Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Exploring Least Cost Path Analysis
Least cost path analysis is considered by many scholars as being a good proxy for studying movement and interactions between sites in the landscape. Although it is widely used, there are many limitations and challenges yet to be overcome concerning the reliability of the results. The examples used from the Göksu Valley during the late Roman Imperial rule emphasize the need to clearly understand how the tool works in generating least cost paths and how these can be interpreted and related to human movement. The resolution and accuracy of the elevation data used also play an important role in least cost path analysis and these depend on the topographical area being studied. New venues are constantly being sought and the success of any analysis depends on how the results are compared and tested in concert with data obtained from various sources and through more visually advanced mapping software. Author Keywords: GIS, Göksu Valley, Turkey, Late Roman period, Least cost path, Roads, Routes, Communication, Spatial analysis
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
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
GIS-based Spatial Analysis of Visibility and Movement Using the Ancient Maya Center of Minanha, Belize
It has long been hypothesized the location of the ancient Maya center of Minanha was a strategic one based on its ability to control the flow of communication and key resources between major geopolitical zones. Situated in the Vaca Plateau, at the nexus of the Belize River Valley, the Petén District of Guatemala, and the Maya Mountains, Minanha became a Late Classic polity capital that was tapped into a regional economy as well as long-distance trade networks. In this thesis I present a GIS-based spatial analysis that includes viewshed and cost surface analysis (CSA) to model visibility and movement within the north Vaca Plateau and neighboring regions to address specific questions concerning Minanha's strategic value. The results indicate that Minanha occupied a visually prominent location in proximity to major corridors of movement that suggest it was strategically, and in fact ideally located, as a polity capital with the ability to monitor the movement of people and resources. Author Keywords: Belize, GIS, Least Cost Path, Maya, Minanha, Viewshed
Paleolandscape Reconstruction of Burleigh Bay, Ontario 12,600 cal BP to Present
This thesis presents a palaeotopographic reconstruction of the Burleigh Bay region of Stony Lake (Kawartha Lakes Region, Ontario) from 12,600 cal BP to present. The paleotopographic reconstructions are used to model paleoshoreline locations and archaeological site potential for the Late Paleoindian and early Archaic periods. Isostatic rebound following the end of the last glacial period has altered the topography in the region and water levels are now artificially managed by dams constructed in the 1830s. I completed a high-resolution bathymetric survey using a kayak equiped with a GPS coupled single-beam sonar. Utilizing GIS technology and isostatic rebound response surface models, I created paleotopographic reconstructions for 12,600 cal BP, 11,500 cal BP, 7,000 cal BP, 5,700 cal BP, and present. Results show that water levels in Burleigh Bay have been regressing over time until dam construction. Early site potential is centered in northern inland areas. Site potential following 7,000 cal BP is concentrated in northern areas flooded by the dam. Based on the reconstructions, surveys in lacustrine granite shield regions that follow the Ontario Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists risk missing areas of high archaeological potential for early sites in these environments. Paleolandscape reconstructions would alleviate this issue by modeling paleoshoreline changes over time. Author Keywords: Canadian Shield, Early Archaic, Isostatic Rebound, Kawartha Lakes, Late Paleoindian, Paleolandscape
Critical Analysis of the Adoption of Maize in Southern Ontario and its Spatial, Demographic, and Ecological Signatures
This thesis centers on analyzing the spatial, temporal, and ecological patterns associated with the introduction of maize horticulture into Southern Ontario - contextualized against social and demographic models of agricultural transition. Two separate analyses are undertaken: a regional analysis of the spread of maize across the Northeast using linear regression of radiocarbon data and a standard Wave of Advance model; and a local analysis of village locational trends in Southern Ontario using a landscape ecological framework, environmental data and known village sites. Through the integration of these two spatial and temporal scales of analysis, this research finds strong support for both migration and local development. A third model of competition and coalescence is presented to describe the patterning in the data. Author Keywords: Demographic Modeling, Environmental Modeling, Geostastical Analysis, Maize, Ontario Archaeology, Spread of Agriculture
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
Maya Exploitation of Animal Resources during the Middle Preclassic Period
