Current Anthropology 1965

Arkell, A. J. and Peter J. Ucko. Review of Predynastic Development in the Nile Valley. Current Anthropology April, 1965 Vol.6(2):145-166.

Arkell and Ucko survey the development of predynastic culture in Egypt while showing the need for further excavation. Their main goal, however, is to determine whether the Nile region was distinct from traditional Neolithic development in the Near East. The authors hope this will influence future research.

The survey of predynastic Egypt is separated into four chronological groups: Neolithic, Badarian, Naqada I (Amratian) and Naqada II (Gerzean). The Neolithic portion consists of site overviews on Fayum, Merimde, and Khartoum. The authors state that the Lower Egyptian sites of Merimde and Fayum are possibly related, but the majority of this section is spent on Khartoum. Fayum and Khartoum share many similarities such as: the presence of amazon-stone beads, the use of fire pits and hearths, the absence of cemetaries, the possible eventual domestication of animals, the burnishing of pottery, and the flaking and partial grinding of stone celts. Next, they list the characteristics of Badarian culture. Arkell and Ucko believe that the “Tasian” culture in Upper Egypt is synonymous with the Lower and Middle Egyptian Badarian. The Khartoum Neolithic and Badarian share the characteristics of shell fishhooks, black top and ripple pottery, and flat-topped axes. They finish the survey with an overview of the Naqada cultures.

Throughout the article, Arkell and Ucko list problems caused by the lack of excavations. Little is known about Merimde, and Fayum has no real evidence of domestic animals, as the faunal samples were lost. Carbon-14 dates for Fayum, Merimde, and especially Khartoum, are criticized and the authors propose that the sites actually date earlier than the results. Dates from most predynastic sites are taken from a single sample, so they are much less accurate than a series of C-14 dates. While there is no stratigraphic evidence that the age of Fayum is older than Badarian culture, technological improvements support this idea. Since no Gerzean sites have been found in the Delta, it is the authors’ opinion that the Naqada II culture need not originate in that area.

Finally, Arkell and Ucko conclude by emphasizing that the lack of modern excavations at predynastic sites leads to difficulty in locating the origins of Egyptian development. While they believe the wheat, barley, and flax grown at Fayum, the eldest of the Neolithic sites, must be of Asian origin, Arkell and Ucko do not see a continuing foreign influence in Egypt. Despite similarities to Beersheba, the authors support the theory that the development from Badarian to Naqada to Dynastic civilization was a natural and peaceful evolution, not an infiltration or conquest by Asiatic peoples. This theory is supported by stratigraphic evidence, similar iconography and comparable techniques.

COMMENTS

Most commentators commend the authors for specifying the lack of predynastic excavations in Egypt, but a few objected to Arkell and Ucko’s dismissal of early work in the area. Most disagreements were small or trivial. Kennedy, in particular, finds numerous objections to the authors’ categorization among other points of dissension. Commentators Butzer and H.S. Smith believe that more attention should be paid to geology and the role of the environment in the course of predynastic Egypt. Clark agrees with Arkell and Ucko’s theory of native Egyptian development, while Baumgartel, Philip Smith, and Mellaart believe that outside influence is apparent or probable.

REPLY

Arkell and Ucko respond by stating their goals when writing the article: to show a need for further excavation; to present a review on predynastic development; and to influence subsequent field work. They point out that geological evidence raised by various commentators contradict each other. The authors then choose to show that Kennedy’s objections have already been answered in the original article, in other commentators’ replies, or in his own comments. Despite objections raised by their colleagues, Arkell and Ucko reaffirm their belief that Egypt’s development is not based on major foreign interaction with native peoples.

CLARITY: 4
JACQUELINE F. PETKEWICZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Arkell, A.J., and Peter J. Ucko. Review of Predynastic Development in the Nile Valley. Current Anthropology April, 1965 Vol.6(2):145-166.

In this article, Arkell and Ucko examine the prehistory and predynastic development of the Nile valley. They use classic as well as contemporary views to support their overview of predynastic development. They state that recent finds have pushed the dates for Neolithic culture back 3000 years earlier than any site dated in Egypt. This poses questions as to whether the Near East is in fact where civilization was born. The authors state that Egyptian predynastic development has not been discussed extensively because most excavations in the Nile valley are about sixty years old. They believe that this article can guide future research in order to address important questions that have yet to be answered.

Arkell and Ucko begin by tracing different cultures in the Nile Valley, from the Neolithic to the Naqada II. In the section discussing Neolithic culture they examine the sites of Fayum and Merimde. They discuss the characteristics of these sites and the relationships that may have existed between them. Arkell and Ucko discuss the problems with C-14 dates at these sites and the difficulties in determining sites as earlier, contemporary with or later than the Fayum Neolithic. They also bring up the Khartoum Neolithic, which may be contemporary to the Fayum Neolithic. Characteristics of the Badarian culture are then described. There is no stratigraphic evidence to prove that it is later than Fayum Neolithic, but the authors state this is indicated by archaeological evidence. The next culture to exist in the Nile Valley was the Naqada I, or Amratian. The characteristics and origins of this culture are described.

The last culture discussed is the Naqada II, or Gerzean. The authors argue that there is no evidence for the popular view that this culture is a complete break from the Naqada I as a result of the movement of and possible invasion by Asiatic peoples into the Nile Valley. Foreign contacts increased at this time, but population increases, increasing social stratification and cultural developments were also responsible for the changes that took place. In the conclusion, Arkell and Ucko reiterate the absence of well excavated predynastic sites in the Nile valley, and stress the importance of continued work in the area.

Comments

The commentators have two major concerns with Arkell and Ucko’s review of predynastic succession in the Nile valley. The first issue is that they explain the changes in Naqada II as being the result of development, and not the invasion of Asiatic peoples into the area. Some of the commentators also feel that Arkell and Ucko do not pay enough attention to environmental factors as playing an important role in the choice of site location, as well as the fact that these sites changed over time.

Reply

With regard to the issue brought up by the commentators that the invasion of Asiatic peoples played an important role in the changes that took place during Naqada II, the authors reply by saying that they did not mean to say that development was the sole reason for the changes that occurred, but that contact with foreigners also played a role. The authors say that the evidence for invasion or occupation by Asiatic peoples is not convincing but contact between the two groups is highly likely. With regards to the commentators criticism that the authors do not pay enough attention to environmental factors, Arkell and Ucko reply that they can only rely on archaeological evidence because the environmental evidence is controversial. They point out that even the two geologists commenting on their review of predynastic development cannot agree on the environmental history of the Nile valley.

CLARITY 3
KARLA DOW Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Claerhout, Adriaan G.H. Discussion of a Problem Posed by Adriaan G.H. Claerhout: The Concept of Primitive Applied to Art. Current Anthropology, 1965. Volume 6 (4): 432-438.

In a letter to Current Anthropology readers, Claerhout posed a problem concerning the terms “primitive art” and “ethnological” or “ethnic art” and the negative connotations he felt they emit. He invited his colleagues to discuss the old terminology and, more importantly, formulate and justify new terms.

COMMENTS

Out of the eleven responses, only three agreed with Claerhout that an alternate terminology is desirable. Archey, while still holding that the art produced by preliterate people is indeed “primitive” in form, suggested “tribal art” as a more appropriate descriptor of the less civilized communities that created the art. Fraser feels “primitive” correctly reflects the inherent limitations of the societies where the art was produced; likewise, Lewis notes that the “early” and “first” connotations of “primitive” need not be embarrassing and indeed are not disturbing to formerly “primitive” acculturated persons. Compton concluded that “precivilized” successfully distinguishes the social context of this genre of art while not making inapplicable judgments concerning geography, technical competence, religious belief, tradition, purpose, or any other quality. Davis calls for a more precise and detached system of classification recognizing distinctions in art and communication as a whole.

Of the remaining responses, several emphasized the importance of simply doing the research rather than toiling over new terminology, given the scarcity of time (Dark). Gerbrands argues that with further study the true distinction (geographical) will surface, leading to an extinction of the term “primitive”. The common link of “primitive” being foreign (as opposed to varied technique, form, symbolic content, or social function) to old and modern art of the West was reemphasized by Klausen, signaling the futility of such a clear dual division in the art realm. Klausen and Willett agree that it would behoove us to recognize the whole field of art as one entity, and commence to distinguish art styles by local area, period, artist styles, and other distinguishing adjectives. Proskouriakoff thought the “primitive” debate to be petty in comparison to the much more serious misuse of the word “art,” which when used correctly should base upon three distinctions of communication modes: conceptual, ritual, and artistic. Stern acknowledged the difficulty of reaching a solution, simultaneously expressing hope that the perplexing situation did not inhibit the much-needed intensive study of the living art.

REPLY

Claerhout first notes the key significance of the quantitatively meager response (eleven total), perhaps indicating that most of the art-interested scholars find no issue with the term “primitive art.” He also notes the difficulty in using Gerbrands’ and Leuzinger’s respective terms of “non-European” art and “traditional art” or “ethno-art.” These terms do not indicate origin or type of art, rendering them functionally useless. Replying to the comments, Claerhout applauds Willett’s position to unify the field of art, but maintains that division into categories may be necessary for the present. He also agrees with the call for an intensification of the study of the genre of interest. He does, however, feel this can be adequately accomplished alongside new terminology discussion, though he concedes that another “label” may not be prudent given clarity concerns within the larger community. He states that while we can simply talk about art with any given descriptors, general terms are helpful for everyday use. He disagrees with the parallel between “primitive” and terms as “Gothic,” and he does not feel that “primitive” can have an altered significance, much less a more positive one. Finally, he points out two areas of consensus among all scholars: 1) art is art, 2) the one style distinction is that these arts are produced by primitive peoples. Thus, he suggests speaking of “art of primitive peoples,” avoiding judgment of the art itself.

CLARITY: 5
MARY SCHMITZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson).

Claerhout, Adriaan G.H. The Concept of Primitive Applied to Art. Current Anthropology October, 1965 Vol.6(4):432-438.

The author introduces the fact that many scholars can and still do frequently use the term “primitive” art when referring to the artistic endeavors of non-European cultures around the globe. Interestingly this is not an article in itself, rather it is an appeal to generate a discussion with a wide array of scholars so as to create ideas and thoughts with regards to the stance of both Anthropology and Art History about the concept of “primitive” art. Moreover, the author makes a distinct point of asking potential respondents to suggest new, more satisfactory terms to replace the old pejorative definition. Furthermore, Claerhout also asks that those scholars who are still within cultures that are still thought to produce such art to respond and share their ideas and views about this construct.

Comments

Among the respondents, none share distinctly similar points of view, nor do any suggest similar means to rectify this problem of ethnocentrism and discrimination if indeed they wished to change the current situation at all. For instance, one author suggests the term “pre-urbanized” or “pre-civilized” art on the grounds that such people do not typically reside within urban areas. Conversely, another author suggests “tribal art” because of the close link between the art forms produced and the life ways of their creators.

A significant portion of these respondents were not in favor of replacing the term “primitive” with respect to art, on the grounds that the meaning of the term itself has shifted significantly over time. Indeed, many authors cite the fact that while the term signified a value judgment in the past, indicating that such art was inferior to western examples, today such connotations are nonexistent. One author distinctly refutes this position by advocating for increased scrutiny and diversification within this field of cross-cultural art forms. By expanding the terminology to distinguish one form from the others instead of relying on outdated and flawed terminology, ethnocentricity can potentially be diminished within the art world. Indeed, still other authors site the fact that the concept of “primitive” art still remains a catch all category reflecting the western preoccupation with an “us and them” construct.

