Thesis Defences

Degree of Master of Arts

Candice Koopowitz

An evaluation of the infrared 630cm-1 O-H libration band in bone mineral as evidence of fire in the early archaeological record

Monday, 24 June 2019; 10:00am

SWH 9152 (Archaeology Seminar Room)

Abstract

FTIR spectroscopy has played an important role in recent attempts to understand the use of fire in prehistory. It has been used in the identification of heat altered sediment and bone. For the latter, the presence of the OH libration band at ca. 630cm-1 in the FTIR spectrum of an archaeological bone has been assumed to be indicative of bone that has been altered by fire. However, no ad-hoc research has explored whether this FTIR band could result from other ambient temperature diagenetic processes, or what the effects of heating variables may be on the appearance of this band. Here, I report a study designed to address this lacuna, and apply the results to the collection of fauna at Wonderwerk Cave from the Oldowan context. Using samples of cortical bone from micro- and macrofauna, I carried out a series of heating experiments to explore the change in FTIR spectra depending on temperature and duration of exposure to heat. Results demonstrate that the 630cm-1 peak is indeed diagnostic of burning, and indicate that microfauna are particularly useful indicators of burning activity when subjected to FTIR analysis. I hypothesize that the 630cm-1 peak is the result of the formation of pure hydroxyapatite, which appears to form above temperatures of 537°C. The results of this research were applied to the micro- and macrofauna collection of Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa, from the Earlier Stone Age context of 1.78Ma and older. Our results demonstrate that the majority of the bones from this context were burnt above 537°C.

Keywords: FTIR spectroscopy; hydroxyapatite; burning; microfauna; Wonderwerk Cave; bone

Degree of Master of Arts

Brea McCauley

A multidisciplinary analysis of ancient Maya finger caches

Friday, 28 June 2019 at 10:00am

SWH 9152 (Archaeology Seminar Room)

Abstract

Finger caches—isolated deposits of human phalanges, often in plainware bowls—have been found at a number of sites in the region inhabited by the Ancient Maya. It has been argued that these deposits are associated with punishment, ancestor veneration, or sacrificial ritual. However, the full scope of this phenomenon is not understood, making it difficult to have confidence about its meaning or function. In an effort to address this, I carried out a survey of information relating to Ancient Maya finger caches in the iconographic, glyphic, ethnographic, mythic, and archaeological literature. The review suggests that finger and hand amputation practices were surprisingly common. I discovered evidence of such practices at over 60 sites in present-day Belize, Guatemala, México, and Honduras that span from the Late Preclassic to Late Postclassic eras (400 BCE-1520 CE). The evidence also suggests that the Ancient Maya had multiple distinct practices that involve the removal of fingers and hands, such as for trophy or sacrificial purposes. Lastly, the survey indicates that members of all social classes engaged in the amputation of fingers and hands. These findings have potentially interesting implications for social life among the Ancient Maya because recent research in the field known as the Cognitive Science of Religion has shown that traumatic rites can foster strong bonds between group members and animosity towards members of other groups.

Keywords: Ancient Maya; Ritual; Finger Cache; Finger Amputation; Hand Amputation; Religion

Degree of Master of Arts

Alec Allan

Risk and Toolkit Structure in the Pacific Northwest

Wednesday, 3 July 2019 at 10:00am

SWH 9152 (Archaeology Seminar Room)

Abstract

Identifying the factors that drive the variation in technological complexity among traditional societies is important for understanding human evolution. With respect to hunter-gatherers, the leading hypothesis focuses on environmental risk. It argues that risk affects toolkit complexity in such a way that high-risk environments lead to complex toolkits while low-risk environments result in the opposite. This hypothesis has been supported in analyses involving worldwide and continental samples of hunter-gatherers. However, Collard et al.’s (2011) test of the hypothesis using data from the Pacific Northwest failed to support it. For my thesis research I revisited Collard et al.’s study and sought to determine why their results departed from those of the worldwide and continental studies. My study had two parts. In the first, I replicated Collard et al.’s (2011) analyses with a larger dataset. The results of the analyses were largely consistent with those obtained by Collard et al. (2011): I found that the toolkits of the Coast and Plateau were not significantly different despite clear risk-relevant environmental differences between the sub-regions. However, I also found a significant positive correlation between some toolkit variables and the number of salmon species, which is not consistent with the risk hypothesis. In the second part of the study, I approached the evaluation of the risk hypothesis from a different direction. Specifically, I examined the correlation between the average complexity of the tools used to hunt a given species and estimates of the risk involved in capturing that species. I found that species that are difficult to capture and/or have restricted seasonal availability are associated with more complex tools, which is consistent with the risk hypothesis. I conclude from these two sets of results that commonly-used environmental variables like Net Primary Productivity and Effective Temperature are too coarse to accurately characterize the impact of risk on the toolkits of hunter-gatherers at a regional level. I also conclude that the richness and complexity of the toolkits of hunter-gatherers in the Pacific Northwest are not solely affected by risk. Other variables are important and require further investigation.

Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Sarah Beaulieu

Archaeology of Internment at the Morrissey WWI Camp

Friday, 19 July 2019 at 9:00am

Location: TBD

Abstract

To date, very little is known archaeologically about First World War-era internment camps, especially in Canada, where this history was actively erased through the destruction of the Federal Internment records in the 1950s. Archaeologists can play a fundamental role in contributing knowledge where oral and documentary evidence is lacking. This can be undertaken through a triangulation of data sets commonly used by conflict archaeologists. This thesis focuses on one of Canada’s twenty-four WWI internment camps: the Morrissey Internment Camp. Through GPR survey and excavation, archival records retrieval, and oral histories, a critical theoretical lens was applied to the stories of the internees—immigrants from the multinational Austro- Hungarian, German, and Ottoman Empires—and their guards at the Morrissey Internment Camp. The material record adds a new line of evidence, contributing to a more nuanced perspective that aids in reducing the gaps in this dark facet of Canadian history.

Keywords: modern conflict archaeology; critical theory; internment archaeology; archaeology of confinement; GPR; Morrissey; PoWs; WWI; immigrants; multinational; Austro-Hungarian; German; Ottoman Empire