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

Receive updates for this collection

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.

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.