This study examines the foraging strategies of animal resource exploitation during the Middle Preclassic period (900-300 BC) at the ancient Maya site of Pacbitun, Belize. The faunal remains analyzed in this study were recovered from various domestic structures associated with the production of shell artifacts. Detailed taphonomic analyses have revealed that the Pacbitun faunal remains were particularly affected by weathering and density-mediated attrition. White-tailed deer was the prey most frequently acquired by the Middle Preclassic Maya of Pacbitun, followed by other lower-ranked artiodactyls. A variety of less profitable prey were sometimes included in the diet breadth. Using the central place forager prey choice model as a framework, the analysis of diet breadth, habitat use, and carcass transport patterns suggests that most animal resources were acquired from terrestrial habitats, at short distances from the site. Complete carcasses of large game appear to have been frequently transported to the site, where they were exploited for their meat and marrow. Comparisons with other Middle Preclassic faunal assemblages indicate significant differences in terms of taxonomic composition, with an emphasis on the procurement of fish and turtles. It is suggested that the Middle Preclassic Maya adopted foraging strategies focusing on the exploitation of local habitats, with occasional use of exotic resources. Author Keywords: Animal, Belize, Foraging, Maya, Subsistence, Zooarchaeology
Situating Copper Bells in Prehispanic Southwest Societies
This thesis examines the spatial, temporal, and contextual distribution of copper bells in the Greater Southwest region and how they are situated in archaeological literature. To date, 672 copper bells have been found in at least 113 different Southwestern sites dating from ca. A.D. 900-1450, though there is no archaeological evidence for metallurgical activities in the area at this time. The origin of copper bells has been assumed to be West Mexico, a region known for its metallurgical traditions and whose inhabitants produced copious amounts of similar bells. Various lists of copper bells discovered have been compiled over the years, but little consideration has been given to the role these artifacts may have played in Southwestern societies. Copper bells are frequently labelled as prestige goods in archaeological literature, a term which fails to account for their significant depositional variation. By updating the database of known Southwestern copper bells, it becomes possible to examine these contextual distributions in greater detail. It is concluded that the prestige goods model is not suitable for Southwestern copper bells in many cases, and that alternative frameworks such as inalienable possessions are a better fit for these artifacts. Author Keywords: Archaeology, copper bells, inalienable possesions, interaction, U.S. Southwest
Geospatial Analysis of Late Paleoindan Hi-Lo Points in Ontario and New York
This thesis analyzes variability in a sample (n=302) of late Paleoindian Hi-Lo points from Ontario and New York. Biface variability is recorded using landmark geometric morphometrics. Raw material data is used to assess Hi-Lo toolstone usage patterns and the impact of raw material constraints on manufacture. Statistical analyses are used to assess patterning of variability in space. Spatial results are interpreted using cultural transmission theory in terms of their implications for the geographic scale of social learning among Hi-Lo knappers. Results of the spatial analyses are related to theory about hunter-gatherer social networks in order to understand the effects of hypothesized settling in processes on late Paleoindian knappers. Results indicate random spatial patterning of Hi-Lo variability. The absence of spatial autocorrelation for Hi-Lo size indicates that settling in processes were not sufficiently pronounced during the late Paleoindian period to manifest as inter-regional variability within the Hi-Lo type. Author Keywords: Biface Variability, Cultural Transmission, Geometric Morphometrics, Hi-Lo, Late Paleoindian, Ontario
Archaeological Investigation of the North Group at Pacbitun, Belize
This thesis reports on the 2010 excavations of the North Group and Eastern Court at the ancient Lowland Maya site of Pacbitun. It provides a construction history of the architecture and an analysis of associated artifacts, burials, and caches. The archaeological investigations demonstrate that the seven structures (Strs. 34-40) of this restricted access plazuela group were built in the Early Classic period, and renewed in the Late Classic period. Based on analyses of artifacts (ceramics and lithics), skeletal and faunal remains, and intra- and inter-site comparisons, the North Group functioned as a secondary elite domestic residential group. Reconstruction suggests that the inhabitants here were not commoners; instead, the occupants probably were related to the ruling elite of Pacbitun. Some of the evidence includes the central location and elevation of the North Group, the presence of red painted plaster surfacing, a burial with multiple ceramic musical instruments, and multiple dedicatory caches with exotic goods (e.g., marine shell, jadeite, "Charlie Chaplin" figures). Author Keywords: Ancient Maya, ceramic musical instruments, Charlie Chaplin figurines, Pacbitun, North Group, Eastern Court, Belize River Valley, Belize, restrictive access plazuela group, secondary elite
Question of Space
Chultuns are subterranean chambers that are found throughout the Maya area. The purpose of this thesis is to provide further insight into the function of chultuns, specifically within the area of the Southern Maya Lowlands. Within the Northern Lowlands, the Pre-Columbian Maya used chultuns for water storage, but this function does not appear to be as prevalent within the Southern Lowlands Through reviewing published literature and first-hand excavation, a total of 332 chultuns located with the specified area were catalogued into a database. Based on the information obtained from the research, this thesis has identified the most frequent final function of chultuns, if there is chronological change in final functions of chultuns, and if there is regional change in final functions of chultuns. Author Keywords: burial, chultuns, Maya, ritual, Southern Lowlands, storage


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