Matching Items (18)

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Mortuary Theory in Context: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of a Late Woodland Burial Feature

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The present analysis sought to determine the relationship between Middle Woodland (ca. 2000-1700 BP) and Late Woodland (ca. 1700-1100 BP) mortuary practices in the Lower Illinois Valley. It applies alternative

The present analysis sought to determine the relationship between Middle Woodland (ca. 2000-1700 BP) and Late Woodland (ca. 1700-1100 BP) mortuary practices in the Lower Illinois Valley. It applies alternative mortuary theories to elucidate larger social implications and the relationship between these practices. This was accomplished by first reconstructing a Late Woodland mortuary feature from the Helton Site in the Lower Illinois Valley (HN 20-36). The reconstructed feature was then assessed to identify if Middle Woodland mortuary practices were continuous with those of the Late Woodland. Lastly, the feature was interpreted in accordance with processualist, post-processualist and individual identity theories on mortuary behavior to determine the larger social implications of the funerary practices associated with the feature. From this analysis, it was concluded that Late Woodland mortuary practices exhibited elements of both continuity with, and change from their Middle Woodland predecessors. Further, the theoretical interpretations reveled that Late Woodland social systems existed as an evolved and reorganized extension of those systems that were present during the Middle Woodland period.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05

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

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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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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Interactions with the incorporeal in the Mississippian and ancestral Puebloan worlds

Description

This research explores how people's relationships with the spirits of the dead are embedded in political histories. It addresses the ways in which certain spirits were integral "inhabitants" of two

This research explores how people's relationships with the spirits of the dead are embedded in political histories. It addresses the ways in which certain spirits were integral "inhabitants" of two social environments with disparate political traditions. Using the prehistoric mortuary record, I investigate the spirits and their involvement in socio-political affairs in the Prehispanic American Southeast and Southwest. Foremost, I construct a framework to characterize particular social identities for the spirits. Ancestors are select, potent beings who are capable of wielding considerable agency. Ancestral spirits are generic beings who are infrequently active among the living and who can exercise agency only in specific contexts. Anonymous groups of spirits are collectives who exercise little to no agency. I then examine the performance of mortuary ritual to recognize these social identities in the archaeological record. Multivariate analyses evaluate how particular ritual actions memorialized the dead. They concentrate on treatment of the body, construction of burial features, inclusion of material accompaniments, and the spaces of ritual action. Each analysis characterizes the social memories that ritual acts shaped for the spirits. When possible, I supplement analysis of archaeological data with ethnohistoric and ethnographic information. Finally, I compile the memories to describe the social identities for the spirits of the dead. In this study, I examine the identities surrounding the spirits in both a Mississippian period settlement on the Georgia coast and in several Protohistoric era Zuni towns in the northern Southwest. Results indicate that ancestors were powerful members of political factions in coastal Mississippian communities. In contrast, ancestral spirits and collectives of long-dead were custodians of group histories in Zuni communities. I contend that these different spirits were rooted in political traditions of competition. Mississippian ancestors were influential agents on cultural landscapes filled with contestation over social power. Puebloan ancestral spirits were keepers of histories on landscapes where power relations were masked, and where new kinds of communities were coalescing. This study demonstrates that the spirits of the dead are important to anthropological understandings of socio-political trajectories. The spirits are at the heart of the ways in which history influences and determines politics.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Pathogen origins and evolution in the New World: a molecular and bioarchaeological approach to tuberculosis and leishmaniasis

Description

Studies of ancient pathogens are moving beyond simple confirmatory analysis of diseased bone; bioarchaeologists and ancient geneticists are posing nuanced questions and utilizing novel methods capable of confronting the debates

Studies of ancient pathogens are moving beyond simple confirmatory analysis of diseased bone; bioarchaeologists and ancient geneticists are posing nuanced questions and utilizing novel methods capable of confronting the debates surrounding pathogen origins and evolution, and the relationships between humans and disease in the past. This dissertation examines two ancient human diseases through molecular and bioarchaeological lines of evidence, relying on techniques in paleogenetics and phylogenetics to detect, isolate, sequence and analyze ancient and modern pathogen DNA within an evolutionary framework. Specifically this research addresses outstanding issues regarding a) the evolution, origin and phylogenetic placement of the pathogen causing skeletal tuberculosis in New World prior to European contact, and b) the phylogeny and origins of the parasite causing the human leishmaniasis disease complex. An additional chapter presents a review of the major technological and theoretical advances in ancient pathogen genomics to frame the contributions of this work within a rapidly developing field. This overview emphasizes that understanding the evolution of human disease is critical to contextualizing relationships between humans and pathogens, and the epidemiological shifts observed both in the past and in the present era of (re)emerging infectious diseases. These questions continue to be at the forefront of not only pathogen research, but also

bioarchaeological and paleopathological scholarship.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Ritual Violence and the Perception of Social Difference: Migration and Human Sacrifice in the Epiclassic Basin of Mexico

Description

Archaeologists have long contended that large-scale human migrations played an essential role in the cultural development of pre-Hispanic central Mexico. During the Epiclassic period (600-900 CE), migration is implicated in

Archaeologists have long contended that large-scale human migrations played an essential role in the cultural development of pre-Hispanic central Mexico. During the Epiclassic period (600-900 CE), migration is implicated in the appearance of new forms of material culture, sociopolitical disruptions, and the emergence of new regional polities. Sweeping social changes accompanied these developments, including demographic reorganization and increased levels of violence. Research across the social sciences finds that violence directed at individuals perceived as categorically distinct also typically increases during such periods of socio-political upheaval. This dissertation investigates identity-based violence in the Epiclassic Basin of Mexico to consider how diverse social identities contributed to the selection of victims of ritual violence.

