Matching Items (20)

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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.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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The role of ochre in the development of modern human behavior: a case study from South Africa

Description

In recent years, southern Africa has figured prominently in the modern human origins debate due to increasing evidence for precocious behaviors considered to be unique to our species. These significant

In recent years, southern Africa has figured prominently in the modern human origins debate due to increasing evidence for precocious behaviors considered to be unique to our species. These significant findings have included bone tools, shell beads, engraved ostrich eggshell, and heavily ground and engraved ochre fragments. The presence of ochre in Middle Stone Age (MSA, ~250-40kya) archaeological sites in southern Africa is often proposed as indirect evidence for the emergence of symbolic or artistic behavior, a uniquely modern human trait. However, there is no remaining artwork from this period and there is significant debate about what the ochre may have been used for. With a few exceptions, ochre has gone largely unstudied. This project tested competing models for ochre use within the Pinnacle Point (PP), South Africa research area. Combined results from characterization and sourcing analyses, color classification, heat treatment analysis, and hafting experiments suggest MSA ochre is tied to early symbolic or ritual behavior.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

A semiotic approach to the evolution of symboling capacities during the late Pleistocene with implications for claims of modernity in early human groups

Description

This research uses Peircean Semiotics to model the evolution of symbolic behavior in the human lineage and the potential material correlates of this evolutionary process in the archaeological record. The

This research uses Peircean Semiotics to model the evolution of symbolic behavior in the human lineage and the potential material correlates of this evolutionary process in the archaeological record. The semiotic model states the capacity for symbolic behavior developed in two distinct stages. Emergent capacities are characterized by the sporadic use of non-symbolic and symbolic material culture that affects information exchange between individuals. Symbolic exchange will be rare. Mobilized capacities are defined by the constant use of non-symbolic and symbolic objects that affect both interpersonal and group-level information exchange. Symbolic behavior will be obligatory and widespread. The model was tested against the published archaeological record dating from ~200,000 years ago to the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary in three sub-regions of Africa and Eurasia. A number of Exploratory and Confirmatory Data Analysis techniques were used to identify patterning in artifacts through time consistent with model predictions. The results indicate Emergent symboling capacities were expressed as early as ~100,000 years ago in Southern Africa and the Levant. However, capacities do not appear fully Mobilized in these regions until ~17,000 years ago. Emergent symboling is not evident in the European record until ~42,000 years ago, but develops rapidly. The results also indicate both Anatomically Modern Humans and Neanderthals had the capacity for symbolic behavior, but expressed those capacities differently. Moreover, interactions between the two populations did not select for symbolic expression, nor did periodic aggregation within groups. The analysis ultimately situates the capacity for symbolic behavior in increased engagement with materiality and the ability to recognize material objects can be made meaningful– an ability that must have been shared with Anatomically Modern Humans’ and Neanderthals’ most recent common ancestor. Consequently, the results have significant implications for notions of ‘modernity’ and human uniqueness that drive human origins research. This work pioneers deductive approaches to cognitive evolution, and both strengths and weaknesses are discussed. In offering notable results and best practices, it effectively operationalizes the semiotic model as a viable analytical method for human origins research.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Abiotic and Biotic Drivers of Turnover and Community Assembly in African Mammals

Description

Climate and environmental forcing are widely accepted to be important drivers of evolutionary and ecological change in mammal communities over geologic time scales. This paradigm has been particularly influential in

Climate and environmental forcing are widely accepted to be important drivers of evolutionary and ecological change in mammal communities over geologic time scales. This paradigm has been particularly influential in studies of the eastern African late Cenozoic fossil record, in which aridification, increasing seasonality, and C4 grassland expansion are seen as having shaped the major patterns of human and faunal evolution. Despite the ubiquity of studies linking climate and environmental forcing to evolutionary and ecological shifts in the mammalian fossil record, many central components of this paradigm remain untested or poorly developed. To fill this gap, this dissertation employs biogeographical and macroecological analyses of present-day African mammal communities as a lens for understanding how abiotic change may have shaped community turnover and structure in the eastern African Plio-Pleistocene. Three dissertation papers address: 1) the role of ecological niche breadth in shaping divergent patterns of macroevolutionary turnover across clades; 2) the effect of climatic and environmental gradients on community assembly; 3) the relative influence of paleo- versus present-day climates in structuring contemporary patterns of community diversity. Results of these papers call into question many tenets of current theory, particularly: 1) that niche breadth differences (and, by extension, their influence on allopatric speciation) are important drivers of macroevolution, 2) that climate is more important than biotic interactions in community assembly, and 3) that communities today are in equilibrium with present-day climates. These findings highlight the need to critically reevaluate the role and scale-dependence of climate in mammal evolution and community ecology and to carefully consider potential time lags and disequilibrium dynamics in the fossil record.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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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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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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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.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

A formal modeling approach to understanding stone tool raw material selection in the African Middle Stone Age: a case study from Pinnacle Point, South Africa

Description

The South African Middle Stone Age (MSA), spanning the Middle to Late Pleistocene (Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 8-3) witnessed major climatic and environmental change and dramatic change in forager technological

The South African Middle Stone Age (MSA), spanning the Middle to Late Pleistocene (Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 8-3) witnessed major climatic and environmental change and dramatic change in forager technological organization including lithic raw material selection. Homo sapiens emerged during the MSA and had to make decisions about how to organize technology to cope with environmental stressors, including lithic raw material selection, which can effect tool production and application, and mobility.

This project studied the role and importance of lithic raw materials in the technological organization of foragers by focusing on why lithic raw material selection sometimes changed when the behavioral and environmental context changed. The study used the Pinnacle Point (PP) MSA record (MIS6-3) in the Mossel Bay region, South Africa as the test case. In this region, quartzite and silcrete with dramatically different properties were the two most frequently exploited raw materials, and their relative abundances change significantly through time. Several explanations intertwined with major research questions over the origins of modern humans have been proposed for this change.

Two alternative lithic raw material procurement models were considered. The first, a computational model termed the Opportunistic Acquisition Model, posits that archaeological lithic raw material frequencies are due to opportunistic encounters during random walk. The second, an analytical model termed the Active-Choice Model drawn from the principles of Optimal Foraging Theory, posits that given a choice, individuals will choose the most cost effective means of producing durable cutting tools in their environment and will strategically select those raw materials.

An evaluation of the competing models found that lithic raw material selection was a strategic behavior in the PP record. In MIS6 and MIS5, the selection of quartzite was driven by travel and search cost, while during the MIS4, the joint selection of quartzite and silcrete was facilitated by a mobility strategy that focused on longer or more frequent stays at PP coupled with place provisioning. Further, the result suggests that specific raw materials and technology were relied on to obtain food resources and perform processing tasks suggesting knowledge about raw material properties and suitability for tasks.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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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.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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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)

Description

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

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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Agent

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