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

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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.

Historical Archaeology of Tourism at Port Arthur, Tasmania, 1885-1960

Date created: 
2016-01-14
Abstract: 

This study examines the construction of place for tourists at Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia, between 1885 and 1960. Port Arthur, a popular Tasmanian tourist destination today, was first established in 1830 as a secondary punishment station for British convicts and closed in 1877. Six months following its closure, the first steamship full of pleasure-seekers interested in visiting the former penal settlement arrived at Port Arthur. While some groups in Tasmania worked to shed the stain of its convict past, tourist interest in Port Arthur increased. The substantial income tourism introduced to a limited local economy resulted in tensions between hiding the convict past and profiting from it. The way Port Arthur was created and recreated for tourists changed through time and was often affected by context. Constructions of the site and its history were driven by a number of fiscal, social and cultural factors, and these were navigated by several groups. A number of actors, including hotel proprietors, tour operators, postcard producers, museum curators and guidebook authors, had varied roles and interests in the site, and these were enacted in a variety of media. To explore some of the nuances in the ways Port Arthur was constructed for tourists, material culture from several contexts around the site was examined. This includes assemblages from hotels and guesthouses at Port Arthur, advertisements for the hotels printed in newspapers and guidebooks, postcards which depicted the site, and private museum collections that interpreted the site for visitors. These collections were examined for expressions of dark tourism and romanticism, along with broader understandings of authenticity and inauthenticity in the construction of Port Arthur for tourists. Evidence from all available contexts at Port Arthur was used (where possible) to evaluate historical theories regarding the development of mass tourism in the western world. Artefact assemblages from hotels and guesthouses at Port Arthur were also used to assess existing theories about the material nature of tourism as a phenomenon, identify a material signature unique to tourist sites and better understand material manifestations of tourism.

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

The Evolutionary Ecology of Human Lactation: Correlates of Duration of Breastfeeding

Date created: 
2016-04-01
Abstract: 

Humans breastfeed our infants for less time than expected for primates of our size. Additionally, human breastfeeding duration appears more variable than in nonhuman species. This early and flexible weaning pattern affects maternal fertility as well as infant health and survivorship, from both within- and across- species perspectives. So, understanding what factors enabled humans to wean relatively early and flexibly is an important goal for human evolutionary demography. Yet, what these factors are and how they influence breastfeeding behaviour remain unclear. To address this gap, I present a series of three papers that each tests several hypotheses regarding influences on breastfeeding duration. The first paper reports a study that uses secondary data from small-scale human societies to investigate the effects of energetic factors on among-population variation in breastfeeding duration. The second has similar aims to the first, but uses within-population field data from indigenous Maya women from Guatemala to evaluate the energetic hypotheses. The third study, again using field data from Maya women, assesses a different set of hypotheses: that socio-ecological change and sources of socially-transmitted information about how to feed infants influence duration of breastfeeding.The first study shows that, across populations, breastfeeding duration associates negatively with maternal body mass, positively with maternal height, and negatively with dietary quality of weaning foods. The second indicates that within-population variation in breastfeeding duration associates negatively with maternal height, negatively with maternal access to help with infant care, and positively with parity. The last study suggests that duration of exclusive breastfeeding associates negatively with conservativeness of the source from which mothers learn about infant feeding behaviour. It also indicates that full duration of breastfeeding associates positively with household modernization. Taken together, these results suggest two things. One is that reduced duration of breastfeeding relates to greater maternal access to energy. The second is that socio-cultural factors influence variation in duration of breastfeeding in humans. These findings are consistent with previous claims that increases in energy availability and/or the development of complex cultural systems for information transmission contributed to the evolution of short, flexible breastfeeding and high fertility in humans.

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

A structural approach to Lapita ceramic design analysis: Investigation of the Eastern Lapita Province

Date created: 
2016-03-24
Abstract: 

