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

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A Rocky Road: Chert Characterization at ST 109, Keatley Creek Site, British Columbia

Date created: 
2014-07-17
Abstract: 

Globally, chert is the most common rock material found in archaeological contexts. Its prevalence on the Earth’s surface in Quaternary deposits and relative abundance in archaeological contexts indicate that it was an important resource material for ancient populations and, as such, can provide information about toolstone exploitation in prehistory. The results of this research suggest a local origin for the chert artefacts recovered from ST 109 at the Keatley Creek site (EeRl-7) in the mid-Fraser region of south-central British Columbia, but also to a remote origin for the toolstone deposits found within the study area. Elemental characterization suggests that although the chert deposits in the study area are geographically separate, they are likely derived from a larger parent chert source, redeposited in the mid-Fraser region by glacial activity prior to human occupation of the area. This thesis also demonstrates through the application of the Keatley Creek Lithic Typology that the visible properties of colour and texture are not a reliable means for discerning the provenance of chert artefacts.

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

Saltfish vs. Parrotfish: the Role of Fish and Mollusks in English Colonial Foodways at Betty’s Hope Plantation, Antigua, West Indies

Date created: 
2014-07-08
Abstract: 

One of the most quintessential components of colonial Caribbean foodways is imported saltfish. However, there has been little historical zooarchaeological research addressing the potential roles and values of fish and mollusks in English colonial foodways, particularly the local species. Betty’s Hope plantation in Antigua, British West Indies, has a substantial collection of historical archives called the Codrington Papers, which provides the basis for understanding the site’s historical daily life. This research employs an analysis of these archives compared to the fish and mollusk remains recovered from the site’s zooarchaeological assemblage, with the intention of understanding the extent to which local fish and mollusk resources were utilized. Despite the emphasis on saltfish in the archives and the almost total absence of references to mollusks, the zooarchaeological assemblage was dominated by local tropical fish taxa rather than imported saltfish. This not only informs on the types of fish consumed on the plantation, but also demonstrates selection preferences and practices between the Great House and the middle-class outbuildings that will contribute to the overall understanding of plantation foodways and daily life in the colonial Caribbean.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Catherine D'Andrea
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Community engagement in British Columbia archaeology

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-04-17
Abstract: 

Archaeologists are increasingly aware that their discipline affects living people, including the descendant communities on whose lands we work and heritage we explore. This trend has created a rise in engaged archaeological practices, including community-based, collaborative, and indigenous archaeologies. This thesis addresses the topic of community engagement by assessing how, to what extent, and to what ends archaeologists and descendant communities are working together in British Columbia. To examine these questions I first describe literature and theory on community engagement within and outside of archaeology, including past attempts to measure or evaluate community engagement. I use this to frame a set of attributes that characterize effective elements of community engagement. I then use these attributes to assess individual British Columbia archaeology projects, through interviews with British Columbia archaeologists and a sample of the British Columbia archaeology reports. My results indicate that British Columbia archaeologists recognize the importance of community engagement and attempt to implement strategies of engagement in their projects. Moreover, my results indicate that meaningful community engagement includes the opportunity for partnership, involvement, and long-lasting relationships.

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

Featuring Wetlands: A Feature Analysis of Wetland Resource Use at DhRp-52, British Columbia

Date created: 
2014-04-22
Abstract: 

This study explores wetland resource use at DhRp-52 to develop a better understanding of the inhabitants’ interactions with their wetland environment. A feature analysis of selected feature contents using multiple sources of evidence (i.e., archaeobotany, charcoal analysis, and zooarchaeology) was employed to (a) taxonomically identify seed, bone, and charcoal as indicators of wetland resource use, and (b) assess feature function in relation to resource use. This provides a means to evaluate the suitability of feature analyses for future use at archaeological sites in the region, particularly in wetland contexts. The results of the feature analysis contribute to a more general discussion of regional hunter-gatherer interactions with wetland ecosystems. While many aspects of human landscapes and resource use in the Northwest Coast have been extensively discussed, wetlands have seldom been considered as a specific environmental zone. This study helps to broaden that discussion by presenting new data on the topic, by demonstrating the utility of a feature analysis-based approach, and highlighting the archaeological and ethnographic importance of regional wetlands and their use.

