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

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Beyond sourcing: portable X-ray fluorescence and archaeological ceramics

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-06-21
Abstract: 

Handheld portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) technology has been increasingly employed in ceramic provenance studies. While these applications have been largely successful, the utility of this technology for ceramic analysis has nonetheless been called into question. This thesis considers the utility of pXRF for the analysis of archaeological ceramics. It is argued that the analysis of ceramics using any geochemical technique must recognize and account for the range of environmental and technological factors that influence ceramic composition. Ceramics are synthetic and heterogeneous, and thus present a special set of challenges for analysis using non-destructive techniques such as pXRF. Variability in pXRF analysis is assessed in this thesis at both the level of the individual artifact, and at the level of the assemblage. Archaeological ceramics from sites in Fiji, Tonga, and Jamaica are analyzed using pXRF to assess analytical variability from the perspective of “repeatability”. Substantial variability is evident in the results of repeat, sequential measurements of individual ceramic sherds. In particular, consistent differences are observed between the “core” and “surface” of the sherds. Variability generally increases when larger temper grains are present in the paste matrix. Analytical variability, therefore, appears to relate to both the compositional properties of ceramics, as well the known parameters of non-destructive pXRF analysis. A case study using pXRF to characterize an expanded sample of Fijian ceramics demonstrates the efficacy of a geochemical inventory strategy for identifying compositional differences within and between assemblages. This thesis highlights the need for independent theory and protocol governing non-destructive analysis of ceramics. The unique capabilities of pXRF are best exploited when the physical properties of specimens and the analytical parameters of the technique are critically examined in tandem. That pXRF analysis “averages” the geochemistry of the ceramic paste constituents is, in light of this broader understanding of ceramic composition, actually advantageous.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
David Burley
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Revisiting the Locarno Beach Site (DhRt-6), Vancouver, BC

Date created: 
2013-06-13
Abstract: 

As the type-site for the Locarno Beach phase (ca. 3300-2400 BP) in the Gulf of Georgia regional chronology, the Locarno Beach site is important to Coast Salish culture history. Despite multiple site investigations, lack of data integration hinders our understanding. This thesis critically examines the 60-year history of archaeological investigations at the Locarno Beach site and re-evaluates the site’s lithics assemblage. I compile project summaries to evaluate the impacts that past work had on site investigations and site interpretations over time and to assess the representativeness of extant data. I explore temporal variability using a newly-created data set of already-collected lithic artifacts and radiocarbon dates from four excavations (two previously unanalyzed). Observed trends are then compared with expected patterning for the Locarno Beach phase. Results indicate that while small, sampled portions of the site align with current site interpretations, more spatial and temporal variability is evident for the site as a whole than its designation as a Locarno Beach phase type site suggests.

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

A Historic Archaeology of Nuu-chah-nulth Barkley Sound: Material and Economic Change through the Nineteenth Century

Date created: 
2013-07-05
Abstract: 

During the nineteenth century, the Nuu-chah-nulth of Barkley Sound on Vancouver Island were severely reduced by disease, transformed by political amalgamation, and constrained through reserve allocation. Trade waxed and waned in successive fur, logging, and fishing industries. Yet, through these episodic social and economic shifts, the Nuu-chah-nulth continued to use their traditional territories and resources in creative ways. This thesis evaluates ethnohistorical descriptions of material change through an analysis of post-contact contexts at six village sites in Barkley Sound. Although the Nuu-chah-nulth were engaged in trade with Europeans from the 1780s onward, their material culture did not change dramatically until the last decades of the nineteenth century. The influx of glass, metal, and ceramic goods during this time represents new modes of engagement with non-indigenous economies, but the assemblage remained distinctly Nuu-chah-nulth, as it was reconstituted within sites defined over thousands of years of continuous occupation.

