Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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When He Reigns, It Pours
This thesis examines the symbolic meaning and significance that the elite attached to water in ancient Bagan. Through the use of ethnoarchaeological, epigraphic, archaeological, and iconographic data, this study examines the role of water as part of rituals performed by the royal court and the ways in which the royalty of Bagan, in particular King Kyansittha, negotiated, appropriated and disseminated water symbolism to fulfill his interests. Data indicates that the symbolic and religious meaning of water was intricately attached to Buddhist concepts of fertility, wisdom, creativity, and protective powers. Evidence suggests that the royalty employed different techniques to appropriate and disseminate water ritualization, including the performance of water rituals that were closely attached to kingship, power, and ruler legitimacy, the promotion of an alliance with creatures capable of increasing rains and fertility, and the use of analogies that compared the properties of water with the virtues of the king. Author Keywords: Bagan, Bagan Iconography, Jataka Tales, Royal Rituals, Theravada Buddhism, Water Rituals
Socio-Ecology and the Sacred
Within the complex socio-ecological systems of South and Southeast Asia, ancient sacred natural sites were created by, and imbued with, cultural and ideological values. These landscapes are liminal spaces or threshold environments between cultivated areas and wilder spaces; the practice of creating and maintaining them persists from ancient to modern times. This thesis examines sacred natural sites in three early state formations from 800 – 1400 CE: the Khmer (Cambodia), the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) and the Chola (South India), why they persisted over time, and what significance they held. Several ancient sacred natural sites are active parts of societies today, and the ones chosen for this study span several categories: mountains, rivers, forests/groves, and caves. Using the paradigm of entanglement theory in a comparative context, this thesis analyzes sacred natural sites acting as key socio-ecological nodes enmeshed in complex dependent relationships within the landscapes of the South and Southeast Asia. Author Keywords: Comparative study, Entanglement theory, Sacred natural sites, Socio-ecological systems, South Asia, Tropical Societies
Politics of Feasting
The goal of this thesis is to explore the role that civic (i.e. state-sponsored) feasting and drinking played in early polis (pl. poleis), or city-state formation on Crete in the Early Iron Age to Archaic transition, ca. 700-500 BCE. Using the two recently excavated civic feasting structures at the site of Azoria as a model for both “inclusive” and “exclusive” forms of civic feasting, this project compares and contrasts the role that it played at a number of other sites in central and east Crete. In order to categorize the structures as either inclusive or exclusive, all forms of published evidence were examined including the buildings’ architecture and the socially valued goods and ceramics found within the structures. Ultimately, this project demonstrates that in the 8th century BCE, inclusive feasting rituals and association with the past were used as means of creating and maintaining a strong group identity, which paved the way for the use of more exclusive practices in the 7th century BCE, where sub-group identities and alliances were formed amongst members of the larger group. However, at the sites where there was evidence for multiple civic feasting venues it appears that by the 7th century BCE, the interplay of both inclusive and exclusive forms of feasting was crucial to the process of identity formation for the citizens of these proto-poleis. Author Keywords: Archaic Crete, Commensality, Feasting, Identity Formation, Polis formation
Epicentres, Elites, and Entanglement
This thesis investigates the similarities and differences between the tropical epicenters of South and Southeast Asia during the Charter State era, 800- 1400 CE. This study can inform scholars about the relationship between “people and place” by examining the ground plans, activities, and people associated with each epicenter. By using the comparative approach and entanglement theory, this study will examine the ancient states of Central and East Java, Dai Viet in North Vietnam, the Cham in Central Vietnam, the Chola of South India, and the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka. The ancient Maya of tropical Belize will be used as a cross-cultural comparator, which would not have had any contact with the other charter states. An extensive literature review and on-site visitations were necessary to provide the background and date to accomplish these goals. The results indicate striking similarities between tropical epicenters across the Charter States that developed out of the entanglements between humans and things. This thesis will help to further our understanding of tropical urbanism and the nature of epicenters in tropical environments. Author Keywords: Anuradhapura, Caracol, Entanglement, Thang Long, Thanjavur, Urbanism