Reply

To begin with, the author comments that he never intended to spark a debate to theorize over key concepts, which underlie the foundation of the study of art itself. Furthermore, he expresses distinct resentment due to the lack of respondents to his query, having received only eleven replies from a much larger mailing list. Moreover, he takes their inactivity to indicate that they are both uninterested in the discussion and unconcerned with changing the current ethnocentric terminology.

With regard to those authors who did respond to his prompting, however, Claerhout is troubled by the fact that only three out of the eleven scholars wanted to change the terminology in favor of a potentially refined and unbiased form. With regard to the definitions that were actually put forward, he illustrates “pre-urbanized” and “pre-civilized” continue to instill much of the same discomfort as the term “primitive.” Furthermore, the author points out a loophole within the idea that one scholar introduced of defining art forms by geographic location. For example, how would a West African working from a Euro-American concept of art fit into the geographic location of his or her relatives and neighbors?

On the other hand, Claerhout agrees with the one author that an intensification and diversification of the field is required. However, he does concede that the term “primitive” can and will function if the term is construed to suggest that the artists merely have limited access to artistic resources and not indicate a negative value judgment.

CLARITY: 5
RYAN McFARLANE Okanagan University College (Diana E French)

P.R. Davis, M.H. Day, G.H.R. von Koenigswald, L.S.B. Leakey and M.D. Leakey, J. Napier, and P.V. Tobias. Reprints from Nature. (Current Anthropology, October 1965. Vol.6(4): 412-431.

This series of scientific articles addresses the important findings of at least two individuals in the uppermost limit of Bed I at Olduvai Gorge in the 1960s. Morphological and physical analyses were conducted on hand, cranial, leg and foot bones. The examination and analysis of these fossils emphasized their placement with respect to existing taxonomic categories.

Hand bones found at Olduvai were the first bones examined by John Napier in his essay entitled Fossil Hand Bones from Olduvai Gorge. It was found that these fossils closely resembled that of juvenile gorillas and/or adult Homo sapiens. Morphologically, Napier could not match the hand bones closely to any known hominoid species living today. However, functionally, he determined that the bones were aligned more closely with Homo sapiens rather than juvenile gorillas. As gorillas developed unique secondary growth specializations to support their great body-weight, these hand bones, Napier determined, were not robust enough to carry out the activity needed to support an adult, fully-grown gorilla. Napier also determined that the hand bones reflected the capability of using both power grip as well as precision grip. While gorillas are less capable of precision grip, modern Homo sapiens are able to fulfill the requirements of delicate touch by use of small, thin, bone shafts.

The next essay, written by Philip Tobias, focuses on the cranial capacity of the skulls found at Olduvai. While an exact “dividing-line” has long been debated to determine Australopithicenes and early hominids, some analysis is still attainable. Endocasts were constructed of the fossils, it was determined that the average cranial capacity of the ten estimations was 530 c.c. It is important to note that although one individual found at Olduvai was a subadult, dental analysis determined that its brain case was, in fact, at an age where it was fully developed. The cranial capacity, Tobias asserts, is similar to the largest recorded Australopithecine, yet falls short of the adult capacity of the Taung ape-man at 600 c.c.

P.R. Davis and M.H. Day’s examination of the foot and leg bones at Olduvai yielded irrelevant taxonomic results due to fragmentation. Therefore, Davis and Day focused on functional analysis. The evidence suggests a closer relationship to Homo sapiens than to gorillas. Anatomical representations showing low robusticity and initial adaptations towards bipedalism were apparent in the fossils. Greater muscle markings around the ankle and lower tibia were suggestive of modern man as was the knee muscle marking around the popliteus displaying practically vertical muscle movement. These contributions helped Davis and Day conclude that these Olduvai fossils were, in fact, of hominid origin.

Overall, the authors determine that the fossils discovered at Olduvai are of hominid origin due to the low robusticity and adaptive characteristics towards bipedal motion. L. S. B Leakey, M.D. Leakey and G.H.R. von Koenigswald followed these essays restating the conclusions made by the previous authors that the fossil remains found at Olduvai did not represent sub-family Australopithecine. Instead they represented a single species of the genus Homo. After a revised interpretation of what makes up the genus Homo, Leakey, Leakey, and von Koenigswald determined the fossils from Bed I at Olduvai Gorge were of the genus Homo and the species habilis, after the Latin meaning ‘able, handy, mentally skillful, and vigorous.’

CLARITY: 2
ADAM FIEBELKORN Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Davis, P. R., M.H. Day, G.H.R. von Koenigswald, L.S.B. Leakey and M.D. Leakey, J.Napier, and P.V. Tobias. Reprints from Nature. Current Anthropology October, 1965 Vol.6(4):412-427.

This is a summary of a reprint of a collection of seven short articles that were originally printed in Nature. The first article, “ Fossil Hand Bones from Olduvai Gorge,” is a recap of an article written by Dr. L. S. B. Leakey in which he discusses whether or not a set of fifteen hand bones found at Olduvai Gorge were from the same lineage as the modern man. After studying the structure and the extrapolated function of the bones, Leakey felt that they were of hominid origin.

The second article, “Cranial Capacity of Zinjanthropus and Other Australopithecines,” set out to discuss these cranial capacities. After comparing the skulls size of seven australopithecine, a mean of 507.9 c.c. was determined. This figure was then compared to the cranial capacity of several hominids in attempt to determine a range for cranial capacity of the australopithecine. A range of 435 to 600 c.c. was determined, plus it was concluded that the larger the cranial capacity, the larger the degree of variation.

The following article was entitled “Hominid Fossils from Bed I, Olduvai Gorge, Tanganyika,” and focused on a tibia and a fibula. The article compared features and measurements of each bone to those of modern man as well as the great apes. It concluded that the creature from which the bones came was functionally most similar to modern man with respect to the ankle and knee joints. However, this creature may have walked slightly different.

The title of the next article was “Fossil Foot Bones.” This article focuses on a set of foot bones found at Olduvai Gorge and the similarities and differences in comparison to the foot bones of modern day Homo sapiens. Despite some minor differences, it was concluded that the foot found met the requirements that constitute a modern foot. In addition, this foot was possibly the first evidence in Africa of a hominid, dating back to more than one million years B.P.

The article “Recent Discoveries of Fossil Hominids in Tanganyika at Olduvai and Near Lake Natron” discussed several discoveries found in the area that provided information for the genus Homo. Some of these discoveries include skulls, teeth and a jaw.

The subsequent article was entitled, “A New Species of Genus Homo from Olduvai Gorge.” It stated that new discoveries at Olduvai Gorge validated the belief that the genus Homo had lived there. The article also provided the new definition of the genus Homo, and explained that this could call for re-examination of earlier found fossils.

The last article, “A Comparison Between the Olduvai Hominines and Those of Java and Some Implications for Hominid Phylogeny,” discussed the comparison of a collection of Javanese and Chinese fossils. It provided information on the materials compared, mainly teeth and jawbones; observations made, mainly measurements and cusp differences; and conclusion of the taxonomic status of the fossils found.

CLARITY: 3
AMANDA SUCHARDA Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Edmonson, Munro S. A Measurement of Relative Racial Difference. Current Anthropology, April, 1965. Vol.6(2): 167-198)

Edmonson argues that we have been long beguiled by the simplicity of the “tree of life” analogy representing the diversification of speciation with distinct, separate branches. Instead, he argues that we should discard this model in favor of a model called the “tree of culture” in whose branches may separate and grow back together. He, therefore, attempts to demonstrate through the use of genetics and linguistics that the adoption of this model is a necessary step to many modern biological problems. Overall, he aims to use this model of measurement to correct the damage premature conclusion has inflicted and promise findings of the broadest importance for anthropology simultaneously.

To display this, Edmonson uses two important terms: homogamy and heterogamy. Homogamic mating reduces the difference between two populations while heterogamic mating increases it. For example, direct interbreeding of Chinese and English populations would create a homogamic relationship while the introduction of Irish genes into England or Micronesian genes into China would result in a heterogamic relationship since the Irish are less like the Chinese than the English and Micronesians are less like the English than the Chinese. Edmonson first tests the frequency of selected genetic traits from populations around the globe. He then classifies each group, based on their mean frequency differences between selected populations, into four widely separated “type-groups” on which we have fairly full data and which are to be considered to be recognized as the major racial divisions of mankind: the English, the American Negro, the Chinese, and the Blood Indians.

From this plethora of data, he states several findings shedding light on his intended purpose. Genetic relationships between populations, based on Edmonson’s analysis, can suggest that the divergence of the various populations is roughly proportional to geographic separation and that the general differentiation is divided into three groups being Occidental (Europe, Africa, and the Middle East), Oriental (northeastern Europe, all of Asia, excluding its southwestern and northwestern segments, and Oceania), and American (North and South America).

To gather additional assessment on these findings, Edmonson turns toward linguistic criteria. Using the perception of the development of language as a quasi-genetic process, he suspects one would find a parallel between racial and linguistic phenomena. Edmonson, therefore, believes that it is altogether probable that interbreeding among different populations is related to intertalking and that a considerable amount of one is likely to involve the other. However, we are warned that linguistic affiliations are not to be infallible indicators of race.

Upon analysis, Edmonson finds that there is, to an extent, a correlation between genetic divergence and language and therefore contests that linguistics, paired with that of genetics, can provide worthwhile evidence to support his “tree of culture” model that depicts racial differentiation as a continuously dynamic system of recombining branches with only partly differentiated stems.

COMMENTS

A majority of the commentators credit Edmonson for his methodology and analysis techniques and agree with his approach to the problem by using genetic methods. However, he runs into some criticism in three areas: (1) reluctance to employ anthropometrics and morphology, (2) incomplete collection of data, and (3) the basic assumptions upon which the analysis rests.

Highly criticized on his overestimation of the impact of culture on evolution, Edmonson assumes that human evolution is generally controlled by culturally conditioned patterns of mating. This would ignore the real forces that produce evolution. Also, stating that his emphasis on endogamy and exogamy do not translate well to evolutionary terms, he loses the concept of the “overworked force of gene flow and the unpredictable process of genetic drift.”

REPLY

Edmonson shares in the misfortunes expressed by various commentators as to the represented amount of available data and also believes he was misinterpreted as to his lack of anthropometric and morphological considerations. He continues by stating that relevant other data must include anthropometric and morphological techniques as well as selective pressures, patterns of migration and interbreeding to fully examine his hypothesis. He agrees that he has not done this and asserts that no one else has either and reasserts the notion that he does believe, as one commentator stated, that, “genotypes are more better than phenotypes.”

As for other criticisms, Edmonson admits that genetic as well as evolutionary considerations are important in understanding racial diversity and asserts that drift, mutations, and microevolution are of great relevance and to be studied further.

CLARITY: 3
ADAM FIEBELKORN Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Edmonson, Munro S. A Measurement of Relative Racial Difference. Current Anthropology April, 1965 Vol.6(2):167-198.

In this article, Edmonson proposes a method that relates data on genetic frequency to racial and linguistic data concerning human breeding history. He attempts to reconstruct a picture of human genetic history and to determine how racial characteristics are distributed. If certain groups of people have similar genetic frequencies, then it is plausible that they came from a related gene pool or environment.

Edmonson realizes that the genetic frequency of a population can be influenced by environmental selection, so numerous genetic traits were examined to try and randomize this environmental influence. The data that Edmonson collected was analyzed mathematically, using 124 sample populations from around the world. Samples varied from hundreds to thousands, but the author does not feel that the size of the samples affect genetic difference.

