forensic anthropology at Southern Methodist University.Catrina Banks Whitley

I lead historic and prehistoric archaeological projects including cemetery excavations, and conduct osteological analysis as a contract bioarchaeologist. Some recent projects include the Bullhead Convict Labor Cemetery in Fort Bend County, TX - the first convict labor cemetery to be excavated; the Campbell’s Bayou Cemetery, Texas City, TX - which included burials of James Campbell, Jean Laffite’s captain and privateer, and his family; the Scott family cemetery, Dallas, TX - a late 19th century family cemetery; prehistoric graves from site 41DL8 in Dallas, County. Currently, I am the lead bioarchaeologist of a project with AR Consultants, Inc., investigating several historic cemeteries and prehistoric sites within the watershed of an approximately 17,000 acre lake for the Bois d’Arc Lake Reservoir. I am also principal investigator for the DNA research project conducted by Principal Research Group on the individuals excavated from the Bullhead Convict Labor Cemetery, Fort Bend County, Texas.

Since 2010, I’ve served as Principal Investigator of the BaahKu Archaeological Project, excavating a prehistoric (AD 1150-1250) Ancestral Puebloan site in Arroyo Seco, NM. The project has a significant outreach component involving avocational archaeologists from the North Texas Archeological Society and the Taos County Archaeological Society, and students. Professional archaeologists who volunteer with us include specialists in geoarchaeology, GIS, remote sensing, and archaeomagnetic dating. We give site tours to the community and present virtual and in-person lectures to help grow public interest in archaeology. The ongoing work at BaahKu adds significant new insights into the lives of ancient people in the Taos Valley. 

At the OAS, I am co-principal investigator with Jeffrey L. Boyer working on a project evaluating the effects of natural radiation exposure from earthen architecture on health, such as cancer rates, in prehistoric and modern peoples of the Northern Rio Grande. We reported our preliminary results in the International Journal of Paleopathology special issue on cancer: 2018 Assessing Cancer Risk Factors Faced by an Ancestral Puebloan Population in the North American Southwest. Catrina Banks Whitley and Jeffrey L. Boyer, International Journal of Paleopathology 21: 166-177.

Other recent publications:

2020 Separating the Dead from the Living: Identification of Migrants in the Taos Valley. In Ancient Southwest Mortuary Practices, edited by James T. Watson and Gordon F.M. Rakita. University Press of Colorado.

2020 Back to Bondage: Forced Labor in Post Reconstruction Era Texas. Reign Clark, Catrina Banks Whitley, Ron Ralph, Helen Graham, Theresa Jach, Abigail Eve Fisher, Valerie Tompkins, Emily van Zanten, and Karissa Basse. Submitted to the Fort Bend Independent School District in fulfillment of the Texas Historical Commission Antiquities Permit 8197. Goshawk Environmental Consulting, Inc.

2010 Catrina Banks Whitley and Kyra Kramer. A New Explanation for the Reproductive Woes and Midlife Decline of Henry VIIIThe Historical Journal 53(4):1-22.