Matching Items (7)

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Creating community: ancient Maya mortuary practice at mid-level sites in the Belize River Valley, Belize

Description

This research focuses upon the intersection of social complexity and leadership among commoners in complex societies as expressed through mortuary ritual. I study how ideology, materialized through treatment of the

This research focuses upon the intersection of social complexity and leadership among commoners in complex societies as expressed through mortuary ritual. I study how ideology, materialized through treatment of the deceased body, was a potential source of power among commoners in ancient Maya society and how this materialization changed through time. Mortuary data are drawn from mid-level settlements of the Belize River Valley, located in western Belize within the eastern Maya lowlands. The primary research question addresses whether mid-level leaders in the Belize River Valley targeted certain human bodies for ancestral veneration through tomb re-entry and ritual interaction with skeletal remains. The ritual-political strategy of mid-level leaders is measured using archaeothanatology, an analysis of grave taphonomy based on forensic data, to reconstruct cultural beliefs about death based on treatment of deceased bodies, radiogenic strontium isotope analysis to reconstruct residential history, and analysis of dental metrics to assess biological kinship. While preservation of osseous material was poor, results indicate that the frequency of disarticulated and secondary burials was higher in eastern structures than in other locales, although eastern structures were not the only loci of these types of deposits. Overall, it does not seem like secondary burials were regularly and purposefully created for use as ritual objects or display. Radiogenic strontium isotope data enrich this analysis by showing that eastern structures were not a burial locale exclusive to individuals who spent their childhood in the Belize Valley. Data from upper-level eastern structures also suggests that within that part of society local birth did not guarantee interment in a local manner; perhaps the social network created during one's life shaped treatment in death more than residential origin. Biological distance analyses were inconclusive due to missing data. Comparison of mortuary practices to nearby regions shows distinct mortuary patterning across space and time. This is consistent with reconstructions of ancient Maya sociopolitical organization as regionally diverse and moderately integrated.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Family, "foreigners [untitled]: a bioarchaeological approach to social organization at late classic Copan

Description

In anthropological models of social organization, kinship is perceived to be fundamental to social structure. This project aimed to understand how individuals buried in neighborhoods or patio groups were affiliated,

In anthropological models of social organization, kinship is perceived to be fundamental to social structure. This project aimed to understand how individuals buried in neighborhoods or patio groups were affiliated, by considering multiple possibilities of fictive and biological kinship, short or long-term co-residence, and long-distance kin affiliation. The social organization of the ancient Maya urban center of Copan, Honduras during the Late Classic (AD 600-822) period was evaluated through analysis of the human skeletal remains drawn from the largest collection yet recovered in Mesoamerica (n=1200). The research question was: What are the roles that kinship (biological or fictive) and co-residence play in the internal social organization of a lineage-based and/or house society? Biodistance and radiogenic strontium isotope analysis were combined to identify the degree to which individuals buried within 22 patio groups and eight neighborhoods, were (1) related to one another and (2) of local or non-local origin. Copan was an ideal place to evaluate the nuances of migration and kinship as the site is situated at the frontier of the Maya region and the edge of culturally diverse Honduras.

The results highlight the complexity of Copan’s social structure within the lineage and house models proposed for ancient Maya social organization. The radiogenic strontium data are diverse; the percentage of potential non-local individuals varied by neighborhood, some with only 10% in-migration while others approached 40%. The biodistance results are statistically significant with differences between neighborhoods, patios, and even patios within one neighborhood. The high level of in-migration and biological heterogeneity are unique to Copan. Overall, these results highlight that the Copan community was created within a complex system that was influenced by multiple factors where neither a lineage nor house model is appropriate. It was a dynamic urban environment where genealogy, affiliation, and migration all affected the social structure.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Conquest and conversion in Islamic Period Iberia (A.D. 711-1490): a bioarchaeological approach

Description

This dissertation research employs biological distance and mortuary analyses in tandem with historical sources to investigate the degree to which conversion, as opposed to migration, contributed to the spread of

