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

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More than Food: An exploration of the social significance of faunal remains at St’ám̓es (DkRs 6)

Date created: 
2017-04-13
Abstract: 

There are complex relationships between humans and animals that influence their day-to-day interactions. While commonly described by traditional knowledge and ethnographic records, these social dynamics between animals and humans are difficult to access in the archaeological record. This thesis explores how such relations influence the distribution of the faunal assemblage at st’ám̓es (DkRs 6) on the Salish Sea by drawing upon multiple streams of evidence including zooarchaeological analysis, stable isotopes, ancient DNA analysis, Squamish Nation oral history and traditions, and ethnohistoric data. The variations in the assemblage suggest that while st’ám̓es fauna is generally consistent with regional trends, local factors influence the taxa present. The abundance of domestic dog remains in the st’ám̓es deposits stand out compared to sites of similar age in the region and a sample of four of these remains underwent stable isotope and aDNA analysis to further investigate their role at st’ám̓es. These remains are found to be more likely to represent hunting dogs than woolly dogs, and stable isotope analysis suggests their diets were dominated by anadromous marine protein sources. Squamish Nation oral history and traditions exemplify the place of animals such as dogs in the community as entities linked with the landscape and history, shaping their modern significance.

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

Caribou is Life: An Ethnoarchaeology of Ethen-eldèli Denesųłiné Respect for Caribou

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-12-06
Abstract: 

Descendent communities request that archaeological practices in Canada change to address and incorporate their traditional values and needs. Directed by the Ethen-eldèli Denesųłiné, this study centres on their relationship to barrenland caribou. This research serves as a case study on how to close gaps between archaeological and indigenous communities by integrating community guidance and differing worldviews. This collaboration addresses how the relationship between the Ethen-eldèli Denesųłiné and the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds helps to maintain cultural continuity. The study uses interviews of knowledge holders to understand how Denesųłiné relate to caribou. It documents variations in Denesųłiné techniques of caribou harvest, migration routes, and seasonal rounds. It provides data on how technological, social, and ecological changes affect cultural resilience. Because of the unprecedented ecological change occurring in the barrenland caribou ranges, this research has particular value for the Denesųłiné. This community-oriented study uses ethnohistorical and ethnoarchaeological methods to understand Denesųłiné rules of caribou harvest and to show how Denesųłiné embed their respect for caribou in hunting, butchery, and management practices. The Ethen-eldèli Denesųłiné believe that caribou is life. They show respect to caribou in numerous ways and believe that these attitudes and behaviours preserve and perpetuate their way of life.

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

Developing Minimally Impactful Protocols for DNA Analysis of Museum Collection Bone Artifacts

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-11-17
Abstract: 

This study has addressed the issue of destructive testing on museum collection artifacts from two perspectives. Firstly, interviews were conducted with museum professionals from across Canada to identify their specific concerns regarding access to their collections. Secondly, this information was then used to help develop a minimally impactful DNA sampling technique that may lead to greater access to museum collections for research. The development of this sampling technique involved successive rounds of testing conducted on bone samples including modern samples, unmodified archaeological samples, and museum artifacts from two different museums. The DNA sampling was done using a precision hand drill which produced a small amount of bone powder collected for analysis and species identification. The results from the study indicate that it was possible to develop a successful, comprehensive and reliable minimally impactful DNA sampling technique that is tailor-made to address the concerns and ethical responsibilities of museum professionals.

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

A Spatial Analysis of Pleistocene-Holocene Transition Sites in the Southern Columbia Plateau and Northern Great Basin of North America

Date created: 
2016-08-10
Abstract: 

The Western Pluvial Lakes Tradition was proposed by Stephen Bedwell in 1973 to account for an early Holocene lake-marsh-grassland environment adaptation for hunter-gatherers living in the southern Columbia Plateau and western Great Basin of North America. Since then, archaeological site research and regional syntheses have supported this hypothesis with information on concentrations of early archaeological sites found on ancient wetland margins. However, Plateau-Basin archaeology tends to focus on site- and basin-specific analyses to support early subsistence-settlement hypotheses. To explore whether pluvial lakes were central to regional resource use and mobility patterns at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, it is necessary to broaden the scale of analysis from typical basin-focused studies. Paleoenvironmental and archaeological spatial data from the Burns and Vale Oregon Bureau of Land Management districts are used in this thesis to explore the centrality of pluvial lakes for early peoples across the dynamic landscape of the Plateau-Basin region at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. This research utilizes data collected in a cultural resource management environment to study spatial bias in data collection and analysis, as well as explore the potential benefits of using under-utilized isolate data collected in a cultural resource management research environment. The statistical analyses in this study confirm a regional association between early Holocene archaeological sites and pluvial lakes, but also indicate that the early Holocene economy was more diverse than is typically suggested in Western Pluvial Lakes Tradition research.

