Current Anthropology 1992
Adams, Robert McC. Anthropological Perspectives on Ancient Trade. Current Anthropology 1992 – Supplement: 141-160. Originally published: Current Anthropology September, 1974 Vol.15(3): 239-258.
Robert Adams, a distinguished professor at the University of Chicago, believes the traditional methods of studying ancient trade have been too narrow and have isolated the topic from a wider cultural system. He believes that a much more complete understanding of trade can be acquired by incorporating ethnographic and ethno-historic sources into traditional archaeological methods. First, Adams critiques the current methods employed by archaeologists defining trade and he points to shortcomings. Next, he discusses the benefits of including ethnographic data in the reconstruction of past societies and suggests that modern cultures are not close enough in time to represent past societies. He also points out the entrepreneurial nature of trade and how trade should not be assumed to be a reflection of the society as a whole, through the examples of Plains Indian and African cultures. Finally, Adams applies his conclusion to a study of Near Eastern cuneiform sources from merchants. He concludes his application of his theory by suggesting that if the concrete evidence is vague, which is often the case, the research should be willing to follow other leads, which may end in a completely new interpretation of the data.
This article addresses an interesting and complex topic: ancient trade. The article attempts to suggest a new method of analyzing archaeological remains. Adams seems to be very influential among his colleagues and they seem excited and intrigued by his ideas. However, the article is very difficult to follow and requires re-reading several times in order to grasp what is being conveyed. Also, the article is written with a confusing sentence structure that makes what is being advocating for and what is being discredited difficult to determine.
COMMENTS: The majority of the comments made about Adam’s article agreed with his claims, and several colleagues were even completely supportive. Others thought that Adam’s examples were too vague. They explained how they had a more broad view of archaeological questions, but refrained from asserting answers to broad view questions. Still others added their own expertise in the areas Adams highlights in his article.
REPLY: Adams replies to his colleagues with a general overview of his statements from the article. He states that aspects of the paper that his colleagues had trouble with were the same topics Adams struggled with, but stresses that he is only trying to broaden current research patterns. He replies to several of his colleagues comments directly and he gives a general conclusion as he restates his purpose.
BRIAN BLUHM University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Bar-Yosef, O., B. Vandermeersch, B. Arensburg, A. Belfer-Cohen, P. Goldberg, H. Laville, L. Meignen, Y. Rak, J. D. Speth, E. Tchernov, A-M. Tillier, and S. Weiner. The Excavations in Kebara Cave, Mt. Carmel. Current Anthropology Dec., 1992 Vol.33(5):497-550.
Bar-Yosef, Vandermeersch, and their colleagues summarize the results of their 1982-1990 excavations at the site of Kebara Cave in Israel. The cave contains deposits dating to both the Middle and Upper Paleolithic.Although analysis of the Kebara materials is incomplete, their results suggest a number of similarities between the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon inhabitants.The article’s goal is to make a brief overview of: 1) the cave environment and earlier excavations; 2) the geology; 3) the spatial distributions of archaeological features; 4) the Middle and Upper Paleolithic lithic industries; 5) the fauna; and 6) the human remains.
The first portion of the article primarily concerns a history of previous excavations at Kebara Cave, and also includes a brief overview of its surrounding environment.The early twentieth century work and contributions of Dorothy Garrod, Francis Turville-Petre, C. A. Baynes, and Moshe Stekelis are noted.In the second section, the authors provide a synthesis of the site’s stratigraphy, formation processes, geological history, and dating.Separate discussions of sedimentation, biological activity, karstic activity, slumping, and secondary mineralogical transformations are included in the information on formation processes at Kebara Cave.Bar- Yosef et al. make special mention of mineralogical studies performed to determine whether the observed spatial distribution of fossil animal bone is a reflection of past human and/or scavenger activities in the cave, or of post-depositional bone loss through groundwater dissolution.At the time of publication, the results were inconclusive.
The geological deposits at Kebara Cave show that the first signs of occupation at the site took place prior to 60,000 years ago.They describe the spatial patterning of hearths, ash lenses, and bone and artifact concentrations.Evidence shows that the inhabitants of Kebara Cave built fires in a matter almost identical with Upper Paleolithic Cro-Magnons.Bar-Yosef et al. also provide a substantial overview of the Mousterian stone tool assemblages and a very brief summary of the site’s Upper Paleolithic assemblages in the fourth section.They mainly focus on the technology of Mousterian tool production, including raw-material procurement, the core reduction sequence, and tool manufacture and use.The fifth topic is an in-depth analysis of the Middle and Upper Paleolithic mammalian fauna with special emphasis on the ungulates and evidence for hunting and butchering.This section includes a discussion on temporal comparisons of taphonomic indicators and spatial comparisons of taphonomic indicators.Finally, an inventory of the 29 individuals comprising the Middle Paleolithic human remains is provided.The deliberate burial of a complete adult man in unit XI, known as KMH (Kebara Mousterian Hominid) 2, shows a similarity between Middle and Upper Paleolithic mortuary traditions.
