Category Archives: dSpace

A Portal to Online Graduate Theses and Dissertations

If you look up you should see two more links have been added along the header of this page, just above the banner picture.

ARCHAEOLOGY THESES is a page of links to freely-available, online PDF copies of graduate dissertations and theses on Northwest Archaeology subjects (with a few palaeo-environment theses thrown in for fun).

OTHER THESES is a similar page, but where the focus is on Northwest Anthropology, First Nations Studies, History and related disciplines.

I am planning another page which will be for online archaeological, ethnographic and historic documents of note, in particular “classic” ethnographic works and major site reports which have been intentionally posted in online contexts.  Probably this will be a few weeks yet.

The impetus for these pages is that I have often said the M.A. thesis in particular is a significant backbone of B.C. Archaeology, and the dissertation even more so.  For years these substantial works languished on library shelves.  Now, libraries are increasingly making them available online, free to the public and the academy alike – that is, not behind password protection.

However, you have to know how to look, and where to look, and often you need to know in advance what you are looking for, in order to find this stuff.  I thought it would be useful to have a very simple portal for these graduate works.  Not only does this make them browsable by the more hardcore of my blog readers, but it will get them some google-love!

Not all theses ever written are available online (mine isn’t!):  as it notes on the pages, there are programs in place at UVIC and UBC to digitize their back-catalogue of theses and dissertations.  It would be great if institutions like Calgary, Toronto and McMaster could get their dSpaces full, and open. Unless, of course, they are ashamed of the quality of their graduate student work 😉

So, these pages will be updated periodically. I am not vouching for the quality of any of the ones I linked — indeed a few of them are exceptionally poorly reasoned,  naive, unsupported, badly written, or long-winded efforts -and  in at least one case, all of the above!  Most are very solid though, in my estimation, and a few are truly excellent.  If you know of useful and relevant graduate work that is freely available and not yet linked, let me know in a comment below, or send me an email qmackie [at]  In the meantime, happy browsing.

dSpace: Adams on Gabriola Petroglyphs

Gabriola Petroglyph Design Elements. Source: Adams 2003.

One recent M.A. thesis I was really looking forward to reading is by Amanda Adams entitled Visions cast on stone : a stylistic analysis of the petroglyphs of Gabriola Island, B.C., from UBC Anthropology 2003, and available for free download here.

I was particularly interested to read the instructions she received on proper deportment when visiting the rock art:

Sites were visited in a manner and with a personal code of conduct adhering to Snuneymuxw wishes. Petroglyph sites were not visited at either dawn or dusk. A respectful demeanor was expected as was an “open heart and mind” (Bill Seward, Snuneymuxw elder, personal communication 2002). I was asked to give my full attention to the petroglyphs and their sacredness, not allowing daily distractions to interfere with my concentration on the ancient imagery. These expectations were met to the best of my ability. (18-19)

While many archaeologists are under the impression that there is little to no ethnographic information about petroglyphs, I have long felt that more likely such knowledge is private or highly privileged and not readily shareable.  In this self-serving sense, it was gratifying to see that Adams was able to record some such information:

Snuneymuxw Elder, Bill Seward, asserts that many petroglyphs were made by shamans, hunters and vision seekers (personal communication 2002) while Elder Ellen White maintains that the carvings were places where people both sought and gained power. She explained that “men would be stripped – even in cold weather and laid on top of each petroglyph – learning the spirit world, connecting to the area.” She also noted that the pitted ‘dots’ surrounding several of the carvings were “points of access”, places where one could dip their fingers into pools of “energy” and reservoirs of strength (Archaeology Forum group tour 2002).  (p 13)

Another welcome aspect of Adams’ thesis is her direct comparison to portable art.  Continue reading

Speaking of Ozette: dSpace resources.

The "White Series" Ozette reports are freely available for download! Image shows house-plank decoration from the Ozette Site, used as cover art for these reports.

This space has recently carried a lot of items about the Ozette water-saturated site on the Olympic Peninsula,  about Makah whaling, and Queets canoes, and other wet sites in Washington State.  All archaeologists and many of the public in the Northwest are familiar with the Ozette site which, with its fabulous preservation has stimulated a lot of work on the archaeology of the big houses which so characterise the culture area from the Columbia to the Gulf of Alaska. A principal way most archaeologists are familiar with Ozette is through the three large  site reports published by Washington State University, bound as large white paperbacks, and found on the bookshelf of archaeologists across the region.

