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

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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.

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.)