The article concludes by stating that any implications from their data for understanding the transition from the Middle- to the Upper Paleolithic would be beyond its purpose.
The article was reviewed by G. Clark, Andrew Garrard, Donald Henry, Frank Hole, Derek Roe, Karen Rosenberg, L. Schepartz, John Shea, Fred H. Smith, Erik Trinkaus, Norman Whalen, and Lucy Wilson.The reviews were mostly positive.Hole and Whalen believe the stratigraphic position and dating of the KMH 2 burial is too ambiguous to be deemed a deliberate burial.Smith agrees with the authors that insights about female pelvic morphology (i.e. its size and shape) can be gleaned from a male pelvis, but Hole disagrees. Several commentators mention lithic analysis.For example, Clark believes that Levallois refers to any technique with core preparation and Henry questions whether broad-based Levallois points at Kebara could have been produced with the lineal method.
Bar-Yosef et al. acknowledge the comments made by their colleagues and reiterate that the published article is an interim report and, because of this, note their surprise that it was seen fit for CAó review by Current Anthropology.They believe much more data must be acquired and analyzed before larger issues can be discussed.They are not swayed by Whalen’s and Hole’s arguments concerning the human burial or male pelvis.The also respond to the comments about various aspects of their lithic analysis; Bar-Yosef et al. disagree with Clark and still hold that most broad-based points were produced with the recurrent method, but they find Henry’s hypothesis interesting.The authors hope that this article, while incomplete, will be helpful to those interested in Middle Paleolithic hominids.
JACQUELINE F. PETKEWICZ Marquette University(Jane Peterson)
Bird-David, Nurit. Beyond “The Original Affluent Society”. Current Anthropology,1992 Vol.33(1):25-45.
Bird-David’s article examines Marshall Sahlins’ conclusions about the nature of hunter-gatherers as discussed in his work “The Original Affluent Society.” Sahlins’ research consisted of studying the work ethic and ecological relationships of three hunter- gatherer groups: the Nayaka of South India, the Batek of Malaysia, and the Mbuti of Zaire. Sahlins’ conclusions have been criticized for not applying universally to all hunter-gatherer societies and for not taking into account other time consuming factors concerning the societies he studied. Bird-David reformulates and attempts to reconfirm Sahlins’ argument using an updated cultural method of economic analysis
In studying hunter-gatherers’ economic behavior, Sahlins observed that most individuals have few possessions, and those goods can be constructed easily out of locally abundant materials. He also found that hunter-gatherers have a tendency to be careless, and lack interest in developing technological equipment Sahlins’ work was premised on two cultural propositions. One premise argues that affluence is a culture-specific relation between material wants and means, namely that hunter-gatherers achieve affluence by reducing their material wants. The other premise proposes that the economic behavior of hunter-gatherers makes sense in relation to their strong confidence in their environment.He concluded that hunter-gatherers were content with the few possessions they had, and did not consider the need to work for more.
Bird-David relates to Sahlins’ theory and how it emphasizes of the power of the hunter-gatherers’ trust in their environment, as it is akin to her culturalist approach to economic analysis. Bird-David refers to the South Indian Nayaka, the Mbuti of Zaire, and the Batek of Malaysia in reference to the cosmic economy of sharing model that she uses to examine their immediate return systems.She finds that each group has notions which attribute life and consciousness to natural phenomena. These notions are comprised of their belief that the natural agencies socialize with them, give food and gifts to everyone regardless of social status,and that they are children of the forest.The hunter-gather groups Bird-Davis mentions consider their environment part of their community and treat it with the same level of respect as they would other human beings.
Bird-Davis concludes that the fundamental flaw in”The Affluent Society” is Sahlin’s conflation of cultural and ecological perspectives. She explains that in terms of the cosmic economy of sharing, the economic behavior of hunter- gatherers with immediate returns makes sense, but his assumption that their confidence in the environment is explained by abundance does not.This is becuase we cannot understand their experience with the natural world through our terms, we can only undstand it if we change our world view and regard it by their terms.