The genetic frequencies from the populations are presented in a detailed table that displays twenty four genetic traits. The table does not have all of the information present because not all of the traits have been made available to the author. Edmonson admits that there were improper sampling techniques and a limited number of genes available to study. The second table Edmonson presents gives the mean different genetic frequencies for the four racial divisions which had the most data available. In this table the author shows how each population is related. If the sample size and gene numbers were larger, a more accurate table could have been made. However, the data still do give a picture of genetic history.

The results to this point show that endogamy and secondary interbreeding that correspond to geography explain the genetic relationships of populations. The data gives three main groups under which each population fits. These groups are Occidental, Oriental, and American.

Edmonson points out that languages often behave like genes, so linguistics can be used to assess his findings. Edmonson goes on to discuss his findings in relation to linguistics and gives reasons for data that doesn’t seem to fit. The results show that races are never endogamous because there will always be secondary interbreeding. Edmonson also discusses a possible picture of human genetic history, and how each race is related.

Comments

The commentators of this research take a decidedly critical standpoint on the method and the results. Edmonson’s assumptions do not take an evolutionary point of view and he forgets about the process of natural selection, mutation, and genetic drift. He should have exercised more caution when using linguistic data to determine genetic relationships, since even historical linguists are wary of making inferences in regards to other fields. His procedure on selecting populations is also brought into question, as is his mathematical approach. However, his method is a good preliminary step in this field.

Reply

Edmonson disagrees with the criticisms and feels that he could not confront biological mechanisms yet. Although he did consider mutation and genetic drift, he did not believe it would affect his results in any major way. Edmonson does admit that his techniques may have been crude, but they did bring out a pattern of genetic relationships. His research was also outside of the scope of most other studies, and so must be considered in this light.

CLARITY: 3
SANDRA FOX Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Evernden, J.F. and G.H. Curtis. The Potassium-Argon Dating of Late Cenozoic Rocks in East Africa and Italy. Current Anthropology October, 1965 Vol. 6 (4): 342-385.

Evernden and Curtis describe a technique for potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating of high potassium feldspars of less than 50,000 years age. An extensive description of the argon extraction technique is included, as it directly correlates to attainment of the high precision dating. Major changes made to the procedure include 1) attaining fusion of the sample, 2) water and carbon dioxide removal from the gas sample, and 3) gas purification. A second technique is described for treating very young feldspars, addressing the common problem of elimination of atmospheric argon from the crystal concentrate used for the fusion run by treating the feldspar with hydroflouride (HF). This new procedure allows for previously impossible high precision measurements of radiogenic argon on small samples of young crystals in a time range of 60,000 to 2,000,000 years. These two techniques extend the utility of K-Ar dating into more recent parts of the Plio-Pleistocene.

Evernden and Curtis state the new K-Ar technique could also be used to improve chronological data in a wide range of archaeological contexts. Bed I and Bed II at Olduvai include Olduwan and Chellean cultural remains and represent a time range of at least 1,350,000 years, from approximately 1,850,000 years ago to something less than 500,000 years ago. The Kafuan (pre-Olduwan) tool-making tradition was most likely more than 2,000,000 years ago and the suggested parallels between the African “Pluvials” and European Glaciations appear at least partially invalid. The Kenyapithecus-bearing beds of Fort Ternan are approximately 14,000,000 years old and the Proconsul-bearing beds of Rusinga Island are at most 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 years older. Finally, Evernden and Curtis present the time-scale rift faulting in Kenya (between 2,000,000 and 5,000,000 years ago) and the age relationships of the Italian Pliocene and Pleistocene volcanoes.

COMMENTS

While many of the commentators complemented Evernden and Curtis on their refinement of K-Ar techniques, several questioned the relevance of the age determinations for certain aspects of paleoanthropological studies (Howell) and more importantly, the accuracy of dating for less than 3 million year old igneous rocks (Bishop). Bishop and Damon also question the exclusions and inclusions of certain K-Ar data from Evernden and Curtis’ analysis. Also critical, Damon asserts that Evernden and Curtis attempted to ‘gloss over’ problems associated with dating such young volcanic rocks. Hopkins questions the validity of the American or Alpine sequences as full records of every significant Pleistocene glaciation or interglaciation; he asserts that radiometric age determinations are necessary for using these two sequences for standards of reference. Hopkins also expresses concern with contaminating xenocyrsts in tuffs. Richards criticizes Evernden and Curtis’ nomenclature while Wright finds difficulty with their language overall, claiming it is “jargon.”

REPLY

Evernden and Curtis reassert their confidence in using K-Ar data, following elimination of all probable sources of error. They explain their criteria for eliminating data via evaluating the basalts for extensive alteration and assessing the high probability of contamination from basement rocks in samples of tuff. Moreover, Evernden and Curtis justify Damon’s critique of ‘glossing over’ by citing their extensive background in evaluating the role of excess argon in feldspars. Evernden and Curtis agree with Hopkins’ concerns, but note that he cites two extreme examples to support the potential invalidity and also admit that a new standard, when developed, would be ideal. Evernden and Curtis accept Richards’ nomenclature critique. Contrary to Wright’s opinion, they claim that the distinctiveness of their research area justifies their so-called “jargon” language, however. Evernden and Curtis agree with Leakey’s caution regarding paleontologic evidence for dating, but they conclude with confidence that the K-Ar techniques can produce answers, given appropriate samples. In addendum, Hay concludes that the Pleistocene climate was much like the present, perhaps having 50% more rainfall today than during the time of Bed II. Leakey’s claims of wider climatic fluctuations are possible, but the claims do not necessarily follow from the geological evidence, according to Hay.

CLARITY: 4
MARY SCHMITZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Fleischer, R.L., R.L. Hay, L.S.B. Leakey, P.B. Price, and R.M. Walker. Reprints from Science: Stratigraphy of Beds I through IV, Olduvai Gorge, Tanganyika. Current Anthropology October, 1965 Vol.6(4):386-390.

This article summarizes the finding from fieldwork conducted in Olduvai Gorge in 1962. The Gorge is divided into units called Beds, which are clarified throughout the article. Bed I has been redefined since Reck’s earlier division in 1951. This Bed is characterized by trachytic material, which probably came from Ngorongoro volcano. The volcanic ash and lacustrine clay preserved artifacts and hominid fossils.

Bed II, which lies over Bed I, has fossils only in certain areas where saline and alkaline levels are lower. The climate of Bed II was probably similar to that of 1965. Bed III is separated from Bed II and IV by disconformities and also has volcanic contents to it. The climate at this point had more evaporation than precipitation. Some stone artifacts have been found in this Bed. Bed IV is quite large and has many layers. It most likely was a floodplain and stream channel that changed direction of flow at some point.

Bed I has been dated at 1.75 million years; however, this is probably incorrect. Later fission track dating gives a more reliable date. After describing the procedures of fission track dating, a date of 2.03 +/- 0.28 million years is given.

CLARITY: 4
SANDRA FOX Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

R. L. Fleischer, R. L. Hay, L.S. B. Leakey, P. B. Price, and R. M. Walter. Reprints from Science. Current Anthropology, October 1965 Vol. 6(4): 386-390.

This offering presents two short research reports that originally appeared in the journal Science. Presumably, the editor of Current Anthropology decided that these reports were of sufficient interest to be reprinted for the benefit of journal readers. A central concern of both articles is the chronology of hominid fossil bearing beds in Olduvai Gorge. These reprints are followed by neither commentary nor authors’ replies.

The first report is entitled: “Stratigraphy of Beds I through IV, Olduvai Gorge, Tanganyika and was written by Hay. The author presents geological data that has important implications for the interpretation of the hominid fossil remains (Zinjanthropus, Homo habilis) and stone tools (Oldowan) from the Pleistocene occupation of Olduvai Gorge. The study indicates that detailed geological work is relevant to chronology, climatic reconstruction, landform reconstruction, and natural formation processes. The incentive for the study came, in part, from some contradictory dates that were emerging from a series of chronometric dates from the site.

Hay’s findings are succinctly laid out at the end of the article. Perhaps most importantly, he maintains that none of the artifacts or homind remains are much older than 1.7 million years (a result which has stood the test of time). During the lengthy period of hominid occupation, the climate was relatively dry. Hominid fossils were found along the margins of a Pleistocene lake that, while probably alkaline and highly saline, was fed by freshwater streams draining from the volcanic uplands. Chert, of the kind used to fashion the tools found at a number of sites, was available along the lake margins when lake levels were low.

These results are based on eight weeks of geological fieldwork in which the author mapped fifty measured cross-sections in the gorge. This work was supplemented by x-ray and microscopic work in the laboratory. The result is a synthetic stratigraphic sequence of Olduvai Gorge which links together many of the important sites in the area. A synthetic stratigraphic diagram is presented in the article. His work is laid out in a descriptive and stratigraphic manner in which he describes the geological composition of each Bed. Much of the terminology is quite technical. However, the final interpretations are presented clearly at the end of the report.

The second reprint is “Fission Track Dating of Bed I, Olduvai Gorge” by Fleischer, Leakey, Price and Walker. Again, establishing the chronology of these strata is a primary interest as their place in the human evolutionary scheme depends upon accurate dating of the layers which contain hominid fossils. And again, dating such ancient deposits is the source of some controversy.

The fission track dating was carried out in response to some controversy over published chronometric dates of Bed I using potassium-argon (K-Ar) techniques that had produced a date of about 1.75 million years. Those questioning the antiquity of the results argued that the sample may have been contaminated. Leakey et al. seek to establish a more reliable date by adding dates using a second technique which is not prone to contamination. While the results from the two techniques do not entirely agree, Leakey and his colleagues use the multiple lines of chronometric information to substantiate a date range of 1.75 – 2.0 million years for Bed I at Olduvai Gorge.

Much of the report is devoted to discussing the field and laboratory techniques used to select and process the samples of volcanic glass and pumice. They chose their samples from areas very close to the deposits that were sampled for the K-Ar dating. The authors briefly explain fission track dating as a technique that essentially counts up the number of tracks created on a glassy surface of volcanic rocks crated by the spontaneous, and temporally predictable, fission of uranium atoms.

Together these two articles present the primary data associated with geologic and chronological analysis of a site which contains to produce significant Pleistocene remains. They highlight the importance of chronological determinations in interpreting the evolutionary placement and relationships between both robust Australopithecines and early members of the Homo lineage.

CLARITY: 4
JUANITA DARDEN Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Hand, Wayland. Status of European and American Legend Study. Current Anthropology, Oct., 1965. Vol 6(4): 439-446.

Wayland Hand’s article on European and American legend shows not only the rising interest in folk legend studies and the importance of saving them, but also illustrates different ways in which to categorize and catalogue various types of legend. Through the article he displays the different problems with cataloguing and creating indices for the legends of many different nations. He also, through his observations of the types of legends told formulates different criteria in categorizing them. Through these classifications for legends, Hand hopes to facilitate the process of creating these legend indices. According to Hand, one of the greatest problems in this attempt is the shortage of existing collections that are suitable for scientific study. In order to amass the collection of legends needed for these legend and folk tale indices, anthropologists have not only turned to field resources, but also to already published accounts as well as thousands of pages of manuscripts. Hand writes that these indices would greatly contribute to the understanding of persons due to the fact that tradition, belief and ritual are contained in the words of these tales. Another importance to the study of legend is the seriousness with which these stories are told and the mixing of current religious beliefs with superstition. There has been some criticism to the systems of how to divide up legends and categorize them. Many do not believe the system of supplying numbers and categorical labels to legends as well as dividing them by geographic proximities does justice to the tales. Special indices are also being formulated for broad categories of legends such as Higgen’s work with devil and giant legends as mentioned in Hand’s article. Both re-occurring themes and images have been used in creating these special indices. A final problem, according to Hand, with composing legend indices comes from deciding what constitutes a legend and what makes it different from other stories. Finally, through observing the various reoccurring themes and types of legends he has seen, Hand lays out his tentative classifications for his legend index. These classifications are: eschatological legend, those legends dealing with creation and beginning times; historical legends describing important figures from the past; legends dealing with the supernatural, such as legends concerning ghosts; and religious and mythological legends, which serve most often as an explanation for why things are how they are or why people act in the way that they do.

