Matching Items (12)

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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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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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Scarlet Macaws, Long-Distance Exchange, and Placemaking in the U.S. Southwest and Mexican Northwest, ca 900-1450 CE

Description

Exchange is fundamental to the establishment and maintenance of social institutions and political economies in all scales of societies. While today people rapidly exchange goods and information over great distances,

Exchange is fundamental to the establishment and maintenance of social institutions and political economies in all scales of societies. While today people rapidly exchange goods and information over great distances, in the past, long-distance exchange necessitated the mobilization of vast networks of interaction with substantial transport costs. Objects traded over long distances were often valuable and challenging to obtain, granting them multifaceted significance that is difficult to understand using traditional archaeological approaches.

This research examines human interactions with scarlet macaws (Ara macao) in the United States (U.S.) Southwest and Mexican Northwest (SW/NW) between 900 and 1450 CE. This period saw large-scale cultural change in the form of migrations, rapid population aggregation, and an expansion of long-distance exchange relations in regional centers at Pueblo Bonito (900-1150 CE) in northwestern New Mexico, Wupatki (1085-1220 CE) in north-central Arizona, and Paquimé (1200-1450 CE) in northern Chihuahua. Despite the distant natural habitat of scarlet macaws, their importation, exchange, and sacrifice appear to have played integral roles in the process of placemaking at these three regional centers. Here, I use an Archaeology of the Human Experience approach and combine radiogenic strontium isotope analysis with detailed contextual analyses using a Material Histories theoretical framework to (1) discern whether macaws discovered in the SW/NW were imported or raised locally, (2) characterize the acquisition, treatment and deposition of macaws at Pueblo Bonito, Wupatki, and Paquimé, and (3) identify patterns of continuity or change in acquisition and deposition of macaws over time and across space in the SW/NW.

Findings from radiogenic strontium isotope analysis indicate that scarlet macaws from all case studies were primarily raised locally in the SW/NW, though at Paquimé, macaws were procured from sites in the Casas Grandes region and extra-regionally. Variation in the treatment and deposition of scarlet macaws suggests that despite their prevalence, macaws were interpreted and interacted with in distinctly local ways. Examination of the human experience of transporting and raising macaws reveals previously unconsidered challenges for keeping macaws. Overall, variation in the acquisition and deposition of scarlet macaws indicates changing strategies for placemaking in the SW/NW between 900 and 1450 CE.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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Tracking climate-driven changes in Neandertal subsistence behaviors and prey mobility patterns

Description

The ability of Neandertals to cope with the oscillating climate of the late Pleistocene and the extent to which these climate changes affected local Neandertal habitats remain unanswered anthropological topics

The ability of Neandertals to cope with the oscillating climate of the late Pleistocene and the extent to which these climate changes affected local Neandertal habitats remain unanswered anthropological topics of considerable scientific interest. Understanding the impact of climatic instability on Neandertals is critical for reconstructing the behaviors of our closest fossil relatives and possibly identifying factors that contributed to their extinction. My work aimed to test the hypotheses that 1) cold climates stressed Neandertal populations, and 2) that global climate changes affected local Neandertal habitats. An analysis of Neandertal butchering on Cervus elaphus, Rangifer tarandus, and Capreolus capreolus skeletal material deposited during global warm and cold phases from two French sites - Pech de l'Azé IV and Roc de Marsal - was conducted to assess the impact of climate change on butchering strategies and resource extraction. Results from a statistical analysis of surface modification on all marrow yielding long bones, including the 1st phalanx, demonstrated that specimens excavated from the cold levels at each cave have more cut marks (Wald χ2= 51.33, p= <0.001) and percussion marks (Wald χ2= 4.92, p= 0.02) than specimens from the warm levels after controlling for fragment size. These results support the hypothesis that Neandertals were nutritionally stressed during glacial cycles. The hypothesis that global climates affected local habitats was tested through radiogenic strontium isotopic reconstruction of large herbivore mobility patterns (e.g., Bison, Equus, Cervus and Rangifer), because it is known that in the northern hemisphere, mammals migrate less in warm, well-vegetated environments, but more in cold, open environments. Identifying isotopic variation in mammalian fossils enables mobility patterns to be inferred, providing an indication of whether environments at Pech de l'Azé IV and Roc de Marsal tracked global climates. Results from this study indicate that Neandertal prey species within the Dordogne Valley of France did not undertake long distance round-trip migrations in glacial or interglacial cycles, maintaining the possibility that local habitats did not change in differing climatic cycles. However, because Neandertals were nutritionally stressed the most likely conclusion is that glacial cycles decreased herbivore populations, thus stressing Neandertals.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Stable isotope analysis of archaeological and modern micromammals from the Greater Cape Floristic Region near Pinnacle Point, on the south coast of South Africa

Description

The Middle Stone Age archaeological record from the south coast of South Africa contains significant evidence for early modern human behavior. The south coast is within the modern Greater Cape

The Middle Stone Age archaeological record from the south coast of South Africa contains significant evidence for early modern human behavior. The south coast is within the modern Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR), which in the present-day encompasses the entirety of South Africa’s Winter Rainfall Zone (WRZ) and contains unique vegetation elements that have been hypothesized to be of high utility to hunter-gatherer populations. Extant paleoenvironmental proxy records for the Pleistocene in the region often indicate evidence for more open environments during the past than occur in the area in the present-day, while climate models suggest glacial presence of the WRZ that would support maintenance of C3-predominant GCFR vegetation.

These paleoenvironmental proxies sample past environments at geographic scales that are often regional. The GCFR flora is hyper-diverse, and glacial climate change-driven impacts on local vegetation could have been highly variable over relatively small geographic scales. Proxy records that are circumscribed in their geographic scale are thus key to our understanding of ancient environments at particular MSA archaeological localities.