Development of a Digital Comparative Collection of Chert Types in Ontario and the Evaluation of Change in Accuracy and Confidence of Chert Type Identifications
The objective of this thesis is to create a foundation for a digital comparative collection of chert types found on archaeological sites in Ontario, both local and non-local varieties, and to evaluate the impact of a digital reference collection on the confidence and accuracy of the user in comparison to hard copy guides or hand samples that are more often traditionally used. Spatial and temporal variation in the use of different lithic raw materials has shown to provide insight into cultural interaction, resource exchange and control across multiple periods in the study of Indigenous archaeology; however comparative collections needed to conduct analyses remain accessible only in a physical form. This study will build a foundation, develop a prototype using a represented sample of hand specimens from the William Fox Northeastern North American Lithic Reference Collection (referred to hereafter as The Fox Collection) at Trent University, and create a prototype digital system to assist the user in identifying the chert type through the use of a simple expert system using a decision tree. The digital identification system was tested by a group of volunteers with to compare accuracy and confidence in analysis against traditional methods of hand samples and hard copy guides. When supplied with the digital reference collection, a statistically significant improvement in the accuracy and confidence of chert identification was identified. Author Keywords: database design, digital comparative collection, digital identification system, expert system, Ontario archaeology, raw material analysis
From Foraging to Farming
This study examines foraging strategies during the Middle Woodland Period’s Sandbanks Phase (A.D. 700–1000) on Boyd Island, Pigeon Lake, Ontario. The faunal remains analyzed in this study were recovered from a site associated with the procurement of aquatic and terrestrial taxa. Detailed taphonomic analyses have revealed that the Boyd Island faunal remains were affected by weathering and human transport decisions. White-tailed deer was the most frequently acquired prey at Boyd Island, followed by black bear. Using the central place forager prey choice model as a framework, the analysis of diet breadth and carcass transport patterns suggests that most animal resources were acquired from both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, at moderate distances from the site. Incomplete carcasses of large game appear to have been transported away from the site, where they were subsequently processed for provisioning or consumption. Comparisons with other Sandbanks faunal assemblages and those dating to later periods indicate significant differences in terms of taxonomic composition, while continuing to emphasize the use of fish. It is suggested that the Middle Woodland foragers adopted subsistence strategies focusing on the exploitation of local habitats in which productivity may have been enhanced through niche construction associated with the low-level food production activities. Author Keywords: animal resource exploitation, archaeozoology, foraging theory, Middle Woodland, niche construction theory, southcentral Ontario
Bundles and Bloodletting
This thesis addresses the inclusion of women within Classic Maya works of art, consisting of, for this purpose, private-consumption ceramic vessels and large scale public monuments. Through the use of Feminist and Gender Theory, Performance Theory, and Iconographic Theory, the roles of women in iconographically depicted ceremonial performance is assessed. A Microsoft Access database was constructed in order to look at various aspects of female depiction, including but not limited to, bodily action, costume, and paraphernalia. The context, individual action, and associated paraphernalia of women performing numerous roles were analyzed, in which women were found to participate in many of the same roles as men, although there are some roles from which either men or women are excluded, and certain paraphernalia items with which women are not associated. Author Keywords: Archaeology, Feminism, Gender Theory, Iconography, Maya Art, Performance Theory
Archaeology, Engagement and Local Communities
This research is an ethnographic investigation into the relationships between the Stélida Naxos Archaeological Project and the local population of Vivlos, the region where the team takes their seasonal residence during their annual archaeological field season. Fieldwork in Vivlos revealed the local peoples’ interest in archaeology, local legends, and Greek history. The people’s cultural identity facilitated a sense of communal pride with hosting the archaeologists for their field season. The archaeologists’ ethical considerations and their friendliness towards the locals during their time in Vivlos followed practices affiliated with public archaeology, laying the groundwork for maintaining positive working relations between the two groups. Author Keywords: Archaeology, Engagement, Local Communities, Public Outreach
Historical Ecology and Shifting Baseline Syndrome in the Kawartha Lakes, Ontario