This research examines the skeletal remains from a sacrificial deposit at the Epiclassic shrine site of Non-Grid 4 in the Basin of Mexico, where a minimum of 180 human crania were interred as ritual offerings. The project reconstructs patterns of paleomobility and biological relatedness to determine whether individuals with distinct categorical social identities were more likely to become victims of human sacrifice. It answers the questions: (1) Were the sacrificed individuals predominantly locals who lived in the Basin of Mexico throughout their lives?; (2) Were the sacrificed individuals comprised of a single kin-group biologically continuous with pre-extant populations in the Basin of Mexico?; and (3) If victims were migrants biologically discontinuous with antecedent populations, from where in ancient Mesoamerica did they originate?

Results indicate that a majority of sacrificial victims were immigrants originating north and south of the Basin of Mexico. Biogeochemical analyses of sacrificed individuals find that 80% are non-local migrants into the Basin, suggesting that they were likely targeted for violence based on their divergent residential histories. Multi-scalar biodistance analyses of Non-Grid 4 sacrificial victims demonstrate that they represent two biologically distinct groups. There was evidence, however, for both biological continuity among victims and pre-extant central Mexican populations, as well as for migration from northern and southern Mexico. This project therefore not only improves knowledge of migration during the central Mexican Epiclassic, but also contributes to broader anthropological understandings of the social context of violence.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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Andean Social Identities: Analyses of Community, Gender, and Age Identities at Chiribaya Alta, Peru

Description

Social identities are fundamental to the way individuals and groups define themselves. Archaeological approaches to social identities in the Andes emphasize the importance of group identities such as ethnicity and

Social identities are fundamental to the way individuals and groups define themselves. Archaeological approaches to social identities in the Andes emphasize the importance of group identities such as ethnicity and community identity, but studies of gender and age identities are still uncommon. In this dissertation, I build on these earlier approaches to Andean social identities and consider community, gender, and age identities at the site of Chiribaya Alta using case studies.

The coastal Ilo Chiribaya polity is associated with the Andean Late Intermediate Period in the lower Osmore drainage of southern Peru. Previous analyses indicate that Chiribaya sites in this area formed a señorío, an Andean chiefdom with separate occupational groups of fishers and farmers. The most complex excavated Chiribaya site in this region is Chiribaya Alta. At this time, excavations have sampled nine of the cemeteries present at the site. Two of these cemeteries, four and seven, have the most elaborate burials at the site and are each associated with different occupational communities.

This dissertation examines community, gender, and age identities at Chiribaya Alta through the use of three case studies. The first case study argues that the iconographic designs on coca bags interred with the dead signified occupational community identities. Coca bags buried in cemetery four have designs relating to mountains and farming, whereas those from cemetery seven have symbols associated with water. These designs correspond to the occupational community groups associated with each of these cemeteries. The second case study uses grave good presence and absence to examine the nature of gender roles and identity at Chiribaya Alta. Multiple correspondence analysis indicates that normative gender roles are reflected in grave good assemblages, but that gender identity was flexible at the individual level. The final case study presents newly generated age-at-death estimations using transition analysis combined with mortuary analyses to explore the manner in which gender and age intersect for older individuals at Chiribaya Alta. This final paper argues that there is an elderly identity present amongst individuals at Chiribaya Alta and that gender and age intersect to impact the lives of older men and women differently.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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Dietary practices, socioeconomic status, and social mobility at Teotihuacan, Mexico

Description

This project investigates social mobility in premodern states through a contextualized program of isotopic research at the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, Mexico. Due to the lack of a concrete methodology

This project investigates social mobility in premodern states through a contextualized program of isotopic research at the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, Mexico. Due to the lack of a concrete methodology that can be used to recover information concerning rates of social mobility from archaeological remains, many traditional archaeological models either ignore social mobility or assume that boundaries between socioeconomic strata within archaic states were largely impermeable. In this research, I develop a new methodological approach to the identification of socially mobile individuals in the archaeological record based on changes in the diet across the lifecourse that can be detected through isotopic paleodietary indicators. Drawing upon cross-cultural research surrounding the relationship between diet and socioeconomic status and established methodologies in the biogeochemical analysis of human remains, this methodological approach provides a basis for broader comparative studies evaluating the nature of social mobility within archaic states.

I then test the practical application of this methodology by applying it to a mortuary sample including individuals from distinctive socioeconomic groups from the pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan, Mexico. The study recovers and uses the dietary isotope ratios within bone and tooth samples from 81 individuals buried throughout the city 1) to define the dietary correlates of wealth and status at Teotihuacan and 2) to identify individuals displaying lifetime dietary changes consistent with changes in socioeconomic status. In addition to supplementing our current understanding of Teotihuacan foodways and processes of geographic migration into the city, I identify an adult male individual from the La Ventilla B apartment compound who displays dietary changes throughout his life that are consistent with downward socioeconomic mobility from a high status socioeconomic group in early adolescence to an intermediate status group later in adulthood. I conclude by identifying ways to move forward with the comparative archaeology of socioeconomic mobility in premodern contexts and highlight the applicability of archaeological information to our understanding of present-day processes of social mobility.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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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