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

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Striking Light: Experimental methods for the production, characterization, and description of iron disulphide pyrodebitage

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-01-24
Abstract: 

The adoption of fire into the lives of hominins is widely held to be one of our genus’ most significant technological advances. The ability to start fire at will and therefore control when and where fire was available may have been a key factor for survival during the Palaeolithic. However, archaeologists have few methods for identifying fire-starting activities in context. Based on archaeological, anthropological, and mineralogical literature, experimental procedures were developed to identify, describe, and collect microscopic debitage from the strike-a-light fire-starting technique. In these experiments, iron disulphide debitage was the primary focus of study. The experiments produced promising qualitative, quantitative, and semi-quantitative base-line data with great potential for identifying strike-a-light fire-starting in the archaeological record and for advancing our knowledge of the prehistory of fire.

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

Material culture and the social dynamics of residential life at a company town: Archaeological investigations at the Fairfax Townsite (45PI918), Pierce County, Washington, USA

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-03-04
Abstract: 

Fairfax, Washington (site 45PI918) was a thriving, company-owned coal mining and lumber town that operated between the late 1890s and 1941. Like most company towns in the western United States, the place was an isolated, ethnically diverse, and male-dominated settlement. Today it is a ghost town, but at its peak, Fairfax was shaped by paternalistic systems, the social dynamism of its residents, and their access to opportunity and material culture. Initial archaeological investigations at the site reflect the everyday lives of working people in a Western Washington industrial town. This thesis attempts to identify the ways in which these families connected to the material world and how concepts of community and division based on race, ethnicity, gender, and class are visible in the documentary record. At the intersection of these constructs lies a story previously untold about the people of Fairfax and what they left behind.

Document type: 
Thesis
Supervisor(s): 
Catherine D’Andrea
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

They ‘sprouted up from the earth’: Archaeology and management of Shubenacadie River Valley paleoshorelines, Nova Scotia

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-11-26
Abstract: 

The abrupt geomorphological changes of the late glacial period in Nova Scotia varied regionally, often drastically changing the subsistence patterns of the ancestors of the Mi’kmaq. This dramatic landscape change has created a unique problem for archaeologists and heritage managers in their efforts to predict Paleo-Indian Period site occurrence in advance of industry- and community-driven land alteration. Policy and practice in Nova Scotia has been slow to recognise the need to identify and consider ancient landscape dynamics and now lags behind policies implemented in New Brunswick. This thesis argues that the current understanding of Paleo-Indian settlement patterns in Nova Scotia can be bridged by building upon existing geological research and freely available LiDAR data. A regionally focused glacial lake inundation model derived from digital elevation model data in Nova Scotia is an effective tool to offer insight into how the ancestors of the Mi’kmaq may have utilized the landscape of Central Nova Scotia over 12,000 years ago.

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

Underwater cultural heritage law and policy in Ontario: History and prospects for reform

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-13
Abstract: 

Ontario underwater cultural heritage is protected under the Ontario Heritage Act administered by the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport. Since the 2005 Ontario Heritage Act amendments, which added marine archaeology to the act’s protection regime, the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport has not updated or improved Ontario UCH policy. Due to the lack of improvement, and to the escalating interest in underwater cultural heritage by many groups, this thesis assessed Ontario’s current marine-heritage legislation. The analysis identifies ten main concerns with the province’s heritage policy. The thesis uses established underwater cultural heritage policy from Australia, South Carolina, the UK, and the international standard of the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Underwater Cultural Heritage to identify and present recommendations for policy reforms to mitigate the ten main concerns.