Micromammal fossil teeth are now recognized as an abundant potential reservoir of paleoenvironmental proxy data at an extremely local scale. This study analyzed modern micromammal teeth obtained from raptor pellets at three locations on the south coast. Stable carbon isotope analysis indicates that the modern micromammals from the taxa sampled consume a wide range of δ13Cplant on the landscape when it is available, and thus stable carbon isotope analysis of micromammal teeth should act as a proxy for the range of available δ13Cdiet in a circumscribed area of vegetation.

Micromammal stable carbon isotope data obtained from specimens from one of the few well-dated MIS6-MIS5 sequences in the region (Pinnacle Point sites 13B, 30, and 9C). δ13Cenamel values for the taxa sampled indicate diets that are primarily C3, and there is almost no evidence for a dietary C4 grass component in any of the sampled specimens. This indicates that, at a minimum, pockets of C3 vegetation associated with the GCFR were likely available to hunter-gatherers at Pinnacle Point throughout the Middle and Late Pleistocene.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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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.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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The role of kin relations and residential mobility during the transition from final Neolithic to Early Bronze Age in Attica, Greece

Description

This dissertation addresses the role of kinship and residential mobility during the transition from Final Neolithic to Early Bronze Age (ca. 3500 – 2500 BC) in Attica, Greece. It examines

This dissertation addresses the role of kinship and residential mobility during the transition from Final Neolithic to Early Bronze Age (ca. 3500 – 2500 BC) in Attica, Greece. It examines descent systems, ancestor formation, and the interplay between biological, social, and spatial structure in mortuary practices. It also evaluates the nature and degree of residential mobility and its potential role in the formation and maintenance of social networks. Archaeological hypotheses on the kin-based structure of formal cemeteries, the familial use of collective tombs, marriage practices and mate exchange, and relocation were tested focusing on the Early Helladic cemetery of Tsepi at Marathon. Tsepi constitutes the earliest formally organized cemetery on the Greek mainland and it has also contributed to enduring debates over the nature of the interaction between the eastern Attic coast and the central Aegean islands.

This study integrates osteological, biogeochemical, and archaeological data. Inherited dental and cranial features were used to examine biological relatedness and postmarital residence (biodistance analysis). Biochemical analysis of archaeological and modern samples was conducted to examine the geographic origins of the individuals buried in the cemetery and reconstruct mobility patterns. Osteological and biogeochemical data were interpreted in conjunction with archaeological and ethnographic/ethnohistoric data.

The results generally supported a relationship between spatial organization and biological relatedness based on phenotypic similarity at Tsepi. Postmarital residence analysis showed exogamous practices and tentatively supported higher male than female mobility. This practice, along with dietary inferences, could also be suggestive of maritime activities. Biogeochemical analysis showed a local character for the cemetery sample (96%). The common provenance of the three non-local individuals might reflect a link between Tsepi and a single locale. Burial location was not determined by provenance or solely by biological relatedness. Overall, the results point towards more nuanced reconstructions of mobility in prehistoric Aegean and suggest that burial location depended on a complex set of inter-individual relationships and collective identities. The contextualized bioarchaeological approach applied in this study added to the anthropological investigations of social practices such as kin relations (e.g., biological, marital, social kinship) and residential relocation as diachronic mechanisms of integration, adaptation, or differentiation.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Ethnicity, family, and social networks: a multiscalar bioarchaeological investigation of Tiwanaku colonial organization in the Moquegua Valley, Peru

Description

Many models of colonial interaction are build from cases of European colonialism among Native American and African peoples, and, as a result, they are often ill-suited to account for state

Many models of colonial interaction are build from cases of European colonialism among Native American and African peoples, and, as a result, they are often ill-suited to account for state expansion and decline in non-Western contexts. This dissertation investigates social organization and intraregional interaction in a non-western colonial context to broaden understanding of colonial interaction in diverse sociocultural settings. Drawing on social identity theory, population genetics, and social network analysis, patterns of social organization at the margins of the expansive pre-Hispanic Tiwanaku state (ca. AD 500-1100) are examined.

According to the dual diaspora model of Tiwanaku colonial organization in the Moquegua Valley of southern Peru, Chen Chen-style and Omo-style ethnic communities who colonized the valley maintained distinct ethnic identities in part through endogamous marriage practices. Biodistance analysis of cranial shape data is used to evaluate regional gene flow among Tiwanaku-affiliated communities in Moquegua. Overall, results of biodistance analysis are consistent with the dual diaspora model. Omo- and Chen Chen-style communities are distinct in mean cranial shape, and it appears that ethnic identity structured gene flow between ethnic groups. However, there are notable exceptions to the overall pattern, and it appears that marriage practices were structured by multiple factors, including ethnic affiliation, geographic proximity, and smaller scales of social organization, such as corporate kin groups.

Social network analysis of cranial shape data is used to implement a multi- and mesoscalar approach to social organization to assess family-based organization at a regional level. Results indicate the study sample constituted a social network comprised of a dense main component and a number of isolated actors. Formal approaches for identifying potential family groups (i.e., subgroup analysis) proved more effective than informal approaches. While there is no clear partition of the network into distinct subgroups that could represent extended kin networks or biological lineages, there is a cluster of closely related individuals at the core of the network who integrate a web of less-closely related actors. Subgroup analysis yielded similar results as agglomerative hierarchical cluster analysis, which suggests there is potential for social network analysis to contribute to bioarchaeological studies of social organization and bioarchaeological research in general.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016