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

A bioarchaeological examination of the skeletal remains of Warring States period Tuchengzi, Inner Mongolia, China

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-12-11
Abstract: 

Archaeological site Tuchengzi in Inner Mongolia, China presents a rich assemblage of human skeletal remains from the Warring States period (475-221 BCE). The assemblage most likely represents an early incarnation of the semi-military and semi-farming settlement system known as Tuntian. The Tuchengzi Tuntian settlement is believed to have been established by residents of the Zhao State to defend its northern border. This study focuses on osteological and palaeopathological examinations of 64 human skeletal remains from the site with an aim to better understand this unique population. Data from non-specific indicators of stress and dental pathology indicate the population suffered normal levels of systemic stresses when compared with other contemporary groups in the region, suggesting a normal farming community. However, abnormal age profile (fewer subadults and fewer elders) and a skewed sex ratio (3 males to 1 female) seem to reveal a possible military component to the population. However, low trauma prevalence, multiple cases of ankylosing spondylitis, and severe joint disease seem to imply a settlement that was involved in very infrequent combat. This study demonstrates the usefulness of osteoarchaeological profiling of human remains to better understand skeletal populations and past lifeways.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dongya Yang
Deborah Merrett
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Identifying 1 Mya Fire in Wonderwerk Cave with Micromorphology and Fourier-Transform Infrared Microspectroscopy

Date created: 
2016-07-22
Abstract: 

The role of fire in the evolution of humans is an important yet unanswered question in palaeoanthropology, but there is a striking lack of archaeological evidence for the presence or absence of anthropogenic fire-use by early hominins. This is partially due to the difficulty of identifying fire residues, such as wood ash. I demonstrated that Fourier Transform Infrared Microspectroscopy integrated with micromorphological analysis can distinguish microscopic amounts of pyrogenic calcite which include wood ash, from non-pyrogenic calcites. The ν3 (CO3) peak, an absorption of energy by one of the three C-O bonds, is quantifiably more narrow in pyrogenic calcites. With the protocol, I evaluated potential evidence of anthropogenic fire at 1 Mya in Wonderwerk Cave, a South African archaeological site. The results confirmed the earlier identification of ashed plant remains in Stratum 10, thus supporting the association of fire and anthropogenic activity in Wonderwerk Cave in the Earlier Stone Age.

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

Human Osteoarchaeological Research on Stress and Lifeways of Bronze Age Populations in North China

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-05-31
Abstract: 

Integrating three projects, this dissertation focused on the analysis of human skeletal remains to better understand human adaptation and lifeways in Bronze Age North China. During this time, China witnessed dramatic sociocultural changes in the Central Plain caused by urbanization and represented by the large city centre in Anyang, while pre-urbanization lifeways such as nomadic subsistence practice remained unchanged in some parts of Northeast China. Human skeletal remains, often well-preserved in North China, provide unique opportunities to examine osteological evidence to evaluate human responses to these sociocultural changes. The first project analysed oral health indicators (caries, abscesses, AMTL, and pulp chamber exposure) in three Late Bronze Age (ca. 3000 – 2000 B.P.) skeletal populations (n=187) from the Central Plain and Northeast China. The results clearly showed that deteriorated oral health was observed in agriculture-based subsistence. The second project assessed impacts of early urbanization on 347 commoners of the Late Shang (ca. 3250 – 3046 B.P.) in Anyang. High frequencies were observed in all the commoners for enamel hypoplasia but significantly different frequencies were found between groups or sexes for cribra orbitalia or osteoperiostitis respectively, indicating overall high levels of stress, likely derived from early urbanization and different stress responses by different groups and sexes. The last project evaluated the prevalence of osteoarthritis in 193 adult remains of the Late Shang in Anyang (ca. 3250 – 3046 B.P.). The observed pattern showed a clear sex difference of osteoarthritis distribution, suggesting a strong gender division of labour. An extremely high frequency (at 92%) of metatarsal-phalangeal osteoarthritis caused by kneeling (repetitive hyperdorsiflexion of toes) indicated that kneeling was most likely a prescribed cultural component in daily life and activities. This speculation is consistent with the observation that kneeling as a symbol appeared in many oracle bone characters of the time. This dissertation research has provided new regional perspectives for bioarchaeological studies of subsistence practice and social dynamics of the past, and it has also demonstrated when positioned within rich archaeological contexts, human remains can provide unique insight to enhance our ability to study human environment interactions of the past.