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

Archaeological Data as Evidence in Aboriginal Rights and Title Litigation in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-09-09
Abstract: 

Aboriginal rights and title acknowledge and affirm Indigenous peoples as the original occupants of Canada. Notwithstanding this acknowledgment, the legal tests to prove Aboriginal rights or title require pre-contact or pre-sovereignty evidence of land occupation and use. Archaeology’s ability to challenge, substantiate, and add temporal dimensions to oral and documentary histories makes it an essential tool in the resolution of Aboriginal rights and title. Archaeologists, as ethics-bound stewards of the material past, need to understand how their data has been used in these claims. This dissertation examines the use and consideration of archaeological data as evidence in Aboriginal rights and title litigation in Canada. Using qualitative methods, I assess court decisions, expert witness reports, academic literature, and interviews with archaeologists and lawyers to understand how archaeological evidence has influenced the legal tests for Aboriginal rights and title. In particular, I consider the types of archaeological data considered for these tests and the standards data must meet to be considered in court. I frame these research questions in three different studies, each considering a different perspective: a broad overview of past litigation; an in-depth case study of the Tsilhqot’in (2014) decision; and an analysis of the experiences of expert witnesses and lawyers. My studies show that archaeological data can indicate pre-contact occupation and use of specific places within a territory. Evidence of occupation sites and lithic and faunal analyses fit within accepted definitions of occupation and meet the criteria for the tests for both Aboriginal rights and Aboriginal title. Archaeological data has been important evidence in multiple court decisions, including Baker Lake (1979), Adams (1996), and Tsilhqot’in (2014). Its ability to be tangible evidence of occupation and use may outweigh its limitations, including the inherent limits of the material record and the inability to indicate ethnicity. My investigation indicates that archaeological data have and will continue to be used as evidence in Aboriginal rights and title litigation, particularly to bolster oral histories and historical records.

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

Technological analysis of site 35MA375: A biface cache site in Salem, Oregon

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-12
Abstract: 

The purpose of this thesis was a comprehensive technological lithic analysis for site 35MA375, a biface cache site. The site consists of 15 early-stage obsidian bifaces, considered part of the cache, as well as 24 tools and 102 pieces of debitage. The primary objective of this study was to identify the lithic reduction strategies employed at site 35MA375 to determine if the non-cache site artifacts are culturally, temporally, or functionally related to the cache of bifaces. Secondary objectives of this study aimed to address whether the cache bifaces were made at the site, if the production and deposition of the cache was a single event, and if the cached bifaces were further reduced at the site. The leading research method employed was technological analysis of the artifacts using modeling reduction sequences of technological systems. Secondary analyses included x-ray fluorescence and hydration analysis of obsidian artifacts. Experimental reduction of bifaces, similar to the cached bifaces, was conducted to understand pre-contact lithic reduction techniques and strategies at 35MA375. The results of the analyses suggest that the bifaces in the cache were not manufactured at 35MA375. Instead, it seems most likely that they were shaped at the Obsidian Cliffs quarries in the Cascade Range and then transported to the Willamette Valley where they were left at the site and never retrieved. Later Native American use of the site area, involved use of different lithic materials and reduction technologies that are fundamentally different from the technologies represented by the cache of bifaces. The technological analysis and experimental replication of this biface cache site contributes new details on caching practices in the Pacific Northwest. Site 35MA375 offers a new approach to understanding how people moved across the landscape, accessed, procured, reduced, and used obsidian resources within the Willamette Valley, Oregon.

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

Luck of the draw: Risk considerations, management responses, and policy implications for archaeological chance finds in British Columbia, Canada

Date created: 
2019-07-25
Abstract: 

Unanticipated discoveries of objects and features of archaeological interest occur for various reasons and in diverse contexts coincident with activities that alter land surfaces. When community development and resource extraction projects unexpectedly encounter a chance find, heritage resources management efforts are required. Such efforts necessarily expose project proponents to financial and regulatory obligations and risk that may or may not be balanced out by gains from additional engagements with stakeholders and further studies by archaeologists. British Columbia’s archaeological record and applicable resource management policy provide an apt case study for understanding risk, policy, and management implications for archaeological chance finds. A typology for archaeological chance finds enables analyses that indicate there are new opportunities available to manage risk. The typology allows for consideration of alternative approaches that draw from international best practice. A suggested process improvement seeks to offset adverse effects to archaeological resources through overcompensation. Recommendations to align policy and practice are provided. These include the implementation of measures to improve triggering mechanisms for archaeological assessment and changes to established assessment processes for chance finds from the perspectives of regulators, proponents, practitioners, and Indigenous Nations.

