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A Morphometric Assessment of the Intended Function of Cached Clovis Points

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

A number of functions have been proposed for cached Clovis points. The least complicated hypothesis is that they were intended to arm hunting weapons. It has also been argued that they were produced for use in rituals or in connection with costly signaling displays. Lastly, it has been suggested that some cached Clovis points may have been used as saws. Here we report a study in which we morphometrically compared Clovis points from caches with Clovis points recovered from kill and camp sites to test two predictions of the hypothesis that cached Clovis points were intended to arm hunting weapons: 1) cached points should be the same shape as, but generally larger than, points from kill/camp sites, and 2) cached points and points from kill/camp sites should follow the same allometric trajectory. The results of the analyses are consistent with both predictions and therefore support the hypothesis. A follow-up review of the fit between the results of the analyses and the predictions of the other hypotheses indicates that the analyses support only the hunting equipment hypothesis. We conclude from this that cached Clovis points were likely produced with the intention of using them to arm hunting weapons.

Document type: 
Article

High Precision U/Th Dating of First Polynesian Settlement

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012-11-07
Abstract: 

Previous studies document Nukuleka in the Kingdom of Tonga as a founder colony for first settlement of Polynesia by Lapita peoples. A limited number of radiocarbon dates are one line of evidence supporting this claim, but they cannot precisely establish when this event occurred, nor can they afford a detailed chronology for sequent occupation. High precision U/Th dates of Acropora coral files (abraders) from Nukuleka give unprecedented resolution, identifying the founder event by 2838±8 BP and documenting site development over the ensuing 250 years. The potential for dating error due to post depositional diagenetic alteration of ancient corals at Nukuleka also is addressed through sample preparation protocols and paired dates on spatially separated samples for individual specimens. Acropora coral files are widely distributed in Lapita sites across Oceania. U/Th dating of these artifacts provides unparalleled opportunities for greater precision and insight into the speed and timing of this final chapter in human settlement of the globe.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

High Potential for Using DNA from Ancient Herring Bones to Inform Modern Fisheries Management and Conservation

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012-11-30
Abstract: 

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) are an abundant and important component of the coastal ecosystems for the west coast of North America. Current Canadian federal herring management assumes five regional herring populations in British Columbia with a high degree of exchange between units, and few distinct local populations within them. Indigenous traditional knowledge and historic sources, however, suggest that locally adapted, distinct regional herring populations may have been more prevalent in the past. Within the last century, the combined effects of commercial fishing and other anthropogenic factors have resulted in severe declines of herring populations, with contemporary populations potentially reflecting only the remnants of a previously more abundant and genetically diverse metapopulation. Through the analysis of 85 archaeological herring bones, this study attempted to reconstruct the genetic diversity and population structure of ancient herring populations using three different marker systems (mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), microsatellites and SNPs). A high success rate (91%) of DNA recovery was obtained from the extremely small herring bone samples (often <10 mg). The ancient herring mtDNA revealed high haplotype diversity comparable to modern populations, although population discrimination was not possible due to the limited power of the mtDNA marker. Ancient microsatellite diversity was also similar to modern samples, but the data quality was compromised by large allele drop-out and stuttering. In contrast, SNPs were found to have low error rates with no evidence for deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, and simulations indicated high power to detect genetic differentiation if loci under selection are used. This study demonstrates that SNPs may be the most effective and feasible approach to survey genetic population structure in ancient remains, and further efforts should be made to screen for high differentiation markers.This study provides the much needed foundation for wider scale studies on temporal genetic variation in herring, with important implications for herring fisheries management, Aboriginal title rights and herring conservation.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Testing for Divergent Transmission Histories among Cultural Characters: A Study Using Bayesian Phylogenetic Methods and Iranian Tribal Textile Data

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2011
Abstract: 

Background

Archaeologists and anthropologists have long recognized that different cultural complexes may have distinct descent histories, but they have lacked analytical techniques capable of easily identifying such incongruence. Here, we show how Bayesian phylogenetic analysis can be used to identify incongruent cultural histories. We employ the approach to investigate Iranian tribal textile traditions.

Methods

We used Bayes factor comparisons in a phylogenetic framework to test two models of cultural evolution: the hierarchically integrated system hypothesis and the multiple coherent units hypothesis. In the hierarchically integrated system hypothesis, a core tradition of characters evolves through descent with modification and characters peripheral to the core are exchanged among contemporaneous populations. In the multiple coherent units hypothesis, a core tradition does not exist. Rather, there are several cultural units consisting of sets of characters that have different histories of descent.

