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

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Heiltsuk stone fish traps: Products of my ancestors' labour

Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

This thesis presents the results of systematic research on Heiltsuk stone fish traps, which are poorly understood in academia. My research objective is unique in that I de-emphasize empirical data such as length, width, and height in favour of the view that these stone fish trap are products of my ancestors’ labour. My main goal was to work with the Heiltsuk political and cultural entities and 12 Heiltsuk oral historians to employ an Internalist archaeology investigation of a selective fishery system that began in antiquity. I linked oral history to ethnographic narratives about this ancient fishing technology. Using a novel method of videography, I captured 42 trap sites on video in order to become familiar with their locations, variations and their correlations of salmon to streams and rivers where a stone fish trap is found. I returned in August 2005 to map nine of them, especially the ones familiar to Heiltsuk oral historians.

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

The megalithic tradition of West Sumba, Indonesia: an ethnoarchaeological investigation of megalith construction

Author: 
Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

Megaliths have figured prominently in discussions of sociopolitical complexity and ideological systems in prehistoric societies, leading to a very wide range of interpretations concerning their significance. What has limited these discussions is the paucity of ethnoarchaeological studies of the living processes associated with megalith building. In this dissertation, I present an ethnoarchaeological examination of the continued traditional practice of erecting megalithic tombs in West Sumba, Indonesia. The construction of megalithic tombs has occurred for hundreds of years on the island of Sumba. The persistence of this practice to the present day, particularly in West Sumba, makes Sumba an incredibly unique context in which to examine megalith building and its larger social context from an ethnoarchaeological perspective. This ethnoarchaeological analysis of megalith construction in West Sumba approaches the subject from a political ecological perspective guided by the following primary objectives: 1) to examine the social aspects of megalithic tomb building in West Sumba in order to determine whether there are sociopolitical and economic advantages associated with the practice; 2) to investigate the household material signatures of megalith building; and 3) to develop a model for the sociopolitical processes that surround megalith building which can be applied to prehistoric contexts. Ethnoarchaeological data on megalith building and its social significance in West Sumba was collected in interviews and household material culture inventories. Analysis of this data indicates that megalith erection provides a visual representation of individual and group power and is enmeshed in a larger feasting economy through which power is achieved and relations are defined. From this analysis and a review of ethnographic accounts of megalithic cultures in other areas, I have developed a model which links megalith building to the power of individuals and groups in contexts of corporately controlled resources, relational power, competition over key resources, and the importance of group sociopolitical power.

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

Gold rush entrepôt: The maritime archaeology of the rise of the Port of San Francisco

Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

The California Gold Rush of 1848-1 852 transformed San Francisco into a major city. This rapid rise, often attributed by historians to the accident of the gold discovery, is more a result of centuries-long processes of integration of the Pacific into the European world system. Integration of the Pacific occurred through maritime exploration, trade and commerce. By the mid-nineteenth century, California and its gold was another commodity in the longue duree of Pacific integration. Ships responding to the gold discovery brought mass-produced industrialized goods as well as commodities to support the growing city and its surrounding region. The role of shipping underscores how San Francisco's rise reflects the role of entrepbts, or zones of free exchange, as a model for integration, and as a new way of assessing a 'frontier'. San Francisco is not only an American settlement on the Pacific Coast of North America, but also a globally-linked port on the edge of the Pacific Rim. This dissertation assesses the rise of San Francisco and the role of a maritime system as an agent of the world system through historical archaeological examination of the buried Gold Rush waterfront of the city. A 9-square block area, partially burned and covered by landfill, includes well-preserved sites including partly burned fallen buildings and buried ships filled with cargo. These demonstrate how the rapidly constructed Gold Rush waterfront of moored ships, piers and buildings are macro-artifacts reflecting economic, social and political agendas in Gold Rush San Francisco. The waterfront provided the means for an ostensible mining settlement to survive the pattern of 'boom or bust', and to become a critical entrep6t for United States interests in and ultimate command of Pacific and Asian trade. Analysis of these sites through a study of archival evidence, recovered artifacts and buried features interprets the maritime cultural landscape of the Gold Rush waterfront. While the Pacific by 1850 falls beyond the range of Wallerstein's original thesis for a World System, San Francisco's rapid rise is part of a frontier process linked to a 'maritime system' that in itself can be incorporated within world systems theory.

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

Faunal analysis and meat procurement: Reconstructing the sexual division of labor at Shields Pueblo, Colorado

Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

This study investigates the sexual division of meat procurement at Shields Pueblo, a large aggregated village in the Northern San Juan region of Colorado, occupied from ca. A.D. 725-1280. This is primarily achieved through analysis of faunal remains in reference to the environmental, economic, and social factors affecting the inhabitants of this region from Pueblo I (ca. A.D. 725- 900) until regional depopulation ca. A.D. 1280. This dissertation supports previous research in the Northern San Juan region regarding changes to the faunal pattern over time. It is noted that the Shields Pueblo faunal assemblage is characterized by a decline in artiodactyl frequencies and an intensification in utilization of lagomorphs and domestic turkeys, starting ca. A.D. 1060. A gendered analysis, using cross-cultural as well as Southwestern ethnographic data, indicates an interesting pattern in the control/care/production of domestic animals. Specifically, small household domesticates appear to be the responsibility of the female head of household. Archaeological evidence of women’s production of domestic meat resources is investigated for Shields Pueblo. It is argued here that as environmental and social factors changed and large game hunting declined, household-based economies became more important. As these conditions changed, making large-scale game hunting increasingly risky, women came to supply much of the community’s meat (the majority in many communities). In conclusion it is suggested that as environmental conditions declined and the threat of warfare and violence increased, there was a shift in the organization of labor in regards to meat procurement. While large game was plentiful/accessible, men were the primary suppliers of meat for the community. As domesticated meat resources began to dominate the pueblo economy, women’s control of domestic turkeys allowed them to attain more prestige –and thus power-- within the household and larger community. Keywords: Pueblo Indians—Antiquities Animal Remains (Archaeology) Archaeology—Theory—Gender Social Archaeology Shields Pueblo (Colorado)

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

An archaeobotanical investigation of Shields Pueblo's (5MT3807) Pueblo II Period

Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

This research is a palaeoethnobotanical study of human-plant interactions at Shields Pueblo (5MT3807), a large multi-component site located in the central Mesa Verde region. The research explores past plant use during the Pueblo I1 period (A.D. 900 - 1150). Archaeobotanical remains were used to identify plants collected and utilised by the Pueblo's inhabitants and to determine if the composition of the assemblage varied temporally and spatially. Shields Pueblo's archaeobotanical assemblage showed that the inhabitants grew crops and collected wild plants from a variety of plant communities. The occurrence of climatic shifts, varying growing season length, and population expansion in the Pueblo I1 period may be reflected in a broadening of plants collected by the inhalbitants through time. Evaluation of the 'species area curve' sub-sampling technique determined it to be an adequate method for characterising what taxa are present in (an archaeobotanical assemblage; however guidelines for the application of this method were identified.

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

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.