Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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
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
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
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
Socio-Ecology and the Sacred
Within the complex socio-ecological systems of South and Southeast Asia, ancient sacred natural sites were created by, and imbued with, cultural and ideological values. These landscapes are liminal spaces or threshold environments between cultivated areas and wilder spaces; the practice of creating and maintaining them persists from ancient to modern times. This thesis examines sacred natural sites in three early state formations from 800 – 1400 CE: the Khmer (Cambodia), the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) and the Chola (South India), why they persisted over time, and what significance they held. Several ancient sacred natural sites are active parts of societies today, and the ones chosen for this study span several categories: mountains, rivers, forests/groves, and caves. Using the paradigm of entanglement theory in a comparative context, this thesis analyzes sacred natural sites acting as key socio-ecological nodes enmeshed in complex dependent relationships within the landscapes of the South and Southeast Asia. Author Keywords: Comparative study, Entanglement theory, Sacred natural sites, Socio-ecological systems, South Asia, Tropical Societies
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
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

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