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Estimating Age at Death of Archaeological Remains: A Comparison of Transition Analysis and Traditional Estimation Methods

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Objectives: The objective of this research is to develop a better understanding of the ways in which Transition Analysis estimates differ from traditional estimates in terms of age-at-death point estimation and inter-observer error. Materials and methods: In order to achieve

Objectives: The objective of this research is to develop a better understanding of the ways in which Transition Analysis estimates differ from traditional estimates in terms of age-at-death point estimation and inter-observer error. Materials and methods: In order to achieve the objectives of the research, 71 adult individuals from an archaeological site in northern Sudan were subjected to Transition Analysis age estimation by the author, a beginner-level osteologist. These estimates were compared to previously produced traditional multifactorial age estimates for these individuals, as well as a small sample of Transition Analysis estimates produced by an intermediate-level investigator. Results: Transition Analysis estimates do not have a high correlation with traditional estimates of age at death, especially when those estimates fall within middle or old adult age ranges. The misalignment of beginner- and intermediate-level Transition Analysis age estimations calls into question intra-method as well as inter-method replicability of age estimations. Discussion: Although the poor overall correlation of Transition Analysis estimates and traditional estimates in this study might be blamed on the relatively low experience level of the analyst, the results cast doubt on the replicability of Transition Analysis estimations, echoing the Bethard's (2005) results on a known-age sample. The results also question the validity of refined age estimates produced for individuals previously estimated to be in the 50+ age range by traditional methods and suggest that Transition Analysis tends to produce younger estimates than its traditional counterparts. Key words: age estimation, Transition Analysis, human osteology, observer error

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2017-05

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A Comparison of the Interactions between Tiwanaku and Chen Chen Based on Dietary and Isotopic Analyses

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Paleodietary analysis through the interpretation of stable isotopic analyses can be used to determine the approximate diet consumed at archaeological sites. The following question was investigated through the course of this research: What are the differences between the Middle Horizon

Paleodietary analysis through the interpretation of stable isotopic analyses can be used to determine the approximate diet consumed at archaeological sites. The following question was investigated through the course of this research: What are the differences between the Middle Horizon capital of Tiwanaku and the associated colony of Chen Chen; and what do these differences, including those associated with paleodiet, suggest about interactions between the two sites? The main hypothesis suggested a similar dietary analysis between the two sites with two possible explanations. First, it is possible that similarities between the sites were due to the exchange and consumption of goods at both locations, perhaps through trade. Secondly, it is possible that the similarities were due to the acquisition of similar goods through local sourcing or limited trade. To assess this, an analysis was conducted based on δ13Cdiet (VPDB) values in the comparison of the city center Tiwanaku and the agricultural site of Chen Chen. Archaeological bone samples were processed from a diverse group of individuals at Chen Chen and combined with published values by Tomczak (2001), then compared against δ13C from Tiwanaku, published by Berryman (2010). After conversion to δ13Cdiet (VPDB) as described by Kellner and Schoeninger (2007), it was determined that there was no statistically significant difference between the δ13Cdiet (VPDB) values from either site, suggesting a similar ratio of goods consumed. These values were then compared to baseline values from the region to determine an approximate ratio of C3 to C4 flora or dependent fauna consumed. These data most likely support the second explanation of the main hypothesis, that both sites had access to similar goods through local sourcing or limited trade as an explanation for their similarity. However, because a similar ratio of foods consumed was determined in this analysis, it is still possible that trade occurred in both directions between Tiwanaku and Chen Chen. Additional isotopic analyses would be required to support the first claim, which can be addressed in future research projects.

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2015-05

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The effects of Aztec conquest on provincial commoner households at Calixtlahuaca, Mexico

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This archaeological study analyses households at the Postclassic site of Calixtlahuaca (State of Mexico, Mexico), to evaluate the directness and collectiveness of local and imperial Aztec rule based on their effects on the commoner population. Scholars are divided as to

This archaeological study analyses households at the Postclassic site of Calixtlahuaca (State of Mexico, Mexico), to evaluate the directness and collectiveness of local and imperial Aztec rule based on their effects on the commoner population. Scholars are divided as to whether Aztec rule was generally positive (due to opportunities for economic and cultural interaction) or negative (due to taxation and loss of autonomy). Contexts at Calixtlahuaca date to three periods, the Dongu (AD 1130-1370), Ninupi (1370-1450), and Yata (1450-1530) phases. The first two phases show the pre-Aztec trajectory, which is compared to the final period under Aztec rule to disentangle general trends toward regional integration from Aztec effects. Each phase includes six excavated households.

I assess economic changes on three dimensions: foreign trade, local craft production, and household wealth. Trade is evaluated for obsidian and ceramics (INAA, petrography, type classification) and local crafting is evaluated for ceramic, lithic, textile, and molded ceramic items. Wealth is measured using all excavated artifacts, with the relative values of artifact classes based on Colonial Nahuatl wills. Prior to Aztec rule, trade was increasing and diversifying, but craft production was low. Under Aztec rule, trade reoriented toward the Basin of Mexico, craft production remained low, and household wealth stabilized. Pre-Aztec inter-household variation for all dimensions is low, before increasing during the Yata phase.

