Again this year there was an amazing pool of applicants for the Haury Dissertation Fellowship. The committee selected the following outstanding recipients for the 2018 Haury awards:
Amy Schott: Agnese Nelms Haury Graduate Dissertation Fellowship
“Geomorphology and Chronology of Eolian Deposits in Petrified Forest National Park, Northeastern Arizona”
Abstract: The Petrified Forest National Park is located along the southern end of an extensive sand sheet in northeastern Arizona. Fifteen Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) ages, along with soil geomorphic analysis, document discrete periods of eolian activity. The oldest eolian activity dates to c. 18-12ka, and is expressed in well-developed soils on stable upland landscapes. Late Pleistocene eolian deposits on lower valleys are likely only episodically preserved. Extensive remobilization of eolian sediments along the Puerco River Valley occurred in at least 2-3 periods of activity in the Late Holocene. Eolian deposition occurred at c. 2.3 ka and between 1.7-1.4 ka, resulting in multiple, weakly developed soil horizons in dunes and sand sheets. The most recent period of eolian deposition occurred between 1.0-0.4ka, resulting in minimally altered sediment. Soils contain relatively high amounts of fine-grained material, most likely from local sources. Extensive prehistoric use by Pueblo people from at least A.D. 50 until A.D. 1400 included use of the eolian landscape for agriculture. This study demonstrates that eolian sediments would have been actively eroding and depositing during this period of prehistoric use. The high clay content of these sediments may have made them more suitable for maize agriculture, despite active sedimentation.
Jessica MacLellan: Haury Dissertation Fellowship
“Household Ritual and Social Complexity in the Preclassic Maya Lowlands: Excavations at the Karinel Group, Ceibal, Guatemala”
Abstract: I examine the roles household rituals play in the development of complex societies. Households are the basic units of society, and actions at the household level can reproduce or alter social structures. Meanwhile, ritual has the ability unite a community while simultaneously facilitating the development of hierarchies. Many scholars argue that, in the Maya lowlands, domestic rituals were the predecessors of public ceremonies and that they led to the development of social inequality during the Preclassic period (c. 1000 BC–AD 300). Because of its very early public plaza and associated ritual deposits (dated to c. 1000 BC), the site of Ceibal, in Guatemala, presents a unique opportunity to explore changes in the relationship between household rituals and public rituals from the time the Maya began to adopt a sedentary, agriculturalist lifestyle to the emergence of inherited rulership. Based on extensive excavations at the Karinel Group, an early residential area at Ceibal, I find that the practices that transformed Ceibal’s early community differed greatly from those described at other early Maya sites, and that domestic rituals play varied, and even contradictory, roles in social change.
Intensive studies at early Maya sites in northern Belize led to a model of Preclassic social differentiation based on ancestor veneration, heritable land rights, and competition among kin groups, beginning at the transition to sedentary life (c. 1000 BC). In this model, Maya kings and their public ceremonies grew outof earlier village practices. At Ceibal, I find little evidence of the ancestor veneration rituals described at the Belize sites. Excavations at the Karinel Group show that distinct domestic rituals existed alongside public rituals throughout the Middle Preclassic period (c. 1000-350 BC), creating a parallel set of political relationships to those enacted in the public plaza. The early date of the plaza and the lack of similarity between the household and plaza ceremonies show that public rituals did not grow out of domestic predecessors. Instead, two systems of rituals coexisted within Ceibal. Public rituals were focused on the caching of greenstone axes in the communal plaza and were carried out by specialists with access to restricted knowledge and materials. Domestic rituals were performed on small, low, open platforms in the patios of household complexes. These household rituals show little signs of hierarchy or competition among kin groups, and they may have fostered smaller, horizontally organized communities within the larger settlement. In this way, they may have counteracted the effects of public ceremonies, as a form of resistance to increasing centralization.
Around the transition to the Late Preclassic period (c. 350-75 BC), ritual practices and spaces at domestic groups were transformed. Evidence from the Karinel Group, and from other lowland sites, shows that household rituals came to resemble public rituals. This new congruity between domestic and public practices suggests that early elites operating at the centers of sites became more influential, and that kin groups throughout the community became more involved in public ceremonies. The association of households with centralized, elite-focused ritual practices may have created more hierarchical relationships among kin groups, paving the way for the emergence of inherited nobility and rulership.