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

Indigenous heritage stewardship and the transformation of archaeological practice: two case studies from the mid-Fraser region of British Columbia

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-04-16
Abstract: 

Over the past two decades, archaeology in British Columbia has been marked by two dramatic changes: the steep rise in forest industry-related “cultural resource management” (CRM) and the concomitant increase in First Nations engagement with archaeology and heritage stewardship. These trends have led to conflict between indigenous perspectives and CRM practice, but have also led to alliances and collaborations with archaeologists and the implementation of applied archaeological approaches. This dissertation addresses the implications of indigenous heritage stewardship, from the viewpoints of the St’át’imc and Nlaka’pamux nations, in the historical and contemporary context of CRM practice and applied archaeology in the mid-Fraser region of British Columbia. To place their engagement in perspective, I consider recent theoretical debates in community-based and indigenous archaeologies, as well as the development of participatory action research in archaeology. I also review the involvement of First Nations throughout British Columbia in CRM, stewardship, heritage legislation, and ethics. The St’át’imc and Nlaka’pamux case studies presented in this dissertation relate their outlooks on archaeology and their specific efforts in heritage stewardship, based on literature reviews, interviews, and direct participation. The St’át’imc study describes their traditional and contemporary views on archaeology and stewardship, relates their involvement in archaeology since the 1970s, and evaluates the process and outcomes of their recent direct involvement in the business of CRM. The Nlaka’pamux study recounts their experiences with archaeology since the late nineteenth century, as well as their more recent confrontations with CRM practice, and examines their current efforts at defining Nlaka’pamux heritage stewardship, particularly from the vantage of landscape. The different approaches taken by these two nations have their strengths and shortcomings, and both continue to aspire to greater participation and authority in archaeology and heritage stewardship. Most important, the standpoints and strategies of both nations provide insights into how applied archaeology practice can be transformed to better serve indigenous heritage stewardship, including in the realms of ethics, indigenous authority, intangible heritage, and landscapes. I contend that archaeologists can best accommodate these perspectives through participatory action research and the concept of archaeological praxis.

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

White tigers and azure dragons: Overseas Chinese burial practices in the Canadian and American west (1850s to 1910s)

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the archaeological signature at overseas Chinese burial grounds in ithe Canadian and American west. The primary objective is to trace Chinese death ritual practices from early Chinese dynasties through to the main diaspora from China in the late Qing Dynasty. It also examines the main influences in their new home that led to the adoption of new practices and eventual redefinition of traditional rites. A second objective was to examine material culture and landscape modifications visible at Wild Horse Creek Chinese Burial Ground in British Columbia. Patterns of distribution were established to determine the types of rituals practiced during its use. These patterns were compared to sites surveyed in contemporaneous Chinese burial grounds in British Columbia and the South. Pacific. Research indicated that Chinese were maintaining internal traditional rites associated with placation of ancestors and adopted local symbols and cemetery styles for presentation to non Chinese communities.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Archaeology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Decontamination techniques in ancient DNA analysis

Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

Contamination is one of the most troublesome aspects of ancient DNA analysis. Resulting from the ease with which samples may be contaminated, decontaminating ancient remains has become a necessary step in ancient DNA analysis. Unfortunately, there have been no controlled studies of the efficacy of current decontamination techniques. This study examined a variety of chemicals to test their effectiveness at removing DNA within solution. Bleach, being the most effective chemical destroyer of DNA, was subsequently tested in a controlled experiment using an artificial DNA fragment for contamination and an ancient animal proxy. Results indicated that submersion in 100% household bleach for 5 to 10 minutes was the most efficient technique for removing contaminant DNA on ancient bone surfaces. However, this treatment may not adequately decontaminate heavily and deeply contaminated bone samples since 100% bleach could not remove contaminant DNA that has been soaked into bone, even after 20 minutes of exposure.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Archaeology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Wapato (Sagitaria latifolia) In Katzie Traditional Territory, Pitt Meadows, British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2001
Abstract: 

