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

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The ice-free corridor: Biogeographical highway or environmental cul-de-sac

Author: 
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

As a theoretical concept, the ice-free corridor has given researchers a recognizable route for the Late Wisconsinan human colonization of the Americas. This dissertation reexamines that potential role by critically assessing plant and animal remains radiocarbon dated to between 9000 B.P. and 20000 B.P. To meet its theorized role as a north-tosouth Late Wisconsinan human migration route the corridor must fulfill two criteria: 1. that eastern Beringia could have supported human populations before Clovis appeared (- 11 500 B.P.) south of the ice sheets, and 2. that evidence from the corridor area shows that it was a biogeographic corridor capable of supporting human life. To fulfill these criteria 600 published radiocarbon dates were assessed for their reliability. This original number was reduced to 293 radiocarbon dates. The remaining dates were divided into four temporal periods and plotted spatially. Environmental inferences were determined from these distributions. The results support the first criterion: eastern Beringia could support human populations before Clovis. However, the results did not support the second criterion, and there is no evidence that a biogeographic comdor existed prior to 1 1500 BP. It was concluded that the ice-free corridor could not have been used as a north-to-south human migration route during the Late Wisconsinan. Therefore, other alternatives must now be considered to account for the arrival of Paleoindian cultures in southern North America.

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

Design of stone tool technology during the Early Period (CA. 10,000-5,000 B.P.) at Namu, central coast of British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

This dissertation centers around an examination of a chipped stone tool component dating to the Early Period (10,000 – 5, 000 14C BP) at the site of Namu, located on the central coast of British Columbia. The site is important for a number of reasons, the most notable of which is the incredible time depth and the volume of archaeological materials dating to the early Holocene. Given that there are very few known and well-excavated sites of similar age on the Northwest Coast, Namu provides an opportunity to glimpse into a time period that is poorly understood from an archaeological perspective. Prior to this research, studies on Early Period lithic materials have focused on important chronological and preliminary culture-historical concerns, but we still know little about the people behind the stone tools. Over the last four decades many researchers have been developing new theoretical and methodological perspectives for understanding stone tools. Most of this work has fallen under the approach termed Technological Organization. Under this conceptual umbrella there are a number of different approaches; one of the most useful is the study of stone tool design, subsumed under Design Theory. In general the goal is to try to understand the kinds of decisions made by ancient toolmakers in designing their stone technological systems, and the empirical effects of these decisions. Using this conceptual framework an analysis is performed on the stone tool assemblage from the Early Period at Namu. Unlike the Interior of British Columbia and many other parts of North America, the dominant raw materials used at Namu are unusually medium-grained igneous toolstones that are somewhat difficult to work with. Based on the overall exercise, settlement, mobility, raw materials, tasks and learning are perceived as critical factors in the design of the stone technologies at Namu. The analysis supports the notion that Namu was a sedentary or semi-sedentary settlement very early in its history, and that the inhabitants must have used watercraft in order to underwrite the organization of their flaked stone tool technologies. These results have repercussions for our understanding of coastal hunter-fisher-gatherer groups, and for theoretical models that posit the long-term development of Northwest Coast societies.

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

Tales of empowerment: Cultural continuity within an evolving identity in the Upper Athabasca Valley

Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

A holistic examination of Metis society, culture, and identity that extends from the contact period in North America to the present day is missing in available literature. Questions relating to identity remain a vexing c:ondition of Metis culture. Resulting from this framework for identity are communities which exist outside contemporary definitions of Metis. A broad outline defining Metis as descendents of European and Amerindian families who wish to remain free of colonial control is more inclusive. The use of historical phenomenon as a description of Metis allows modern groups such as those whose territory exists in and around Jasper National Park, to retain an existence that expands contemporary definitions. The possible heritage opportunities at Jasper National Park may offer a beginning point of Metis control over their own history arid analysis through Internalist Archaeology. The 'inevitable' conclusion may be that Metis is both a process and a classification of peoples.

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

Ancient DNA analysis of northeast Pacific humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Date created: 
2011-12-16
Abstract: 

The main goal of this ancient DNA-based study was to analyze archaeological whale skeletal remains from the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia to investigate population genetic diversities of humpback whales pre-dating industrial whaling. This study also examined whale hunting practices of early indigenous people by revealing potential species selections. Nuu-chah-nulth people are believed to have hunted whales for millennia and numerous whale bones have been recovered from archaeological middens from the region. Whale skeletal remains (N=264) from two archaeological sites (Ts’ishaa and Huu7ii) were analyzed using ancient DNA techniques, with 84% of the samples yielding amplifiable DNA. Nearly 79% of the samples were identified as humpback whale based on cytochrome b and D-loop regions of mtDNA. The analysis was carried out in a dedicated ancient DNA facility, including strict contamination controls and multiple repeats of both PCR and sequencing. No systematic contamination was detected over the course of this study, further supporting the authenticity of the ancient DNA data obtained. The mtDNA haplotypes of 105 of the humpback whales was determined using a 344bp D-loop sequence assembled from multiple overlapping DNA fragments. The genetic diversity of ancient humpback whales (π=0.0147 and h=0.804) falls within the range of modern Pacific humpback whales. Since some of the major genetic signatures can still be observed in today’s populations, results indicate a strong resilience despite industrial whaling during the 19th century. The majority of whale remains in this study were identified as humpback whale and to a lesser degree as grey whale (13%), supporting the notion that the ancestors of the Nuu-chah-nulth people probably practised whaling almost 5000 years ago. Humpback whale could be more easily targeted using traditional techniques based on the whale’s speed and proximity to the shore. Other species such as finback and right whale (among others) only appear in archaeological records younger than 2000BP, which may indicate an improvement of hunting techniques over time.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dongya Yang
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Clothing and the replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-08-27
Abstract: 

Between 40,000 and 25,000 years ago, during the cold, dry period known as Oxygen Isotope Stage 3 (OIS 3), modern humans migrated into Europe and replaced Neanderthals. In this study, I investigated whether clothing could have played a role in this event. To begin with, I carried out a cross-cultural analysis to identify mammalian taxa whose presence in archaeological deposits may indicate the use of clothing. Subsequently, I tested for differences in the frequencies of such taxa in Neanderthal versus modern human occupations in OIS 3 Europe. The analyses suggest that both modern humans and Neanderthals may have made clothing. However, they also suggest that modern humans made clothing out of a wider range of taxa than Neanderthals, and that clothing made by modern humans was more thermally effective than that made by Neanderthals. These findings are consistent with the idea that clothing played a role in the Neanderthal replacement.