Ten anthropologists relpied to Bird-David’s article. They generally agreed that Sahlin’s article deserved some reconceptualizing, and that while it held some valid points, some of his conclusions were flawed due to incomplete and general assumptions. Many of the anthropologists agreed that specific analytical parameters to determine what should be considered “affluent” were necessary. It was also agreed that Sahlin’s use of work time as a premise was not valid because it is a term that is inconsistent across groups.For the most part, the anthropologists praised Bird-David for her effort to clear up and reconceptualize Sahlin’s conclusions, a fewhowever felt that her conclusions were no stronger than his.
Bird-David replied by explaining that her main objective was to discuss the cultural-economic perspective, particularly with regards to analyzing hunter-gatherers. To do this, she felt that it was vital to understand and clarify Sahlin’s work in “The Affluent Society,” as this is a widely known and read resource on the matter.Bird-David maintainedthat it was necessary to reconceptualize Sahlin’s model concerning the relation between cultural and economic aspects of hunter-gatherers because in order to truely understand the relationship, the observer needs to envision it through their model of it.Observers need to conform their worldview to match that of the group they are studying rather than try to rationalize their observations by means of their own, biased view.
JESSICA BELLMarquette University(Jane Peterson)
Bird-David, Nurit. Beyond “The Original Affluent Society”: A Culturalist Reformulation. Current Anthropology February, 1992 Vol.33(1):25-47.
This is a critique of the first chapter of Stone Age Economics, a book written in 1972 by Marshall Sahlins on the idea of “The Original Affluent Society”, which was a proposal that hunting and gathering was an economically and socially abundant lifestyle. Bird-David attempts to make clear Sahlins’ ideas and intentions, as well as offering new facts that were either incorrect or left out. She used three case studies from: the Nayaka of South India, the Batek of Malaysia, and the Mhuri of Zaire, to show the reality of a hunting-gathering economic system.
Bird-David recognized that Sahlins made accurate and inaccurate statements in his essay. Sahlins was thought to be accurate when mentioning their “peculiar” economic behavior: they had few possessions though many available materials in which they could develop technological equipment. They did not store food, but only satisfy their immediate needs. This is called “the immediate-return system.” Sahlins was, however, accused of assuming meanings for their attitudes and actions based on rationality, which were instead cultural, such as describing hunter-gatherers’ work as practical reason based on ecological restrictions. He dispelled the myth of a hunter-gatherer’s “unrelenting quest for food,” but was inaccurate about their work-load, saying they worked a three to five hours a day. His very proposition was culturally inappropriate- a “time-illiterate” people have not constructed such a western notion.
Bird-David notes that the Nayaka, Batek, and Mbuti do not think of the environment as a separate entity, an “ecological other”, but instead personify it and form personal relationships with the land. They believe they are affluent even when there is not an abundance of material goods and are confident that the environment will share its resources. They have a “cosmic economy of sharing” which embraces human-to-human and nature-to-human sharing. Nature as a “bank” is the best way to compare both societies. They are affluent because all do not withdraw resources at the same time, leaving enough for sharing in the future.
COMMENTS: Ichikawa felt that Bird-David left out the “negative” side of hunter-gatherers’ relationship with the environment, presenting a problem for his argument about the sharing relationship between nature and humans. Because of the use of metaphorical language, Ingold and Abramson accuse Bird-David of implying that hunter-gatherers are “wrong” when they “imagine” nature to be a sharing partner.
REPLY: The “negative” impact of hunter-gatherers in the environment does not ruin the sharing relationship, but makes it more realistic. Human to human relationships have negative aspects, just as do human to nature relationships. She also explains that metaphorical models are commonly used to explain reality, and since they are grounded in real experiences and not just stories, they are not imaginary or invalid.
STACY METTNER University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Burchard, Roderick E.Coca Chewing and Diet.Current Anthropology, Feb., 1992. Vol 33(1) 1-24.
In Coca Chewing and Diet, Roderick E. Burchard investigated the common assumption that the Andean tradition of chewing coca leaves (of which cocaine is naturally derived) eliminated the desire for food, and therefore decreased an individual’s nutritional intake.The Andean tradition of chewing coca consists of forming a quid with the leaves of the plant and then placing it in the mouth to digest the juices.On the average 4-5grams of coca leaves is chewed by regular intervals throughout the day.The reason for the ongoing controversy over the eradication of the traditional practice is because many prohibitionist movements are demanding for the Andean people to remove it from their daily life. One anthropological study that looked at the affects of coca on the Andean people was termed the Loss of Appetite-Reduced Food Consumption Hypothesis by its creator Carlos Gutierrez Noriega.Widely used as support for those against the practice, this hypothesis suggested what its name described, that chewing coca leaves had a negative affect on a person’s diet.
