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

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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

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.

Historical Ecology of Cultural Landscapes in the Pacific Northwest

Date created: 
2017-06-08
Abstract: 

Historical ecology is a research program dedicated to uncovering the complex interactions between humans, their lived landscapes, and the repercussions of those relationships on contemporary social-ecological ecosystems. Cultural landscapes can exhibit multifaceted and complex elements that require a creative and novel scientific approach to be understood. A historical-ecological approach iteratively fuses scientific methods in archaeology, biology, paleoecology, and environmental history, with Indigenous research methodologies. Using the Pacific Northwest as a focus, this dissertation addresses the applicative future of historical-ecological research. Four interrelated research contributions are compiled to represent both the broad theoretical applications of historical ecology in a global context, as well as more regionally focused and explicit methodological contributions. In two papers, results from a consensus-driven, priority-setting exercise and literature review, suggest that the future of historical ecology will have implications for policy, stewardship, and decolonizing attitudes towards resource management and climate change research. In a third paper, ethnographic interviews are used to navigate a nexus of federated knowledge surrounding the management of perennial species like hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) and Pacific crabapple (Malus fusca) in British Columbia (BC). This work shows that, while the legacy of colonialism has disorganizing effects on Indigenous communities, Indigenous people have distinct traditional ecological knowledge relating to the management of their ancestral homelands. The fourth paper builds on this work by applying a functional ecological approach to analyze anthropogenic forests from archaeological village sites in BC. This analysis illustrates how Indigenous land-use legacies lead to distinct biodiverse ecosystem functions and services. The wide range of co-authors from various fields, institutions, and Indigenous communities in all these papers exemplifies the multidisciplinary and versatile nature of the historical-ecological approach. This dissertation shows that environmental research requires the equitable consilience of multiple voices and disciplines for a future that is socially and environmentally just.

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

The sacred and the digital: Managing heritage in an Open Access world

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-05-29
Abstract: 

While the mantra of “free information” is often heard in online communities, concerns over privacy remain a point of contention. Indigenous communities wishing to use heritage digitally may find difficulty reconciling the benefits of digital platforms with traditional protocols governing how information should be shared. This research examines the strategies employed by five First Nations in British Columbia to incorporate heritage into information management systems for Nation operations. I do this through a series of interviews with members, staff and contractors of the participating Nations who have been involved in the selection and use of these platforms. The questions asked focus on the challenges of finding suitable software, and the needs for improvement in both software function and user experience. I conclude that the greatest barriers to creating software environments suitable for sensitive heritage lie not in technological capability, but in social dynamics between software developers and communities.

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

Archaeological and Palaeoenvironmental Time-series Analysis

Date created: 
2017-05-12
Abstract: 

The effects of modern climate change will be felt for centuries to come. Planning for that future right now is very difficult, however. We do not know how human societies respond to climate change over the long term. Modern and historically recent cases cannot provide us with a solid basis for making predications about the future because modern climate change has not been going on long enough to see its full effects. Instead, we need to look to the archaeological record for examples of long-term human responses to climate change. Despite more than a century of effort, though, archaeologists have made limited progress in understanding past human-environment dynamics. Archaeological and palaeoenvironmental datasets have improved markedly, but attempts to link those records have so far been unconvincing. The primary reason for this is a lack of appropriate quantitative tools. Archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data contain idiosyncrasies—namely temporal autocorrelation and chronological uncertainty—that undermine statistical methods. Given the seriousness of modern climate change, we need to rectify this situation. In this dissertation, I lay the groundwork for developing a quantitative toolkit for analyzing long-term human-environment dynamics. The dissertation is comprised of four studies involving time-series methods. The first two look at the impact of climate changes on the Classic Maya using two types of time-series analysis, and the last two use simulations to probe the limits of these methods. Together, the four studies demonstrate that the idiosyncrasies of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data create challenges for quantitative analyses. Reviewing the studies, I identify the main methodological challenges and sketch out some potential solutions, illuminating a path for future methodological development.

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

Development of craft specialisation during the Pre-Aksumite Period in Eastern Tigrai, Ethiopia: A study of hideworking traditions

Date created: 
2017-04-18
Abstract: 

The Pre-Aksumite period in Eastern Tigrai, northern Ethiopia witnessed great social and economic changes in part propelled by expanding of trade relations across the Mediterranean, Red Sea, and extending to South Asia. While past archaeological research has tended to focus on the external influences driving changes within communities, more recent work has started to explore the local, indigenous aspects, including the formation of craft specialists to cope with the growing economy. Findings of large quantities of stone scrapers at many Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite sites throughout Tigrai, suggests hide processing to be a local tradition forming as a craft specialization. Stone scrapers are traditionally associated with hideworking activities and are still used by many modern hideworker artisans living in southern Ethiopia. Drawing upon ethnoarchaeological and archaeological studies, this dissertation explores the use of stone scrapers as hideworking tools in order to identify and track the formation of craft specialists at the Pre-Aksumite site of Mezber (>800 BCE-CE100) and the Pre-Aksumite/Aksumite site of Ona Adi (ca. 50 BCE-CE 700). Through this, we can start to evaluate the internal/indigenous influences driving cultural change during the Pre-Aksumite period which set the scene for the development of the following Aksumite period.

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

11,000 Years of Human-Clam Relationships on Quadra Island, Salish Sea, British Columbia

Date created: 
2017-05-26
Abstract: 

The historical ecological approach provides unique insights into the relationship between humans and clams throughout the Holocene. Combing archaeological and palaeo-fossil records provides a time depth of clam history both with and in the absence of intensive human predation. These results show that butter clam (Saxidomus gigantea) growth was naturally improving from the early-to-mid Holocene and that humans took advantage of the expanding clam resources. Clam garden construction around 2,000 BP promoted the sustainability of clams, and despite increased harvesting pressure there is no evidence for resource depression. Since European contact, decline of traditional management practices and increases in industrial activities have resulted in reduced clam growth rates. Growth rates of living clams reflect the stunted growth of post-glacial early Holocene clams, making them the slowest growing clams in the past ~10,000 years. Deeper-time baselines more accurately represent clam population variability throughout time and are useful for modern coastal resource management.

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

From English Camp to Bible Camp to Spirit Camp: Ground stone disk beads in the Salish Sea

Date created: 
2017-05-01
Abstract: 

Coast Salish conceptions of wealth revolve around the idea of appropriateness of wealth. Using wealth in a prescribed manner means maintenance of status for an individual. Inappropriate uses and displays of wealth lead to questioning of status. Ground stone disk beads are an abundant wealth item from the Salish Sea region. Despite their ubiquity in archaeological assemblages, little research has been done on these types of beads outside of site-specific studies. These site-specific studies present myopic interpretations, which do not consider how these beads function within Coast Salish society. Exploring the functional social role and the appropriate uses of these beads places them within a specific context in the Coast Salish cultural framework. Investigating the social role of these beads is done through examining the distribution in the recovered context of beads across the Salish Sea region and over time and the material variability of those beads.

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