Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Radiocarbon Analysis of the Middle to Late Woodland Transition in Southern Ontario
The goal of the thesis is to establish the temporal patterning of the cultural complexes of the Middle to Late Woodland periods in Ontario. To do so I examine the statistical shape and phase boundaries of samples of radiocarbon dates associated with the Princess Point, Sandbanks, Glen Meyer, and Pickering archaeological complexes. The radiocarbon dates used for this thesis were collected through published sources, grey literature, and resources such as the Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database. Each date was put through a data hygiene process and those deemed acceptable were merged into Summed Probability Distributions (SPDs) and further analysed through the r-carbon and OxCal packages. Bayesian statistics were used to estimate the start and end dates per complex, Shapiro-Wilks tests were used to examine the legitimacy of cultural entities, and the amount of geographic, and chronological overlap was determined by randomly sampling between the compared datasets to determine an acceptable threshold of randomness. Results indicate that the Princess Point complex does not meet the requirements of a culturally homogeneous archaeological cultural group. There is no difference in the Glen Meyer and Pickering radiocarbon patterns, which supports combining them into a single cultural designation. It was impossible to evaluate the Sandbanks complex due to a lack of radiocarbon data, although overall it seems to agree with the current understanding of the complex. Author Keywords: Glen Meyer, Ontario Archaeology, Pickering, Princess Point, Radiocarbon, Sandbanks
Postclassic Maya Diet
Postclassic (AD 900-1500) Maya diet at Ka’kabish, Belize was examined using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of human bone collagen, and stable carbon isotope analysis of bone structural carbonate. Isotope data were compared to skeletal and dental indicators of diet and disease, and dietary differences among burials excavated from chultuns (B-2, C-1, C-2, and C-3) at Ka’kabish. Varying in dimensions, chultuns are characterized as multiple subterranean chambers carved into limestone bedrock, where re-entry was permitted through the removal of a capstone placed over a circular entrance. Due to poor preservation and commingling of human remains, diet and its relation to age, sex, and social status could not be explored. The general diet at Ka’kabish is consistent with the consumption of a diverse range of terrestrial plants and animals, in addition to marine resources. Relative to the other chultun burials, Chultun C-2 is an outlier, with a noticeably different diet, evidence for skeletal pathology, and absence of dental modifications. This study demonstrates a lack of significant dietary differences among Postclassic Maya sites in northern Belize, along with an apparent reliance on marine resources, further supporting the notion of a close association, and equal participation in a regional trading system with coastal sites that allowed for populations in this region to thrive during the Postclassic period. Author Keywords: Ancient Maya, Bioarchaeology, Ka'kabish, Osteology, Postclassic, Stable Isotopes
Chew the Fat
Fatty acid analysis was performed on archaeological bone from various fauna from sites in the Canadian arctic to better understand the preservation of fatty acids and their potential applications to palaeoecological and palaeodietary studies. These data were complemented by analyses of modern bone and soft tissue samples from livestock and harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus). Results of modern analyses revealed that in terrestrial species, bone has inherently lower concentrations of most fatty acids relative to other soft tissues (adipose, marrow, and muscle). These analyses suggest that the distribution of fatty acids in bone is unique compared to other tissues, and the types and abundances of fatty acids in bone may be linked to dietary sources of lipids. Of the archaeological samples analyzed, terrestrial species (caribou [Rangifer tarandus]) generally exhibited higher concentrations of saturated fatty acids compared to marine species (ringed seals [Pusa hispida] and polar bears [Ursus maritimus]), whereas marine species had higher concentrations of monounsaturated fatty acids compared to terrestrial species. Results of analyses on both modern and archaeological samples provided insight into the degradation of fatty acids in bone, and the rapid loss of polyunsaturated fatty acids in particular. Because the abundances of fatty acids are likely altered in the burial environment, it is recommended that future analyses incorporate compound specific isotope analysis to focus on applications of fatty acids that are typically in the highest abundance and arguably have undergone the least amount of change, including palmitic (C16:0) and stearic acid (C18:0) Author Keywords: Archaeological Science, Bone Lipids, Fatty Acid Analysis, GC-MS, Lipid Preservation, Palaeoecology
Bifacial Stone Tool Variability during the Late Paleoindian Period at Kruger 2 (BiEx-23), Eastern Townships, Québec
This thesis established the variability of Late Paleoindian bifacial stone tool assemblage from the Kruger 2 site. Kruger 2 is a basecamp occupied during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in the Eastern Townships, Southern Quebec. The goal of this project is to quantify the variability observed in bifacial tools and to explain it. Geometrics Morphometrics and traditional attributed-base lithic analysis are used conjointly for this purpose. Geometrics Morphometrics are a set of methods that are used to distinguish groups based on their shape and to understand the differences between those groups. It is used to test the validity of the morpho-types used to classify bifacial tools found on Kruger 2 (bifaces, drills, Ste-Anne-Varney points, Agate Basin points, and other projectile points). In terms of explanation, the organization of technology postulates (sensu Nelson 1991) lies at the core of the research. The analysis involved defining the factors of biface shape variation and evaluating whether shape variation is caused primarily by raw material, function, tool life histories, or other design constraints. It was determined that all three of these factors contribute to shape differences. The data suggest that the primary factors are raw material availability and tool life histories – two factors intimately intertwined. In other words, it is the organization of technology that seems to be the driving explanatory force that accounts for shape variability. Author Keywords: Eastern Towhships, Geometrics Morphometrics, Late Paleoindian, Organization of technology, Pleistocene-Holocene Transition, Stonetool variability