Carlos Gutierrez Noriega studied the people of the Huancayo province of Peru beginning in the 1930s.He observed the following; the Andean chew coca leaves to eliminate the feeling of hunger, their diet was lacking in protein but was rich in carbohydrates, and that with a higher coca intake, a lower amount of food was eaten.Gutierrez Noriega described the tradition of chewing coca as an endless cycle of malnutrition, in that with coca chewing comes a poor diet, which in turn encourages more chewing of coca.His solution to what he felt was a serious public health problem was to end the usage and encourage the development of programs that would stimulate food production in the country as well as increase the living standards.He called upon the United Nations to begin crop programs and to help create educational outlets, which would teach the dangers of coca chewing. Overall Gutierrez Noriega observed a high use of coca leaves in areas that had a poorer nutritional diet and in ecological zones where less food was available.
Burchard looked towards other ethnographic studies in order to dispel the Loss of Appetite- Reduced Food Consumption Theory.He delineated two other matched-pair studies, one in Peru and the other in Bolivia.In 1960 Peru, Norman Fine conducted the Vicos project.Fine collected data on both coca chewers and non-chewers, both influenced by similar conditions.One of the objectives the projects was to watch the affects of increased crop production.Fine noticed that unlike Gutierrez Noriega’s observations, an increase in food production did not decrease the amount of coca chewing.He closely observed two brothers.One was a non-chewer because of his time in the army while the other, who spent all his life in the village following traditional Andean life, chewed coca.After observing the brothers as they shared meals for a total of eight days, Fine concluded that chewers and non-chewers eat the same amounts and types of food.
Later in 1980, William Carter conducted the Bolivian study, by surveying 3513 randomly selected households about their food intake and coca chewing.Carter found that differences arose in the results for a variety of reason, such as age, sex, and ecological zone.He also conducted a yearlong ethnographic research project consisting of twenty-four matched pairs of which 14 were male and 10 were female.They observed the eating habits and the coca use of the people along with collecting 24-hour dietary recall reports for each matched pair.The results showed that non-chewers ate less, had a smaller protein and caloric intake, and smaller body index size that coca chewers.Fine also noticed that certain eating behaviors such as coca chewers rarely if ever turn down food even to the extent that they remove a quid from their mouths in order to eat.He concluded that coca chewing is a part of the Andean social life, such as in the activities of building a house or cultivating the crops.
Burchard concludes that food intake and coca chewing should be complementary.He took issue with the idea that an increased in food production and wealth would decrease in the need to chew coca.He argues against this by pointing out that presently coca is one of the biggest cash crops for Peru, bring in 4-5 billion dollars to the economy.Eliminating coca would be eliminating a vital source in the economy.
Overall the commentators agreed that the Loss of Appetite- Reduced Food Consumption Hypothesis was flawed and unsubstantiated.One commentator argued that the position against coca chewing was politically motivated since it equated coca chewing to cocaine abuse in developed countries. Most agreed that coca chewing was a traditional Andean practice that should be protected.Still some felt Burchard was replacing one ideology with another because he stated that coca chewing could encourage food intake.There were complaints in how Burchard represented coca chewing.He did not include where the Andean people place coca in their worldview as well as the fact that he omitted any mention of coca’s physiological effects.Also another stated that Burchard did not make aware his own feelings on the debate oblivious to the reader.Another wanted more cultural reasons to support the practice.In general, most felt Burchard did an excellent job in illustrating the myth behind the opposition to coca chewing in the Andean culture.
Burchard’s reply was not included.It appeared in a subsequent issue.
NORA GUBBINS Marquette University (Dr. Jane Peterson).
Burchard, Roderick E. Coca Chewing and Diet. Current Anthropology February, 1992 Vol.33(1):1-24.
In Coca Chewing and Diet, Roderick E. Burchard attempt to disprove an earlier theory by Gutierrez Noriega about the extreme health defects that coca chewing has on Andean cultures, specifically those of Bolivia and Peru. Burchard supports his belief that it has no significant health problems by showing results from a matched-pair study of food consumption by coca chewers and non-chewers in high and low altitude zones. He comes to the conclusion that “coca chewing and food consumption are complimentary rather than antagonistic activities.”
The fact that coca leaves are the natural source of cocaine has stimulated prohibitionists to believe that coca chewing claims harmful effects on the health and well being of the Andean people. A champion of this belief, Gutierrez Noriega, went even as far as to say that coca chewing has direct effects on the diet or lack thereof of the Andean people. He outlines a coca chewer’s diet as being quite low in protein rich foods, fruits, and sugars; their diet mainly consists of carbohydrates. He also claims that coca chewing reduces the diet almost entirely when the Andean people substitute coca leaves for food. He does however admit that these observations could not be applied to Peru as a whole due to variations regionally, economically, and temporally. He also stated how there are different degrees of wealth among the peasants of Peru.