So, imagine how happy I was to find that all three volumes are available as free PDF downloads from Washington State University.  The PDFs are very large, perhaps un-necessarily so, but who can complain about over a thousand pages of detailed archaeological information on one of the most significant archaeological sites in North America, or even the world?  The three volumes are:

  • Samuels et al.  Ozette archaeological project research reports Volume I House structure and floor midden. 1991.  Link to download page.  (193 megs)
  • Samuels et al. Ozette archaeological project research reports volume II Fauna. 1994.  Link to download page(154 megs)
  • Whelchel et al.  Ozette archaeological project research reports volume III ethnobotany and wood technology.  2004.  Link to download page.  (288 megs).
  • While you’re at it, pick up Dale Croes’ pioneering 1974 computer applications in archaeology paper: The use of computer graphics in archaeology : a case study from the Ozette site, WashingtonLink to download page.  (149 megs).

UPDATE March 3/2010:  the URLs have been broken for a couple of days.  Try this link to get straight to WSU dSpace for Ozette. If that breaks ( a lot of places prevent stable URLs from search results because obviously people never want to share things) then go here and enter “ozette” in the search box.

(Note: all the above documents may download as files named “ARI” with no file extension.  You will need to add the extension .PDF to the file before you open it.)

These PDFs are fully searchable which makes finding things within the copious material of the Ozette site much easier.  The huge number of artifacts, features and fauna from Ozette have been a blessing and a curse, as interpretation struggles under the dead weight of data.  I would therefore be remiss if I didn’t bring to your attention the excellent M.A. thesis on Northwest Coast household archaeology by UVIC’s own Brendan Gray, who uses Ozette as a test-bed to investigate how we might be able to dig less but dig smarter and therefore learn more from Northwest houses.  Every NW Coast archaeologist should read this thesis.

  • Gray, Brendan 2009.  Sampling methods in Northwest Coast household archaeology: a simulation approach using faunal data from the Ozette siteLink (a bargain at 4.8 megs)

Anyway, I know many readers might find this to be too much inf.ormation, but I don’t believe it is common knowledge that these full text Ozette reports are freely available:  the WASU servers are fast, hard drives are cheap, and the reports are first class.  Enjoy.

Simulated and actual sampling designs projected onto Ozette house floors. From Brendan Gray M.A. thesis.

Punchaw Lake Geochemistry

Elongate side-notched points from Punchaw Lake. Source: Montgomery 1978.

Archaeologists are often pretty lousy geologists.  Nowhere is this more apparent in the use of visual cues to classify rock types.  Accurate classification of rock types is an enormous clue to the mobility of past people, to ancient territories, as well as trade and exchange networks.  Even so, very few archaeological studies on the Northwest Coast have looked at geochemical characterization of raw materials, other than for obsidian at least.  The best work done to date is probably Nicole Smith’s M.A. thesis on the Richardson Island site.

It is therefore nice to see some other comparable work being done.  I don’t know much about the Punchaw Lake (near Prince George) project beyond this poster which has been put online  in  the form of a PDF conference poster by Lorenz Bruechert (abstract).  I understand Bruechert did his MA at UNBC on this geochemical study and also there is a much earlier 1978 MA thesis by Patricia Montgomery available online.  It seems Bruechert used the 1970s excavations as a study sample, and the ICP-MS and other work was contracted out to ACME (not that one), a geochemistry consulting company (note: Nicole did the geochem work herself at UVIC so bonus points there).

In any case, Bruechert finds that a sample of the debitage is geochemically sortable into six groups, all of which are closely-related trachydacite or dacite.  There is as much internal differentiation at Punchaw Lake in the geochemistry of this rock type as there is between any two typical sites on the Plateau.  Hence, he suggests three distinct sources with “tens” of kilometres between them.  As the Punchaw Lake site finds itself on the Alexander Mackenzie trail, this is not that surprising to see diversity of raw material (though one could argue there should be even more diversity).  Nonetheless, the point remains that, as the picture below shows, all the material tested by Bruechert would have been classified visually as basalt (lower left on the graph); whereas in fact, none of it is basalt.  It was such findings at Richardson Island which helped allowed Nicole to postulate an “experimental” phase of technological innovation – in her case, a variety of materials including rhyolites, argillites and varvites had all been variously mixed and matched in ways that did not reflect their geochemical origins.