Methodological approaches to archaeological ceramic design analysis often rely upon the subjective identification and comparison of decorative design elements and motifs. In an effort to develop more objective methods, I propose and evaluate the utility of a new structural approach that quantifies the complexity and organization of design, predominantly through the use of microscopy techniques. The approach is compared to element/motif analysis and applied to data sets of Lapita ceramics, the ceramic series that demarcates exploration and first settlement by Austronesian speaking peoples across Oceania. I am first concerned with the Eastern Lapita Province (Fiji, Lau, Tonga and Samoa), a region that is known to share motifs, but differs in motif application and layout. Applying both motif and structural analysis, I not only identify variation in results between the two methods but distinguish and isolate regional ceramic variation. This, then, leads me to question the cohesiveness of the Eastern Lapita Province as it is previously defined. Second, I extend my analysis to incorporate ceramic samples from the Western (Vanuatu) and Southern (New Caledonia) Lapita provinces. Ostensibly, I define ancestral relationships between these regions as Oceania was explored and settled by Lapita peoples. Finally, I apply this approach to Lapita ceramic assemblages across the Tongan archipelago. High precision dating of ceramic assemblages in Tonga, combined with motif and structural analysis, gives insight into the cohesiveness of a Lapita potting community and the rapid disappearance of decorative applications within a century and a half after colonization. Difference in results provided by structural versus element/motif analysis could be due to several factors, including cultural transmission mechanisms through which potters choose designs and then place them onto a pot. These mechanisms have yet to be identified through hypotheses tested with both structural and element/motif ceramic design data employing a single data set. This study presents an important step in this direction for Lapita archaeology. Elements and motifs are no doubt important for the analysis of design, but structural application can and should be used as a complementary approach in order to understand the degree to which both aspects of design signal potter interaction.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
David Burley
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Estimating Body Mass In Biological Anthropology: An Evaluation Using Three-Dimensional Computed Tomography

Date created: 
2015-01-09
Abstract: 

Estimates of body mass are essential to biological anthropology research. The primary source for such estimates is skeletal morphology, and several predictive equations have been developed for cranial and postcranial material. These equations are widely used, but a number of factors suggest that they may not be as reliable as they are generally assumed to be. In particular, reference samples are often small and analyses frequently employ indirect measurements, specimens without accompanying body mass values, or mean data. In addition, tests of the equations have rarely involved external validation with samples of known mass.This project addressed these issues through three studies, using a large sample of modern humans for which both body masses and skeletal measurements were available. The sample consisted of Swiss forensic cases whose skeletal measurements were reconstructed from whole-body computed tomography scans. The first study compared the accuracy of three sets of commonly employed cranial equations. The second assessed published postcranial equations and compared the results to previous evaluations that had used less robust test samples. Several expectations regarding the performance of the equations were also tested. The third study employed the same sample to develop and test new regression equations for estimating mass from cranial and postcranial variables. The study was designed to compare the relative utility of the cranial and postcranial equations and to test the effect of variable choice, statistical method, and evaluation criteria on estimation competence. Results suggest that body mass estimates should be used more cautiously than is usually the case. Overall, cranial equations did not estimate mass accurately. Several that have been deemed to be reliable in previous studies, did not perform well. Postcranial equations estimated mass more accurately, but not consistently. They also did not necessarily perform in accordance with statements in the literature. Deriving new equations using a known reference sample improved estimation competence compared to previous studies, but accuracy rates remained relatively low. Key assumptions about the best criteria to use for evaluating predictive competence were not supported. Further research may explain these discrepancies, but until then, estimates generated with currently published equations should be treated as “ballpark figures”.

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

Testing Gerasimov’s two-tangent nose projection method in craniofacial approximations of children

Date created: 
2015-12-03
Abstract: 

Craniofacial approximation is an artistic process in which a potential face is created over the skull of an unknown individual in order to assist with identification. It is often not performed on children due to the lack of research in this area. There are currently several methods in use to predict the nose pronasale position, the oldest and purportedly most accurate and precise of which was the two-tangent method proposed by Mikhail Gerasimov in 1955 (13, 14, 17, 23, 24, 27, 28). To determine if this method is accurate for children of different age groups, 280 (140 male, 140 female) lateral cephalograms were imported into Adobe Photoshop® 7 where the soft tissue outline is removed to estimate the position of the pronasale using Gerasimov’s two-tangent method. The soft tissue outline layer was reapplied, and the predicted pronasale was compared to the actual pronasale using a Cartesian system. ANOVA and t-tests were performed to compare the position of the actual and predicted pronasale between age groups of the same sex, between sexes, and age groups of different sexes. Results show that this method only is accurate and precise for male juveniles between the ages of 9-12. According to these findings, Gerasimov’s two-tangent method should probably not be used for facial approximations on children.

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

Using Ancient mtDNA to Track Temporal Genetic Changes of Pacific Herring Populations in the Central Coast of British Columbia

Date created: 
2015-12-15
Abstract: 

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) are an important species of marine ecosystems, and to Coastal First Nations. Herring are now in decline across the Northeast Pacific, but there is much debate on the nature of this decline and its potential impacts on biological diversity of the species. This research project takes an in-depth look at mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of ancient herring bones recovered from stratified midden deposits at Namu, British Columbia to document changes in genetic diversity through time (7000 – 100 BP), and to explore the possibility of identifying region-specific herring populations. This study processed 60 samples with a success rate of 83.3% for mtDNA sequence analysis. Our data show that ancient DNA is generally well preserved in ancient herring remains as old as 7000BP, demonstrating the potential for retrieving genetic information about herring of the past. However, our mtDNA (D-loop and cytb) markers proved to be less informative in revealing changes of population diversity. Nuclear DNA markers and next generation sequencing technology are expected to make good use of the recovered herring DNA to better reconstruct natural history in the region.