Results

For the Iranian textiles, the Bayesian phylogenetic analyses supported the multiple coherent units hypothesis over the hierarchically integrated system hypothesis. Our analyses suggest that pile-weave designs represent a distinct cultural unit that has a different phylogenetic history compared to other textile characters.

Conclusions

The results from the Iranian textiles are consistent with the available ethnographic evidence, which suggests that the commercial rug market has influenced pile-rug designs but not the techniques or designs incorporated in the other textiles produced by the tribes. We anticipate that Bayesian phylogenetic tests for inferring cultural units will be of great value for researchers interested in studying the evolution of cultural traits including language, behavior, and material culture.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Estimating Surface Area in Early Hominins

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2011
Abstract: 

Height and weight-based methods of estimating surface area have played an important role in the development of the current consensus regarding the role of thermoregulation in human evolution. However, such methods may not be reliable when applied to early hominins because their limb proportions differ markedly from those of humans. Here, we report a study in which this possibility was evaluated by comparing surface area estimates generated with the best-known height and weight-based method to estimates generated with a method that is sensitive to proportional differences. We found that the two methods yield indistinguishable estimates when applied to taxa whose limb proportions are similar to those of humans, but significantly different results when applied to taxa whose proportions differ from those of humans. We also found that the discrepancy between the estimates generated by the two methods is almost entirely attributable to inter-taxa differences in limb proportions. One corollary of these findings is that we need to reassess hypotheses about the role of thermoregulation in human evolution that have been developed with the aid of height and weight-based methods of estimating body surface area. Another is that we need to use other methods in future work on fossil hominin body surface areas.

Document type: 
Article

Archaeological Support for the Three-Stage Expansion of Modern Humans across Northeastern Eurasia and into the Americas

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2010
Abstract: 

Background

Understanding the dynamics of the human range expansion across northeastern Eurasia during the late Pleistocene is central to establishing empirical temporal constraints on the colonization of the Americas [1]. Opinions vary widely on how and when the Americas were colonized, with advocates supporting either a pre-[2] or post-[1], [3], [4], [5], [6] last glacial maximum (LGM) colonization, via either a land bridge across Beringia [3], [4], [5], a sea-faring Pacific Rim coastal route [1], [3], a trans-Arctic route [4], or a trans-Atlantic oceanic route [5]. Here we analyze a large sample of radiocarbon dates from the northeast Eurasian Upper Paleolithic to identify the origin of this expansion, and estimate the velocity of colonization wave as it moved across northern Eurasia and into the Americas.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We use diffusion models [6], [7] to quantify these dynamics. Our results show the expansion originated in the Altai region of southern Siberia ~46kBP , and from there expanded across northern Eurasia at an average velocity of 0.16 km per year. However, the movement of the colonizing wave was not continuous but underwent three distinct phases: 1) an initial expansion from 47-32k calBP; 2) a hiatus from ~32-16k calBP, and 3) a second expansion after the LGM ~16k calBP. These results provide archaeological support for the recently proposed three-stage model of the colonization of the Americas [8], [9]. Our results falsify the hypothesis of a pre-LGM terrestrial colonization of the Americas and we discuss the importance of these empirical results in the light of alternative models.

Conclusions/Significance

Our results demonstrate that the radiocarbon record of Upper Paleolithic northeastern Eurasia supports a post-LGM terrestrial colonization of the Americas falsifying the proposed pre-LGM terrestrial colonization of the Americas. We show that this expansion was not a simple process, but proceeded in three phases, consistent with genetic data, largely in response to the variable climatic conditions of late Pleistocene northeast Eurasia. Further, the constraints imposed by the spatiotemporal gradient in the empirical radiocarbon record across this entire region suggests that North America cannot have been colonized much before the existing Clovis radiocarbon record suggests.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Body Segment Differences in Surface Area, Skin Temperature and 3D Displacement and the Estimation of Heat Balance during Locomotion in Hominins

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2008-06
Abstract: 