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

Human Decomposition and the Factors that Affect it: A Retrospective Study of Death Scenes in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-03-26
Abstract: 

Little is known about human decomposition and the variables which affect it in Canada. This study involves the retrospective analysis of 358 police death investigations from across Canada. Cases with reliable data were selected using the Canadian ViCLAS (Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System) database. A total of 36 environmental, immediate context, intrinsic and geographic variables were examined for each case. A classification system was designed based on biological processes of decomposition and a method developed to assign a relative value to each case (Relative Level of Decomposition Value). There are four components to the study. The first component determined the quantitative and qualitative differences in the progression of baseline decomposition for outdoor surface, buried, indoor and water scenes. The frequency of alternate states of decomposition such as mummification, adipocere formation or moulding was determined for each scene type. The second component determined which variables affected the progression of decomposition by scene type. The PMI (in days) was found to have more predictive value compared to the ADD score. Seven variables (PMI days, precipitation, scavenging, insects, body size, alcohol consumption and blood loss) were found to contribute to 83% of the variability in the decomposition score outside on the surface. Three variables (ADD score, insects and blood loss) indoors and in burials (PMI days, blood loss and clothing) contributed to 50% of the change in decomposition. Two variables (PMI days and submersion) contributed to 54% of the variability in decomposition in water. Insects and scavengers had a limited involvement in all cases regardless of season. The third component of the study found that there were geographical differences in baseline and alternate states of decomposition across Canada. The last component of the study tested existing formulas for PMI estimations using Canadian cases, with negative results. The variability within baseline decomposition, between scene types and geographical locations precludes the estimations of accurate or forensically practical PMI estimations in Canada. The understanding of decomposition could be used to determine the original context of found remains and predict the extent and type of decomposition given a set of known variables, for search and recovery strategies.

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

Palaeopathological and Palaeoepidemiological Analyses of Treponemal Infection on the Northwest Coast: A Unitarian Perspective

Date created: 
2013-12-02
Abstract: 

Bone and dental lesions characteristic of treponemal infection have been reported in the skeletal remains of indigenous peoples from a number of archaeological sites on the Northwest Coast. Associated radiocarbon dates and material culture indicate that some cases are over 3000 years old. The evidence identified to date includes diagnostic lesions indicative of the venereal treponemal syndrome, venereal syphilis. This dissertation reviews the previously reported evidence and introduces new possible cases of treponematosis from recent archaeological findings in my work as a consulting bioarchaeologist, synthesizing these data to illuminate patterns of prevalence and distribution of treponemal skeletal lesions in time and space to evaluate the treponemal syndrome obtained on the Northwest Coast. A novel system of diagnosing cases of treponemal infection by the composite scores of different lesion types to produce a rigorous and repeatable diagnostic index (Treponemal Index) is introduced and applied to 52 cases identified as possible treponematosis from archaeological populations.In addition to caries sicca and gummatous osteomyelitis, evidence of congenital syphilis, aortitis and neuroarthropathy are found, confirming that a venereal treponemal syndrome was present in archaeological populations of the Strait of Georgia region. The prevalence of cases peaks in the Middle Period, and may have contributed to the decline observed in the Late Period in the archaeological record of the Strait of Georgia through the impact on fertility from congenital infection. Longstanding debates about the nature and origin of venereal syphilis and the other human treponemes continue into the 21st century. However, since the subsuming of endemic syphilis and yaws as subspecies of Treponema pallidum, the Unitarian Hypothesis has by definition been confirmed. This dissertation embraces this perspective. The data generated here are subsequently employed to test the predictions and principles of the Unitarian model against the Northwest Coast archaeological and ethnographic record.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Roy Carlson
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Do Orangutans Really Laugh? An Investigation into the Existence of Tickle-Induced Play Vocalizations among Pongo pygmaeus at the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine in Kalimantan, Indonesia

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-11-05
Abstract: 

Laughter is a physiological process and a fundamentally social phenomenon with physical, biological, psychological, philosophical and social dimensions. Laughter is ubiquitous among human populations but its evolutionary history has not been thoroughly examined. Although laugh-like play vocalizations have been reasonably well-established among chimpanzees, little is known about its existence in other species. It has been suggested from anecdotal reports on bonobos and gorillas, in addition to the handful of studies on chimpanzees, that play faces and play vocalizations are usually produced during rough and tumble social play and tickling. While there is a general consensus on the existence and characteristic features of great ape play faces, data on great ape play vocalizations and their relationship with play faces is scant. In addition, this limited evidence for laughter in great ape species does not extend beyond chimpanzees, and there has only been one other study conducted on orangutans thus far. This study tries to fill this void and investigates the existence of laughter in wild-born, ex-captive orangutans housed at the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine in Kalimantan, Central Borneo, Indonesia. Forty-one orangutan (24 males, 17 females) were tickled by familiar caregivers and their facial and vocal responses recorded. First, I analyzed the presence and frequency with which four play face variants co-occurred with vocalizations among the full sample. I then examined whether the reactions were influenced by sex, age, and time spent in rehabilitation. The analyses indicated that when tickled, orangutans exhibit play faces significantly more often than non-play faces and silent play faces more frequently than vocalized play faces. Sex, age, and time in rehabilitation did not affect these findings. Lastly, while some orangutans emitted vocalizations when exhibiting play faces, the rate at which the two behaviours co-occurred in the sample was lower than the level required to fulfill the definition of laughter used in this study. Therefore, the hypothesis that orangutans laugh could not be supported. Limitations of this study and future directions are discussed.

