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

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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.)

Human identification following the World Trade Center disaster: assessing management practices for highly fragmented and commingled human remains

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No, item is not peer reviewed.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

This study is a retrospective analysis of major management decisions, particularly those that involved anthropology, made during the World Trade Center human identification project. The objective is to understand why certain decisions were made and to access how those decisions affected the overall identification project from the perspective of increased efficiency, accuracy, and by increasing the number of identifications. Based on these results and insights, a list of recommendations is provided to help mass fatality managers better incorporate anthropological expertise into disaster victim identification projects. Data used in the study are derived from the complete World Trade Center Human Remains Data Set of 19,970 human remains recovered from Ground Zero and the Staten Island Landfill in combination with qualitative evaluations of management decision made by the author during the World Trade Center identification project from September 11, 2001 through July 2004. Particular emphasis is on subsets of the World Trade Center Human Remains Data Set related to the implementation of anthropological review programs addressing commingled remains and for DNA analysis. Results indicate that the management decision to have anthropologists perform triage in the mortuary, and the decision to implement specific review programs designed to address missed commingling, increased efficiency, accuracy, and identifications. Evidence indicates that lower limb bones from taphonomically compromised remains more reliably yield successful DNA profiles than the arms, trunk, or skull. Further, the patella and metatarsal bones yield at rates comparable to the femur and tibia and should be preferentially sampled for DNA during mass fatality identification projects. This research holds both empirical and theoretical significance. It provides the first empirically based study comparing DNA yields of different skeletal elements from a mass fatality event. It is also the first to use that information to propose disaster victim identification DNA sampling guidelines. Finally, it presents a framework for other mass fatality managers to follow in presenting critical evaluations of major management decision made during a mass fatality disaster victim identification project. These evaluations will increase the overall collective learning and contribute to future recommendations for other mass fatality managers to follow.

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

Archaeology without reserve: Indigenous heritage stewardship in British Columbia

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

Archaeology and the stewardship of cultural heritage are inherently political undertakings. Worldwide, archaeology’s colonial legacy has produced systems of research and management that fail to recognize or serve Indigenous descendant communities’ special rights to and interests in their ancestral heritage. The decolonization of archaeology, and of society, requires a commitment to social engagement and political responsibility that are both professionally and morally just. I investigate the potential for this transformation through the issues of gatekeeping, ethical relativism, control and power imbalances, competing cultural perspectives, and economic inequities. I explore alternative approaches to heritage stewardship taken by British Columbia’s First Nations, and find they encourage a more inclusive and equitable alternative to the dominant heritage management system while protecting and sharing a past that continues to influence contemporary Indigenous life. Indigenous heritage stewardship policies endorse postcolonial methods that challenge the status quo and renew archaeology’s accountability to its various publics.

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

Poverty, chastity and obedience: monastic masculinities in Spanish colonial Riobamba

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

The colonial city of Riobamba was founded in 1534 in what is now Ecuador. The city was a major textile center and provided trade between other cities and missionary settlements throughout the Andes. In 1797, a devastating earthquake hit the region. A large percentage of the population was killed and much of the city was destroyed or covered in silt. Following the disaster, survivors were forced to move 16 kilometers away where they established the modern city of Riobamba. This study examines life and identity in colonial Riobamba prior to this catastrophe. Interdisciplinary methods are employed in an examination of two separate religious orders that resided in Riobamba between the years 1645 and 1797. I carried out this work through archaeological excavation and archival study of historical documents. Over the course of this project, the two monasteries were extensively surveyed and thirteen units were excavated. The following research reveals the close connection between common material culture recovered from within these monasteries and the identities of the men who routinely used these items. Traditional understandings of colonial masculinity describe gendered behaviors as rigidly defined. My research however, demonstrates that gender expectations were somewhat flexible and adapted both to the environment and the immediate needs of the group as a result male gender is expressed as multiple masculinities. This study shows that monastic men occupied a range of gendered roles while maintaining positions of relative power within the community. This multiplicity of identities troubles our current understanding of masculine behaviors and identities within this particular context.

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

One fish, two fish, old fish, new fish: Investigating differential distribution of salmon resources in the Pacific Northwest through ancient DNA analysis

Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

DNA analysis was applied to approximately 60 ancient salmon remains (1200BP) from the archaeological site of Keatley Creek in British Columbia to examine the distribution of Pacific salmon species between housepits. The success rate of DNA extraction was over 90%, yielding three species of Pacific salmon: Chinook, Sockeye and Coho. Accurate salmon species identification using mitochondria1 DNA refined theories of economic stratification and differential access to salmon resources at Keatley Creek. Additionally, the unique information made available by ancient DNA analysis offered insight into prehistoric salmon ecology and spawning behaviour in the region.

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

Time of change: late pleistocene / early holocene landscape transformation and human presence in southwest coastal British Columbia, Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

This thesis is designed to increase awareness of the value of late-glacial landforms in the study of early settlement patterns along southwest coastal British Columbia. The study of the interaction between local paleoenvironmental events, such as relative sealevel changes and paraglacial landscape modifications, is critical to an understanding of potential early site locations. A lack of systematic surveys, poor site visibility, deep alluvial burial, and site locations away from modern shorelines have been identified in this thesis as main reasons for the lack of evidence for late Pleistocene human occupational sites. Field research of raised landforms, such as paleo-deltas, provided data on the local paleoenvironmental history during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene. A comparison to other research projects along the Pacific Northwest might highlight some new ideas and techniques applicable for the study of late Pleistocene settlement along potentially early corridors of migration.

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