This dissertation research employs biological distance and mortuary analyses in tandem with historical sources to investigate the degree to which conversion, as opposed to migration, contributed to the spread of Islam in southern Iberia. The dynamics of the 8th century conquest of Iberia by Muslim Arab and Berber forces from North Africa, and the subsequent 800-year period of religious, political, and social change, remain contested and poorly understood. Migration of Islamic peoples to the peninsula once was invoked as the primary vehicle of Islamic influence, but religious conversion, whether true or nominal, increasingly is regarded as a key component of those changes. This dissertation proposes that conversion, whether a prelude to or a component of Islamization, altered social group affiliations and interactions among those living in southern Iberia. Such changes in social relations and the resultant patterns of mate exchange will be recognizable by means of altered biological patterns of phenotypic variation. Through the examination of ~900 individuals from both Iberian and North African skeletal collections, this study concludes that conquest resulted in a great increase in phenotypic variability in the peninsula from the 8th-11th centuries. The data further indicate that males contributed this phenotypic variability to the samples in the Early Conquest period. Females, most frequently from Hispano-Roman Christian groups, appear to have ‘intermarried’ with these early conquerors and with the Muwallads, male Islamic converts, and are included in the early Muslim burial programs. From the 11th to the 14th centuries, the data presented here demonstrate a stasis and even a slight decrease in phenotypic variability in southern Iberia, which may be explained by endogamy among religious groups in this region.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Population structure and Frankish ethnogenesis (AD 400-900)

Description

The transition from Late Antiquity to Early Medieval Europe (ca. AD 400-900) is often characterized as a period of ethnogenesis for a number of peoples, such as the Franks. Arising

The transition from Late Antiquity to Early Medieval Europe (ca. AD 400-900) is often characterized as a period of ethnogenesis for a number of peoples, such as the Franks. Arising during protracted contact with the Roman Empire, the Franks would eventually form an enduring kingdom in Western Europe. However, there is little consensus about the processes by which they formed an ethnic group. This study takes a fresh look at the question of Frankish ethnogenesis by employing a number of theoretical and methodological subdisciplines, including population genetics and ethnogenetic theory. The goals of this work were 1) to validate the continued use of biological data in questions of historical and archaeological significance; and 2) to elucidate how Frankish population structure changed over time.

Toward this end, measurements from the human dentition and crania were subjected to rigorous analytical techniques and interpreted within a theoretical framework of ethnogenetic life cycles. Results validate existing interpretations of intra-regional biological continuity over time. However, they also reveal that 1) there are clear biological and geographical differences between communities, and 2) there are hints of diachronic shifts, whereby some communities became more similar to each other over time. These conclusions complement current ethnohistoric work arguing for the increasing struggle of the Frankish kingdom to unify itself when confronted by strong regionally-based politics.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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The social costs of war: investigating the relationship between warfare and intragroup violence during the Mississippian period of the Central Illinois Valley

Description

War exacts a great social cost, not only upon its direct participants, but also upon the lives of the friends, family, and community of those who experience it. This

War exacts a great social cost, not only upon its direct participants, but also upon the lives of the friends, family, and community of those who experience it. This cost is particularly evident in the increased frequencies of aggressive behaviors, including homicide, assault, and domestic violence, enacted by Western military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Similarly, among contemporary non-Westernized peoples, a cross-cultural conducted by Ember and Ember (1994) found a relationship between war and various forms of intragroup violence, including domestic violence, assaults, homicides, and violent sports. It is unknown, however, if this positive association between warfare and intragroup violence extends longitudinally for prehistoric populations uninfluenced by modern states.

To test Ember and Ember’s (1994) results in an archaeological culture, this study examines whether or not an association between war and intragroup violence was present during the Mississippian Period (ca. AD 1000-1450) of the Central Illinois Valley (CIV). The Mississippian Period of the CIV represents an ideal context for examining war and violence questions, as considerable evidence of war and violence has been amassed from archaeological and bioarchaeological analyses. High rates of skeletal trauma, fortification construction, and the placement of habitations sites in defendable areas indicate war was of particular concern during this period. Yet, little is known regarding the diachronic and synchronic variation in violence in this region.

