Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Analyzing agricultural decision making in the Late Roman Empire
In the Roman World, at least 80% and up to 95% of the population lived and worked in a rural environment, driving the agronomic economy of the empire. During the Late Roman Empire (AD 300-600), there were a number of widespread political, social, and economic changes faced by the people who made up the empire. Through all these changes, the empire maintained its tax collection and households maintained agricultural production. I will be examining settlement in the rural region of Isauria (Rough Cilicia) to understand the Late Roman agricultural production in a rural environment. This thesis focuses on the decision making that all economic levels of households would face when producing goods within this Late Roman Economy. Using an economic theory of the peasant economy, I develop a framework through which to view the agronomic production of the Late Roman Period which I use to understand the household as an agent. Author Keywords: Ancient Economy, Isauria, Late Roman, Peasant Economy, Roman Economy
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
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
Archaeology and Reconciliation in the Williams Treaties Territory
This thesis examines the history of Indigenous inclusion in the discipline of archaeology and how archaeologists can provide reconciliation when working with Indigenous peoples in their territory. This thesis focuses on the territory of the Williams Treaties with a particular focus on the location of Nogojiwanong (Peterborough). My data consists of in-depth interviews from ten informants and studying three case studies that happened in the area. I take my informants’ suggestions and apply them to my case studies, to show practical examples of how we can provide reconciliation in the field of archaeology. Author Keywords: Decolonization , Heritage Management , Indigenous, Reconciliation
Cemeteries and Hunter-Gatherer Land-Use Patterns
The principle aim of this thesis is to evaluate the applicability of the Goldstein/Kelly hypothesis, which proposes that hunter-gatherer cemeteries emerge as a product of resource competition, and function to confirm and maintain ancestral ties to critical resources. My evaluation centres on a case study of the earliest known cemeteries of the middle Trent Valley, Ontario. To determine whether these predictions are true, I investigated the ecological context of local wetland-based foraging, and undertook a locational analysis to determine if the placement of cemeteries correlates with environmental characteristics that reflect the presence of valuable resources that are unique to these locations. The analysis reveals that ancient cemeteries in the middle Trent Valley were located near seasonal riparian wetlands, possibly to secure wild rice and the variety of fauna it attracts. Through the integration of paleoecological, archaeological, and ethnographic information for the region, this research finds support for the Goldstein/Kelly hypothesis. Author Keywords: Cemeteries, Hunter-Gatherers, Landscape Archaeology, Late Archaic, Middle Woodland, Ontario
Merit-Making and Monuments
Bagan, Myanmar’s capital during the country’s Classical period (c. 800-1400 CE), and its surrounding landscape was once home to at least four thousand monuments. These monuments were the result of the Buddhist pursuit of merit-making, the idea that individuals could increase their socio-spiritual status by performing pious acts for the Sangha (Buddhist Order). Amongst the most meritous act was the construction of a religious monument. Using the iconographic record and historical literature, alongside entanglement theory, this thesis explores how the movement of labour, capital, and resources for the construction of these monuments influenced the settlement patterns of Bagan’s broader cityscape. The findings suggest that these monuments bound settlements, their inhabitants, and the Crown, in a variety of enabling and constraining relationships. This thesis has created the foundations for understanding the settlements of Bagan and serves as a useful platform to perform comparative studies once archaeological data for settlement patterning becomes available. Author Keywords: Bagan, Entanglement, Religious Monuments Buddhism, Settlement Patterns, Southeast Asia
Ethnoarchaeology in the Traditional Villages of Bagan, Myanmar
This thesis investigates the current composition of traditional settlements located in and around the remains of the ancient, walled and moated, regal-ritual epicenter of Bagan, Myanmar. This study also provides some suggestions as to strategies that may be employed by future settlement archaeology projects in the region. To achieve the aims of this study, an ethnoarchaeological approach was employed at ten village sites located on the Bagan plain: Thè Pyin Taw, Thè Shwe Hlaing, Zee Oo, Kon Sin Kyi, Kon Tan Gyi, Minnanthu, Hpauck Sein Pin, Thah Tay Kan, East Pwa Saw, and West Pwa Saw. The data obtained from these villages, compounds, and houses is used to generate a version of the average Bagan village, compound (i.e., house lot), and house. The model Bagan village, compound, and house are in turn used to provide the basis for suggestions to be used in future settlement archaeology projects. Author Keywords: Ancient Tropical Societies, Bagan, Ethnoarchaeology, Myanmar, Settlement Archaeology, Southeast Asia
Identifying non-local individuals at the ancient Maya centre of Minanha, Belize through the use of strontium isotope analysis
Strontium isotope analysis has become an important tool in identifying non-local individuals at archaeological sites. For this study, tooth enamel samples were collected from 20 individuals from the ancient Maya centre of Minanha, Belize. These individuals date to periods spanning the formative occupation of the centre, as well as its fluorescence and protracted decline. The goal of this research was to investigate if non-local individuals played a role in Minanha's formation and fluorescence. The study utilised published strontium isotope maps from Belize and the Yucatán in order to establish local 87Sr/86Sr values. The values of the Minanha enamel samples (n = 20) fell predominantly outside of the expected strontium isotope range; this result seemed implausible and an alternative method was utilised to establish the local 87Sr/86Sr values. The outlier method identified 5/20 (25%) non-local individuals. All of the non-local individuals had 87Sr/86Sr values that coincided with published 87Sr/86Sr values reported from within 10 - 20 km of Minanha. However, some strontium isotope values also corresponded with 87Sr/86Sr values reported from regions >50 km away. The percentage of non-locals at Minanha is consistent with other Mesoamerican centres. This study emphasises the importance of collecting local baseline 87Sr/86Sr values from sites themselves, as 87Sr/86Sr values from neighbouring regions might not reflect local strontium isotope values. Author Keywords: Ancient Maya, bioarchaeology, migration, mobility, Vaca Plateau
