Belcher, William R.

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    Fish Symbolism and Fish Remains in Ancient South Asia
    (Archaeopress Archaeology, 2018) Belcher, William R.
    Food, like other aspects of ‘material culture’ contains embedded information in it related to cultural participants and their beliefs. Through the examination of the ethnographic and historic symbolism of specific foods, we can gain a greater understanding of the role of food in a larger cultural context, such as its relation to ritual, hierarchical structure as well as subsistence. Food and its preparation can contain symbolic information that reflects different aspects of a given society, including social and ethnic affiliations, religious beliefs, and social relationships between individuals and groups. Within a South Asian context, fish have been, and continue to be, an important symbol that permeates various aspects of a society. With some level of cultural continuity within the region, various contemporary attitudes and beliefs concerning fish are discussed as well as an examination of fish remains and symbolic representations of fish that are found within the Indus Valley Tradition of northwestern India and Pakistan, (c. 3000 to 1700 BC).
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    The Roque Island Archaeological Project, Maine, USA: Methodologies and Results
    (Journal of the North Atlantic, 2017) Belcher, William R. ; Sanger, David
    Between the early 1970s and to the mid-1990s, David Sanger was largely responsible for a series of large-scale regional survey and excavation projects throughout Passamaquoddy Bay (New Brunswick) and the central/Downeast coasts of Maine. While resulting in an important understanding of the paleoenvironment and prehistoric/historic resource exploitation along the Gulf of Maine, these projects also allowed the development of a unified analytical strategy for the excavation of shell middens using column sampling, documentation, and excavation protocols, as well as sediment analysis and classification. This strategy is detailed below along with a summary of excavations from the Great Spruce Island site (61-17) in the Roque Island Archipelago, Downeast region, ME, USA. Pre-European occupation at this specific site ranges from before 3000 years B.P. to ca. 400 years B.P.
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    Biocultural Practices during the Transition to History at the Vat Komnou Cemetery, Angkor Borei, Cambodia
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2017) Ikehara-Quebral, Rona M. ; Stark, Miriam T. ; Belcher, William R. ; Vuthy, Voeun ; Krigbaum, John ; Bentley, R Alexander ; Douglas, Michele Toomay ; Pietrusewsky, Michael
    Mainland Southeast Asia underwent dramatic changes after the mid-first millennium B.C.E., as its populations embraced new metallurgical and agricultural technologies. Southeast Asians transformed their physical and social environments further through their participation in international maritime trade networks. Early state formation characterized much of the mainland by the mid-first millennium C.E. We examined a protohistoric (200 B.C.E.–200 C.E.) skeletal sample from the Vat Komnou cemetery at Angkor Borei in the Mekong Delta (southern Cambodia) to understand the health impacts of this changing environment. Degenerative joint disease patterns indicate a distinct sexual division of labor. Although intentional dental filing was practiced, its impact on oral-dental health could not be determined. Dental pathologies suggest a mixed diet with more fibrous foods and a lower reliance on soft, processed agricultural foods. A broad-spectrum diet and varied use of the local environment are inferred from the faunal evidence. Stable isotope ratios indicate a relatively greater reliance on fish and estuarine dietary resources than on terrestrial protein. Affinities with other groups in the region are suggested by the cultural practices of the relatively tall, healthy inhabitants from Vat Komnou.