Archaeology - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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The present status of the curation crisis and deaccessioning in the United States

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-01-21
Abstract: 

Archaeological collections in the United States were deemed to be in crisis in the 1970s. Federal curation guidelines were issued in 1990 with 36 CFR Part 79, followed by a call for national standards by the Society for American Archaeology. It is not clear if these were successful because the current status of collections is generally unknown. Given this, I surveyed curation practices at 11 major US archaeological repositories, impediments to their implementation of modern curation standards, and their deaccessioning policies. Although many of the individual standards were being met, around one-third of the collections do not meet all the standards. Methods used to meet standards varied across institutions, and the major contributor to collections was heritage resource management. Funding and space were the most often reported impediments. Every institution reported deaccessioning, but not all had policies. Ultimately, collections have improved since the 1970s, but further progress is needed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Collard
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Building representation: The development of Barkerville Historic Town & Park’s Chinese narrative

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-11-13
Abstract: 

This thesis examines the long-term effects of multiculturalism on the representation of minority groups in museum interpretations in Canada. This is explored through a case study of Barkerville Historic Town & Park, focusing on the museum’s inclusion of the Chinese narrative through time. It traces the changing interpretations of the Chinese in Barkerville, and explores the social, academic, and political forces that act on museums and museum representation. Overall, the presentation of the Chinese experience at Barkerville developed substantially over the past 60 years. This development has relied on many factors, including, research available to advance the Chinese interpretation program; resources available to complete Chinese exhibits; interests in including minority narratives.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Welch
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

In pursuit of the quarry: Exploring lithic exchange on the Interior Plateau of British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-10-26
Abstract: 

This thesis represents an exploratory provenance study to map the spatial distribution of lithics from the Arrowstone Hills lithic source, located near Cache Creek BC, across the Southern Interior Plateau. Using X-Ray Fluorescence analysis, an elemental signature for this source was generated, against which lithic artifacts from archaeological sites located across the Plateau were compared. The Arrowstone Hills source was also compared to five other lithic sources on the Plateau and Northwest Coast. It was determined that the Arrowstone Hills source is part of a geological complex that includes at least three other nearby lithic sources possessing a similar elemental signature, named here the Kamloops Fine-Grained Volcanic complex. Furthermore, it was determined that lithics from this complex are ubiquitous across the Plateau, and were likely moved through exchange networks. Cultural factors such as kin relationships, resource rights, and territorial sovereignty likely influenced how these networks operated at different times throughout the past.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Rudy Reimer
George Nicholas
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Adapting to environmental change: an ethnoarchaeological approach to traditional farming knowledge in northern Ethiopia

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-04
Abstract: 

Ethnoarchaeological research on traditional farmer knowledge in Eastern Tigrai, Ethiopia reveals adaptations that farmers employ in the face of environmental change, most notably from climate, soil erosion, increasing demographic pressures, and the practice of fire ecology. Within an historical ecology framework, information from farmer consultants is integrated with an analysis of the archaeological and palaeoenvironmental literature to elucidate potential human-environment interactions in the development of the first complex societies in the Horn of Africa during the Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite (1600 BCE- CE 700) periods. The drought and famine of 1984/5 had a significant impact on both the environmental and agricultural systems, and farmers stopped cultivating many crop varieties after this period. A cycle of accumulating cultivated varieties and practices, and then environmental and societal events shifting the systems potentially for decades, perhaps was experienced by farming communities during the development of the Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite civilizations.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Catherine D'Andrea
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Monumental architecture and landscape history of the Tongan Classical Chiefdom

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-03
Abstract: 

