Graduate Theses & Dissertations


"Energetics" of Mycenaean Defense Works
This thesis examines the mobilization of labour required for fortification construction during the Late Helladic (LH) period of the Aegean Bronze Age. It adopts an "energetics" approach to architecture, as a framework for systematically calculating the labour costs of construction, and using such costs to infer relative differences in political power among groups and communities through the implied differences in labour control. Accordingly, construction costs were generated for thirty-six LH fortifications, located across seven distinct regional zones of the Greek mainland and Aegean Sea. These values were then compared and evaluated against what is known of the political geographies for each region, to measure the extent to which the mobilization of labour was a function of regional power in Late Bronze Age Greece. These assessments revealed that a wide range of variation existed among the sampled regions in terms of the strength and nature of this connection, underscoring the diversity in labour relations that developed throughout the Aegean during the LH period. The labour costs were also used to suggest specific systems of recruitment that may have been in place for mobilizing workers, and to argue that fortification construction would not have been particularly burdensome or demanding for certain local populations. Author Keywords: Energetics, Fortifications, Late Bronze Age, Monumental Architecture
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Late Epigravettian Resource Exploitation in the Southern Pre-Alpine Region
This study examines the foraging strategies employed by Late Epigravettian occupants at Riparo Tagliente, Italy. The study sample is composed of highly fragmented macrofaunal remains recovered from a single stratigraphic layer (layer 617) located at the cave border in the southern portion of the site. Models derived from foraging theory, chiefly the Central Place Forager Prey Choice Model, are applied to interpret the pattern of faunal exploitation. Red deer (Cervus elaphus) is the most commonly identified species in the sample, followed by roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa). The faunal analysis suggests that the site occupants focused their foraging efforts in lower–altitude resource patches at short travel distances. The distribution and composition of the sample indicates that bone may have been used as a fuel source in this area. Author Keywords: Archaeozoology, Foraging Theory, Taphonomy, Upper Paleolithic
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


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