Wapato (Sagittaria latifolia Willdenow; Alismataceae - Water Plantain family), a tuberous starchy carbohydrate food-plant, is frequently mentioned in ethnographies, historic accounts and archaeological reports concerned with the Halkomelem speaking Katzie First Nation located in the Fraser Valley region of southwestern British Columbia. However, none of the archaeological reports contain substantive archaeobotanical evidence for the prehistoric use of wapato. The reports rely completely on ethnographic and historic accounts for their speculations and conclusions about wapato. The need for critical and contextual review is also evident for the ethnographic and historic accounts upon which the prevalent archaeological view of wapato is based. Complicating this situation is the absence of information regardmg the charring and identification of carbonized wapato remains and the lack of a model to predict where it might be found archaeologically. To redify the foregoing situation this research brings together an informative survey of the abundant botanical literature on the ecology of wapato in conjunction with a critical and contextual review of relevant environmental, archaeological, ethnographic, linguistic and historic information to set the stage for the construction of an archaeological model for wapato. Field work involved the location of wapato patches in traditional Katzie temtory and recording environmental information, and leads to the conclusion that wapato is only found outside the modern dike system and no longer in many of the ethnographically documented locations inside the dike system. A major contribution to the process is the conduct of a wapato charring experiment which clarifies the nature of charring for this tuber and provides the necessary details for identifying charred wapato remains emphasizing macroscopic features visible with the unaided eye, supplemented with low power and scanning electron microscopy for greater detail. With the results of the critical and contextual review in combination with the charring experiment results, a model for the archaeological recovery and identification of wapato is constructed for Katzie traditional territory. All or some of the elements of the analytical process followed and the archaeological model are applicable in other locales and should contribute significantly to our understanding of traditional wapato use.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Archaeology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Plasmodium sp. Infections in ex-captive bornean orangutans (pongo pygmaeus) housed at the orangutan care center and quarantine, Pasir Panjang, Kalimantan Tengah, Indonesia

Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

This thesis reports infections of Plasmodium sp. in wild-born, ex-captive orangutans housed at the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCC&Q) in Kalimantan, Indonesia. We microscopically examined blood from 1) OCC&Q residents (n=69); 2) newly confiscated orangutans (n=14); and 3) previously released ex-captives (n=2). We observed Plasmodium sp. parasites in blood smears collected from 24 individuals. Blood from these individuals was collected and preserved for species determination using Polymerase Chain Reaction and sequence alignment tools. We amplified, cloned, and sequenced a -1500 bp region of the 18s sRNA from 13 of 24 Plasmodium sp. infected animals. Our sequences formed four distinct groupings at the nucleotide level which may represent four Plasmodium sp. infecting orangutans at OCC&Q. Our data suggest cross species infection of orangutans with macaque (Macaca sp.) and human plasmodia, which may have serious implications for conservation and rehabilitation efforts of endangered species.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Archaeology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Five thousand years of fishing at a shell midden in the broken group islands, Barkley Sound, British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

This thesis critically examines the archaeological history of fishing at a five thousand year-old shell midden on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. To do this, I use fish bones identified from Ts'ishaa (DfSi 16 and 17), a large ethnographically identified Nuuchah- nulth village, to describe the taxonomic composition of marine fish recovered from spatially and temporally distinct areas of the site. After evaluating the depositional and taphonomic history of the assemblage, I examine evidence of fishing at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. I identify periods of change and continuity in the use of abundant and ubiquitous fish taxa throughout the site and conclude that similarities between contemporaneous deposits demonstrate the existence of community-wide fishing practices. I then characterize changes observed in the archaeological record by linking them to community-level changes in the use of the site at different points in time.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Archaeology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Tracking identity in a Harrison Valley Pithouse

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2009
Abstract: 

Houses were fundamental to cultural expression among Coast Salish groups in the Lower Fraser River Watershed and its tributaries, including the Harrison Watershed. The construction and continued maintenance of the built environment of houses served to inform and reflect a household's social identity. The complete excavation of a small, isolated pithouse in the Harrison River Valley, the traditional territory of the Chehalis (Sts’ailes), showed two main occupations spanning almost 300 years, suggesting a long-term connection to place. Using concepts derived from Amos Rapoport’s work in Environment-Behaviour Studies to link archaeological data associated with the successive occupations to insights gained from ethnographic sources and local oral history, resulted in interpretations of the occupants’ social identities and their connection to the Sts’ailes of today. The archaeological record of this one site exemplifies both the fluid nature of identity and the continuous relationship to place rooted in Sts’ailes oral traditions.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
D
Department: 
Dept. of Archaeology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)