Old Family Trees

Another quick little post from a little while back, around Christmas news broke about the oldest family tree yet discovered. Researchers used DNA recovered from a 5700-year old tomb in the UK to piece together the relationships between the people interred within the tomb.

Graphic wise, we’re not talking about anything crazy or inventive here—it’s a family tree after all. But the designers did a nice job using colour to indicate the different family groups of descent, which were spatially organised within the tomb by the woman to whom the children were born. To be fair, it was all based upon the descendants of one man, but one man who had several wives.

What’s fascinating about this, however, is simply the age. We can go back nearly 6,000 years and simply from DNA create a family tree five generations deep.

The only thing I wish is that we had an accompanying map of the tomb, because that’s the other key part of the story. But at the end of the day I’ll always take a nice family tree.

Credit for the piece goes to Newcastle University’s design team.

Author: Brendan Barry

I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? Well, they asked me not to say. But to be clear, this blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of…my employers. I think what I can say is that given my interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I have become an amateur genealogist and family historian. You will sometimes see that area of work bleed into my posts.

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