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

The Influence of Surgical Stress on Human Scalp Hair Fiber Dimensions

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-11-16
Abstract: 

Human scalp hair is an ideal medium for investigating the physiology and chemistry of an individual at the time of hair formation. Hair is taphonomically robust and, through its continuous growth, creates a chronological record of biochemical history. Changes to the physical characteristics of human scalp hair can therefore provide information on the presence and timing of antemortem acute physiological stress events. Scalp hair samples were collected from males undergoing abdominal surgery for a variety of medical conditions. Surgery is a known and potent activator of the systemic stress response and the acute phase response, both of which require protein and lipid substrates for survival and wound healing. Hair samples were long enough to cover up to one month prior to surgery and one month following surgery. Methods for the assessment of hair fiber growth were compared for utility in stress analysis. Dimensions such as total fiber diameter, cuticle thickness, and cortex diameter were compared prior to and following surgery. This study was approved by all appropriate Ethics Review Boards. Results of method comparison suggest that increased magnification from standard 400x to 1000x does not provide significantly different data. Measuring hair diameter digitally also does not provide data which differ significantly from diameter measured manually. Variables constructed from combined measurements do provide data more appropriate for detecting stress-related changes in the hair fiber than single dimension variables. Fiber dimensions analysed showed statistically significant differences between pre- and post-operative values, which returned to normal in the fourth post-operative week.

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

Developing a method for assessing the skilfulness and practice time of Upper Palaeolithic representative artists

Date created: 
2014-08-12
Abstract: 

Archaeologists have tended to approach Upper Palaeolithic art in the way that art historians and critics approach modern art—with a focus on meaning. While this approach has yielded interesting results, its dominance has led to the neglect of another important aspect of art—the skill required to produce it. Research on the acquisition of skill across a wide range of activities suggests that an individual’s level of skill in a given activity is primarily determined by the number of hours they have practiced that activity. I developed an experimental approach for the evaluation of skill in representative drawing, a common form of Upper Palaeolithic art. First, I devised a set of criteria that can be used to evaluate drawing skill. Then, I asked 30 subjects with varying amounts of experience to produce drawings and to provide an estimate of their hours of practice. Next, the subjects’ drawings were scored with the evaluation criteria. Lastly, I regressed the scores for the drawings on hours of practice. The results indicate a strong, significant relationship between drawing skill and number of hours of practice. The rate of the participant artists skill acquisition increased steadily in congruence with their increased practice time, until they reached approximately 10,000 hours, and their abilities plateaued. With this result and a reliable set of criteria for the evaluation of skill in drawing, I am prepared to move onto the second phase of this study, which is the evaluation of skill in representative UP art.

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

Ancient DNA Analysis of Middle and Late Period Archaeological Fish Remains from Kamloops, British Columbia

Date created: 
2014-07-09
Abstract: 

In this study, ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis was used to assign species identifications to a sample of Middle (7,000 to 4,500 years BP) and Late (4,500 to 200 years BP) Period fish remains from EeRb-144, a large campsite located in the Interior Plateau region of south-central British Columbia, Canada. The results of this analysis indicate that largescale sucker (Catostomus macrocheilus) (NISP=12) and northern pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis) (NISP=8) are the most abundant species in the assemblage of Late Period fish remains from EeRb-144. This suggests these two taxa were the focus of the Late Period fishery at EeRb-144. Smaller quantities of peamouth chub (Mylocheilus caurinus) (NISP=3), longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus) (NISP=1), and Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) (NISP=1) were also identified in the assemblage. Ecological data concerning the seasonal availability of these taxa and limited ethnographic accounts suggest EeRb-144’s Late Period fishery likely occurred during the spring and summer. The Middle Period fishery at the site also harvested largescale sucker (NISP=2), peamouth chub (NISP=1), and longnose sucker (NISP=1). These findings indicate locally abundant resident fish species were a potentially significant component of EeRb-144’s pre-contact fisheries, corroborating and refining the results of morphological faunal analyses from the area. In addition, the identification of largescale sucker, peamouth chub, and longnose sucker in both assemblages suggests there was some long-term continuity in fishing practices at the site. This study demonstrates the feasibility of using ancient DNA analysis to identify fish remains from a variety of taxa to the species-level even when they lack taxonomically informative morphological features. The results also highlight that in order to improve aDNA analysis’ ability to discriminate between fish species there needs to be continued research into identifying useful DNA markers for species identification.

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