Graduate Theses & Dissertations


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
Neolithic Resource Use and Adaptation in the Eastern Gobi Desert
Stone axes and adzes first appeared in the eastern Gobi Desert at 8.0 cal BP and were incorporated into the technological package. At the same time, changes in local ecological conditions reflect a transition from continuous grass/shrub-steppe across the Mongolian Plateau to the development of dispersed patches of dune-field wetland oases and high-elevation forests. This thesis focuses on exploring the adoption and function of axes and adzes in the eastern Gobi Desert and their relationship to the development of these new forested ecologies. Using an experimental and use-wear approach, I analyze 29 axes and adzes from four sites in the eastern Gobi Desert of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia. Results indicate that axes and adzes were primarily used for woodworking but include other activities. Furthermore, the adoption and manufacture of axes and adzes represent an increasing investment in producing formal technologies as resources within these new diverse ecological patches were intensively utilized. Author Keywords: Adaptation, Axes and Adzes, Eastern Gobi Desert, Neolithic, Technological Intensification, Use-Wear
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
Assessing Quality of Life for the Urban Inhabitants of Classical Angkor, Cambodia (c. 802-1432 CE)
This thesis examines the interrelationship of urban planning and population health at the site of Angkor (c. 802-1432 CE), the capital city of the Classical Khmer state, now found within modern-day Cambodia. The inhabitants of Angkor developed a settlement strategy that relied on the dispersal of water management features, rice fields, temples and residential areas, to best utilize the spread-out environmental resources of the surrounding monsoon-forest climate. Thus, the main question to be answered by this thesis is this: did the city-planning practice of dispersed, low-density agrarian urbanism promote resilience against the disease hazards associated with tropical environments? To answer this question, methods involved creating assessing environmental and socio-cultural factors which habituated the urban inhabitants of Angkor’s relationship to disease hazards. The results of this assessment demonstrate that it was not until the last stages of Angkor’s urban development, when non-farming members of the population were concentrated into the “core” area of temples within city, that the city’s inhabitants’ vulnerability to infectious disease increased. As the city took a more compact settlement form, it was not as environmentally compatible as the earlier dispersed pattern. Significantly, archaeological case studies such as this can illustrate the long-term development and end-result of urban planning to deal with disease hazards, both in terms of everyday occurrences, as well as during crisis events, which has important implications for contemporary research on environmental disasters today. Author Keywords: Adaptive Strategies, Mainland Southeast Asia, Pre-industrial Urbanization, Resilience, Tropical Diseases
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
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
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
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
Testing the Validity of Dental Calculus as a Proxy to Bone in Paleodietary Studies Using Stable Isotope Analysis
This study investigates the use of dental calculus for paleodietary studies using stable isotope analysis of a skeletal sample from the Greek colonial site of Apollonia Pontica, Bulgaria (5th to 3rd century BC). A sample of 27 individuals was used to examine the δ13C and δ15N values of paired dental calculus and bone samples, and the dental calculus was analyzed as separate organic and inorganic components. No significant correlation was found between the δ13C values of either the bone collagen and organic dental calculus samples, or the bone apatite and inorganic dental calculus samples. A significant correlation was found between the δ15N values of the bone collagen and organic dental calculus samples; however, the reason for this correlation is unclear. A greater range of variation in the δ13C and δ15N values was found in the organic dental calculus samples compared to the respective bone collagen samples. These results suggest that dental calculus is not an appropriate proxy to bone for paleodietary studies using stable isotope analysis and that any dietary signal is clouded by other data. The oral microbiome is considerably diverse and is the most probable explanation for the great range of stable isotope values obtained from dental calculus. A significant, strong correlation was found between the C/N ratios and δ15N values of the organic dental calculus samples, suggesting that the lowest C/N ratios and δ15N values depict deposits with the least bacterial alteration. Author Keywords: carbon, dental calculus, nitrogen, paleodietary studies, Social Sciences, stable isotopes
Reassessing Bioarchaeological Sex Determination and Research into Gender at the Early Anglo-Saxon Worthy Park Burial Ground Round in Hampshire, England
When bioarchaeologists investigate ancient gender identity, they typically place skeletal remains into one of six sex assessment categories: male, female, possible/probable male, possible/probable female, ambiguous, and indeterminate. However, the study samples are often reduced to male and female reproducing a male/female gender and sex binary prevalent in the "Western" cultural milieu and bioarchaeology when inferences are made about gender and sex in the past. In order to allow for the existence of non-binary cultural genders and biological sexes, this thesis: 1) demonstrates the multitude of ethnographic, ethnohistoric, historic, and medical evidence relating to non-binary sex and gender expression; 2) tests a method inspired by Whelan (1991) that looks at gender as an identity not fully inspired by biological sex; 3) keeps all sex assessment categories used by bioarchaeologists separate in analysis and interpretation; and 4) analyses patterns relating to all available material culture and biological attributes in a mortuary sample to investigate gender identity. This thesis used the Early Anglo-Saxon (470-600 AD) burial ground at Worthy Park in Hampshire to achieve these objectives. This thesis found that when examining all sex assessment categories among all mortuary variables, only the male sex was clearly defined by its mortuary assemblage. This suggests a one gender structure corresponding to linguistic evidence for one gender in Old English. Author Keywords: Anglo-Saxon, Bioarchaeology, Gender identity, Mortuary archaeology, Osteoarchaeology, Sex determination


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