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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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Community identity and social diversity on the central Peruvian coast: a bioarchaeological investigation of Ychsma diet, mobility, and mortuary practices (c. AD 900-1470)

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This dissertation focuses on the diversity inherent to the process of social community construction. Building upon previous archaeological and bioarchaeological studies of community identities, the current project emphasizes the need for consideration of the impact of diversity on community identity

This dissertation focuses on the diversity inherent to the process of social community construction. Building upon previous archaeological and bioarchaeological studies of community identities, the current project emphasizes the need for consideration of the impact of diversity on community identity formation in the past and illustrates the utility of a bioarchaeological approach for undertaking this task. Three specific aspects of community formation are addressed: (1) the relationship between symbolic community boundaries and geographic space, (2) the influence of diverse discourses of intra-community sub-groups on community formation, and (3) the negotiation of community boundaries by outsiders. To investigate these aspects of community construction in the past, dietary practices and mortuary rituals of the Late Intermediate Period (c. AD 900-1470) Ychsma society of the central Peruvian coast are examined as a case study. Previous anthropological and sociological studies demonstrate that diet and burial customs are common mechanisms used in processes of group identification around the world, including the Andes. In the current study, analyses of materials from Armatambo and Rinconada Alta in the Rimac Valley are used to examine the ways in which isotopic and dental indicators of diet and archaeological contextual indicators of mortuary rituals correspond with or crosscut spatial burial patterns and additional groups based on sex, age at death, and biogeochemically reconstructed residential origins. Observed patterns are interpreted using a theoretical framework that incorporates sociocultural theory of identity with pre-Columbian Andean ideology of the body, self, and social environment. Results reveal differences in large-scale trends in diet and mortuary practices associated with burial at each site that are interpreted as evidence of symbolic community boundaries between sites. Complexities within larger trends reveal evidence of internal diversity as well as fluidity across community boundaries. Specifically, evidence is presented for intra-community dietary differences, intra-community differences associated with age and sex, and finally evidence of external relationships. This consideration of diversity in community identity construction is concluded to profoundly refine current understandings of Ychsma social interactions. Consequently, this study demonstrates empirical investigation of social diversity is necessary for understanding the complex nature of the social construction of communities in the past.

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Date Created
2015

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Population structure and Frankish ethnogenesis (AD 400-900)

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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

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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2015