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

PXRF and Place Names: Painting a Narrative on Squamish Ochre Sources and Rock Art

Date created: 
2013-09-13
Abstract: 

There are two major known sources of red ochre in the Squamish Valley, BC, and utilized in the creation of several rock art sites. These sources vary in that one is an easily accessible along Pilchuck Creek; the other, located 1660m above sea level on Paul Ridge. This source is considerably more difficult to access and likely imbued with greater ritual significance. Both ochre sources are associated with Squamish Nation place-names. In addition to the ochre sources, five pictograph sites contain depictions intimately related to Squamish oral history. The aim of this thesis is to first geochemically analyze ochre sources in the Squamish region and other locations from within and outside of British Columbia, and second to analyze the pigments in the Squamish Nation pictographs using portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF). These elemental analyses are compared to determine if pXRF can satisfy the provenance postulate for ochres, which states that inter-source variation must outweigh intra-source variation (Wiegand et al. 1977). The analyses on the pictographs provided qualitative and quantitative information on the elemental make-up of the pigments, and contributed towards establishing a methodology for analyzing pictographs with pXRF. Comparing this data determined if the ochre pigments used to create the pictographs came from geologically distinct sources based on signature elements, and if the rock art sites were re-visited and re-painted. Formal methods coupled with informed perspectives on the ochre and rock art uses information from oral history, place names, ethnographies and archaeology. The total summation of the data provides insight into the cultural background on the acquisition of ochres for pigments, and what geochemical complexities in minerals can reveal about the nature of ochre selection and the creation of pictographs in Squamish Nation territory.

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

Revisiting Bosumpra: Examining 10,000 years of plant use at the Bosumpra rockshelter, Ghana

Date created: 
2013-08-12
Abstract: 

In recent years there has been a growing interest in understanding the nature of prehistoric occupations and subsistence practices in the tropical forest regions of sub-Sahelian West Africa. These regions have long been considered as promising areas for investigating the antiquity and origins of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) use and cultivation, a resource of immense economic importance today. This thesis examines Later Stone Age (LSA) subsistence practices and explores the interrelationships between LSA populations and plant resources in the tropical forests of Ghana during the Holocene. Using archaeobotanical evidence, I provide a long-term view of plant use at the Bosumpra rockshelter in southern Ghana over the course of the 10,000 years occupation, and I present the first detailed archaeobotanical analysis for pre-Kintampo LSA populations in Ghana. This research documents the use and perhaps early management relationships with the oleaginous , incense tree (Canarium schweinfurthii L.) and oil palm, which are the most abundant food remains for all phases of occupation at Bosumpra. The collection and processing of these taxa, especially incense tree, were important activities performed at the shelter, and likely influenced the timing of the use of the shelter. The results of this study show the gradual displacement of incense tree by oil palm as the dominant tree-fruit resource at Bosumpra, and demonstrate the longstanding importance of both tree-fruit resources at the shelter well past the advent of food-production in Ghana. Remains of pearl millet and cowpea at Bosumpra document the appearance of plant domesticates in these forested habitats. Although this analysis of plant materials from Bosumpra provides data from only a single site, the findings resonate with more widespread work on LSA subsistence practices, especially in regard to the importance of incense tree and oil palm to forest inhabitants. It also provides archaeobotanical evidence supporting previous models of the introduction and spread of West African plant domesticates. Altogether, archaeobotanical data from Bosumpra provide insights into changing practices of plant use and management during the LSA, and a subtle indication of what may be the earliest evidence of interaction and exchange between hunter-gatherers and food producers in this forest region.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Catherine D'Andrea
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Experimental investigation into the preservation and recovery of degraded DNA from sediments

Date created: 
2012-08-29
Abstract: 

Controlled experiments were used to recover DNA from sediments in order to understand DNA preservation in sediments and to examine the effectiveness of different DNA recovery methods. Known quantities of DNA were added to different sediment samples and artificially degraded through heat exposure. DNA extraction techniques included a chloroform/octanol and silica-spin column method. Standard and quantitative PCR were employed to assess the quantity of mtDNA recovered. The results demonstrate that DNA can be preserved in sediment, with successful DNA detection after exposure to 120ºC for up to 70 hours. It was also shown that the silica-spin column method recovered significantly more DNA than the other method but PCR inhibition was a consistent problem, with at least 25X sample dilution required for successful amplification. Technical improvements are needed to advance sediment DNA research; however, the data from this study support the notion that degraded DNA can be recovered directly from sediments.

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