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

Urban subsistence in the Bronze and Iron Ages: the palaeoethnobotany of Tell Tayinat, Turkey

Date created: 
2012-08-20
Abstract: 

This thesis examines macrobotanical remains recovered from Early Bronze Age and Iron Age (approximately 3300-600 BCE) deposits at Tell Tayinat in southern Turkey. Tell Tayinat was a large, urban centre which was situated in a region with favourable environmental conditions and higher rainfall compared to many other well-studied areas of the Near East. The most significant crop species present at Tell Tayinat are wheat (emmer and free-threshing), barley, bitter vetch, grape and olive. Non-crop plant remains mainly consist of weedy taxa, likely the byproducts of dung fuel use or grain processing. Chaff remains were generally few, indicating that primary crop processing likely occurred elsewhere. Although the ratio of free-threshing wheat to emmer wheat increased through time, the overall wheat-to-barley ratio indicates that the favourable environment of the Amuq Plain allowed wheat to be grown in higher proportions than at other sites with less annual rainfall.

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

Teaching a school to talk: Archaeology of the Queen Victoria Jubilee Home for Indian Children

Date created: 
2012-08-17
Abstract: 

The Indian Residential School System had a profound and devastating effect on Aboriginal people in Canada. The Victoria Jubilee Home (1897-1926) on the Piikani Reserve was one of the many schools with the mandate to civilize and assimilate Indian children. Although there have been many studies and research projects illuminating the social and political context in which the residential schools resided, little research has been done that concentrates specifically on the material culture. My research is an initial examination of this gap. Utilizing the methods of historical archaeology, I retell the history of the Victoria Jubilee Home to shed light on the daily activities within the school, and how the material culture facilitated, along with the imposition of institutional forces and behaviour, the transition to a reserve lifestyle. This project underscores how the historic and social differences begun in the past remain pervasive in present society.

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

Colonial Indigenous and Mestizo foodways: ceramic analysis and ethnoarchaeology in the Highlands of Ecuador

Date created: 
2012-03-30
Abstract: 

Archaeological approaches regarding cultural change or continuity after the Spanish conquest of America have been focused on presenting proportions of European (majolica) vs. Indigenous (coarse earthenware) ceramic styles. This thesis provides a reconstruction and quantification of vessel forms from an 18th century household (Riobamba, Ecuador). The results are compared with inventories and interviews from ten modern Indigenous and Mestizo households in the Highlands of Ecuador, in order to understand colonial food preparation and consumption traditions. Testing colonial practices, this work proposes that Mestizo population has been politically situated to practice European foodways to maintain social status and reinforce their separation from Indigenous people. Indigenous people intentionally continue local traditions of communal feasting with the use of large pots to express their identity. The theoretical implications of these findings shed light on a complex combination of domestic practices as builders of negotiable ethnic identities.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ross Jamieson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

On the edge of change: shifting land use in the Piikani Timber Limit, Porcupine Hills, Alberta

Date created: 
2012-01-20
Abstract: 

In the 1880s, Piikani land use was transformed by their settlement on reserve, shifting from a mobile existence to one centred on homesteads. This precipitated a significant social and economic change that had lasting consequences. My research examines the Piikani Timber Limit (IR 147B), an isolated reserve belonging to the Piikani Blackfoot located in the Porcupine Hills. The timber limit, as an artifact of the 19th century, is particularly conducive to chronicling landscape changes in Niitsitapi territory in the early reserve period. 147B was set aside for timber harvest; its designation as a timber limit marks a significant change from its previous role as a component of the whole Piikani Landscape. I triangulate evidence from oral history, archival materials, and archaeological sites, to analyze the changing role of this timber limit in Piikani history. The sites discovered on 147B include a historic eagle trapping site, logging camps and operations, and the hideout of a notorious Blackfoot outlaw. The archaeological sites on Piikani timber limit 147B speak to the nuance of the Piikani colonial experience, and bring forward indigenous narratives about Canadian settlement on the prairies.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eldon Yellowhorn
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Shattered glass and broken bones: Piikani domestic space 1880-1960

Date created: 
2011-10-11
Abstract: 

Reserves have existed in Canada for over 140 years, yet their archaeological correlates are virtually unknown. Historical archaeologists in North America typically focus on sites of European origin, so critical examinations of Indian engagement with Canadian society from an archaeological perspective are lacking. Using a combination of historical documents, oral testimony, and archaeological data, I examine the Piikani First Nation’s transition from tipis to cabins in the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries. I detail the Piikani adoption of alien vernacular architecture, exploring what elements of tipi spatial organization persisted once they adopted cabins. I document the material culture associated with a sedentary occupation. It has been assumed that, having adopted European housing, Indians lived inside them as “White” people did. Yet the organization and use of space within at least on Piikani cabin reflected continuity from their pre-reserve tipi lifeways, even though the associated material culture the indicated change.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eldon Yellowhorn
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.