Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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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
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
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
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
Holocene Resource Exploitation
This study uses the zooarchaeological record to examine the range of activities represented in Late Archaic period samples excavated from Jacob's Island -1B, in the Trent-Severn Waterway region in Ontario. Radiocarbon dates from sixteen features were used to establish a chronology of site use and occupation. The faunal remains analyzed in this study were recovered from seven dated mortuary features associated with human remains. The results of the faunal analysis suggest that Canis lupus familiaris was the primary species interred at Jacob's Island-1B. Small rodents, specifically Tamias striatus were also found in high abundance and are possibly the result of natural burrowing disturbances. Red ochre staining and low levels of burning were identified. Comparisons with other contemporaneous sites in the region indicate some variation in species composition. It is suggested that Canis lupus familiaris was associated with ritual and mortuary activities at Jacob's Island-1B. Author Keywords: Canis lupus familiaris, Late Archaic Period, Ontario, Ritualsim, Zooarchaeology
An Ecological Analysis of Late Woodland Settlement Patterns in the Rouge River Watershed, Southern Ontario
This thesis seeks to understand the influences of environmental variables on site location selection during the Late Woodland period (ca. A.D. 1000-1650) in south-central Ontario, specifically variables considered to be favourable to maize agriculture. Four analyses were undertaken: a geographic information system (GIS) comparative analysis of Late Woodland sites compared to random points; population estimates of four sites for which settlement pattern data was available; maize consumption estimates for these same sites, and; a maize resources catchment analysis of these sites. The analysis conducted did not produce conclusive results to answer questions related to maize-driven site selection, however it did show that requirements for maize resources at these sites could have been met in catchment areas of a 500 m radius, in one case in 250m. The results led to an important question for future research: if agricultural needs were not driving settlement location selection in this area, what was? Author Keywords: Environmental Modeling, GIS, Late Woodland, Maize Agriculture, Movement of Communities, Ontario Archaeology
VISUAL INFORMATION-PROCESSING AND THE EVOLUTION OF FLAKE MAKING SKILL
Flaked stones tools are the oldest and longest persisting human cultural remains. Some of these tools were made by hominins who were not anatomically or cognitively modern. My thesis uses an eye-tracking device, developed by psychology, to study modern day novice and expert tool making. By comparing these two groups I was able to characterize the behaviours that lead to successful flake making, and furthermore make inferences about the cognitive capacities that hominins would have had to have to have been successful themselves. This study suggests limited engagement of short-term memory and problem solving skills, which is consistent with other studies. However, this study seems to refute the hypothesis that improvements in hand-eye coordination alone account for the rise of flaked stone technology. My thesis also shows that eye-tracking is a fruitful way to study flake making and, based on my research, I propose several future directions of study. Author Keywords: Eye-tracking, Human Evolution, Knapping, Oldowan, Skill
Childhood diet and feeding practices at Apollonia
This study analyses deciduous dental pathology and stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes to investigate the relationship between dietary composition, feeding practices, and oral health in a subadult skeletal sample from the Greek colonial site of Apollonia Pontica, Bulgaria (5th to 3rd century BC). Stable isotope analysis of 74 bone collagen samples indicates that weaning began between the ages of 6 months and 1 year, and was complete by the age of 4. The stable isotope data are consistent with a diet of primarily terrestrial C3 resources. The deciduous dentitions of 85 individuals aged between 8.5 months and 10.5 years were examined for evidence of a number of pathological conditions. The presence of dental caries, calculus, occlusal tooth wear and an abscess indicate that foods introduced early in life affected the oral health of these individuals. Overall, the deciduous dental data correlate well with the stable isotope data and ancient textual sources regarding infant and childhood dietary composition and feeding practices. Author Keywords: breastfeeding, deciduous dentition, dental pathology, stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes, weaning
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
Stable Isotope Analysis of Archaeological Faunal Remains From the Middle Trent Valley, Ontario
A sample of faunal remains (n=129) from seven archaeological sites located on Pigeon and Rice Lakes, Ontario were sampled and analyzed for the stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition of bone collagen. These samples date from the Archaic to Late Woodland and include 35 different animal species. The goal of this research was to investigate the isotope ecology of the Middle Trent Valley and characterize the degree to which isotope ratios varied across space and time between different lakes, as wells as variation within and between species. There were no statistically significant differences in the Middle Trent Valley δ13C or δ15N according to space and time. As such, the isotope data for all archaeological sites were combined to construct an isotope food web for the Middle Trent Valley and compared to Katzenberg’s (1989) food web. These isotope data provide some insight into the dynamic interplay between local ecosystems, and anthropogenically modified landscapes in Ontario. Author Keywords: carbon, food web reconstruction, human-animal relations, Middle Trent Valley, nitrogen, Stable isotope ecology
Water Management Amongst the Ancient States of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Java, and Belize
This thesis investigates the organization and development of water management systems in a sample of past tropical societies in Southeast Asia and Mesoamerica. A comparative approach is employed to show how water management affected the trajectories of the ancient states of Angkor, Cambodia, Bagan, Myanmar, Sukhothai, Thailand, Central and East Java, and Caracol, Belize. Differing types of water management is demonstrated through the use of the adaptive cycle, a conceptual framework through which a broad range of socio-ecological data can be examined in order to explore shifting levels of resilience over time. To understand why levels of resilience might change over time, entanglement theory, which looks at the relationships between humans and things, is utilized to determine how entangled these societies were with water management. Particular degrees of entanglement and shifting levels of resilience provide the analysis with the means to explore how water management changed over time as these societies rose, grew, and finally collapsed. Author Keywords: Ancient Tropical Societies, Entanglement, Resilience, Socio-Ecological Dynamics, Southeast Asia, Water Management
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

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