CLARITY: 3
SUSAN SCHEEF Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Hand, Philippe. Status of European and American Legend Study. Current Anthropology October, 1965 Vol.6(4):439-446.

Status of European and American Legend Study discusses the history and evolution of legend studies. The majority of the examples utilize information from European studies with occasional reference to American legends. Historically there was a fifty-year hiatus within this development of study. However, in 1959, a reawakening of academic interest in folk-legends began with the first meeting of the International Society for Folk-Narrative Research.

One of the possible reasons for the pause in this area of research has been contributed to the lack of structure of the information. This limited level of organization created difficulties in classifying and indexing the data. However, by the 1960’s scholars were compiling large quantities of legends into collections and indices. These compilations have been continually evolving and expanding as researchers continue to collect and to qualify legends.

In order to appropriately categorize folk legends, researchers must be able to understand the links between the legends and the cultural, religious, and social belief systems. The logic involved in legends and their use is directly related to the indigenous inherent beliefs. However, not only will the legends reflect folk customs and rituals, but the narrators will as well. Philippe Hand suggests it is not only the oral traditions that need to be studied, but also the people who bring forth and maintain this knowledge.

Researchers indicate future plans to create national legend indices such as Indo-European, African, Australian, and South American to name a few. However, complications have limited the development of such guides. The largest hindrance involves classification systems. Previous attempts have been found too narrow, thus limiting the usage. The newest system proposed by the Folk Legend Committee suggests an International Folk Legend Classification that involves four main categories, two of which contain sub-categories. The main suggested classifications are I) Aetiological and Eschatological, II) Historical and History of Civilization, III) Supernatural Beings, Forces and Mythical, IV) Religious and Mythos of Gods and Heroes. This new system for cataloging legends will maintain continuity across nations and indices.

CLARITY: 4
CHRISTINA BAZELL Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Hughes, Charles Campbell. Under Four Flags: Recent Culture Change Among the Eskimos. Current Anthropology, Feb., 1965. Vol.6(2):3-69.

Hughes’ monograph on modern Eskimos illuminates sociocultural and situational trends that have occurred post World War II. Hughes uses a broad synthesis as a precaution against oversimplification and hasty generalizations. Eskimos have been essential figures in anthropology because of their fairly simple social and political societies and their ability to create, and sustain life amidst the harsh environmental conditions of the northern Artic region. Through a survey of literature, ranging from technical studies done by anthropologists to government reports, Hughes makes cross-cultural generalizations of Eskimo groups living in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and Siberia emphasizing shifts in education, health, economics and family structures, as a result of contact with technology and Western peoples and governments.

Socio-politically all four governments approach Eskimos differently. Canada and the United States have similar approaches, attempting to preserve native populations and creating a type of “welfare state” that emphasizes individual freedom. Meanwhile the Soviet government uses collectivization schemes, and Danish authorities aim to develop communication, education, health, and economic facilities that emphasize ethnic pride. The introduction of technology and money have brought massive disruptions to traditional ways of life, and in many of these places has led to permanent settlements. With the introduction of wage labor and outside employment, Eskimos have been confronted with stereotypes, repetitive routines, and the confusion that accompanies having many bosses. Patterns of social integration also evolved as a result of mixed and wage populations such as begging, prostitution, and the belief that money equals power. The introduction of technology, particularly the rifle, has affected many aspects of Eskimo existence. The rifle has promoted individualization by making co-operative hunting between fathers and brothers no longer economically necessary. The rifle has also had a tremendous effect on faunal populations because of the relative ease of killing prey. He notes that the most important aspects that have changed in the past two decades have been social, psychological, and cultural. Social change is evidenced by the degree of integration that has occurred and the psychological change by the newly constructed images of life. Social change is also apparent through the large amount of effort the Eskimos expel to adapt to temperate zone standards, which is approximate to the amount of effort they expelled centuries ago to adapt to artic temperatures. Hughes structures the paper by country and then further breaks the paper up into subtopics for historical and ecological settings, economics, demographic features, sociopolitical aspects and activities, family, and wage work and money income. Within these sections, Hughes draws contrasts between traditional and modern ways of doing things, highlights government interventions and programs for maintaining the traditional culture, mores, and installing health and food support.

COMMENTS:

For the most part, commentators commended Hughes for his monumental undertaking surveying Eskimos from four different regions. Some thought that not enough attention was given to groups in certain areas (such as Siberia), and others filled in information Hughes left out because of his with his inability to read a specific language or just incorrect information. Others question how Hughes interpreted his data; for instance, in regard to demographics and what Hughes calls “demographic balance.” The commentator said that controlled cross-cultural comparisons should have been made to determine cause and effect relationships that result from changing demographic conditions. Hughes is also criticized for his choice of literature, which led him to see confusion with changes in social control in Eskimo groups whereas other researchers have found Eskimo groups generally happy with changing social control. He is also accused of raising implications but failing to follow through with the differences in interpretation and theory applied between western anthropologist and their Russian counterparts.

REPLY:

Hughes begins by announcing corrections made to the final bibliography, and from there moves to comments about inadequate data for Siberia and Greenland. He thanks the commentators who have given him additional or more recent data pertaining to those countries. At which point, he defends how he interpreted data and the different semantic understandings of his writing. One example of a misunderstanding is with the different definitions of clans, such as whether he was speaking of an entire cultural group, a lineage, and then whether a patrilineal or matrilineal lineage.

CLARITY: 4
ELIZABETH LANGENFELD Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Hughes, Charles Campbell. Under Four Flags: Recent Culture Change among the Eskimos. Current Anthropology February, 1965 Vol.6(1):3-69.

In Under Four Flags, Hughes highlights the social and cultural changes that the “Eskimo” people have undergone over the last two decades (1940’s to 1960’s). In his analysis, he includes people from Greenland, Canada, Alaska (USA) and Siberia. He discusses each of these geographical locations in turn in order to recognize variations within the larger “Eskimo” group. Hughes performs separate analyses because he feels that such information is lacking in the body of knowledge pertaining to “Eskimo” peoples.

Regarding Greenland, Hughes elaborates that little information is known about kinship and social organization. He also discusses the “education” of the Eskimos by missionaries, and therefore does not give merit to traditional knowledge. This reflects the decade in which he writes. When discussing other recent developments, Hughes does not include information from “Eskimos” themselves. Instead he uses government plans and programs as evidence. For example, a fisheries program is set into place to replace sealing, livestock are introduced to replace hunting, and government loans for the purchase of mechanized equipment are mentioned. Hughes sees government “developments” such as placing cows and sheep in the tundra in a beneficial light.

When discussing “Eskimo” people of Canada, Hughes mentions the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line as the main factor of contact between indigenous and non-indigenous people. He also mentions oil exploration and mining, arguing that such industries bring with them cash economy, increased welfare, education, relocation, and health. Despite having a positive outlook on these “improvements”, he does admit that the full extent of these projects cannot be seen. The government developments of Alaska and Siberia are also outlined in this article, but significantly less detail is used when referring to Siberia. In his conclusions, Hughes argues that the introduction into the cash economy has led to increased autonomy among “Eskimo” peoples, leading “him” to have a sense of “mastery” and “independence”.

Comments

The majority of responses regarding Hughes’ article are supportive, and a few peers (for example Edmund Carpenter), contribute their own personal reports of life in northern communities. Others add information that he has not included in the original article (e.g. Dunn and Dunn, Gurvich and Fineberg), mostly pertaining to the section on Siberia. Chance praises Hughes by recognizing his ability to take in to account differences in ecology and technology between the four groups. Cohen states that Hughes has “brought off” the paper both elegantly and successfully, and Nellemann boasts of the courage Hughes proposes to analyze the different groups comparatively within the same paper. However, Dunning warns that this broad discussion runs the risk of establishing cultural or structural components without adequate evaluation. He also points out some inaccuracies within the article. Dunn and Dunn also criticize Hughes’ portrayal of Siberian “Eskimo” women, stating that he largely leaves them out of his analysis.

Reply

In response, Hughes argues that since his peers are familiar with the tasks of women, he need not include them in his article. This argument is interesting to note because, although it is also common knowledge that Inuit men seal-hunt, Hughes writes extensively on the topic. The overall reply that Hughes gives is quite short, especially considering that a great number of people wrote comments for him. However, he does thank those who have offered him more information, and also voices his agreement with others who have praised him.

CLARITY: 4
PATRICIA GOOCH Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Ishida, Eiichiro. European vs. American Anthropology. Current Anthropology, Jun. 1965. Vol. 6, Issue 3

In a letter to Current Anthropology, Eiichiro Ishida who is a professor of anthropology in Japan, prompted a discussion on “The European Reaction to Contemporary American Anthropology.” His goal was to understand whether or not any mutual approach has been found between American and European anthropologists methodologically. Ishida felt that this discussion would be useful in helping countries where anthropological science has yet to be introduced into high education as an independent discipline, to understand what anthropology ought to be.

COMMENTS BY EUROPEANS

European Anthropologists from nine different countries replied. The consensus among the majority of Europeans was that American anthropologists tend to be less specialized. They focus more on finding connections between the various subdisciplines of anthropology, and usually study biological and cultural anthropology simultaneously. American anthropologists tend to have broad scopes of interest. Some Europeans also mentioned that they feel American anthropologists sometimes do not give Europeans anthropologists sufficient credit for their findings, and often ignore scientific results published in Europe, even when they are published in English.

The difference between American and European university education is also mentioned. It is mentioned that American universities take the approach of synthesizing education and European universities focus on specialization. This is due to different educational philosophies, the American “push-to-get-everyone-educated” versus the European philosophy that views each student as an “independent searcher for knowledge.” It was also mentioned that Americans tend to be far less tradition-bound and more in pursuit of finding new solutions to problems.

COMMENTS BY AMERICANS

Four American, three Canadian, and a Mexican anthropologist replied on behalf of the American view. The American reply focused mainly on the concept of differing ideas coming from different traditions and teachings. American methods tend to look at comparisons, particularly in regards to sociological aspects of anthropology.

The American anthropologists feel that the tendency for their studies to be more generalized and comparative can be attributed in part to history. America’s tradition and nationality is the composite of various different backgrounds. It is not a homogenous country with one common, deeply rooted tradition, but rather a relatively young country that must view its diverse citizens in a comparative sense in order to find some common ground that can allow for unity.

It is also mentioned by the Americans that differences between American and European views may stem from the period of rapid change American education is undergoing, this paves the way for experimentation and varied answers. American society is relatively young and developing compared to European societies, it is therefore subject to change and turbulence. This may explain why American anthropology is more focused on investigating sociological factors of human behavior.

REPLY

Ishida summarizes the views given by the European and American anthropologists and supports their views with his own experiences as a professor in a country that is caught between the two traditions. He concludes that the differences in approaches to European and American anthropology are likely due to the different influences and histories that have shaped the two regions. He feels that the replies he received seemed to attribute the differences between American and European organization as merely a matter of departmental organization and not of great importance to the validity of their work.

CLARITY: 4
JESSICA BELL Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Ishida, Eiichiro. European vs. American Anthropology. Current Anthropology June, 1965 Vol. 6(3): 303-318.

