Graduate Theses & Dissertations


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
Reassessing Bioarchaeological Sex Determination and Research into Gender at the Early Anglo-Saxon Worthy Park Burial Ground Round in Hampshire, England
When bioarchaeologists investigate ancient gender identity, they typically place skeletal remains into one of six sex assessment categories: male, female, possible/probable male, possible/probable female, ambiguous, and indeterminate. However, the study samples are often reduced to male and female reproducing a male/female gender and sex binary prevalent in the "Western" cultural milieu and bioarchaeology when inferences are made about gender and sex in the past. In order to allow for the existence of non-binary cultural genders and biological sexes, this thesis: 1) demonstrates the multitude of ethnographic, ethnohistoric, historic, and medical evidence relating to non-binary sex and gender expression; 2) tests a method inspired by Whelan (1991) that looks at gender as an identity not fully inspired by biological sex; 3) keeps all sex assessment categories used by bioarchaeologists separate in analysis and interpretation; and 4) analyses patterns relating to all available material culture and biological attributes in a mortuary sample to investigate gender identity. This thesis used the Early Anglo-Saxon (470-600 AD) burial ground at Worthy Park in Hampshire to achieve these objectives. This thesis found that when examining all sex assessment categories among all mortuary variables, only the male sex was clearly defined by its mortuary assemblage. This suggests a one gender structure corresponding to linguistic evidence for one gender in Old English. Author Keywords: Anglo-Saxon, Bioarchaeology, Gender identity, Mortuary archaeology, Osteoarchaeology, Sex determination
Rendering New Insights
The Upper Paleolithic sequence at Vale Boi, Portugal, represents an early example of resource intensification, for which evidence of both diet diversification and intensified utilization of faunal remains has been published. The current research project tests the hypothesis that bone grease rendering was occurring throughout the Upper Paleolithic sequence at Vale Boi. As there are various issues of equifinality which makes the identification of bone grease rendering challenging, data from experimental bone grease rendering studies were utilized. The resulting analysis demonstrated limited evidence in support of a sustained use of bone grease rendering during the Upper Paleolithic sequence. However, evidence suggested that alternate bone processing activities and discard behaviours may have been occurring at the site. This suggests that the dietary behaviours of the foragers at Vale Boi were more varied than previously hypothesized. Author Keywords: Archaeozoology, Bone Grease Rendering, Faunal Analysis, Iberia, Resource Intensification, Upper Paleolithic
Ritual, Social Organization, and Monumental Architecture
New archaeological material was discovered in 2006 by the Göksu Archaeological Project in an area of Southeastern Turkey known as Rough Cilicia. This thesis documents and explores the material remains from funerary contexts at the sites of Dağpazarı and Topkaya. Architectural analysis of the material from Dağpazarı demonstrates that the remains are of a monumental temple tomb dating to the late second or early third century A.D. Although the remains from Dağpazarı are fragmentary, the evidence is examined to suggest possible architectural reconstructions. The examination of the Topkaya tomb cluster sheds light upon an ornately decorated rock-cut temple façade tomb dating the Roman period. Both sets of tombs are stunning examples of monumental architecture from the Roman period in an area that suffers from a lack of surviving architectural material. In order to understand the variation in monumental tomb forms the relationship between death, burial, and monumental architecture is examined from a functional perspective. The rites of passage are used as a theoretical framework for examining the functional role that monumental architecture plays in the performance of funerary ritual and the formation of social organization in Roman Rough Cilicia. Ultimately, it is demonstrated that monumental funerary architecture serves as a physical manifestation of abstract concepts that aid in the performance of the rites of passage associated with death and the funeral. Thus, this thesis highlights how abstract information can be gained from seemingly limit physical remains. Author Keywords: Burial, Monumental Funerary Architecture, Rites of Passage, Roman, Rough Cilicia, Social Organization
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
Situating Copper Bells in Prehispanic Southwest Societies
This thesis examines the spatial, temporal, and contextual distribution of copper bells in the Greater Southwest region and how they are situated in archaeological literature. To date, 672 copper bells have been found in at least 113 different Southwestern sites dating from ca. A.D. 900-1450, though there is no archaeological evidence for metallurgical activities in the area at this time. The origin of copper bells has been assumed to be West Mexico, a region known for its metallurgical traditions and whose inhabitants produced copious amounts of similar bells. Various lists of copper bells discovered have been compiled over the years, but little consideration has been given to the role these artifacts may have played in Southwestern societies. Copper bells are frequently labelled as prestige goods in archaeological literature, a term which fails to account for their significant depositional variation. By updating the database of known Southwestern copper bells, it becomes possible to examine these contextual distributions in greater detail. It is concluded that the prestige goods model is not suitable for Southwestern copper bells in many cases, and that alternative frameworks such as inalienable possessions are a better fit for these artifacts. Author Keywords: Archaeology, copper bells, inalienable possesions, interaction, U.S. Southwest
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
Stable Isotope Analysis of Archaeological Faunal Remains From the Middle Trent Valley, Ontario
A sample of faunal remains (n=129) from seven archaeological sites located on Pigeon and Rice Lakes, Ontario were sampled and analyzed for the stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition of bone collagen. These samples date from the Archaic to Late Woodland and include 35 different animal species. The goal of this research was to investigate the isotope ecology of the Middle Trent Valley and characterize the degree to which isotope ratios varied across space and time between different lakes, as wells as variation within and between species. There were no statistically significant differences in the Middle Trent Valley δ13C or δ15N according to space and time. As such, the isotope data for all archaeological sites were combined to construct an isotope food web for the Middle Trent Valley and compared to Katzenberg’s (1989) food web. These isotope data provide some insight into the dynamic interplay between local ecosystems, and anthropogenically modified landscapes in Ontario. Author Keywords: carbon, food web reconstruction, human-animal relations, Middle Trent Valley, nitrogen, Stable isotope ecology
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
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
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
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


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