Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Sacred Space, Ancestors, and Authority
The Middle Formative Period (1000 – 400 B.C.) has increasing become recognized as a critical locus in the development of Lowland Maya socio-political complexity. This period witnessed the founding of numerous ceremonial centers, substantial material cultural innovation, and the advent of mortuary practices indicating developing social differentiation. Recent excavations at the site of Ka’Kabish in Northern Belize have uncovered evidence significantly strengthening this view. Excavations underlying Plaza D-South at Ka’Kabish have revealed a series of bedrock-hewn pits containing offering caches of thousands of shell beads, forty-seven greenstone objects, and extensive ceramic evidence indicating communal ritual and feasting, which is argued by the author to represent a cosmographic diorama of the cave-riddled Underworld. Significantly, this elaborate cosmographic offering event appears to center on the secondary, bundled bedrock-cist burial of an important personage and/or ancestor who is accompanied by a number of finely crafted jade ornaments representing motifs and forms that have previously been interpreted as symbols of authority, rulership, and divine kingship. Comparable contemporary evidence from Northern Belize and beyond has been interpreted through models foregrounding site-founding, place-making, ancestor veneration, and aggrandizer driven social differentiation. By integrating and contrasting these existing models with new evidence from Ka’Kabish, this thesis argues that the mortuary, caching, and architectural practices evidenced at Middle Formative Ka’Kabish represent a glimpse into the incipience of the ideological complex, the socio-cultural processes, and the material manifestations propagating the development of subsequent Maya socio-political complexity, specifically the institution of divine kingship or ch’uhul ahau. Author Keywords: ancestor veneration, ancient Maya, greenstone cache, Ka’Kabish, Belize, Middle Formative, socio-political complexity
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
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
Water Management Amongst the Ancient States of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Java, and Belize
This thesis investigates the organization and development of water management systems in a sample of past tropical societies in Southeast Asia and Mesoamerica. A comparative approach is employed to show how water management affected the trajectories of the ancient states of Angkor, Cambodia, Bagan, Myanmar, Sukhothai, Thailand, Central and East Java, and Caracol, Belize. Differing types of water management is demonstrated through the use of the adaptive cycle, a conceptual framework through which a broad range of socio-ecological data can be examined in order to explore shifting levels of resilience over time. To understand why levels of resilience might change over time, entanglement theory, which looks at the relationships between humans and things, is utilized to determine how entangled these societies were with water management. Particular degrees of entanglement and shifting levels of resilience provide the analysis with the means to explore how water management changed over time as these societies rose, grew, and finally collapsed. Author Keywords: Ancient Tropical Societies, Entanglement, Resilience, Socio-Ecological Dynamics, Southeast Asia, Water Management
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
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
Lost Landscapes of the Kawarthas
The Kawartha Lakes region of south-central Ontario is dominated by water bodies and rivers, where humans are known to have lived since at least 10,500 years ago, only shortly after the retreat of glaciers from the region. Since this time, water levels within the region have changed dramatically as a result of various geophysical, climatological, and human-induced-phenomenon, leaving modern water levels at a maximum high-stand. While it is acknowledged within the local archaeological community that these hydrological dynamics have resulted in the inundation of much of the region’s past terrestrial and culturally active landscapes, cultural research into the region’s lakes and waterbodies have to date been very few and limited in scale. The subject of this thesis concerns a cultural assessment of the inundated landscapes around an island within Pigeon Lake of the Kawartha Lakes region, known as Jacob Island. Using a series of integrated methods including bathymetric modeling, shoreline and ecological reconstruction, and in-water-visual artefact survey, the goals of this research relate to illuminating the nature of the Kawartha Lakes region’s underwater archaeological record and associating specific cultural occupations and land-use strategies with Jacob island’s inundated landscapes. Author Keywords: inundated landscapes, landscape archaeology, Ontario Archaeology, underwater archaeology
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
VISUAL INFORMATION-PROCESSING AND THE EVOLUTION OF FLAKE MAKING SKILL
Flaked stones tools are the oldest and longest persisting human cultural remains. Some of these tools were made by hominins who were not anatomically or cognitively modern. My thesis uses an eye-tracking device, developed by psychology, to study modern day novice and expert tool making. By comparing these two groups I was able to characterize the behaviours that lead to successful flake making, and furthermore make inferences about the cognitive capacities that hominins would have had to have to have been successful themselves. This study suggests limited engagement of short-term memory and problem solving skills, which is consistent with other studies. However, this study seems to refute the hypothesis that improvements in hand-eye coordination alone account for the rise of flaked stone technology. My thesis also shows that eye-tracking is a fruitful way to study flake making and, based on my research, I propose several future directions of study. Author Keywords: Eye-tracking, Human Evolution, Knapping, Oldowan, Skill
Testing the Validity of Dental Calculus as a Proxy to Bone in Paleodietary Studies Using Stable Isotope Analysis
This study investigates the use of dental calculus for paleodietary studies using stable isotope analysis of a skeletal sample from the Greek colonial site of Apollonia Pontica, Bulgaria (5th to 3rd century BC). A sample of 27 individuals was used to examine the δ13C and δ15N values of paired dental calculus and bone samples, and the dental calculus was analyzed as separate organic and inorganic components. No significant correlation was found between the δ13C values of either the bone collagen and organic dental calculus samples, or the bone apatite and inorganic dental calculus samples. A significant correlation was found between the δ15N values of the bone collagen and organic dental calculus samples; however, the reason for this correlation is unclear. A greater range of variation in the δ13C and δ15N values was found in the organic dental calculus samples compared to the respective bone collagen samples. These results suggest that dental calculus is not an appropriate proxy to bone for paleodietary studies using stable isotope analysis and that any dietary signal is clouded by other data. The oral microbiome is considerably diverse and is the most probable explanation for the great range of stable isotope values obtained from dental calculus. A significant, strong correlation was found between the C/N ratios and δ15N values of the organic dental calculus samples, suggesting that the lowest C/N ratios and δ15N values depict deposits with the least bacterial alteration. Author Keywords: carbon, dental calculus, nitrogen, paleodietary studies, Social Sciences, stable isotopes
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
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

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