Ishida wrote a letter asking if there has been any effort to form a collection of ideas that satisfy both European and American ideologies as to what anthropology is and how it should be researched. A means of clarification of what it means to be an anthropologist would be helpful for countries that have initiated an anthropology program in universities. Both European and American anthropologist wrote in with their interpretation of the situation.

Comments (European)

European anthropologists generally believe that when it comes to their relationship concerning anthropology there are no negative feelings, but yet neither one is willing to give up their ideologies to satisfy the others demands. European anthropologists believe that the terminology adapted by American anthropologists is a bit confusing. They believe that American anthropologist and European anthropologist should work together in a project in order to come up with standard terminology for future students of anthropology.

American anthropologists have developed multiple sub-fields and classified them under one heading instead of individual categories of anthropology, which they believe weakens the integrity of anthropology by making it less scientific. American anthropologists have incorporated other disciplines into the study of anthropology, which in the eyes of the Europeans affects the integrity of anthropology.

European anthropologists believe that anthropology should be studied through empiricism, and with the empirical knowledge, should form laws that govern the discipline. Lastly, due to American anthropologists inability to read other languages it limits them in their understanding of the European form of anthropology.

Comments (American)

American anthropologists believe that information coming from two different traditions is beneficial. It allows for further speculation on topics of discussion. They also believe that there should be sub-disciplines in the area of anthropology. This allows for the person to be more diverse in their research.

They mention the curriculum for studying anthropology in Mexico. In studying anthropology, the first two years are spent immersed in all the sub-fields of anthropology, while the last two years the student become more specialized. This applies to many other schools where the graduate is trained in all but specialized in one.

The reason there is difference between the two standards of anthropology is because both have different histories as to how anthropology was formed. Countries that are working to making anthropology a discipline in their universities should also follow suit. Anthropology should be modeled in accordance to the framework that other disciplines have been developed with in their university.

Lastly, it was noted that although there are differences in the methods and schools of anthropology, these differences are only slight in their variations. While European anthropologists and American anthropologists focus on both the biological man and cultural man, European anthropologists lean more towards biological traits, while American anthropologists lean more towards cultural traits.

Reply

Ishida was skeptical that in American anthropology, one professor was able to teach all sub-fields of anthropology. He believes that American anthropology is losing its integrity, and that too much emphasis is being put on the practical use of anthropology in America. He comments on how the University of Tokyo was once very Europeanized, but has started to take on a more Americanized form of teaching anthropology. However, some universities in Japan have become Europeanized. Ishida believes that the main difference between American and European ideologies of anthropology is their emphasis on either biological man, or cultural man. Anthropology should strive to be an independent, cross-disciplinary approach, specializing in the study of man.

CLARITY: 5
KEVIN LOOK Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Jensen, Adolf E. Myth and Cult Among Primitive Peoples. Current Anthropology April, 1965 Vol.6(2):199-215.

AUTHOR’S PRÉCIS

This article is a book review of Jensen’s study of the religions of root-crop cultivators of the tropics. Jensen begins by refuting several interpretations on religion and its progression, like the “Theory of Animism,” and the “Theory of Pre-animistic Magic.” Jensen believes primitive (i.e. ancient) religions should not be interpreted by their function, but solely as the result of creative acts. He states religious ritual does not result from purpose, but rather is formed from handed down cultic practices whose original meaning is no longer remembered. Jensen writes that as religion progresses through time, it begins to establish purpose through a cultural framework—function that was not there at its inception.

REVIEW

A total of eighteen individuals completed the review of Jensen’s book and found it to be interesting and thought-provoking. However, there were substantial criticisms on some of his basic assumptions and methods.

First, some of the reviewers questioned his assumption that the religions of primitive peoples stemmed from pure expression and moved toward functional application. They believe that Jensen has no sound proof that religion was ever meant to be just expression. One of the reviewers, Angelo Brelich, argues by stating this is so Jensen creates a fictional human past where the genesis of religion occurred and contained no purpose.

Second, over five of the reviewers claimed Jensen’s data were incomplete. Jensen studied the phenomenon of the dema-deity amongst root-crop cultivators in the tropics. The dema-deity is a mythical hero who was sacrificed for the community. He was killed and then mutilated, and from his parts grew crops to sustain everyone. The dema-deity is central to the root-crop cultivators Jensen studied, so he emphasized their role. However, some reviewers state that not all root-crop cultivators believe in a dema-deity. Also, others claim that it is impossible for this hero to be termed a deity because he was not immortal.

Thirdly, Jensen claims that in order to understand religious custom, one needs to understand its original meaning, before it gets lost in function. Some of the reviewers state that this is not true. There are many myths that deal with cultural institutions and cultural contexts play an important role in religion. Jensen does not consider these in his book. It is also impossible to infer that religion meant something completely different in the past than it does now.

Lastly, the majority of reviewers had a difficult time understanding Jensen’s inferences due to differences in scientific background. Many claimed most of his theoretical proof lies in speculation and not cold, hard facts. No one can ever really prove when and why the conception of religion occurred, though Jensen attempted to. Also, one of the reviewers, Carl A. Schmitz, argued that his leap from the dema-deities of root-crop cultivators to the polytheism of cereal-crop cultivators was a stretch. Jensen claimed that as a culture grows in complexity from root-crop cultivation to cereal-crop cultivation, their ideas of gods change. Some reviewers believe this assumption is not made on solid proof because there are civilizations of root-crop cultivators who believe in polytheism, not dema-deities.

Overall, the reviewers did like Jensen’s book and found it to be a fascinating interpretation of religion and its history.

REPLY

Jensen begins on the topic of the dema-deity in root-crop cultivator peoples. Although some reviewers objected, he does believe that the dema-deities have common origins to polytheistic gods. He does not believe that the dema-deity needs to be immortal, and the idea of immortality of a deity is culturally bound. Dema-deities are so common in root-crop cultivators that it cannot go unlooked or unstudied. Also, Jensen believes in the value of speculation about origin of religions due to what it can reveal about mankind.

Jensen believes that in order to discover the history of mankind, one is required to know what concepts are connected to that history (i.e. myth) and learn to understand them better. This was what he was trying to accomplish.

CLARITY RANKING: 4
DEBRA MORAVETZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Kretzoi, M. and L. Vertes. Upper Biharian (Intermindel) Pebble-industry Occupation Site in Western Hungary. Current Anthropology, Feb., 1965. Vol 6 (1): 74-87.

Kretzoi and Vertes’ overlying concern is the classification of and correlation between the different pebble and chopper industries of the Paleolithic as found in sites across Europe, Asia, and Africa. They seek to discover the nature of any interaction, mingling, or coexistence of the two industries, especially in light of the different species of hominids generally associated with each industry. To this end the authors present the data of one site, the Vertesszollos travertine quarry in Western Hungary. The site is a group of former travertine quarries set on the fluvial terraces 15 kilometers south of the Danube River and 50 kilometers west of Budapest. It is noteworthy in that it was undisturbed and is one of the oldest sites showing evidence of controlled fire use. The context of the find was a 50-70 centimeter-thick horizon of travertine present under a bed of loess and the present soil layer. The quarry contained a range of tools usually classified into distinct cultures. With this evidence they hypothesize that the artifacts belong to one culture extending throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. This implies that instead of there having been several distinct cultures such as the Acheulian, Mousterian, Clacktonian and Choukoutien cultures previously ascribed to distinct finds across these three continents, the people who made the tools belonged to one common, very extensive (both geographically and temporally) culture. The artifacts consist of 700 implements made of quartzite, chert, and flint; 2,000 pieces of stone waste; some unrecognizable mammalian bones and teeth along with 2,000 small fragments of burned animal bone; as well as flora and pollen samples. The flora and pollen samples were utilized to date the site to the Early Paleolithic based on biostratigraphy. The implements, being the artifacts most utilized to classify Paleolithic cultures, are of the greatest significance. The tools consist of various types of choppers and chopping tools, hand adzes, early pebble tools, and flake tools. Kretzoi and Vertes present their report in a data-heavy manner, in fact leaving the hypothesis to the end of the article. The article seems to raise more questions than it attempts to answer, indicating that is a first attempt at putting a newly found site into context.

CLARITY: 4
ADRIANNE DAGGETT Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Kretzoi, M. and L. Vértes Upper Biharian (Intermindel) Pebble-Industry Occupation Site in Western Hungary. Current Anthropology February, 1965 Vol.6(1):74-87.

Kretzoi and Vértes’ article is a thin and yet thick description of the fieldwork they completed on the Upper Biharian Pebble-Industry occupation site in Western Hungary. They first present information relating to the excavation and stratigraphy of the site. Next, the focus is placed on the fauna and site chronology. A third section concerns the subject of industry and tools, which is followed by a section on possible correlations with other cultures.

In discussing the excavation and stratigraphy of the site, Kretzoi and Vértes focus on supplying the intended audience with technical information. They give information on site location, what methods they employed, as well as information on soil taxonomy and what implements they collected. Interpretation of the information in this section is minimal.

The next section on fauna and site chronology begins with a discussion of the megafaunal and microfaunal remains that were found. Kretzoi and Vértes outline what they found in each layer excavated, and are able to give an idea as to the climate at the time of deposition. In addition to this section, they examine stratigraphy, geomorphology and paleontology, in doing so they are able to illustrate a somewhat accurate chronological timeline of deposition. Another portion of this section includes a map, an illustration and a correlation table; both the map and illustration are easily interpreted but the table is highly confusing.

In the third part of Kretzoi and Vértes’ article, they examine the actual industry of the Upper Biharian. Explained, in this section, are the types of raw materials that were used in the manufacturing of tools by the Upper Biharian culture. They describe implement dimension, possible flaking techniques, implement types and provide a illustration of implements found during excavation.

The fourth section explains how Kretzoi and Vértes believe their findings to belong to the widespread “pebble-tool/chopper/chopping tool group” that can be found in parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. They state that even thought there is a difference in the description and terminology of the various groups; similarities do exist between the methods and implements of each group.

Kretzoi and Vértes’ article is concluded with a numbered section of the general conclusions that they were able to derive from their field study. All of Kretzoi and Vértes’ statistical data, illustrations, and general information used in this article provide a very stable backbone to their summary of information and conclusions.

CLARITY: 3
SHANNON SVISDAHL Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Lanternari, Vittorio. The Religions of the Oppressed: A Study of Modern Messianic Cults. Current Anthropology, Oct., 1965. Vol. 6 (4): 447-465.

AUTHOR’S PRÉCIS

In his book, Vittorio illustrates the worldwide range and importance of modern prophetic, messianic cults, through an examination of a limited number of movements and groups of movements. Ethnographic studies from Australia, for example, are used to illustrate that Australian aborigines did not have a prophetic tradition in their indigenous rituals until Europeans oppressed them. He used this method to gain a very through understanding of modern movements, in order to extend this knowledge to the prophetic and messianic movements in general. The historical importance of these movements ought to be used in a comparative study, a comparison that is not often used due to its difficulties, according to Lanternari. The book assumes that a religious movement, like any cultural event, cannot be understood as a self-sufficient phenomenon. According to Vittorio, religious movements were results of certain social needs that resulted from a specific social and historical situation. The book also examines the development of the movements in relation to social and political life and the process of culture change. The book does not claim to have done that research, only to outline such a study. Lastly, Vittorio states that modern day clashes between western and native religion could be used in order to shed light on the origin, development, and movements of Judeo-Christian histories. Finally, Vittorio ends his book by acknowledging that in his book he merely purposes problems rather than solutions.

