Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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
Grooved stones first appear in the Southern Levant with the development of the Natufian culture (~15,000 - 12,000 BP). These tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes; however, they share in common the presence of an intentionally manufactured groove. This thesis focuses on a few types of grooved stones, specifically, those which are often considered to be straighteners for arrow-shafts. If this interpretation is correct, then these tools represent the only clear evidence of the bow and arrow prior to the Neolithic (~12,000 - 6,500 BP), which has implications for our understanding of changing hunting strategies in the millennia leading up to the origins of agriculture. Using an experimental and use-wear approach, I analyse a sample of grooved stones from three Natufian and Neolithic sites in Northern Israel, the results of which generally support the arrow-shaft straightener interpretation. Furthermore, by placing grooved stones in their broader technological context, it becomes apparent that they represent progression and diversification of long-range projectile weapons, which likely existed even earlier in time Author Keywords: grooved stones, Natufian, Neolithic, PPNB, use-wear analysis
Mortuary remains comprise a large part of the archaeological record for the Late Bronze Age in the Aegean. By the Palatial period, chamber tombs became the most common burial type on the Mycenaean Mainland, with their popularity continuing into the Postpalatial period. In addition, a single chamber tomb could be reused for as many as ten generations, resulting in large collections of burials and offerings. On account of the prolific use and reuse of chamber tombs, they provide an abundance of data for studying the mortuary rituals performed by the Mycenaeans during the Palatial and Postpalatial periods. The purpose of this study is three fold: to test the theory that the Mycenaean palatial systems influenced the types of offerings placed in the chamber tombs; to assess the validity of previously stated claims that the offerings placed in the chamber tombs represent funerary rituals, and if so, what type(s) of rituals?; and to establish whether Mycenaean mortuary archaeology is sufficiently well recorded to support a meaningful analysis of variation in funerary depositional patterning. The results of this study provide insight into the nature of the Mycenaean mortuary rituals for chamber tombs. Author Keywords: Chamber Tombs, Late Helladic, Mortuary rituals, Mycenaean, Palatial period, Postpalatial period
Critical Analysis of the Adoption of Maize in Southern Ontario and its Spatial, Demographic, and Ecological Signatures
This thesis centers on analyzing the spatial, temporal, and ecological patterns associated with the introduction of maize horticulture into Southern Ontario - contextualized against social and demographic models of agricultural transition. Two separate analyses are undertaken: a regional analysis of the spread of maize across the Northeast using linear regression of radiocarbon data and a standard Wave of Advance model; and a local analysis of village locational trends in Southern Ontario using a landscape ecological framework, environmental data and known village sites. Through the integration of these two spatial and temporal scales of analysis, this research finds strong support for both migration and local development. A third model of competition and coalescence is presented to describe the patterning in the data. Author Keywords: Demographic Modeling, Environmental Modeling, Geostastical Analysis, Maize, Ontario Archaeology, Spread of Agriculture

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