The conventional method of estimating heat balance during locomotion in humans and other hominins treats the body as an undifferentiated mass. This is problematic because the segments of the body differ with respect to several variables that can affect thermoregulation. Here, we report a study that investigated the impact on heat balance during locomotion of inter-segment differences in three of these variables: surface area, skin temperature and rate of movement. The approach adopted in the study was to generate heat balance estimates with the conventional method and then compare them with heat balance estimates generated with a method that takes into account inter-segment differences in surface area, skin temperature and rate of movement. We reasoned that, if the hypothesis that inter-segment differences in surface area, skin temperature and rate of movement affect heat balance during locomotion is correct, the estimates yielded by the two methods should be statistically significantly different. Anthropometric data were collected on seven adult male volunteers. The volunteers then walked on a treadmill at 1.2 m/s while 3D motion capture cameras recorded their movements. Next, the conventional and segmented methods were used to estimate the volunteers' heat balance while walking in four ambient temperatures. Lastly, the estimates produced with the two methods were compared with the paired t-test. The estimates of heat balance during locomotion yielded by the two methods are significantly different. Those yielded by the segmented method are significantly lower than those produced by the conventional method. Accordingly, the study supports the hypothesis that inter-segment differences in surface area, skin temperature and rate of movement impact heat balance during locomotion. This has important implications not only for current understanding of heat balance during locomotion in hominins but also for how future research on this topic should be approached.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Tools and change: The shift from atlatl to bow on the British Columbia plateau

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

This thesis presents analyses focused on determining the function of projectile points from the Plateau Cultural area of British Columbia, including use of Shott’s (1997) method designed to classify projectile points as either atlatl darts or arrows. A total of 1065 projectile points recovered from archaeological contexts throughout the Plateau, spanning the Middle through Late Prehistoric periods, were examined. While Nesikep, Lochnore and Lehman style points were classified primarily as dart points and the Kamloops horizon points predominantly as arrow points, Shuswap and Plateau horizon groups were identified as containing points from both systems. This suggests that the two technologies coexisted for many hundreds of years and that the bow and arrow was in use on the Plateau much earlier than previously believed. A discussion of the implications of this and possible factors that influenced and affected people’s decision to choose one projectile system over the other is included.

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

Pointing it out: fluted projectile point distributions and early human populations in Saskatchewan

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

This study investigates early Paleo-Indian expansion into Saskatchewan as reflected by the distribution of fluted projectile points compared to Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene environmental changes. With an assemblage consisting solely of fluted point surface finds, this study consists of a geographic distribution analysis. An initial study of Saskatchewan’s fluted projectile points, conducted in 1966 by Tom Kehoe, made use of information from the then known database, consisting of a mere 36 artifacts. The current study examines the modern database of 78 specimens and discusses the distributions of the three separate types of fluted points found in Saskatchewan and the validity of applying terms (Clovis, Folsom, and Northwestern) derived outside the province to them. Not only does Saskatchewan’s assemblage reflect distributional differences between each fluted point type as a result of late Pleistocene/early Holocene environmental changes, but it shows typological similarities to assemblages elsewhere and changes in a time progressive manner.

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

Material life and socio-cultural transformation among Asian transmigrants at a Fraser River salmon cannery

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

This study is a comparison of the material lives of first generation Chinese labourers and Japanese fishermen at a salmon cannery along the Fraser River in British Columbia, ca. 1900-1930. The objective is to explore the nature of cultural persistence and change among migrant groups using a contextual approach that incorporates multiple data sources, considerations of structure and agency, and local and international scales of analysis. Analysis and interpretation are framed within a perspective rooted in the study of material consumption and the twin concepts of transnationalism and diaspora. Data used in this study are derived from archaeological excavation of ethnically segregated work camps at the Ewen Cannery, in combination with archival sources, historical research, and excavation results from similar sites in Western North America. Particular emphasis is on subsets of the archaeological data relating to dining and beverage consumption, with additional consideration of dress and other domestic and work habits. Results indicate Japanese fishermen combined traditional meals with meals comprised wholly or in part of Western-style foods, whereas Chinese cannery workers favoured traditional meals almost exclusively. The Chinese site is also characterized by a lack of diversity in the ceramic assemblage. Both groups, however, consumed a variety of locally produced alcoholic beverages and those imported from Europe and Asia. These behaviours are linked to contrasting patterns of labour contracting at each camp in conjunction with processes of Westernization in the homeland. Evidence suggests unique patterns of continuity and change for Chinese and Japanese workers at the Ewen Cannery that include significant parallels and contrasts. These patterns are rooted in local circumstances and ongoing relations with a homeland that was itself a source of both static memory and dynamic transformation. The significance of this research is both empirical and theoretical. It represents the first systematic attempt to compare archaeological assemblages associated with Chinese and Japanese migrants, and is to date the most in-depth archaeological study of first generation Japanese in North America outside of a relocation centre context. Finally, it presents an interpretive framework applicable to comparative studies of other migrant groups.

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