REVIEWS

Thirteen commentators reviewed The Religions of the Oppressed. The book received praise from his peers because it used both a historic and synthetic approach to the movements of local religious practices. Many of Vittorio’s commentators agree with W. E. Muhlmann, who also contributed to this kind of study, that his work is an important contribution to the study of nativistic movements. However, many of his peers, like Cyril Belshaw, felt that Lanternari over generalized and misinterpreted many ethnographic studies. Three commentators, Firth, Muhlmann, Belshaw, also vocalized the need from a better definition of the word “oppression.” Three others, Grootaers, Ribeiro, and Stanner, believed that the author was trying to defend his thesis, by using oversimplified connections between events, rather than give a critical and comprehensive report on messianic movements. H. Siverts, along with a few other commentors, criticized Lanternari for suggesting that peoples who are at an “ethnographical level” are in an earlier phase of civilization. He criticizes the author for his lineal conception of history that, these primitive people want to follow a western path of development.

REPLY

Lanternari’s reply consists of some general remarks, particular responses to individual’s comments, and a summary of some major problems areas for future research. He acknowledges that since his book’s publication, results from several studies have proved some of his ideas incorrect. He, however, sees this as an opportunity to raise new questions about the millenarian movements. In future research, he would broaden his work to include an acceptable definition of messianism or prophetism, comparing then with non-messianic or non-prophetic movements, and posting the problem of historical connections between religious and socio-political reactions. Vittorio, in response to criticism from Grootaer and Sivert, stands by his use of history. According to Vittorio, scholars should more willingly accept comparative analysis of history, anthropology, and sociology. He agrees with his critics in that the notion of the “oppressed” is hazy and uncertain. The title of the book was his publisher’s idea and not his own. He argues that the original title Movimenti Religiosi di Libertá edi Salvezzadel Popole Oppressi, at least contained the notion of salvation, which suggests a notion of freedom, which points at objective factors such as deprivation, oppression, and colonization. Vittorio seems to have used translation problems in order to justify much of the criticism he received, arguing that the misunderstandings and inaccuracies of the text were the result of a bad translation. According to Lanternari, not only did the translator misinterpret passages, but also received pressure from the publisher to make the English edition shorter, in the process eliminating key sentences or references.

CLARITY RATING: 4
LESLEY ELLEFSON Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Lanternari, Vittorio. The Religions of the Oppressed: A Study of Modern Messianic Cults. Current Anthropology October, 1965 Vol.6(4):447-465.

This article is made up of reviews of Lanternari’s book The Religions of the Oppressed: A Study of Modern Messianic Cults. It commences with the author’s precis in which he states the objectives of his book is, “to indicate the world-wide range and importance of modern prophetic, nativistic, millenarian cults…” (447). In undertaking this aim, he studied the history of a limited number of these movements in hopes of garnering a clear picture of these groups in general.

Comments

Catherine H. Berndt had criticism of Laternari and the ease in which he went from specific to general. As well she makes note that his list of sources did not include any on Australian material, even though he makes note of them in the book. Raymond Firth also notes issues with his sources, only in this case it is with the lack of Polynesia material. Firth also raising an interesting point regarding his misgivings involving the use of “oppressed” in the title (also raised by Belshaw and Muhlmann). In the same vein, William Grootaers also makes a criticism of his sources, stating it “suggests a failure to search for literature…”(451).

Reply

Lanternari responds quite well to the commentators. With regard to the issues with “oppressed” in the title, he informs us that was a publishers’ decision which was against his will. Apparently in accounting for other issues, he makes note of the translation from the first text into English, has created inaccuracies and ambiguities.

CLARITY: 3
ALLISON STATEN Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Mandelbaum, David R. Alcohol and Culture. Current Anthropology, 1965 Vol.6(3):281-292

David Mandelbaum argues that patterns and purposes of alcohol consumption are culturally defined. He explores the similarities and differences of alcohol consumption that are present in several case studies. He also attempts to understand the social dynamics that affect patterns of alcohol consumption. Mandelbaum is concerned with the perception that alcohol consumption is always bad, disruptive, and disgraceful. He makes a distinction that this perception is defined mainly in the American culture, and is not necessarily the view in all cultures. He offers support to this argument by referencing specific case studies like that of the Camba people in South America, who consume alcohol in order to bring about the effects of “drunkenness”. They believe that effects of alcohol consumption, such as passing out, have medicinal value. Mandelbaum also discusses the ritualistic importance of alcohol among the Aztec, Christian, and Jewish groups. Additionally, Mandelbaum cites several examples of socially stratified prohibitions of alcohol consumption. India, for example, has had a history of prohibiting this consumption in some social classes, while permitting it in others. Likewise, many tribes in Africa believe that certain supernatural beings look down upon the consumption of alcohol, and subsequently, restrain from its use in their presence. In the meantime, however, these tribes openly consume alcohol at their leisure. Mandelbaum suggests that alcohol need not serve as a universal response to social anxieties nor as a source for it. He supports this claim by pointing out that Camba men seem to lack the social anxieties attributed to greater alcoholic consumption, such as food scarcity, acculturation, or war. Lastly, he suggests that analysis of drinking patterns historically may correlate with social changes. Ultimately, Mandelbaum believes that the misconceptions concerning the patterns of alcohol might be hindering our understanding of the phenomena of alcoholism.

COMMENTS

All of the commentators give Mandelbaum credit for his central theme that more attention must be paid to social and cultural aspects of alcohol consumption. Heath, for example, credits Mandelbaum with successfully bringing attention to this need. Erlich and Hasan offer additional support for Mandelbaum’s arguments by citing specific, more current information on some of his points. The criticisms of his article, lie in the presentation of his argument and unclear terminology. Hasan, for example, remarks that Mandelbaum has made generalizations concerning the physiological effects of alcohol. Like several of the commentators, Hasan suggests that the evidence presented does not necessarily lead to the conclusions presented in the article. Another criticism is that Mandelbaum never explicitly addresses the distinction between alcoholism and the alcohol-induced behaviors that he discussed. Since the last statement in his article suggests that studies on the patterns of consumption will have implications on our understanding of alcoholism, this distinction is crucial.

REPLY

In his reply, Mandelbaum expresses his curiosity and excitement to learn some of the new information that may shed more light on his interest in this topic. He agrees that some areas of his argument, specifically the importance of his work, deserve a greater emphasis within the article. Mandelbaum argues that some of the criticisms are a result of misinterpretation of terminology, namely that his definition of “culture” inherently includes patterns of social control and the resulting behavior. Mandelbaum maintains his position that the physiological effects of alcohol vary cross-culturally, and offers no additional evidence for his position. Lastly, he makes it more explicit that his argument is not that social and cultural aspects have been totally ignored, but that they must be given additional attention.

CLARITY: 3
JULIE MASSEY Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Mandelbaum, David G. Alcohol and Culture. Current Anthropology June, 1965 Vol.6(3):281-293.

The article begins to develop new pathways for the investigation of alcohol use in cultures worldwide. It emphasizes cross-cultural studies and considers cultural variations in the use of alcohol, similarities across cultures, change and stability in drinking practices among civilizations, cultural areas in drinking patterns, culture and personality analysis of a drinking pattern, and studies of the uses of alcohol. Several studies by fellow investigators of alcohol related issues are used to aid in clarity, however, there is admittedly no attempt to review all available materials.

Much ethnographic information from various parts of the globe is incorporated to illustrate Mandelbaum’s arguments, including examples from India, South America, the Middle East, and Africa. The known history of alcohol production and use is touched upon, while at the same time demonstrating the great diversity of behaviours and expectations associated with the timing, quantity, acceptability, style and consequences of drinking. Mandelbaum states that cultural definitions of drinking dictate attitudes towards alcohol in general, as well as determining consumption behaviour.

Similarities in drinking patterns are also noted, such as the norms of drinking in company rather than alone and the greater likelihood of men drinking than women. Historical evidence from India is used to demonstrate that consumption patterns change over time and are dependent mostly on tolerance, which varies along with such ideals as religious principles. Stability or instability in drinking patterns are said to be indicative of cultural stability.

Mandelbaum also comments on the possibility of personality affecting drinking behaviour, his example attempts to interpret Camba (80,000 people in Bolivia) patterns in the tradition of uncovering the “personality’ of a culture. He concludes that Camba men engage in drinking bouts to help maintain social connections, while using induced stupor in order to cope with a deep, innate fear of others.

Comments

Studies of alcohol use and the psychological causes of drunkenness are briefly reviewed. Mandelbaum points out that consumption must be studied as a whole and not simply restricted to analyzing inebriety. Vera Erlich comments, extending the assertion that cultural definitions dictate attitudes towards alcohol to include political and economic stresses as an impetus for change in attitudes towards drinking. Khwaja Hasan points out that physiological factors, as well as cultural factors, must be included in the analysis, though behaviour may vary, cirrhosis and other medical conditions will certainly still emerge. Dwight Heath considers the validity of Mandelbaum’s conclusions about the Camba and elaborates on the simplifications use to arrive at those conclusions. John Honigmann points out that social position will cause variety and that the global approach to studying peoples could benefit from considering social distinctions. William Madsen mentions investigating cultural norms and deviations to better understand abnormal drinking.

Reply

Mandelbaum’s reply acknowledges that the paper did not give enough attention to the changes in alcohol use, and the new information on the Camba drastically changes his view. He concedes that high intake is unhealthy but points out his focus was on cultural interpretations of the context of drinking. He reiterates the study of alcohol use must remain focused on the totality of behaviour not just abnormal drinking.

CLARITY: 5
RYAN YOUNG Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Napier, John. Reprints from Nature. Current Anthropologist October, 1965 Vol.6(4):412-414.

This article was presented at a symposium in 1965 by P.R Davis et al. and was a discussion of fossil hand and foot bones discovered at Bed I Olduvai Gorge in 1960 by Dr. L.S.B. Leakey. The hand bones are believed to be that of a juvenile and an adult. The juvenile bones are robust and are comparable in length to that of a juvenile Gorilla. The adult bones are also robust and are comparable in length to that of a modern man.

Comparatively, the fossil bones differ from that of modern Homo sapiens using the following criteria. The bones are far more robust and there appears to be a dorsal curvature of the phalanges as well as, distal insertion of the flexor digitorum superficialis and strength of fibrotendinous markings. There are differences in the form of the scaphoid and depth of the carpal tunnel.

The presence of broad and stout terminal phalanges on both the fingers and thumb, and the form of the distal articular surface of the capitate, metacarpo-phalangeal joint provide support that the fossil bones resemble modern Homo sapiens.

An assessment of the function of the fossil bones concludes that the bones are that of a hominid. The hand can perform two prehensile movements; the power grip and precision. Osteologically, the precision grip is achieved through the existence of an opposable thumb. Secondly, the thumb and fingers have broad terminal phalanges coupled with an appropriate distance between the thumb and fingers.

In conclusion, it is thought that the fossil bones are that of a hominid and in conjunction with the artifacts present at the site indicates possible intellectual capacity. However, morphologically, “the Olduvai hand bones cannot be linked to any known hominoid species living to-day.” (412).

CLARITY: 5
JOYCE GIFFORD Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

H.R.H. Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark. A Study of Polyandry. Current Anthropology, Feb., 1965. Vol.6 (1): 88-104.

