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

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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.

Archaeology of the Afro-Ecuadorians in La Concepción, Ancestral Territory of the Chota-Mira Valley (Carchi-Ecuador)

Date created: 
2017-06-15
Abstract: 

Historical Archaeology of the African Diaspora in the Americas urges for interdisciplinary, collaborative, and intercultural approaches to shed light on how the material culture reflects conditions of enslavement and racialization, but also process of resistance and historical reparation. This investigation is organized in five articles connected around the topic of the cultural construction of the African Diaspora identities in the Afro-Ecuadorian Ancestral Territory of the Chota-Mira Valley from the perspective of historical, collaborative, de-colonizing archaeology and anthropology. One article involves archaeological and historical analysis of ceramics associated with household contexts of enslaved people in the 18th century Jesuit Andean Hacienda of La Concepcion to reconstruct creativity in production/consumptions of ceramics. Two articles articulate the historical narratives and politics of memory of the Afro-Ecuadorians, mainly from Afro-Ecuadorian Women. The last article focuses on a collaborative approach to reconstruct an 18th century cemetery. Furthermore, this study involves a collaborative project with the African descendant community of La Concepción and CONAMUNE-Carchi (Coordinadora Nacional de Mujeres Negras / National Coordinating Committee of Black Women)

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

Environmental historical archaeology of the Galápagos Islands: Paleoethnobotany of Hacienda El Progreso, 1870-1904

Date created: 
2017-06-22
Abstract: 

After their discovery in 1535, the Galápagos Islands remained sporadically inhabited until 1832 when they were legally annexed to the Republic of Ecuador. For three centuries, the archipelago was visited by pirates and whalers and was later the location of industrial size plantations, one prison, and an American army base. Today, the archipelago is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Americas. These events have permanently modified the local landscape but also the terrestrial and maritime ecology. In this research, I explore the ecological effects of the initial human occupation of the archipelago. The overall goals are to explore the initial human-plant interactions during the 19th century and how social, economic, and political relations formed the social landscapes of the early occupation of San Cristóbal Island. I combine the theoretical frameworks of Historical Ecology with the methodological frameworks of Environmental Historical Archaeology and Garden Archaeology. The integrated analysis of historical written records, historical cartography, and microbotanical remains were the research model. The internal layout and agricultural lands of Hacienda “El Progreso” (1870-1904) were studied.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Ross Jamieson
Catherine D’Andrea
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Revaluing “looted” archaeological materials at Fort Apache and Theodore Roosevelt School National Historic Landmark, Arizona

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-07-17
Abstract: 

Between 1960 and 1978, an unauthorized collector removed thousands of artifacts from the site of this study: Fort Apache and Theodore Roosevelt School National Historic Landmark, on White Mountain Apache Tribal lands in east-central Arizona. The physical transformation of this site by a single individual caused me to consider his motives, his methods, and how heritage professionals and lawmakers define looting and looters. I address these issues by considering a series of larger questions: how do different stakeholders value heritage, how do these values change sites physically, and how does that play out in heritage management goals and practices? This study is divided into three major issues: 1) heritage values and how they can determine heritage management strategies; 2) current definitions of looting and looters; and, 3) transformation processes and how artifact collection physically impacts archaeological sites. Fort Apache is the physical focus of this study. I combine interview and field data to examine the issues above. By exploring how, why, and to what end heritage is managed at the individual, community, and state levels, I found that individual and community interests are not always represented by federal heritage legislation. I came to understand that illicit collecting could represent personal practice, rooted in concern for and interest in the artifacts themselves. My study also showed that artifacts that were illicitly collected still retained value as research data. Examining the methods and motives for, and outcomes of, illicit collecting enables a fuller understanding of the life cycle of artifacts, the extent of damage to others’ abilities to value these items, the damage done to archaeological sites, and the removal of opportunity for first-person telling of the history of a site. In addition, landscapes that have been collected from retain characteristics that reflect those collecting activities. I also considered the collector’s process as an analytical tool for understanding the meaning and means by which collectors collect. Finally, my study presents best practices for representing community interests in heritage management programs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John R. Welch
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Archaeologists and Indigenous Traditional Knowledge in British Columbia

Date created: 
2017-07-21
Abstract: 

Archaeologists who study the past histories and lifeways of Indigenous cultures have long used Indigenous traditional knowledge as a source of historical information. Initially, archaeologists primarily accessed traditional knowledge second-hand, attempting to extract historical data from ethnographic sources. However, as archaeologists increasingly work with (and sometimes for) Indigenous communities, they have the opportunity to access traditional knowledge directly. Traditional knowledge is a powerful resource for archaeology, but working with it raises significant socio-political issues. Additionally, integrating traditional knowledge with archaeology’s interpretive frameworks can present methodological and epistemological challenges.This thesis examines the implications of archaeologists’ engagement with traditional knowledge in British Columbia, Canada, where changes at both a disciplinary and broader societal level indicate that archaeologists will increasingly need to find effective and ethical ways to work with traditional knowledge (and knowledge-holders). Through a series of in-depth interviews with practicing archaeologists from around the province, I explore how personal histories, professional circumstances, social realities, and theoretical frameworks affect how traditional knowledge is used in British Columbian archaeology. I conclude by highlighting five emergent interview themes: 1) the significance of personal background and social context in determining how researchers approach traditional knowledge; 2) the importance of long-term relationships between archaeologists and individual First Nations communities; 3) the value of traditional knowledge for illuminating more “ephemeral” aspects of the past; 4) the need for researchers to develop regionally and culturally specific understandings of traditional knowledge in order to work with it responsibly; and 5) the tension between studying Indigenous epistemologies and incorporating them into archaeological interpretations.

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

Refining local sea-levels through settlement change in Kanish and Waiatt Bays, Quadra Island

Date created: 
2017-06-06
Abstract: 

Post-glacial sea-level histories along the Pacific Northwest Coast are complex and heterogeneous, varying significantly temporally and spatially. Even well-refined regional sea-level curves do not allow us to understand and appreciate the effect this dynamism had on lived lives, particularly in cases where sea-level changed up to several meters in an instant. This thesis details how human settlement histories, intimately connected to sea-level, may be used to provide well-refined relative sea-level curves on a local scale. Archaeological reconstructions of settlement histories in Kanish and Waiatt Bays, Quadra Island reveal extremely localized sea-level variations, including at least one tectonic event affecting deposits in Waiatt Bay. Overall agreement of our sea-level estimates with that of broader regional models indicates that intensive coring of settlement sites is an accurate and efficient means of accumulating powerful datasets, which can provide important insights into past environmental and cultural histories.

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