The vast majority of theses in this collection are open access and freely available. There are a small number of theses that have access restricted to the WWU campus. For off-campus access to a thesis labeled "Campus Only Access," please log in here with your WWU universal ID, or talk to your librarian about requesting the restricted thesis through interlibrary loan.

Date Permissions Signed

5-12-2015

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Campbell, Sarah K.

Second Advisor

Koetje, Todd A.

Third Advisor

Foreman, Brady

Abstract

Archaeologists do not consistently test the mineralogy of archaeological bivalve shells before conducting isotope analysis for paleoenvironmental reconstruction. This is a problem because if biogenic aragonite is heated, or cooked, it can recrystallize into calcite, and can become depleted of its heavy oxygen and carbon isotopes. Oxygen isotope ratios are recorded in the growth rings of bivalve shells as they grow, and reflect the temperature conditions of the ambient ocean water. Thus, ancient bivalve shells are used to reconstruct paleoenvironments. I have conducted an experiment to demonstrate the importance of testing the mineralogy of archaeological shells before isotope analysis. I collected modern specimens of four different bivalve taxa and separated them into left and right valves. I heated the left valves in an oven at three controlled temperatures, and I retained the right valves as unheated controls. I conducted mineralogy and isotope analysis on all valves and compared the left and rights of each individual. I found that valves heated to about 400˚C for one hour had recrystallized into calcite and had significantly altered oxygen isotope ratios. This happened before the shell appeared charred. I also conducted mineralogy testing on seven archaeological shell fragments from the Tse-Whit-Zen Village Site (45CA523). Of the seven archaeological specimens, one was entirely calcite, and two had traces of calcite in them. The two fragments containing minor amounts of calcite did not show any visible signs that they were altered or otherwise different from fragments that were entirely aragonite. It is unlikely that archaeologists will know if shells are heated unless mineralogy testing is conducted.

Type

Text

Publisher

Western Washington University

OCLC Number

910252478

Digital Format

application/pdf

Genre/Form

Academic theses

Language

English

Rights

Copying of this thesis in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Included in

Anthropology Commons

Share

COinS