AUTHOR’S PRÉCIS

The author describes his work as the first complete comparative study of polyandry, written after he completed two years of fieldwork in Asia. In his book, he addresses four questions: Does polyandry exist? If so, what are the distribution and incidences of polyandry? How does polyandry function? What are the reasons for polyandry? Prince Peter then summarizes previously known information from other scholars regarding polyandrous peoples such as the Thandans, Kammalans, and the Tibetans. He divides this information into sections such as how the distribution and incidence of polyandry is examined in mythology, history and geography; the various anthropological theories are concerning polyandry, early evolutionary theories of polyandry, the reactions to these, and the today’s theoretical trend. Then, in summary, he compares his evidence from materials on the subject with his personal ethnographic studies, forming his own theory of polyandry. He claims that polyandry tends to occur with people who live in difficult or extreme environments and experience economic or social problems.

REVIEWS

According to the sixteen reviewers of H.R.H. Prince Peter’s work, thirteen criticized the book while three praised it. In their criticisms, the commentators usually gave a brief opinion of the entire work, possibly a brief summary, and then focused on and expanded one aspect of his book, usually his theoretical conclusion. Negative comments from the remaining thirteen reviewers discussed criticism and arguments against his theory, certain methodologies, lack of evidence and data, and unclear points in his book such as the fact that one can not assume a link between polyandry and one’s environment. It is also mentioned that his ethnographic studies, along with his bibliography, were incomplete. However, most reviewers conclude that Prince Peter’s work is highly informative, due to the fact that it provides ethnographic data relevant to the subject of polyandry. Positive comments, which resulted from the reviews of Millicent R. Ayoub, Chie Nakane and Mary Reay, include praise of his aforementioned hypothesis, the clarity of his writing and his comparative method, his fieldwork, and detailed examples. Prince Peter’s conclusions are confirmed by extensive studies of the Sierksma people, in which the author compares the absence and cultural fear of polyandry with biological and genetic data in Tibet. The author is praised for clearing up some misconceptions of polyandry, for example that it occurs as the result of a shortage of women.

REPLY

Prince Peter begins his reply by thanking the reviewers for their comments. He then continues by extensively addressing each reviewer and each point separately, paragraph by paragraph. He then addresses the commentaries with the most praise and the most criticism. Prince Peter also directs explanations to those who misunderstood his writings and defends his fieldwork and methods. He attributes many misconceptions about his fieldwork to the obscure location in which his ethnography occurred and the information given to him by those who actually practice polygamy, reminding his reviewers that not all regions that practice polyandry hold the same traditions. He later admits that his theory is not perfect and he plans to slightly adjust the wording in his thesis.

CLARITY: 3
ELIZABETH J. CARPENTER Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

H.R.H. Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark. [Review of] A Study of Polyandry. Current Anthropology February, 1965 Vol.6 (1):88-104.

The book reviewed is a comprehensive cross- cultural study of polyandry, the first of its kind. The main crux of the study was to gain a broader understanding of the little known practice of polyandry.

Through several years of field research in Asia, and existing material regarding the subject, Prince Peter sought answers to four questions: 1) Does polyandry really exist? 2) If so, where and what is the distribution? 3) How does it function? and 4) What are the reasons of polyandry? (88). As a result of his findings, Prince Peter compiled a working hypothesis explaining the development of polyandry among the people studied. Thus being, “Polyandry is a latent male homosexual and near- incestuous form of the marital institution, correlated with excessive economic and social pressure on the nuclear family of the peoples living in a difficult natural or social environment, provided no special cultural norm is opposed to it” (88).

Comments

The majority of reviews were negative; however, the study did receive some praise. For instance, all reviewers found his book to be an invaluable source of data as little existed before his work and interestingly enough, three female commentators of the total sixteen had the most praise for the study. On the other hand, the male majority of commentators were dissatisfied with Prince Peter’s conclusions.

Most unsatisfied was James A. Clifton. Clifton expressed his disdain for the book in all aspects including length, layout and methodology of the study. Others joined Clifton in the feeling that the book contained a great deal of superfluous material, which affected the overall readability of the book.

Reviewers deemed Prince Peter’s theoretical conclusions as restricted to only sibling marriages. Rather, many thought his theory should be general thus allowing the encompassing all types of polyandry. In addition, commentators felt that several generalizations were made, which needed further analysis. For example, an integral part of the study, which was not included, should have been a report regarding the psychological consequences of polyandry.

Reply

Prince Peter agreed with the commentators regarding the extraneous material, admitting his work would have benefited from compression and further editing. He also explained his study as a result of pressures from his examiners, Professors Firth and Leach of the London School of Economics as part for his doctorial dissertation. As a result of these pressures, Prince Peter explained that he was forced to modify his research methods. Nevertheless, he asserts that he was indeed happy with the results and felt his changes in no way compromised his work.

CLARITY: 4
LIANNE STOOSHNOFF Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Schaller, George B. The Mountain Gorilla. Current Anthropology. Jun.,1965. Vol 6(3) 295-302.

AUTHOR’S PRÉCIS

George B. Schaller’s book The Mountain Gorilla delineates his twenty-month study of the primates in their natural habitat, the Virunga Volcanoes in eastern Congo, western Rwanda, and western Uganda. Along with Dr. John T. Emlen, Schaller complied 466 hours of observation of ten gorilla groups, in aggregate close to 200 primates. The groups were small and stable, about 16.9 primates in each. They had no set territory, and usually kept to an area of 10 to 15 square miles. The gorillas stayed in the lowland rainforest of the Congo basin. Rarely was there violence against other groups when territories coincided. Schaller observes only two copulations and describes grooming primarily as a practical purpose. The myth of ferocity of the gorillas lay in their use of chest beating, which was mainly used for intimidation purposes. The strongest social bond reported was between mother and offspring.

REVIEWS

Nine individuals, in varying fields, review Schaller’s work. Most commend Schaller on his detailed reporting, his objectivity, and his extensive compilation of numerous observations. His detailed description allows the readers to make their own conclusions. One commentator labels Schaller’s method as “patient observation.” They argue that Schaller gained success by being a constant presence in the gorillas’ environment so that they gradually grew to trust him. Another maintains that Schaller’s personality also aided in the success of his fieldwork. Extremely methodical, he amasses a great amount of work while working in a very isolated environment. It is also pointed out that most knowledge of primates before Schaller’s work was derived from studies of captive animals. He is one of the first studies done on mountain gorillas in their natural environment. Hoping to find these qualities in non-captive gorillas, many commentators are surprised at the lack of the following in the primates’ behavior: social relationships that indicate semblance to beginnings of culture, territoriality of their land, and manipulation of ecology. In addition, though he is one of the first in conducting an extensive study of primates in their natural habitat, Schaller is commended for not attempting to enhance his own scientific standings by exaggerating his results.

Others find Schaller’s research on the mountain gorillas helpful in drawing parallels with non-human primates’ behavior (though one argues it is best that experts wait to study all primates in same fashion before making comparisons). The commentators assert that his data dismisses previous myths about gorillas, such as their labeling as vicious. The reviewers note that in addition as Schaller draws data from gorillas in their natural habitat, his results cast doubt on conclusions about various species made from animals in captivity. His fieldwork encourages more studies on non-captive animals as differences are readily observed between the behavior of captive and non-captive animals.

One criticism of Schaller grew from the fact that his study raises more questions than it answers, and that the questions are best answered by experts. One commentator argues that he failed in making solid hypotheses on much of the vast information he observed. One person found the gorillas’ behavior to be unexciting and lacking in similarities with non-human primates. He argues this changes the evolutionary relationship between humans and apes. Another took issue with Schaller’s categorization of different vocalization, stating that variations in the vocalizations could possibly be due to the individuality of the gorillas, based on differences in their sex, size, and age.

REPLY

In response, Schaller asserts that his lack of hypotheses is his way of preventing speculation of his part. He personally desires to remain descriptive because of the great amount of speculation he notices in the previous studying of primates. Schaller’s defends his categorization of the gorillas’ communication by arguing that it is a personal choice on how to classify his data. He contends, though, that the manner in which he presents the data on communication (his charts and tables) did not interfere with the factuality of the vocalization. In addition, in response to one’s criticism of his lack of synthesizing his vast amounts of data, he maintains that he strived to preserve the individuality of the gorillas’ behavior.

CLARITY: 4
NORA GUBBINS Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Carpenter, C.R., D.E. Davis, Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Walter Goldschmidt, K.R.L. Hall, Robert Jay, William Mason, D.F. Owen, George Schaller, and R. Schenkel. A CA Book Review: The Mountain Gorilla. By George B. Schaller. Current Anthropology June, 1965 Vol.6(3):295-302.

The article begins with George Schaller’s precis of his own 1963 book The Mountain Gorilla, which begins with a listing of the eight chapters: distribution and ecology, the nature of the animals, population density, structure, individual activities, social behaviour, responses to the environment, and conservation. The mountain gorilla’s habitat in Congo, Uganda and Rwanda is described ecologically, along with population numbers and broad group configurations. The data for the book was collected over twenty months and is the result of 466 hours of direct observation on ten gorilla groups. Population demographics are given followed by some broad behavioural observations.

Reviews

The reviews contained in the article tend to briefly praise Schaller’s exceptional work, and subsequently use the medium of the review as a platform from which to expound their own ideas. The book is said by all to be meticulous in its detail and to be free of interpretation, a painstaking attempt to record nothing but direct observation. Generally, there is a sentiment that the mountain gorilla was found to be too mundane, to the point that Owen questions whether or not the book even merited publication. As the book was the first comprehensive study of mountain gorillas in their natural habitat many reviewers commented that the data would prove to be the cornerstone of future analysis and comparison. Some disagreement with Schaller’s observations arose with Schenkel, who made in depth studies of captive gorillas, and preferred to classify some behaviour (specifically verbalizations), where Schaller preferred to simply record data.

Reply

The author’s reply to the reviews states that his focus was on non-interpretative recording of data, which he considers to be successful if his descriptions are of high enough quality for Schenkel to identify, understand and re-categorize verbalizations from the written word.

CLARITY: 5.
RYAN YOUNG Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Tax, Sol. The History and Philosophy of Current Anthropology Volume 6, Issue 3 (Jun., 1965), 238+242-269.

A conventional format of Current Anthropology is an article followed by comments from scholars in the field, then a reply by the author. This article does not follow that conventional format. Instead, it was written by the editor of Current Anthropology, and consists of a number of “Letters to Associates” from different previous issues. It is a series of articles that serve as a means of communication between the editor and the readers, reviewers, and writers. It is unclear why these specific selections were chosen for reprint, but the article does demonstrate the communication and development of the framework of Current Anthropology.

The author begins his dialogue by briefly explaining the goals and history of Current Anthropology as a scientific journal. Here he says that the journal is designed to serve as an exchange of ideas between scholars. He includes in the article, a reprint of the history of Current Anthropology that was published in the September 1959 issue.

After this brief dialogue, there are about forty reprints of a section the editor called “Associates, the Editor, and a Community of Scholars.” These reprints are anywhere from one to ten paragraphs in length, and generally are written to the readers he calls “associates”. These “associates” are never really introduced nor defined. It seems as though they are a group of people who write reviews for the articles published in Current Anthropology. Within this section of selected reprints, there is discussion about the criteria in order to be an associate, and the fees associated with this privilege. A number of other topics are covered which include the symbolism of the cover, communication between associates, the roster, and much more.

The next section is very similar to the previous one. It contains about twenty-five similar reprints which are titled “Evolution of CA Features”. These reprints describe the evolution of the format of Current Anthropology and the difficulties in its implementation. For example, the “Comments” and “Reply” sections of the conventional articles were developed as a result of reader suggestions. When this first started, the articles were sent not only to scholars in the same subject, but also to all the “associates” for review. The editor claims that they soon learned that only scholars directly within the subject would send replies, thus articles are now only sent to those scholars. Also discussed are the present challenges regarding content and format, as well as other aspects of editing and publishing a scientific journal.