Archaeological faunal data, historic records and documents and recent biological data are used to construct a historical ecology for Pigeon Lake, Ontario, focusing on fish exploitation. The faunal collections of twelve archaeological sites in the Kawartha Lakes are reviewed to examine pre-contact Indigenous fishing trends and comment on the historic presence, abundance and range of a number of indigenous fish species. A review of historic documents outlines environmental, industrial, and social changes that have played a role in changing the community structure of fish species in Pigeon Lake since the arrival of European settlers in the area. Additionally, interviews were undertaken with local anglers to explore evidence of shifting baseline syndrome (SBS) in modern populations. Finally, statistical tests were performed on the interview data to explore evidence of SBS, and found that SBS is effecting modern anglers perception of ecological change in Pigeon Lake. Author Keywords: Archaeology, Canadian History, Faunal Analysis, Fish, Historical Ecology, Shifting Baseline Syndrome
Agriculture as Niche Construction
The Neolithic Period (c. 6200 – 4900 BC) in the Struma River Valley led to numerous episodes of cultural diversification. When compared with the neighbouring regions, the ecological characteristics of the Struma River Valley are particularly heterogeneous and the Neolithic populations must have adapted to this distinctive and localized ecological setting. It then becomes reasonable to ask if the evolution of cultural variability in the Struma River Valley was at least partially driven by the ecological setting and differentiation in the evolution of the early agricultural niche. In this thesis, I apply an approach based on niche construction theory and Maxent species distribution modeling in order to characterize the relationship between culture and ecology during each stage of the Neolithic Period and to assess diachronic change. An interpretation of the results demonstrates that the continuous reconstruction of the early agricultural niche allowed for settlement expansion into new eco-cultural niches presenting different natural selection pressures and that cultural change followed. I also found that cultural and historical contingencies played an equally important role on the evolution of populations and that ecological factors alone cannot account for the numerous episodes of cultural diversification that occurred throughout the region. Author Keywords: Agriculture, Bulgaria, Eco-cultural Niche Modeling, Greece, Neolithic, Niche Construction
How to Forge an Empire
The goal of this thesis is to explore the production of ferrous (iron) armaments in the Middle Byzantine Empire, and more specifically the tenth century. Three cornerstones define the current research: (1) An exploration of the technology at use in the production of ferrous armaments. (2) A comprehensive look at the logistical and organizational structures which facilitated this industry. (3) A closer look at the labour investments required to manufacture armaments through an ethnographic and experimental approach. The tenth century document known as the De Cerimoniis forms a foundational pillar of the current study. The document details the quantity and types of military equipment required for a naval expedition launched by the Byzantines in A.D. 949. The information provided within has made this inquiry into logistics possible, and has allowed for the assessment of overall trends in the tenth century arms production industry. Author Keywords: armour, arms production, Byzantine military, logistics, metallurgy, weapons
Ritual, Social Organization, and Monumental Architecture
New archaeological material was discovered in 2006 by the Göksu Archaeological Project in an area of Southeastern Turkey known as Rough Cilicia. This thesis documents and explores the material remains from funerary contexts at the sites of Dağpazarı and Topkaya. Architectural analysis of the material from Dağpazarı demonstrates that the remains are of a monumental temple tomb dating to the late second or early third century A.D. Although the remains from Dağpazarı are fragmentary, the evidence is examined to suggest possible architectural reconstructions. The examination of the Topkaya tomb cluster sheds light upon an ornately decorated rock-cut temple façade tomb dating the Roman period. Both sets of tombs are stunning examples of monumental architecture from the Roman period in an area that suffers from a lack of surviving architectural material. In order to understand the variation in monumental tomb forms the relationship between death, burial, and monumental architecture is examined from a functional perspective. The rites of passage are used as a theoretical framework for examining the functional role that monumental architecture plays in the performance of funerary ritual and the formation of social organization in Roman Rough Cilicia. Ultimately, it is demonstrated that monumental funerary architecture serves as a physical manifestation of abstract concepts that aid in the performance of the rites of passage associated with death and the funeral. Thus, this thesis highlights how abstract information can be gained from seemingly limit physical remains. Author Keywords: Burial, Monumental Funerary Architecture, Rites of Passage, Roman, Rough Cilicia, Social Organization

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