Beginning ca. AD 950, increasing populations and the rise of socio-political hierarchies in Tonga, West Polynesia, resulted in the development of a dynastic, geographically integrated, paramount chiefdom. The principal island of Tongatapu was the epicentre of this polity. Ranked chiefs affirmed power and rights to land through monumental construction and a dispersed settlement pattern that fully occupied inherited estates. In this dissertation, I characterize monumental architecture on Tongatapu, particularly the form and distribution of earthen mounds. Aerial LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) survey in 2011 revealed the totality of monumental and community-level construction on Tongatapu. Thousands of mounds and other earthen features, the product of some 1,000 years of funerary behaviour, chiefly competition, and conflict, are highly structured in their arrangement on the landscape. Using a combination of automated and manual identification approaches, combined with field checks, I have mapped and characterized the mounds and other features of Tongatapu. The distribution of mounds and other monumental features reflects key elements of Tongan culture and socio-political organization, namely, the segmentary, clan-based spatial organization associated with ramage-based societies, as well as the senior-junior ranking that made Tonga one of the most socially stratified cultures in Oceania. The LiDAR imagery also reveals evidence of the first royal “capital” of the political dynasty that would rule Tonga for nearly a millennium. Massive earthen platforms at this site suggest strategic use of power by an emergent elite at a time of apparent population increase and resumed oceanic voyaging from West Polynesia after a 1,700-year hiatus.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Burley
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Microfauna at Tse’K’wa: Paleoenvironmental reconstruction in the Peace River Region, Northeast British Columbia

Date created: 
2017-12-07
Abstract: 

The transition from the late Pleistocene to the early Holocene is known to have been a time of dramatic climatic and environmental changes, however there is still much that is not known about this period in North America. The Peace River Region of Northeast British Columbia is especially interesting because it is located in the hypothesized biogeographic corridor, allowing previously uninhabitable land to become open for colonization by plants, animals and humans at the end of the last ice age. Tse’K’wa (formerly known as Charlie Lake Cave), is a unique site within the Peace River Region that has well preserved fauna, well stratified and dated layers, and spans the late Pleistocene/early Holocene transition. This study uses the Tse’K’wa microfauna to understand local and regional environmental change, and its implications for human occupation in Northeast British Columbia. This study examines vertebrates deposited at Tse’K’wa between about 10,500 and 9,000 BC. A sequence of four assemblages documents a change from open to forested habitats, as well as the development of local wetlands. The nature and timing of these faunal changes correlates well with palynological studies.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jon Driver
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Late pre-contact era Taíno subsistence economy and diet: Zooarchaeological perspectives from Maima

Date created: 
2018-01-02
Abstract: 

Taíno peoples, the indigenous population of Jamaica, were all but eradicated by Spanish colonization through the first half of the 16th century, with few historical accounts to document their culture and lifeways. Taíno subsistence economy in Jamaica has been studied intermittently by archaeologists/zooarchaeologists over the past four decades. Archaeological excavations at the Taíno village of Maima on the north coast of Jamaica in 2014 and 2015 provide additional data to expand this endeavor. Beyond a context for Maima and Taíno research across the Caribbean more generally, this dissertation presents the results of the faunal analysis first for invertebrates, and then the vertebrate remains recovered from excavations. These data are examined for spatial differences between households, temporal variation in archaeological deposits, and the variety of habitats represented in Taíno exploitation patterns. This dissertation subsequently undertakes a Caribbean-wide comparative analysis of the Maima invertebrate fauna employing data from 22 other sites dating to the temporal interval 200 to 1500 A.D. This meta-analysis explores differences in Taíno subsistence strategies related to landscape, island location, and culture group variation; the latter including the Classic, Western, and Lucayan Taíno. Variation in subsistence pursuits, with one exception, relate only to a site’s distance from the coast and locally available resources. The results of this analysis contribute to the contemporary knowledge of the Jamaican Taíno with implications for understanding variation or lack thereof across the Caribbean.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Burley
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The differential degradation of immature and mature bone in diverse environments: A controlled experiment using pig (Sus scrofa) skeletal remains

Date created: 
2018-04-06
Abstract: 