Ultimately, evidence from the Karinel Group shows that a single model for the development of complex societies cannot be applied across the Maya area. The particular history of each site should be interpreted through analyses of both public and domestic areas. My findings also contradict broader theories of the origins of civilization that assume that the public derives from, or evolves out of, the domestic. Household ritual activities transform over time and have many different effects on the structure of society.
Rebecca Mountain: Haury Dissertation Fellowship
“Modeling the Effects of Microevolution and Phenotypic Plasticity on Age-related Bone Loss in Archaeological Populations”
Abstract: This dissertation follows the three-article format, consisting of three publishable journal articles on age-related bone loss in archaeological skeletal remains. These articles individually explore critical methodological and theoretical issues in bioarchaeological studies of age-related bone loss, and collectively speak to the relationship between evolution, skeletal plasticity, biocultural adaptation, and human susceptibility to osteoporosis.
The first article in this dissertation, “Utilizing Non-Weight-Bearing Bones in Archaeological Investigations of Osteoporosis,” examines the potential influence that natural selection may have on the etiology of osteoporosis. A steady decline in bone strength since our early Homo ancestors suggests a long-term evolutionary trend. This trend is often attributed to changes in human activity patterns, largely dismissing the potential for genetic change. Previous studies focused on weight-bearing bones, which principally reflect the affects of mechanical loading, rather than underlying alterations to the genotype. The study incorporates ribs—predominantly non-weight-bearing bones, and therefore largely influenced by genetics—to investigate whether significant differences in bone mineral density (BMD) and bone strength (SSI) are detectable between weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing bones in archaeological remains. Such differences have the potential to reflect physical activity vs. genetic effects and suggest that non-weight-bearing bones could act as good indicators for evolutionary changes. BMD and SSI were compared in the limbs and a lower rib in a historic skeletal assemblage from Tucson, Arizona. Results showed significant differences in BMD and SSI between the rib and all six long bones (p<.001), demonstratingthe impact of differential load bearing on BMD and strength measurements and the need to utilize both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing bones to draw conclusions about the evolution of osteoporosis. This article was drafted last year and is currently being revised for publication this summer.
The second article, “Comparing Age-Related Bone Loss between Archaeological Populations Using Linear Mixed Effects Models,” addresses a major methodological issue in archaeological bone loss studies: diagenesis, or the structural changes to bone in the burial environment. These changes can affect element preservation, antemortem pathologies, and isotopic composition. BMD is also affected by diagenesis through demineralization and mineral deposition. These processes not only affect the absolute measurement of BMD in archaeological remains, but also prevent the comparison of BMD between different archaeological sites due to their unique environments–a major barrier to comparing bone health between populations. My article presents a statistical method for addressing diagenetic changes, and comparing BMD between archaeological samples, using a linear mixed effects model. Using archaeological skeletal samples from Arizona, this study applies the linear mixed effects (LME) model and provides a relative and comparable measure of BMD across diagenetic environments. This method allows for comparisons between geographically and temporally unrelated populations by controlling for diagenetic effects, removing the need for destructive analyses or correction factors. I recently drafted this paper in the spring of 2018 and presented the results at the annual conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in April. I will work on revisions this summer.
The third and final dissertation article, “Modeling the Effects of Increasing Sedentism on Age-related Bone Loss in Post-Agricultural Arizona 500 BCE –AD 1900,” puts the methodological pieces of Articles 1 and 2 in conversation with a specifically evolutionary and biocultural theoretical approach, and applies them to examine changes in age-related bone loss and skeletal fragility in a case study from Arizona. By comparing the rib to the major weight-bearing elements, and by employing a LME model, this paper explores changes in BMD and bone strength over time and during major subsistence transitions. This paper also aims to tease apart the variables affecting bone loss, including physical activity, dietary shifts, and even micro-evolutionary genetic changes. I will begin analyzing the data for this paper and drafting the final article in the fall semester of 2018. This will provide me with the spring of 2019 to write my introduction and conclusion and work on all revisions requested by my committee.
Emilio Rodriguez-Alvarez: Haury Dissertation Fellowship
“Forming Identities: Technological Choices and Pottery Producers in Archaic Corinth”
Abstract: The aim of this research is to study the social and economic causes behind the ubiquitous presence ofCorinthian pottery in the archaeological record of the eastern Mediterranean between the last quarter of the 8th and the last quarter of the 6th century BCE. In order to understand this distribution this work intends to focus first on the investigation of the techniques used by Corinthian potters to produce their wares, and in a second part of the study to elucidate whether the commercial success of Corinthian pottery was caused by intrinsic properties in the ceramics (e.g. their aesthetic, technological or symbolic value), or if other factors, such as the geographic location of Corinth on an important node of communications, also contributed to the distribution of these artefacts.
