Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Bundles and Bloodletting
This thesis addresses the inclusion of women within Classic Maya works of art, consisting of, for this purpose, private-consumption ceramic vessels and large scale public monuments. Through the use of Feminist and Gender Theory, Performance Theory, and Iconographic Theory, the roles of women in iconographically depicted ceremonial performance is assessed. A Microsoft Access database was constructed in order to look at various aspects of female depiction, including but not limited to, bodily action, costume, and paraphernalia. The context, individual action, and associated paraphernalia of women performing numerous roles were analyzed, in which women were found to participate in many of the same roles as men, although there are some roles from which either men or women are excluded, and certain paraphernalia items with which women are not associated. Author Keywords: Archaeology, Feminism, Gender Theory, Iconography, Maya Art, Performance Theory
Ceramic Analysis of Jacob Island 2
The goal of this thesis is to develop an understanding of the history of Middle and Late Woodland settlement at Jacob Island, located in Pigeon Lake in the Trent River region, through analysis of ceramic artifacts recovered during the 2016 excavation program. Using both typological and attribute based analysis. The results indicate a form of seasonal occupation. The ceramic patterning on site is broken down and fully examined for intra-site patterning and compared to concurrent regional examples. The regional comparison is carried out through statistical testing of independence. The results demonstrate both continuity and a pattern that is different than the surrounding region, supporting the concept of different expressions of materiality. These findings place JI-2 in a broader context with contemporary research in the South Eastern areas of Ontario and, in particular, the Trent River region. Author Keywords: Ceramic Analysis, Kawartha Lakes, Ontario Archaeology, Typology, Woodland
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
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
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
Community, Complexity, and Collapse
The city-state of Minanha, located in west central Belize, reached its zenith and most culturally complex stage by the Late Classic period, 675-810 AD. Only a century later, its royal court “collapsed”. The Contreras Valley is a small farming community located in a settlement zone south of Minanha. Decades of research at Minanha and the analysis of artifact frequencies from commoner households allow for a better understanding of the intra- and inter-community social practices occurring at the site of Contreras Valley and within the greater Minanha area. An Archaeology of Communities as well as Resilience Theory frameworks are utilized to explore the integrative social, political, and economic strategies of this commoner population. These theories are used to better understand the developmental history of the royal court from the perspective of the peripheral commoners, who sustained a population while the royal court disintegrated. Furthermore, this thesis focuses on the intersection of resilience and communities, and how the Contreras Valley experienced phases of resilience as well as vulnerability throughout its history. The resilience of this group of individuals will generate an increased cognizance of how a community copes with and continues to thrive in a climate of political chaos and instability. Author Keywords: Ancient Maya, Archaeology, Archaeology of Communities, Artifact frequencies, Resilience Theory, Settlement pattern studies
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
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
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
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
Epicentres, Elites, and Entanglement
This thesis investigates the similarities and differences between the tropical epicenters of South and Southeast Asia during the Charter State era, 800- 1400 CE. This study can inform scholars about the relationship between “people and place” by examining the ground plans, activities, and people associated with each epicenter. By using the comparative approach and entanglement theory, this study will examine the ancient states of Central and East Java, Dai Viet in North Vietnam, the Cham in Central Vietnam, the Chola of South India, and the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka. The ancient Maya of tropical Belize will be used as a cross-cultural comparator, which would not have had any contact with the other charter states. An extensive literature review and on-site visitations were necessary to provide the background and date to accomplish these goals. The results indicate striking similarities between tropical epicenters across the Charter States that developed out of the entanglements between humans and things. This thesis will help to further our understanding of tropical urbanism and the nature of epicenters in tropical environments. Author Keywords: Anuradhapura, Caracol, Entanglement, Thang Long, Thanjavur, Urbanism
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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