Bruechert Figure 2: rocks called "basalt" (lower left) are actually dacity/trachydacite.

dSpace: The Indian History Film Project

Haida Town of Chaatl. Source: NMC

There is an interesting archive of interview transcripts housed in dSpace at the University of Regina.  Most of the interviews were by CBC Radio’s Imbert Orchard and so share the flaws of Journalism and Anthropology.   The preamble says,

The original intent of The Indian History Film Project was to conduct interviews with First Nations elders across Canada and to produce a television series portraying Canadian history from a First Nations’ perspective.

The Indian History Film Project was an initiative of Direction Films and was conceived and developed by Tony Snowsill. The project leaders were Tony Snowsill and Christine Welsh. The project evolved over time, and eventually it was decided to access libraries and archives across the country to incorporate existing interviews with First Nations elders. All interviews, whether original or archival, were cross indexed by word and theme and housed in the C.P.R.C [Canadian Plains Research Centre].

A number of these interviews are with Haida people, notably Solomon Wilson and Florence Edenshaw, who discussed her arranged marriage, the meaning of Tow Hill, and the artistic tradition of her family, the Edenshaws and Davidsons.  It appears tapes of these are also available through the BC Archives, but not online.

Note: anytime you see (Indian) it means that a Haida word was not transcribed — an eerie effect.  Searching for British Columbia brings up 91 documents.

The following excerpt from an interview with Solomon Wilson of Skidegate sees him relating a tale of smallpox blankets:

Continue reading

dSpace: Caldwell on Comox Harbour Fishtraps

Chevron-shaped fishtraps in Comox Harbour. From Caldwell 2008.

The University of Manitoba is in on the dSpace trend.  The most notable thesis I found there was Megan Caldwell’s excellent analysis of some Comox Harbour fishtraps in relation to the Q’umu?xs Village site (DkSf-19).  Sixteen carbon dates are now available on these traps, thanks mainly to the work of Nancy Greene.  Caldwell takes a theoretical stance of Optimal Foraging Theory, arguing that fishtraps amount to “artificial patches” which can alter choices made under Patch Selection principles.  Essentially, a similar and more holistic argument could be made using principles of the “built environment” in an Ingoldian sense, but OFT is more structured and maybe more suitable for an MA thesis.  Interestingly, Caldwell’s work on auger sampling of the Q’umu?xs Village site shows a preponderance of herring, which is also interpreted as the target prey of the fishtraps.  This runs against the grain of the ethnographic work she conducted, where she was told that salmon were more important — mind you, salmon have difficult taphonomy and site formation processes, which she acknowledges.  In any case, this is a well organized, focused thesis which reflects a lot of high quality original work and while I haven’t read the whole thing I intend to do so!  Caldwell mentions Nancy Greene is still working on her fish trap study and I hope to see the results of that soon as well — these Comox Harbour trap complexes are very likely the finest of their type anywhere on the Northwest Coast and may well offer key insight into cultural construction of the landscape and its resources.  Download her thesis here!

Map of Fishtrap Stakes in Comox Harbour. From Caldwell 2008.

Schematic of two basic fishtrap designs. From Caldwell 2008.

Speaking of dSpace

The Globe and Mail has a story on the (in progress) digitization and internet posting of UBC’s complete run of over 35,500 theses and dissertations – with an arch response by SFU’s Dean of Libraries (or whatever).  As I’ve been noting, numerous other universities have these schemes as well, usually some flavour of the dSpace software package. Typically, University of Toronto calls it T-Space.  Dissertations there do not seem to be online unless you are a library card holder, though strictly speaking they are not in T-Space either I don’t think.  Nonetheless, they obviously have a digital copy mounted on a server.

Continue reading

dSpace: Elroy White (Xanius) on Fishtraps

FbTa 59, a possible clam garden on the central coast.

FbTa 59, a possible clam garden on the central coast. Source: Elroy White / Xanius M.A. thesis.