Cultural changes are evaluated for ritual activities and foodways. I evaluate the degree of interhousehold variability, the overall similarity to other parts of Central Mexico, the degree of change under Aztec rule, and immigration versus emulation as potential explanations for that change. Evaluation is based on the distinction between high and low visibility objects and practices. The Dongu and Ninupi phase households at Calixtlahuaca were culturally homogeneous and regionally distinctive. During the Yata phase, the site became moderately more Aztec, but this change was unevenly distributed among households.

Together, the economic and cultural patterns at Calixtlahuaca indicate that the pre-Aztec local organization of power was relatively collective, but that this was partially overlaid by relatively indirect and non-collective Aztec imperial rule, with mildly negative effects.

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2016

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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

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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

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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2015

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Eolian deposition and soil fertility in a prehistoric agricultural complex in central Arizona

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Prehistoric farmers in the semi-arid American Southwest were challenged by marked spatial and temporal variation in, and overall low levels of, precipitation with which to grow their crops. One strategy they employed was to modify their landscape with rock alignments

Prehistoric farmers in the semi-arid American Southwest were challenged by marked spatial and temporal variation in, and overall low levels of, precipitation with which to grow their crops. One strategy they employed was to modify their landscape with rock alignments in order to concentrate surface water flow on their fields. A second challenge that has been less focused on by archaeologists is the need to maintain soil fertility by replenishing nutrients removed from the soil by agricultural crops. Numerous studies have shown that rock alignments can result in long-lasting impacts on soil properties and fertility. However, the direction and magnitude of change is highly variable. While previous work has emphasized the importance of overland flow in replenishing soil nutrient pools, none have investigated the influence of eolian deposition as a contributor of mineral-derived nutrients. This thesis explores the effects of the construction of rock alignments, agricultural harvest, and eolian deposition on soil properties and fertility on Perry Mesa within the Agua Fria National Monument. This site experienced dramatic population increase in the late 1200s and marked depopulation in the early 1400s. Since that time, although agriculture ceased, the rock alignments have remains, continuing to influence runoff and sediment deposition. In the summer of 2009, I investigated deep soil properties and mineral-derived nutrients on fields near Pueblo La Plata, one of the largest pueblos on Perry Mesa. To examine the effects of rock alignments and agricultural harvest independent of one another, I sampled soils from replicated plots behind alignments paired with nearby plots that are not bordered by an alignment in both areas of high and low prehistoric agricultural intensity. I investigated soil provenance and the influence of deposition on mineral-derived nutrients through analysis of the chemical composition of the soil, bedrock and dust. Agricultural rock alignments were significantly associated with differences in soil texture, but neither rock alignments nor agricultural history were associated with significant differences in mineral-derived nutrients. Instead, eolian deposition may explain why nutrient pools are similar across agricultural history and rock alignment presence. Eolian deposition homogenized the surface soil, reducing the spatial heterogeneity of soils. Dust is important both as a parent material to the soils on Perry Mesa, and also a source of mineral-derived nutrients. This investigation suggests that prehistoric agriculture on Perry Mesa was not likely limited by long term soil fertility, but instead could have been sustained by eolian inputs.

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2012

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A Change Is Going to Come: A Complex Systems Approach to the Emergence of Social Complexity on Cyprus

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This dissertation explores how practices and interactions of actors at different scales structure social networks and lead to the emergence of social complexity in middle range societies. To investigate this process, I apply a complex adaptive systems approach and a

This dissertation explores how practices and interactions of actors at different scales structure social networks and lead to the emergence of social complexity in middle range societies. To investigate this process, I apply a complex adaptive systems approach and a methodology that combines network science with analytical tools from economics to the three sub-periods of the Prehistoric Bronze Age (The Philia Phase, PreBA 1 and PreBA 2) on Cyprus, a transformational period marked by social and economic changes evident in the material record. Using proxy data representative of three kinds of social interactions or facets of social complexity, the control of labor, participation in trade networks, and access to resources, at three scales, the community, region and whole island, my analysis demonstrates the variability in and non-linear trajectory for the emergence of social complexity in middle range society. The results of this research indicate that complexity emerges at different scales, and times in different places, and only in some facets of complexity. Cycles of emergence are apparent within the sub-periods of the PreBA, but a linear trajectory of increasing social complexity is not evident through the period. Further, this research challenges the long-held notion that Cyprus' involvement in the international metal trade lead to the emergence of complexity. Instead, I argue based on the results presented here, that the emergence of complexity is heavily influenced by endogenous processes, particularly the social interactions that limited participation in an on-island exchange system that flourished on the island during the Philia Phase, disintegrated along the North Coast during the PreBA 1 and was rebuilt across the island by the end of the period. Thus, the variation seen in the emergence of social complexity on Cyprus during the PreBA occurred as the result of a bottom-up process in which the complex and unequal interactions and relationships between social actors structured and restructured social networks across scales differently over time and space. These results speak more broadly about the variability of middle range societies and the varying conditions under which social complexity can emerge and add to our understanding of this phenomenon.

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2017