The final section follows the same format, and contains approximately twenty-five somewhat longer reprints than the previous sections. These reprints are titled “Special Projects and Problems”. As its title indicates, these are discussions about different ideas for articles and journals stemming from Current Anthropology. For example, an article from the April 1961 issue discusses a plan for the development of two new anthropology dictionaries. The ideas are outlined in depth, and included the challenges that might be associated with each of them. Some of the different reprints exhibit how these discussions continued into several issues over a period of time. An example of this is a rather lengthy discussion of the “Viking Medalist”. This appears to have been an annual award given by a few associates to another author of a Current Anthropology article. The discussion begins with an announcement of a change in the selection of award winners. This initial article is discussed at length in four other issues over two years.

CLARITY: 3
JULIE MASSEY Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson)

Current Anthropology in Perspective: (three parts)
1) Tax, Sol The History and Philosophy of Current Anthropology. Current Anthropology June, 1965 Vol. 6(3):238, 242-269.
2) Nurge, Ethel Participation in Current Anthropology. Current Anthropology June, 1965 Vol.6(3):239, 270-280.
3) Akhmanova, Olga Impressions of Current Anthropology. Current Anthropology June, 1965 Vol. 6(3):240-241.

This group of articles is composed of three separate summary sections, each with their own authors. They were presented at a conference together in 1964. Their relationship with each other is significant because they produce a chronology of the history of events that shaped the construction of the journal they were published in Current Anthropology.

The first summary is written by Sol Tax, the original editor of Current Anthropology. The article gives an archival perspective regarding the important events that occurred in the development of Current Anthropology. Tax states that he wrote the article in order, “To describe the history and philosophy of CA in terms of its issues and policies, as they have developed, is also to provide an agenda for continuing discussion” (238). The summary contains his opening arguments, followed by the chronological order of journal-type dated entries beginning in January 1960 and ending in July 1964. These entries dealt with a range of problems and events that the journal endured in starting up. Also included are four plates that discussed the history of Current Anthropology, a letter to Associates, the origin of review articles and the question of reprinting articles, in the journal. The journal was established and supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation in order for scholars and students around the world to communicate and share useful knowledge and new ideas. The article gives a personal view and understanding of issues and events that were involved in creating the popular journal that Current Anthropology it is today.

The second summary, written by Ethel Nurge discusses the achievements accomplished in the first five years of Current Anthropology. It is divided into the following three sections: review articles, reference material and news. The first section explains the role of the review article in the journal. The review article has commentators who are knowledgeable and evaluate or comment on the contents of the article. This integration of commentary was the birth of the CA comments that one finds at the end of Current Anthropology articles. Fundamentally, this section describes the process an article endures before it can be published in Current Anthropology. It also gives some statistical data regarding the forms of enrollment and distribution throughout the world of the members that make up Current Anthropology.

The second section defines what makes up the reference materials found in Current Anthropology. As well as it discusses the news articles that do not fit under a clear category. Often what isn’t labeled as reference material is given the heading of news. The article states that the reference material and news sections of Current Anthropology were not necessarily as popular as the review articles but were equally important and significant in production. Finally, the article gives a summary of the reference and news features from 1960 to 1963. (271)

The third summary, written by Olga Akhmanova, is in response to her enthusiasm of the success of Current Anthropology. Akhmanova presents four recommendations regarding improvements that can be made in the journal in order to satisfy arguments from the past. The first is to make clear terms of classical ethnographic descriptions such as, primitive or race. Secondly, she suggests it would be beneficial to improve the dictionary of Current Anthropology. “It is mainly a question of systematic classification or categorization.” (241) Third she believes the journal should organize the overall achievements of Current Anthropology. Finally, she proposes that there should be a comprehensive list of Current Anthropology achievements in regards to theory and method.

CLARITY: 4
SALINA WIGHT Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Tobias, Phillip V. New Discoveries in Tanganyika: Their Bearing on Hominid Evolution. Current Anthropology, Oct. 1965. Vol.6(4): 391-411.

The article is about the discovery of hominid fossils in Olduvai Gorge that were subsequently classified as Homo habilis. Tobias describes a number of fossils that have been found, some of which he classifies as being from Australopithecus and some of which he classifies as being from a new taxon, H. habilis. His reasons for creating a new species name for these fossils is outlined, as well as the reasons for placing the fossils in Homo rather Australopithecus. The fossils that were determined to be members of H. habilis had features that were at the extremes of or just outside the range of Australopithecus in areas such as tooth size and shape, cranial capacity, mandible dimensions and robusticity, and the curvature of the cranial bones. The article also details the phylogenic relationship of habilis with other hominids, as Tobias compares the measurements of habilis remains to the remains of other hominids, including Australopithecines and H. erectus. Tobias determined that habilis was the link between the Australopithecines and H. erectus, and the predecessor to all later members of the genus Homo, based on the morphological and chronological evidence presented in this article as well as others (notably Leakey, Tobias, and Napier, 1964). Homo habilis was determined to have been coexistent with A. Bosei, but was morphologically different, most notably because it had a larger brain, which was larger than Australopithecus, but smaller than the brain of H. erectus. Also, it was determined that habilis had taken the decisive step of beginning stone tool manufacture, as stone tools had been found in the same strata as H. habilis and A. bosei, although the author decided that stone tool manufacture was probably done exclusively by H. habilis.

COMMENTS

Those who responded to Tobias’ article, particularly J. T. Robinson, felt that it was too early to establish a new taxon for the fossils classified as H. habilis, as the fossils that had been found were too incomplete, and too close to established taxa to declare these fossils as being part of a new species. Also, M. H. Day makes the point that one of reasons for placing the habilis remains in Homo was cultural leap of beginning tool manufacture, which means assuming that the tools that were found by the remains were made by habilis, as there is not enough morphological evidence to link the tools to habilis. However, some agreed with his assessment that two hominids coexisted at the time Bed I was forming, A. bosei and a tool-making hominid that Tobias describes as H. habilis.

REPLY

To defend his position that habilis was a toolmaker, Tobias argues that there had to be a toolmaker in Bed I to make the artifacts that were found there and since it was generally agreed that Australopithecus was not the toolmaker and Bed I formed before the appearance of H. erectus, the toolmaker of Bed I would, by default, have to be habilis. Tobias defends his methods and his conclusions, answering Robinson and other critics by saying that he had as much if not more data to support his conclusions than other researchers had to support theirs and that his conclusions are supported by a sufficient amount of evidence in a range of areas.

CLARITY: 3
JAMES BURCH Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Tobias, Phillip V. New Discoveries in Tanganyika: Their Bearing on Hominid Evolution. Current Anthropology October, 1965 Vol.6(4): 391-425.

This article examines the issue brought forth by the discoveries of hominid remains in Olduvai Gorge. Although most of the remains were easily classified, some in Bed I did not appear to fit into any group easily. By comparing dentition, jaws, mandibles, cranial capacity, and vault bones of the skull, Tobias determined that the species he named habilis was outside of the range of australopithecine. The cranial capacity of habilis was found to be between Homo erectus and Australopithecus. In general habilis has morphological patterns different than Australopithecus. This would indicate that the habilis remains are not the same species as Australopithecus. In Bed II the remains begin to look more similar to Homo erectus. So, either the remains of habilis are a more advanced Australopithecus, or a less advanced Homo.

Unfortunately, the taxonomy makes it hard to account for intermediates. Tools previously thought to be made by Australopithecus can now be attributed to habilis. However this should not be the sole method of classifying. More morphological evidence is needed to do this. Since habilis and Australopithecus have been found in the same stratigraphy, they must have existed together. Homo erectus also would have overlapped with habilis, as indicated in Bed II. After examining the morphology of the habilis remains, Tobias determined that they should be a part of the Homo species. This means that Homo may need to be redefined to include both habilis and erectus. However, until more evidence is available, the name Homo habilis is appropriate.

Comments

The commentators are generally skeptical of this change to the taxonomy. While it does expose the weakness of the taxonomy, the redefinition needs more support. The idea of having habilis become a part of Homo is disagreed with by the commentators. More than morphology is needed to support Tobias’ argument, but it does open up the way for a more practical approach to human evolution.

Reply

Tobias was surprised that although the commentators disagreed with him, he expected a stronger amount of disapproval on his proposal. Tobias defends his reasons for classifying habilis the way he did. The stone tool making was done by habilis and not by Australopithecus. Tobias also had an advantage over previous researchers because he had larger samples that brought more accurate results. Tobias feels that the name itself is cause the discrepancy, rather than the actual placing of Homo habilis in the taxonomy.

CLARITY: 4
SANDRA FOX Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)

Vallois, H.V. Anthropometric Techniques. Current Anthropology April, 1965 Vol.6(2):127-143.

This article is highly technical and methodological in describing how to carry out anthropometric measurements. The techniques of measuring the body and skull are those taught and used at the Laboratory of Anthropology of the École Practique des Hautes Études in Paris and are in accordance with the international agreements of the standardization of anthropometric measurements.

The article describes the principle instruments in anthropometry and how to use them to obtain precise measurements. Vallois first describes measurements of the whole body and the trunk, such as: weight, stature, sitting height, and circumference of neck. Then he demonstrates how to measure the upper and lower limbs, such as: the lengths and circumferences of the appendages, and the breadths and contours of the hands and feet. Lastly he describes the measurements of the head, including length and breadth, the breadth and depth of the nose, the breadth and length of the ear, among others. There is a major section in the article dedicated to craniometric techniques. Vallois first describes the cranial vault, face, and mandible and demonstrates how to make accurate and standardized measurements of them.

Vallois clearly identifies and lists the formulas needed to calculate certain indices after measurements on the body and skull segments are recorded. He also uses multiple diagrams to supplement his descriptions on certain measurements.

CLARITY: 3
DEBRA MORAVETZ Marquette University (Jane Peterson)

Vallios, H. V. Anthropometric Techniques. Current Anthropology April, 1965 Vol.6 (2):127-143.

This study focuses on the devices and skills required to take measurements of the human body and skull. It is divided into two main parts. Part One: Anthropometric Technique on the Living identifies the instruments necessary to make precise measurements of the body and provides general recommendations for achieving such a task. Specifically, this section is divided into four main parts: Measurements of the Whole Body and the Trunk, Measurements of the Upper Limbs, Measurements of the Lower Limbs, and Measurements of the Head. Each section goes into great detail on how to and how not to take measurements, of live specimens, that will be beneficial because they are precise and detailed. The final two sections, Relative Measurements and Indices, and Practical Remarks are basic instructions on how to utilize the data acquired as well as how to determine averages of the specific areas.

Part Two: Craniometric Technique focuses explicitly on the skull and again identifies what considerations need to be made in order to accomplish the task properly. This section has four divisions for the techniques: Craniometric Techniques, Cerebral Skull, Facial Skull and Mandible, with a section for Indices at the end. Here, emphasis is made on particular aspects of the head and how these areas should be measured accurately. Formulations for finding averages are presented in the Indices section.

The article is very well presented and structured making it very easy to read for anyone who is familiar with a technical analysis of the human skull and body. Unfortunately, it was written in 1965 making some of the information considerably out dated. The article also contains several references that may be considered inappropriate generalizations and/or extremely ethnocentric, for instance, the use of the word “primitive” in describing certain cultural groups and the exclusion of “deformed and pathological people” from the data. It should be noted that during this time period, this type of thinking was generally acceptable among the academic class and as such the information should not be discarded but instead interpreted in a more modern mode of thinking.

CLARITY: 3
STACEY SCHILLER Okanagan University College (Diana E. French)