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Congratulations Kaz and Finn!

On Friday the 20th of September, Kaz van Dijk and Finn van der Leden graduated from the Master's at the Academy Building, Leiden University. After the ceremony, Kaz and Finn both signed their name in Leiden University's famous 'zweetkamertje'.

Kaz pointing to where he signed his name on the wall in 'het zweetkamertje' after his graduation (photo courtesy of K. van Dijk).

Mounded Landscapes. The distribution of past human activities associated with pre-colonial mounds at El Carril, Dominican Republic.

By Kaz van Dijk

Humans shaped the landscape of El Carril in the northwestern Dominican Republic, in pre-colonial times, by creating flattened areas and forming mounds. However, the function of these mounds remains a scholarly debate, since they are associated with mortuary, agricultural and domestic activities. This study aimed to complement the ongoing discussion concerning the EL Carril mounds, to shed light on the number of mounds and their associated human activities, and whether these activities (and thus mounds) are related to intrasite location, to provide insight in the spatial distribution within the site. To achieve these aims, the data acquisition was done through an intra-site full-coverage survey using a Trimble GPS, and an auger to extract one cylindrical sediment sample per mound. Additionally, I tested this methodology to determine whether one core was an adequate representation of an entire mound by extracting a cross-section of cores over two entire mounds. The collected data is approached from an intra-site taskscape perspective, combining Ingold’s theory of taskscape and Schiffer’s theory of contextual archaeology. The results reveal the presence of 107 pre-colonial mounds. This must be seen as the absolute minimum of constructed mounds in pre-colonial times since modern land use and formation processes over time provide evidence of the constant modification and re-creation of this landscape. The mounds are not homogenous in their composition and when compared with each other. It seems that mounds were formed by primary and secondary refuses of domestic, house building, burial and agricultural activities, and were intentionally raised for agricultural and conservation purposes. The mounds in the south show a pattern of pre-defined and systematized mounds for agricultural purposes, which is not the case in the rest of the site. This suggests the hypothesis of an unintended approach to mound formation processes, in the beginning, followed by an awareness of the advantages of mounds for agriculture, resulting in the creation of raised fields in more recent times.

To read this thesis, please visit the Leiden University repository.

Finn signing is name on the wall in 'het zweetkamertje' after his graduation (photo courtesy of F. van der Leden).

Artisans of the Arauquinoid: : A Study into Craftsmanship in the Skeletal Population of the 9th to 12th Century Site of Tingi Holo in Suriname

By Finn van der Leden

The many ceremonial and prestigious paraphernalia in both completed and semimanufactured states encountered at Tingi Holo have led researchers to conclude that the inhabitants were heavily involved in crafting (Versteeg 2003). To research if this can also be observed in the part of the skeletal population of Tingi Holo that was excavated in 1963 by Geijskes, entheseal development, osteoarthritis and spondylosis have been studied in this thesis. A selection of studied skeletal elements has been made based on observations done by Becker (2016) on a female craftswomen from the Ch’iji Jawita Site in Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Following Sofaer (2006), the theoretical framework employed in this research is that of ‘the body as material culture’. This theory bridges the Cartesian divide by considering the bones of the human body as a material with a specific characteristic, which is it’s plasticity. This plasticity allows the bones to react to both natural influences, such as age, sex and disease, as well as social influences such as food consumption and activity. It is particularly applicable to this research for it acknowledges the unique way in which humans both shape and are shaped by the creation of their own material culture. To conceptualize the range of crafting activities and the divide of labour between men and women and old and young people, ethnographic and historic sources have been employed. Among the studied communities are the Maroni River Caribs of Suriname, the Barama River Caribs of British Guiana, the Wayana of French Guiana, the Waiwai of northern Brazil and British Guyana and the Xingū of central Brazil. Through their habits regarding crafting, some general trends have been inferred. Although men and women alike craft with all available materials, there is a distinction in the type of objects both are allowed to make. This becomes particularly clear when looking at ceremonial and prestige artefacts, which almost are always done by men. Old age was not observed to increase the status of craftspersons within the studied societies. Combining the results of the ethnographic and osteological data allowed for a meaningful conclusion about the activities of the Tingi Holo population. In accordance with the ethnography, men showed indications of being more involved.

To read this thesis, please visit the Leiden University repository.

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