By using the technological choices of the producers as a mode of inquiry this research intends to define the transmission of skills inside a workshop not only as a functional but also as a social element. Although pottery production started and still exists in some cultures as a part-time household activity, the development of specialised workshops in all Greek poleis during the Archaic period indicates for most scholars not only a full-time commitment but also a deep involvement in many aspects of the society's economy. Thus, understanding the production process contributes as well to the study of the social status of potters within the larger social and political organization of Corinth.
In order to achieved the proposed goal fieldwork research took place during the course 2015-2016 at the site of Ancient Corinth (Greece). A database of 557 artefacts was created with extensive morphometric records of the samples as well as a detailed study of the traces of manufacture techniques present on them. Raw materials for the manufacturing of pottery were sampled in the surrounding landscape and several tests performed to study their physical properties for pottery making (shrinkage, colour variation, over-firing thresholds, and porosity). Geospatial data on the distribution of clay-beds, sites and other resources was also acquired during this survey and it will be the foundation for a predictive model of the centres of pottery production in the vicinity of Corinth, while the fabrics and decorations of the vessels have been analysed using pXRF in order to explore possible differences in composition of clays, slips and paints among periods.
Finally, this study of Corinthian pottery can help us to present a more accurate picture of the exchange of ideas and symbols that was taking place not only among Greeks, but among all the different and diverse cultures that populated the eastern Mediterranean between the late 8th and 6th c. BCE. To be a potter in Corinth during this time required a lifetime commitment and a community of practice where apprenticeship of the techniques and symbols (shapes, designs and patterns) could take place. But the locally acquired symbolic knowledge was enriched by new symbols arriving from the east, symbols that required new manufacturing methods, such as the polychrome black-figure technique that characterises many animal friezes. Understanding the product and its manufacturing process will help us to understand as well the producer, not just as a craftsman, but as an active member of the society, with the ability to adopt, adapt and develop a whole new visual catalogue for his/her community.
Keri Miller: Haury Dissertation Fellowship
“The Role of the Aramaic Language in Syrian Orthodox Ethnic and Religious Identity”
Abstract: The Syrian Orthodox (Suryoyo) community is anchored in religious ritual founded on the Aramaic language; however, mass migration from homelands in Turkey and Syria over the past centuries due to extended religious persecution has led to severe endangerment of their language. Based on semi-structured interviews, focus groups and participant observation that I carried out in Turkey and Germany from 2015-2017, I examine the ways in which multilingual Syrian Orthodox use both the written and the colloquial variants of Aramaic in the context of their lives as Suryoye. My aim is to elucidate relationships between narrative, agency, and the formation of identity through language. The principal motivation that participants expressed for taking part in my study was the desire to understand what they can do to keep Aramaic alive in the community. I analyze the narratives that I gathered through these discussions and through participant observation in religious, educational and social settings, focusing on linguistic displays of agency as the means by which individuals have the ability to make a difference in the life of the language. An obstacle that stands in the way of the ability of Suryoye to freely choose how to use the language and have their expressions taken up by others is the potential for ideological dissonance. The geographical divisions faced by the Suryoye in the diaspora, in conjunction with centuries of ideological divisions among the Eastern Christian churches, have led to dis-junctures in the notion of what counts as authentic language for the community. This is compounded by the distinction between the liturgical and colloquial variants of the language which can be evaluated by differing standards of authenticity and authority. When two or more Suryoye are attempting to use Aramaic with each other, dis-alignment in ideology can lead to the decision to speak instead in a different mutually shared language, such as Arabic, Turkish, or German, or even to a shutdown in communication. Both results can damage the effort to keep Aramaic alive. In order to understand the conditions under which Suryoye exercise agency in the use and circulation of Aramaic within (and beyond) the community, I pose the following questions: What limits the ability of the Suryoye to use Aramaic in face-to-face interaction and for written interactions such as text messages and facebook comments? How is linguistic agency in the Syrian Orthodox community bound to ideologies about authenticity and authority? How do these ideologies affect individual agency in the community differently from agency at a group level? Through this dissertation I aim to contribute to greater understanding of the potential for people who are members of a community to employ agency in the very structures of the community itself via the continuation of their language. This has implications not only for language maintenance and revitalization, but also for the role of language in the agentive co-construction of group identity.