Several studies suggest that juvenile skeletal remains are significantly underrepresented in both forensic and archaeological excavations. In archaeological contexts, the disparities between historical burial records and the relative absence of juveniles in cemetery excavations have been a cause for much speculation. The most popular explanation for this paucity in the osteological record is a comparatively rapid breakdown of juvenile bones, due to their smaller size, incomplete mineralization, higher organic and water content, and higher porosity than their adult counterparts. If this holds true, it presents a challenge for accurately identifying skeletonized juveniles in forensic cases. While the idea is widely accepted, few experiments have provided evidence to support it. This study uses infant and sexually mature porcine models to explore the role of bone maturity with regards to: 1) overall susceptibility of the skeleton to biological, physical, and compositional degradation, and 2) the interaction of bone material with different burial environments. The ulnae of immature (2-8 weeks) and mature (6 months) pigs (Sus scrofa) were mechanically defleshed and used as a proxy for human bone of distinct infant and sexually mature groups. Samples (n=200) from both maturity groups were left to degrade in a climate-controlled greenhouse, either buried or on the soil surface. These two varying depositional conditions provide the degradation factors from two different environments. Every month, four bones from each maturity group and environment were collected. Weight loss on ignition analysis was performed on each sample to determine the relative water, collagen, and mineral composition of the bones, and bone weathering analysis was performed to quantify the physical changes of the bone surface. The results of this study indicate that, in the early postmortem interval, immature and mature bone material are differentially affected by their postmortem depositional environment. In both the subaerial and buried environments, the immature bone was found to be more susceptible to compositional degradation, while the mature bone was more heavily affected by physical weathering. It is not known how these initial differences in bone breakdown translate into the long-term survival of immature bone material, however, this study suggests that any interpretations of weathered immature bone, that are based on weathering rates determined by mature bone, should be done so with caution.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Hugo Cardoso
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

A critical evaluation of winter archaeological impact assessments for proposed oil and gas developments in Northeast British Columbia

Date created: 
2018-04-06
Abstract: 

Consulting archaeologists in northeast British Columbia have employed winter testing for archaeological impact assessments for over a decade. This thesis compares archaeological impact assessments carried out during summer and winter conditions to determine if snow cover effects the rate of site identification. To do so, this thesis first discusses the environmental and cultural history of northeast British Columbia. The unique regulatory environment that has developed around the oil and gas industry, which led to the introduction of winter testing, is also examined. The requirements for consulting archaeologists carrying out winter assessments are introduced and reviewed. Data, in the form of archaeological impact assessments reports, are presented and analyzed to compare reports produced during summer and winter conditions. Finally, potential avenues of new research and regulatory improvements are discussed. The report data examined in this thesis reveal that the rate at which archaeological resources are identified does not differ substantially between summer and winter conditions. This suggests that the continued use of winter testing in northeast British Columbia is an appropriate tool to meet regulatory requirements and ensures that impacts to heritage resources from development are minimized.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Burley
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Growth as an indicator of social and economic transition from the Islamic to Late Medieval Christian period in Portugal: A comparative study of linear and appositional growth

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-05
Abstract: 

Objectives: This study explores whether child growth has signaled periods of social change between the Medieval Islamic and post-Islamic Christian Periods in Santarém, Portugal, employing evidence for indicators of stress to examine shifts in the social environment. One major social change came with the Golden Age of Islam, when social improvements may have led to better living conditions, through an improvement in the social determinates of health. Materials and methods: Using 42 juvenile skeletons, age was calculated from tooth length. Linear growth of diaphyseal length for all long bones and appositional growth of the femur midshaft were compared with expected growth from the Denver Growth Study, using z-score. Results: Meaningful long bone length stunting was found throughout the Medieval Islamic and Christian Periods in Santarém, as well as a deficit in appositional growth of cortical bone. There was more evidence for growth disruption in children aged two years or more. Although children in the post-Islamic Christian period showed a trend towards increased linear and appositional growth deficits, these differences were not statistically significant. Discussion: Deficits were extensively observed throughout the neonate stage to older juveniles in both the Medieval Islamic and Late Medieval Christian Periods, causing growth disruption. These patterns of growth deficits were stronger for those aged two or more, which suggests that extrinsic sources of stress were causing accumulated deficits. Further studies are needed to explore the possibility that the Islamic Period was more favourable for child growth.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Hugo Cardoso
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.