Ostrich Eggshell from the Far Eastern Steppe
This study uses stable isotope analysis on both the organic and inorganic fractions of ostrich eggshell obtained from archaeological excavations in Mongolia, northern China, and southern Siberia. By establishing the δ13Corg, δ15N, δ13Cinorg, δ18O isotopic compositions of the eggshell of the Asian ostrich (Struthio asiaticus), this study provides insight into the maximum northern range of the species, which I suggest reached Lake Baikal, Siberia through the late Pleistocene, up to the Last Glacial Maximum. Through these isotopic data, the interactions between S. asiaticus and human forager groups are explored, specifically the trade of ostrich eggshell by hunter/gatherer populations in the early/middle Holocene. Because of deviations from the correlation between δ18O and latitude observed for other sites, the site of Shabarakh-usu may have been an aggregation point for ostrich eggshell from other locations. Movement of eggshell is observable from north to south but not from south to north on the basis of eggshell δ18O. Finally, I am able to develop a hypothesis regarding the drivers of species extinction. Specifically, I discuss trade in eggshell leading up to extinction as evidence for human pressure on S. asiaticus at a time when environmental shifts likely isolated populations in small regions of habitable landscape. I therefore implicate both changing environmental conditions and human pressure in my proposed explanation for the extinction of S. asiaticus. Author Keywords: Extinction, Holocene, ostrich, Pleistocene, Steppe, Struthio
Morphology, Production and Trade
The Africana IIA, an amphora subtype of the Africana II class, was produced in Africa Proconsularis (the present-day Tunisian Sahel) during the mid-Roman Imperial period (from the late 2nd c. A.D. to the middle decades of the 3rd c. A.D.), and was distributed around the western Mediterranean. Scholars have noted meaningful morphological variations on this subtype’s rim but had overlooked the information that these rims may convey. The preliminary analysis of the variations found on Africana IIA amphora rims yielded possible connections to various production sites or regions, distribution samples, and/or consumption sites, and suggested that at least some of the rim variants were indicative of origin. The rim variants also seemed to correlate to different trade routes, and potentially, different trade mechanisms, including private versus State interests. Author Keywords: Africa Proconsularis, Africana IIA amphora, ancient economy, Byzacena, ceramics, fabric analysis
Nassau Mills Complex
The objective of this thesis is to develop and implement a heritage plan for the Nassau Mills Complex, a locally-significant Euro-Canadian historical site that operated on what is now Trent University’s campus in Peterborough, Ontario. Within the framework of public archaeology and Cultural Heritage Management (CHM), emphasis is placed on the importance of protecting the site and its historic remains in order for present and future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Data was gathered by way of field and archival research, as well as through consultations with various archaeological and museological professionals. Of particular concern is evaluating how the Complex is significant to Peterborough, how it should be commemorated, public engagement and the importance of information accessibility, and the potential issues that may arise as a result of this project. In addition, recommendations regarding how the site and its collections should be preserved and presented to the collective society are also examined. Author Keywords: Cultural Heritage Management, Nassau Mills Complex, Peterborough, Preservation, Public Archaeology, Trent University
Creation During Abandonment
This thesis addresses the excavation and analysis of the Hingston Group, a small courtyard group just south of the ceremonial core of the Ancient Maya city of Ka’kabish in North-Central Belize. I use settlement and household archaeological theory to understand the functions, occupation history, and status of this residential group. I also rely on entanglement theory, along with the hypothesizes presented by Palka (2003) and McAnany (1995), to create a possible interpretation for the reasons why we see what we do in the Hingston Group during its main period of occupation. The Hingston Group is composed of three structures and two chultuns (underground storage areas). Research teams excavated both chultuns during prior field seasons and found burials from the Postclassic and Late Formative Periods. This information led to the assumption that the occupation of these structures would correspond to one, or both, of these periods. However, we found that this courtyard group was occupied during a period when the rest of the core of Ka’kabish was abandoned. Along with this, excavators found an ephemeral occupation into the Colonial Period; these two new periods of occupation have expanded our understanding of the chronological history of Ka’kabish. Author Keywords: formative to postclassic, household archaeology, Maya, settlement archaeology
Tools and Techniques