I’ve only met Elroy once or twice but he seems like a sharp guy and I was looking forward to reading his 2006 thesis, which turns out to be an exceptional work – ambitiously trying to implement Eldon Yellowhorn’s “internalist archaeology” in his home territory (Heiltsuk) on the central coast.  This project, which focuses on fishtraps, is exemplary in a couple of ways.  First, as a cutting edge exercise in the practice of archaeology, indeed, practice as theory.  The combination of field archaeology, internalist work with a dozen elders, and extensive videography was a great exercise.  (PS Elroy, post some videos!).   Second, well, fishtraps are exceptionally interesting and need more study.  Essentially, we are just guessing about the specific functions and efficiencies of these features.  Elroy gathers a lot of information from elders, including interesting longitudinal data showing how quickly these features silt up — evidence in some ways for their silt retention qualities and also a suggestion there may be a lot of partially or totally obscured fishtraps out there.  And, as above, Elroy appears to find some “clam gardens” (diagram) in Heiltsuk territory.  Maybe it’s because my doctoral SSHRC project was going to be on fishtraps until I got talked out of that and into a GIStraightjacket, but I love’em.  Anyway, you can get yourself a copy of this high quality MA theses here, at SFU dSpace.

Incidentally, for an earlier, wider scope take on subsistence and settlement and fish traps on the central coast, you can also download John Pomeroy’s 1980 PhD thesis (which doesn’t show up under “archaeology” in their classification or keyword scheme for some reason.)

Elroy White (Xanius) with intertida fishtraps.  Credit: Ecostrust Canada.

Elroy White (Xanius) with intertidal fishtraps. Credit: Ecotrust Canada.

dSpace: Dentalia Shells on the Northwest Coast

Dentalia Source "mu7is" in Hesquaht Harbour.  From Barton M.A. p. 116

Dentalia Source "mu7is" in Hesquiat Harbour. From Barton M.A. p. 116

Andrew Barton did an excellent job reviewing the biology of the Scaphopoda, the archaeological record of dentalia use and trade, and the technology available to harvest these small creatures with tusk-shaped shells.  Overall, he brought a lot of nuance to a topic that had been somewhat over-simplified.  For example, there is no real evidence that these shells were only available at depth from the NW corner of Vancouver Island.  Barton reports on attempts to replicate ethnographic dentalia “spears” (more like a rake, or a pasta fork).  You should be able to download a copy of Fishing for Ivory Worms : a review of ethnographic and historically recorded Dentalium source locations from SFU dSpace.

Dentalia necklace by Josephine Ingraham, Clatsop/Chinook Tribes

Dentalia necklace by Josephine Ingraham, Clatsop/Chinook Tribes

dSpace: Labrets by Marina La Salle

Tlingit Woman with Labret, Yakutat 1837

Tlingit Woman with Labret, Yakutat 1837

Labrets, decorative inserts worn in the lip, are an extraordinary artifact type.  It is hard to think of a more intimate or personal artifact, or at least, one that is routinely found.  Further, archaeologists have seized on labrets as status markers and routinely use them for interpretive ends.  Indeed, they are seen as a sign of “achieved status”, since one could (in theory) start wearing a labret at any age, and this has been contrasted with cranial head deformation, which must be initiated in infancy.  This distinction has been claimed to characterize the Locarno Beach to Marpole transition about 2000 years ago in the Salish Sea, for example.   And yet, for all the talk about them, they have languished through the years with only small reports and descriptive accounts of small collections given (an exception after a fashion is Grant Keddie’s catalogue of them downloadable here).  So it is very welcome to see a 2008 UBC MA thesis on labrets by Marina La Salle (4 meg PDF; click on “view/open” near the bottom of the page).  Moreover, this is a thesis which treats them with a suitable dose of social theory and strives for subtlety and nuance vs. the  over-determination of status so often seen in NW Coast Archaeology..

From La Salle 2008 MA Thesis

From La Salle 2008 MA Thesis

Apart from some solid work on their metric dimensions, typology, and a documentation of the astonishing variety of raw materials used to make labrets, there is also welcome and innovative discussion of identity formation and the negotiation of status as active, cultural processes.  This contrasts with earlier studies or casual reference to labrets as simplistic and unambiguous markers of status, worn non-problematically and being basically a badge of identification vs. a negotiable brand.  I wish La Salle had done a few small things, such as always give the artifact numbers in figures and table, and give repositories where possible (follow up work is made so much easier), and her colourful tables are entirely inscrutable, but I credit her very much with taking a fresh approach to an important, perhaps crucial artifact type.  She has a lot to say and I sense a certain frustration (or maybe this is just projection) with UBC’s restrictive 50 page limit on MA theses.  This thesis checks in at over 200 pages anyway, but a limited space for discussion of a lot of data.  Does this mean that MA students now produce more data than they can use and is this a kind of serfdom?  Discuss.