Postclassic Maya Diet
Postclassic (AD 900-1500) Maya diet at Ka’kabish, Belize was examined using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of human bone collagen, and stable carbon isotope analysis of bone structural carbonate. Isotope data were compared to skeletal and dental indicators of diet and disease, and dietary differences among burials excavated from chultuns (B-2, C-1, C-2, and C-3) at Ka’kabish. Varying in dimensions, chultuns are characterized as multiple subterranean chambers carved into limestone bedrock, where re-entry was permitted through the removal of a capstone placed over a circular entrance. Due to poor preservation and commingling of human remains, diet and its relation to age, sex, and social status could not be explored. The general diet at Ka’kabish is consistent with the consumption of a diverse range of terrestrial plants and animals, in addition to marine resources. Relative to the other chultun burials, Chultun C-2 is an outlier, with a noticeably different diet, evidence for skeletal pathology, and absence of dental modifications. This study demonstrates a lack of significant dietary differences among Postclassic Maya sites in northern Belize, along with an apparent reliance on marine resources, further supporting the notion of a close association, and equal participation in a regional trading system with coastal sites that allowed for populations in this region to thrive during the Postclassic period. Author Keywords: Ancient Maya, Bioarchaeology, Ka'kabish, Osteology, Postclassic, Stable Isotopes
Radiocarbon Analysis of the Middle to Late Woodland Transition in Southern Ontario
The goal of the thesis is to establish the temporal patterning of the cultural complexes of the Middle to Late Woodland periods in Ontario. To do so I examine the statistical shape and phase boundaries of samples of radiocarbon dates associated with the Princess Point, Sandbanks, Glen Meyer, and Pickering archaeological complexes. The radiocarbon dates used for this thesis were collected through published sources, grey literature, and resources such as the Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database. Each date was put through a data hygiene process and those deemed acceptable were merged into Summed Probability Distributions (SPDs) and further analysed through the r-carbon and OxCal packages. Bayesian statistics were used to estimate the start and end dates per complex, Shapiro-Wilks tests were used to examine the legitimacy of cultural entities, and the amount of geographic, and chronological overlap was determined by randomly sampling between the compared datasets to determine an acceptable threshold of randomness. Results indicate that the Princess Point complex does not meet the requirements of a culturally homogeneous archaeological cultural group. There is no difference in the Glen Meyer and Pickering radiocarbon patterns, which supports combining them into a single cultural designation. It was impossible to evaluate the Sandbanks complex due to a lack of radiocarbon data, although overall it seems to agree with the current understanding of the complex. Author Keywords: Glen Meyer, Ontario Archaeology, Pickering, Princess Point, Radiocarbon, Sandbanks
Comparative Studies in Tropical Epicentres in Southeast Asia
From ca. 800-1400 CE, low-density agrarian states dominated Southeast Asia, their authority emanating from their epicentres at places such as Angkor in Cambodia, Bagan in Myanmar, and Sukhothai in Thailand. These epicentres were the setting for numerous structures, activities, and stakeholders that became integral for the perpetuation of the state. These states and their epicentres declined and collapsed around the same time. As part of a larger project (the Socio-ecological Entanglement in Tropical Societies (SETS Project), the aim of this thesis is to add to our understanding of entanglement, resilience, and collapse in Southeast Asia. Using a relatively new method that combines resilience and entanglement theories, this thesis presents a view of epicentral entanglements and vulnerabilities that eventually contributed to the collapse of these societies. The results indicate that overextended socio-ecological systems and their growing entanglements created a loss of resilience and, when faced with change in these systems, collapse. Author Keywords: Angkor, Bagan, Entanglement Theory, Resilience Theory, Southeast Asia, Sukhothai
Digital Elevation Models and Viewshed Analysis
This thesis approaches the issue of Viewshed Analysis and how it can impact the understanding of a medieval environment. Centered on the High Medieval period of Cilicia, in what is today Southwestern Turkey, the precision of Viewsheds in a complex terrain is evaluated, and the role of the fortifications in the environment is expanded upon. The maps that were generated for this thesis demonstrate that the use of free datasets must be done with caution, and that the use of more than one dataset is crucial in trying to create a clearer picture of the environment. The examination of four separate sets of fortifications within the region leads to new questions about the role of fortifications in the region, as well as a better understanding of what groups such as the Armenian Cilicians and the Knights Templar were doing in the High Medieval period. Finally, conclusions are made regarding the future impact of GIS based studies, and how they can help scholars understand Ancient and Medieval landscapes. Author Keywords: Armenian Cilicia, Fortifications, GIS, Viewshed


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