Title page for ETD etd-0607102-135829


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Schiess, Lori Kay
URN etd-0607102-135829
Title Evidence of Postmortem Cultural Modification of the Femora of the Poole-Rose Ossuary as Part of the Feast of the Dead Ceremony
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Geography and Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mary Manhein Committee Chair
Andrew Curtis Committee Member
Heather McKillop Committee Member
Keywords
  • postmortem modification
  • feast of the dead
  • Huron
  • cutmarks
  • Poole-Rose ossuary
  • ossuary
  • femora
  • secondary burial
  • mortuary ritual
Date of Defense 2002-05-17
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
This study analyzes cutmarks on the femora from the Poole-Rose ossuary as evidence of postmortem cultural modification related to the Feast of the Dead. The ossuary is located in southern Ontario, Canada, and dates to A.D. 1550 50. The Feast of the Dead is a burial custom associated with the Huron and other groups of the Great Lakes. The relative size of the population is compared to other indigenous North American skeletal populations.

The MNI using the femur for the adults of the Poole-Rose ossuary is 248, based on the presence of the proximal half of the shaft. The subadult MNI is 52, based on the lesser trochanter or the epiphyseal surface of the lesser trochanter. Only adult femora were examined in the cutmark analysis. Of the adults, sixteen percent of the Poole-Rose population shows evidence of cutmarks. In total, approximately 30 percent of the femoral specimens recovered show cutmark damage. The cutmarks appear in three general areas or zones. Zone one is defined as the neck of the femur; zone two is the proximal half of the shaft, below the greater and lesser trochanter; and zone three is the distal half of the shaft. Chi-square analysis shows the pattern of cutmarks occurrence to be random between males and females and random between the zones of the femora. Comparison of the relative size of the Poole-Rose population to other indigenous North American skeletal populations shows the people of this ossuary to be very tall and robust.

The results of this study indicate that the Poole-Rose ossuary is consistent with the ethnographic account of attributes associated with the Huron Feast of the Dead.

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