In this research, skeletal remains representing 776 individuals from five CIV sites (Dickson Mounds, Larson, Berry, Crable, and Emmons) were analyzed for violence-related skeletal trauma, biodistance, and mortuary data. From the aggregation of these data, two models of intergroup violence and two models of intragroup violence were explored. The intergroup models examined were: 1) warfare victims from the local community and 2) warfare captives. The intragroup models assessed include: 1) domestic violence and 2) male-male fights. Results support the hypothesis that as intergroup violence increased during the Mississippian Period in the CIV, intragroup violence increased concomitantly. While warfare and intragroup violence occurred in low frequencies early in the Mississippian Period, after AD 1200, both intragroup and intergroup violence were likely endemic.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

Developing an infrastructure for biodistance research using deciduous dental phenotypes

Description

Bioarchaeologists often use dental data and spatial analysis of cemeteries to infer the biological and social structure of ancient communities. This approach is commonly referred to as biological distance (“biodistance”)

Bioarchaeologists often use dental data and spatial analysis of cemeteries to infer the biological and social structure of ancient communities. This approach is commonly referred to as biological distance (“biodistance”) analysis. While permanent crown data feature prominently in these efforts, few studies have verified the accuracy of biodistance methods for recognizing child relatives using deciduous teeth. Thus, as subadults comprise an essential demographic subset of mortuary assemblages, deciduous phenotypes may represent a critical but underutilized source of information on the underlying genetic structure of past populations. The goal of the dissertation is to​ quantitatively analyze the developmental program underlying deciduous phenotypes and​ to evaluate their performance in accurately reconstructing known genealogical relationships.​ This project quantifies morphological variation of deciduous and permanent tooth crowns from stone dental casts representing individuals of known pedigree deriving from three distinct populations: European Canadians, European Australians, and Aboriginal Australians.

To address the paucity of deciduous-focused validation research, phenotypic distances generated from the dental data are subjected to performance analyses (biodistance simulations) and compared to genetic distances between individuals. While family-specific results vary, crown morphology performs moderately well in distinguishing relatives from non-relatives. Comparisons between deciduous and permanent results (i.e., Euclidean distances, Mantel tests, multidimensional scaling output) indicate that deciduous crown variation provides a more direct reflection of the underlying genetic structure of pedigreed samples. The morphology data are then analyzed within a quantitative genetic framework using maximum likelihood variance components analysis. Novel narrow-sense heritability and pleiotropy estimates are generated for the complete suite of deciduous and permanent crown characters, which facilitates comparisons between samples, traits, dentitions, arcades, antimeres, metameres, scoring standards, and dichotomization breakpoints. Results indicate wide-ranging but moderate heritability estimates for morphological traits, as well as low to moderate integration for characters within (deciduous-deciduous; permanent-permanent) and between (deciduous-permanent) dentitions. On average, deciduous and permanent homologues are more strongly genetically correlated than characters within the same tooth row. Results are interpreted with respect to dental development and biodistance methodology. Ultimately, the dissertation empirically validates the use of dental morphology as a proxy for underlying genetic information, including deciduous characters.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

Temporary territories and persistent places: a bioarchaeological evaluation of the association between monumentality and territoriality for foraging societies of the prehistoric Ohio Valley

Description

Federal legislation prioritizes the repatriation of culturally unidentifiable human remains to federally-recognized Indian tribes that are linked geographically to the region from which the remains were removed. Such linkages are

Federal legislation prioritizes the repatriation of culturally unidentifiable human remains to federally-recognized Indian tribes that are linked geographically to the region from which the remains were removed. Such linkages are typically based on a Eurocentric notion of the exclusive use and occupancy of an area of land - a space-based approach to land use. Contemporary collaborations between anthropologists and indigenous communities suggest, however, that indigenous patterns of land use are better characterized as place-based and are therefore more complex and fluid than is reflected in current legislation. Despite these insights, space-based approaches remain common within archaeology. One example is the inference of territorial behavior from the presence of monuments within the archaeological record.

Drawing on osteological and mortuary data derived from a sample of Adena mounds located in northern Kentucky, this dissertation adopts a place-based approach in order to evaluate the archaeological association between monumentality and territoriality. The relative amounts of skeletal and phenotypic variability present at various spatial scales are quantified and compared and the degree to which mortuary and phenotypic data exhibit spatial structure consistent with the expectations of an isolation-by-distance model is assessed.

Results indicate that, while burial samples derived from some mounds exhibit amounts of phenotypic variability that are consistent with the expectations of a territorial model, data from other mounds suggest that multiple groups participated in their construction. Further, the general absence of spatial structure within the phenotypic data suggests that the individuals interred in these mounds are perhaps better characterized as representing an integrated regional population rather than localized groups. Untested archaeological inferences of territoriality may therefore mischaracterize regional population dynamics. In addition, these results suggest that the prioritization criteria for the repatriation of culturally unidentifiable human remains may merit revision.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019