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

An archaeological investigation of subalpine and alpine use in the southeast Yukon

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-25
Abstract: 

An archaeological land use model for subalpine and alpine environments for southeast Yukon was developed using available ethnographic, archaeological and environmental data. The model describes a pattern of dispersed predominantly short-term hunting camps or lookouts located primarily in the subalpine with limited use of alpine zones. These results were compared to the findings of a heritage resource management project conducted in Don Creek Valley and Howard’s Pass, Yukon. This data generally conformed well to the model with some unexpected exceptions regarding the density and increased number of sites (n=47) recorded in the subalpine and alpine. Factors for the unexpected site density could possibly be due to the concentration of economically important resources or the use of Howard’s Pass as a travel route. Overall the results of this thesis underscore the importance of upland areas to the groups that inhabited this region of the Yukon.

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

An evaluation of the infrared 630cm-1 O-H libration band in bone mineral as evidence of fire in the early archaeological record

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-06-24
Abstract: 

FTIR spectroscopy has played an important role in recent attempts to understand the use of fire in prehistory. It has been used in the identification of heat altered sediment and bone. For the latter, the presence of the OH libration band at ca. 630cm-1 in the FTIR spectrum of an archaeological bone has been assumed to be indicative of bone that has been altered by fire. However, no ad-hoc research has explored whether this FTIR band could result from other ambient temperature diagenetic processes, or what the effects of heating variables may be on the appearance of this band. Here, I report a study designed to address this lacuna, and apply the results to the collection of fauna at Wonderwerk Cave from the Oldowan context. Using samples of cortical bone from micro- and macrofauna, I carried out a series of heating experiments to explore the change in FTIR spectra depending on temperature and duration of exposure to heat. Results demonstrate that the 630cm-1 peak is indeed diagnostic of burning, and indicate that microfauna are particularly useful indicators of burning activity when subjected to FTIR analysis. I hypothesize that the 630cm-1 peak is the result of the formation of pure hydroxyapatite, which appears to form above temperatures of 537°C. The results of this research were applied to the micro- and macrofauna collection of Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa, from the Earlier Stone Age context of 1.78Ma and older. Our results demonstrate that the majority of the bones from this context were burnt above 537°C.

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

The Pre-Aksumite to Aksumite Transition in Eastern Tigrai, Ethiopia: The View from Ona Adi

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-12
Abstract: 

The Pre-Aksumite to Aksumite transition (PA-A transition) is a critically important period in the culture history of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa (ca. 400 BC – 1st century AD). Previous hypotheses derived from archaeological surveys, that the settlement of large sites in Eastern Tigrai was continuous during the PA-A transition, are tested in this study. A main objective of this dissertation is to develop the first systematic ceramic chronology of the PA-A transition and the Aksumite period in Eastern Tigrai, based on excavation and ceramic analysis completed at the site of Ona Adi. The work involved the definition of main features of the Agame Ceramic Tradition. This research, in addition to completed survey data, highlights the distant political and economic relationship between the putative centres of Aksum/Yeha and the outlying region of Eastern Tigrai during the PA-A transition and the Aksumite period. It also provides a glimpse into the social dynamics of the PA-A transition at Ona Adi and the political role of Eastern Tigrai during the PA-A transition and the Aksumite period in the Horn of Africa. The work also explores the local cultural development and the impacts of cultural contacts between Eastern Tigrai and surrounding areas during the PA-A transition and Aksumite period. The results represent important baseline data to facilitate the development of future archaeological investigations in the region.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Catherine D'Andrea
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.