Graduate Theses & Dissertations


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 Molecular and Ecological Differentiation in Wild Carnivores
Wild populations are notoriously difficult to study due to confounding stochastic variables. This thesis tackles two components of investigating wild populations. The first examines the use of niche modeling to quantify macro-scale predator-prey relationships in canid populations across eastern North America, while the second examines range-wide molecular structure in Canada lynx. The goal of the first chapter is to quantify niche characteristics in a Canis hybrid zone of C. lupus, C. lycaon, and C. latrans to better understand the ecological differentiation of these species, and to assess the impacts of incorporating biotic interactions into species distribution models. The goal of the second chapter is to determine if DNA methylation, an epigenetic marker that modifies the structure of DNA, can be used to differentiate populations, and might be a signature of local adaptation. Our results indicated that canids across the hybrid zone in eastern North America exhibit low levels of genetic and ecological differentiation, and that the importance of biotic interactions are largely lost at large spatial scales. We also identified cryptic structure in methylation patterns in Canada lynx populations, which suggest signatures of local adaptation, and indicate the utility of DNA methylation as a marker for investigating adaptive divergence. Author Keywords: Ecological Epigenetics, Ecological Genetics, SDM
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
From Foraging to Farming
This study examines foraging strategies during the Middle Woodland Period’s Sandbanks Phase (A.D. 700–1000) on Boyd Island, Pigeon Lake, Ontario. The faunal remains analyzed in this study were recovered from a site associated with the procurement of aquatic and terrestrial taxa. Detailed taphonomic analyses have revealed that the Boyd Island faunal remains were affected by weathering and human transport decisions. White-tailed deer was the most frequently acquired prey at Boyd Island, followed by black bear. Using the central place forager prey choice model as a framework, the analysis of diet breadth and carcass transport patterns suggests that most animal resources were acquired from both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, at moderate distances from the site. Incomplete carcasses of large game appear to have been transported away from the site, where they were subsequently processed for provisioning or consumption. Comparisons with other Sandbanks faunal assemblages and those dating to later periods indicate significant differences in terms of taxonomic composition, while continuing to emphasize the use of fish. It is suggested that the Middle Woodland foragers adopted subsistence strategies focusing on the exploitation of local habitats in which productivity may have been enhanced through niche construction associated with the low-level food production activities. Author Keywords: animal resource exploitation, archaeozoology, foraging theory, Middle Woodland, niche construction theory, southcentral Ontario
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
Agriculture as Niche Construction
The Neolithic Period (c. 6200 – 4900 BC) in the Struma River Valley led to numerous episodes of cultural diversification. When compared with the neighbouring regions, the ecological characteristics of the Struma River Valley are particularly heterogeneous and the Neolithic populations must have adapted to this distinctive and localized ecological setting. It then becomes reasonable to ask if the evolution of cultural variability in the Struma River Valley was at least partially driven by the ecological setting and differentiation in the evolution of the early agricultural niche. In this thesis, I apply an approach based on niche construction theory and Maxent species distribution modeling in order to characterize the relationship between culture and ecology during each stage of the Neolithic Period and to assess diachronic change. An interpretation of the results demonstrates that the continuous reconstruction of the early agricultural niche allowed for settlement expansion into new eco-cultural niches presenting different natural selection pressures and that cultural change followed. I also found that cultural and historical contingencies played an equally important role on the evolution of populations and that ecological factors alone cannot account for the numerous episodes of cultural diversification that occurred throughout the region. Author Keywords: Agriculture, Bulgaria, Eco-cultural Niche Modeling, Greece, Neolithic, Niche Construction
Lithic Raw Material Characterization and Technological Organization of a Late Archaic Assemblage from Jacob Island, Kawartha Lakes, Ontario
The objective of this thesis is to document and characterize the raw material and technological organization of a Late Archaic assemblage from Jacob Island, 1B/1C area (collectively referred to as BcGo-17), Peterborough County, Kawartha Lakes, Ontario. The purpose of this research is to gain a greater understanding of the Late Archaic period in central Ontario; particularly information on locally available raw material types (i.e., Trent Valley cherts) and regional interaction. My aim is to define the range of materials exploited for stone tool production and use, and to explore how variation in material relates to variation in economic strategies; I also complete a basic technological study. The collected data is then compared to temporally and geographically similar sites, and used to interpret possible relationships between acquisition practices, technology choices, and mobility. It was found that although the assemblage agrees with some of the mobility and raw material utilization models from south-western Ontario, many do not explain what was occurring on Jacob Island. Author Keywords: Archaic, Lithic Economic Strategies, Lithic Raw Material, Lithic Technology, Ontario Archaeology, Trent Valley
Hunnic Warfare in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries C.E.
The Huns are one of the most misunderstood and mythologized barbarian invaders encountered by the Roman Empire. They were described by their contemporaries as savage nomadic warriors with superior archery skills, and it is this image that has been written into the history of the fall of the Western Roman Empire and influenced studies of Late Antiquity through countless generations of scholarship. This study examines evidence of Hunnic archery, questions the acceptance and significance of the “Hunnic archer” image, and situates Hunnic archery within the context of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. To achieve a more accurate picture of the importance of archery in Hunnic warfare and society, this study undertakes a mortuary analysis of burial sites associated with the Huns in Europe, a tactical and logistical study of mounted archery and Late Roman and Hunnic military engagements, and an analysis of the primary and secondary literature. Author Keywords: Archer, Barbarian, Bow, Hun, Roman, Weapon
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
Cemeteries and Hunter-Gatherer Land-Use Patterns
The principle aim of this thesis is to evaluate the applicability of the Goldstein/Kelly hypothesis, which proposes that hunter-gatherer cemeteries emerge as a product of resource competition, and function to confirm and maintain ancestral ties to critical resources. My evaluation centres on a case study of the earliest known cemeteries of the middle Trent Valley, Ontario. To determine whether these predictions are true, I investigated the ecological context of local wetland-based foraging, and undertook a locational analysis to determine if the placement of cemeteries correlates with environmental characteristics that reflect the presence of valuable resources that are unique to these locations. The analysis reveals that ancient cemeteries in the middle Trent Valley were located near seasonal riparian wetlands, possibly to secure wild rice and the variety of fauna it attracts. Through the integration of paleoecological, archaeological, and ethnographic information for the region, this research finds support for the Goldstein/Kelly hypothesis. Author Keywords: Cemeteries, Hunter-Gatherers, Landscape Archaeology, Late Archaic, Middle Woodland, Ontario
Investigating Ecological Niche Differentiation Among Wild Candids Experiencing Hybridization in Eastern North America
Currently there are large areas of the North American landscape that are occupied by Canis spp. hybrids of several varieties, leading to the logical question as to the genetic structure and ecological function of Canis populations across the continent, and to what extent hybrids reflect contemporary landscapes. This study illustrated patterns of niche differentiation between parental canid species and their hybrids using individual high quality genetic profile and species distribution models to support the intermediate phenotype hypothesis. In general, hybrids demonstrated an intermediate habitat suitability compared to its parental species, across most environmental variables used. A similar trend was observed in the niche metric analysis, where we found that hybrids exhibit intermediate niche breadth, with eastern coyotes and eastern wolves exhibiting the broader and narrower niche, respectively. Our results demonstrate that the intermediate phenotype hypothesis is supported even at a large scale and when involving highly mobile large mammal species. Author Keywords: canid, ecological niche modelling, hybridization, intermediate phenotype, microsatellite genotype, niche differentiation
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


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