The tools and techniques used by Ontario’s Middle Woodland potters to create designs on vessels have often been assumed in the literature. Pottery typologies currently use these assumptions to classify ceramics found in the archaeological record. Assumed, or suggested, tools and techniques include cord impression, cord-wrapped stick, fabric impression, fabric-wrapped paddle, incised paddles, unmodified shell, modified shell dentate tools, and leather thong. This thesis presents a series of experiments using replica versions of these tools. The results reveal that they are all viable tools for creating designs during ceramic manufacture. Specifically, incised paddles may have been used to create check-stamped pottery, unmodified shell may have been to create what the literature calls pseudo-scallop shell impressions, and modified shell may have been used to create what the literature calls dentate impressions. Where possible, experimental tiles were compared with examples from the Charleston Lake collection of complete to near complete Middle and Late Woodland vessels from Southeastern Ontario. These comparisons have revealed problems in the current classification and study of the Charleston Lake collection and a need for a re-evaluation of the current typologies used to classify Middle Woodland pottery Author Keywords: ceramic manufacture, cord-wrapped stick, experimental archaeology, Middle Woodland, point peninsula, pseudo scallop shell
After the Ash Fall
Mount Mazama, a large volcano located in the Cascade Range of Oregon, eruptedsome 7,000 cal. years BP. Following the volcanic eruption, a large portion of the northwestern region of the Great Plains of North America was covered by a thick layer of volcanic ash. The present research project is concerned with the impact of this catastrophic event on the subsistence patterns of the northwestern Plains groups during the early Archaic period (ca. 6,600–6,000 BP). More specifically, this research project tests the hypothesis that the eruption of Mount Mazama prompted the adoption of bone grease rendering in this part of the Plains. To test this hypothesis, a faunal analysis of the assemblages of Stampede site, located on the Cypress Hills of southeastern Alberta, was performed. The results of the analysis presented here show that the faunal material of the Stampede site is extensively burnt, which seems to be more in line with the intentional disposal of bones in hearth features, possibly for cleaning purposes, than with bone grease manufacture. The methodological issues regarding the identification of bone grease rendering from archaeozoological assemblages are discussed here. Author Keywords: Bone Grease Rendering, Carcass Processing Behaviour, Faunal Analysis, Great Plains, Northern Plains, Subsistence
Community Coalescence and Regional Geospatial Trends of Ceramic Decorative Variation in Late Woodland Northern Iroquoia
This case study focuses on geospatial patterns of decorative variation in pottery assemblages from 234 Northern Iroquoian village communities, occupied between ca. 1350–1650 CE. Previous interpretations of these assemblages’ ceramic decorative variability have been based on the assertion that potters from these communities used collar decorative motifs as communicative social signals. However, they did not consider whether these geospatial decorative patterns could simply reflect the outcome of stochastic macroscale social learning processes driven solely by probabilistic information exchange between closer neighboring communities. Cultural transmission, the theoretical framework applied here, is well-suited to address this perspective. Thus, the primary research question of this case study is, “Are the expected outcomes of random copying processes sufficient to explain the range of geospatial ceramic decorative variability observed across Northern Iroquoia?” Random copying processes are the stochastic, probabilistic social learning mechanisms driving the collective decisions of multiple communities, making up one side of the “random-selective copying spectrum.” When the decorative decisions of multiple communities are collectively guided by shared ideas (such as, potentially, symbolic communication structures), they become subsumed under the broad umbrella of “selective copying” processes. The social learning mechanisms involved on both sides have predictable geospatial and structural ranges of ceramic decorative patterning. The goal of this case study was thus to evaluate the range of patterning in Northern Iroquoia, both generally as well as at narrower temporal and spatial scales. Ultimately, region-specific temporal trends in selective copying processes seeming to reflect recently established temporal trajectories of community coalescence were identified. Author Keywords: coalescence, cultural population structure, cultural transmission, isolation by distance, Northern Iroquoia, social signaling
Examining the Diet of Early Nomadic Pastoralists in Southern Mongolia Using Carbon and Nitrogen Stable Isotope Analysis
This study reconstructs the diet of pastoral populations from Bronze Age Southern Mongolia and Early Iron Age Central Mongolia using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of bone collagen from 44 individuals. Spatial and temporal differences were investigated and interpreted in combination with paleoenvironmental, archaeological, genetic and other stable isotope data. The Southern Mongolian diet is consistent with a mixed diet including C3 and C4 plants and large amounts of animal products from herd animals such as sheep/goat, horses and cattle. The δ13C values from Bronze Age Southern Mongolia are consistent with the consumption of C4 plants, most likely millet, obtained through trade with Northern China although environmental aridity might also be responsible for this pattern. The diet was relatively constant over time but spatial differences in Mongolia and Central Asia indicate variation in subsistence strategies based on environmental and cultural context. This thesis highlights the flexibility of pastoralism and its adaptability in the face of environmental and cultural changes. Author Keywords: Bronze Age, carbon and nitrogen isotopes, Mongolia, nomadic pastoralism, paleodiet, stable isotope analysis

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