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

Exploring morphological phylogenetics of fossil hominins

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-05-26
Abstract: 

A reliable phylogeny is critical for the study of hominin evolution, yet there remains considerable debate about the relationships among hominin species. Phylogenetic analyses conducted to date differ in various analytical aspects such as the fossil samples and characters used to infer their relationships. Given the importance of a phylogeny in the study of hominin evolution, these analytical issues must be explored further. The four studies were designed to address some key issues in the phylogenetic analysis in palaeoanthropology. The first study investigated the effects of using small samples in standard phylogenetic analyses. The second study used a new method—¬tip-dated Bayesian analysis—to test various phylogenetic hypotheses pertaining to three recent debates. The third study used the tip-dated Bayesian method to evaluate the phylogenetic and temporal placement of a newly discovered species, Homo naledi, in the hominin phylogeny. The fourth study explored the impact of cranial modularity on the choice of characters used to reconstruct the phylogeny of the hominins. Results suggest that small sample sizes can often be problematic when reconstructing phylogenetic relationships of extant hominoids. However, the choice of character coding methods may mitigate the effects of small samples. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses were conducted to evaluate various hypotheses from three recent debates and some hypotheses can be strongly refuted based on current evidence. The results of the analyses suggest that there is strong evidence that Homo naledi belongs to the clade of Homo and Australopithecus sediba, but its place within this clade is currently ambiguous. Preliminary work places the fossil at approximately 1 Ma. Different cranial regions contain conflicting phylogenetic signals, but none of the regions particularly stand out as having more homoplastic characters. The hominin phylogeny is necessary to study hominin evolution, and as such, it is important to improve the methods used to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of hominins. The use of Bayesian phylogenetic methods is promising for palaeoanthropology as it can narrow the scope of debate surrounding phylogenetic hypotheses. It allows us to highlight where ambiguities in the data and the model exist and demonstrate the limit of the interpretation of the current fossil evidence.

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

Reconstructing Northern Fur Seal Population Diversity through Ancient and Modern DNA Data

Date created: 
2015-07-02
Abstract: 

Archaeological and historic evidence suggests that northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) has undergone several population and distribution changes (including commercial sealing) potentially resulting in a loss of genetic diversity and population structure. This study analyzes 36 unpublished mtDNA sequences from archaeological sites 1900-150 BP along the Pacific Northwest Coast from Moss et al. (2006) as well as published data (primarily Pinsky et al. [2010]) to investigate this species’ genetic diversity and population genetics in the past. The D-loop data shows high nucleotide and haplotype diversity, with continuity of two separate subdivisions (haplogroups) through time. Nucleotide mismatch analysis suggests population expansion in both ancient and modern data. AMOVA analysis (FST and ΦST) reveals some ‘structure’ detectable between several archaeological sites. While the data reviewed here did not reveal dramatic patterning, the AMOVA analysis does identify several significant FST values, indicating some level of ancient population ‘structure’, which deserves future study.

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

Selecting an appropriate reference sample for juvenile age estimation methods in a forensic context

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-04-18
Abstract: 

The population on which forensic juvenile skeletal age estimation methods are applied has not been critically considered. Previous research suggests that child victims of homicide tend to be from socioeconomically disadvantaged contexts, and that these contexts impair growth. Thus, juvenile skeletal remains examined by forensic anthropologists may be short for age. Cadaver lengths were obtained from records of autopsies of 1256 individuals, aged birth to eighteen years at death, conducted between 2000 and 2015 in Australia, New Zealand, New Mexico, New York City, and Cuyahoga County. Growth status of the forensic population, represented by homicide victims, and general population, represented by accident victims, were compared using height for age Z-scores and independent sample t-tests. Cadaver lengths of the accident victims were evaluated against growth references using one sample t-tests to evaluate whether accident victims reflect the general population.Homicide victims are shorter for age than accident victims in samples from the United States, but not in Australia and New Zealand. Accident victims are more representative of the general population in Australia and New Zealand. Different results in Australia and New Zealand as opposed to the United States may be linked to higher socioeconomic inequality in the United States. These results suggest that physical anthropologists should critically select reference samples when devising forensic juvenile skeletal age estimation methods. Children examined in forensic investigations may be short for age, and thus methods developed on normal healthy children may yield inaccurate results.

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