This perceived problem was brought to the United Nations which subsequently led a United Nations Commission of Inquiry to travel to Peru and Bolivia. There was no formal study done; most of the time was spent in conferences involving medical professionals, the military, police authorities and many others. Poorness of diet was a central theme in these conferences and coca chewing was correlated with shortages of food and the Andean people feeling a need for coca. The main conclusion of their findings was that of a “vicious cycle”: malnutrition causes coca-leaf chewing, but coca leaf chewing also produces malnutrition. So the betterment of nutrition was perceived as the solution to the whole problem.
Neither the United Nations nor Noriega had established either qualitative or observational evidence to back up this claim, so Burchard concludes that “If the coca leaf does result in the loss of appetite and reduced food consumption, then there should be significant differences in the amounts of food consumed by closely matched pairs of coca chewers and non-chewers living under similar conditions in Andean communities.” Thus was the basis for a matched pair study in Bolivia on coca chewing and diet.
This survey was undertaken by William Carter and a team of Bolivian researchers, and since Burchard was interested in the relationship of coca chewing and diet, Carter invited him to coordinate the collection and analysis of the dietary data. The researchers had a statistically representative sample of 3,513 individuals from randomly selected households. There were however complications with the subjects selected for the study such as lack of participation, preganancy, or subjects simply withdrew from the study.
The team ended up with a sample of 24 matched pairs of coca chewers and non-chewers: 10 pairs of women and 14 pairs of men. They found that intensity of coca chewing varied according to ecological zone, language spoken, religion, age set, education, and occupation. This completely contrasts with the notion that coca chewing can only explained in correlation with diet as was concluded by Noriega and the UN. In fact, the researchers data in food consumption showed that in ever case coca chewers ate more than non-chewers. They didn’t eat all the same kinds of food but had more caloric intake. Burchard states that, “[these] facts certainly pose a serious challenge to the prohibitionist’s central hypothesis” and that “Therefore any suggestion that cocoa chewing is simply either a cause or a consequence of caloric insufficiency is apparently without basis in fact.”
An ethnographic account was given in this article explaining one event of coca use and the roofing of a man’s house. All the workers gathered at the work site and coca was supplied by the owner of the house. Coca chewing commenced until everyone was given their assignments. The workers then worked until about 10:30 am in which they mentioned it was time for the pijecheo (coca break). Everyone rested, socialized, told jokes, and laughed. After a half an hour, they resumed work and at 11:30 three women brought large amounts of food for work.
This most recent study on coca chewing and diet was beneficial to the health and well being of the Andean people, but was backed up with a rather small sample size. However it is a much more applied study than that of Gutierrez Noriega and the UN, who basically heard testimony and gave generalizations and tried to put a band-aid on the perceived health problem of the Andean people. This coca chewing is no doubt correlated with coffee breaks or drinking coffee, or even smoking cigarettes for that matter. They are all considered stimulant drugs and no doubt suppress hunger to some degree. Cultural relativism certainly plays a part in this argument: as Burchard has shown in this article, it is quite incorrect to go to a different culture and find things wrong with their norms.
JUSTIN WRIGHT University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Kirch, Patrick V. and Roger C. Green. History, Phylogeny, and Evolution in Polynesia. Current Anthropology, Supplement. Feb., 1992 Vol. 33 (1): 161-186.
Kirch and Green present a case for using evolutionary theory to understand cultural change and diversity. Pivotal to the utilization of evolutionary theory is archaeology, which fulfills the role in cultural evolution that paleontology does in biological evolution—unveiling those processes and forces that create variation. Drawing upon their own and others’ extensive research in the Polynesian Islands, the authors demonstrate the effectiveness of the theoretical framework by using it to illuminate this case of “cultural radiation” and selective pressures.
The crux of their framework is based on the concept of the phylogenetic unit, in which the evolutionary history of a grouping of cultures can be traced in a branching lineage back to a common ancestor. For Polynesia, the related societies can be traced back to an ancestral culture complete with a parent population and protolanguage by using historical, ethnographic, archaeological, and linguistic data. The Polynesian islands, with a distinct variety of related cultures, visibly demonstrate evolutionary processes, including convergence and divergence. By emphasizing the use of historical knowledge, their methodology also facilitates the discernment of homologous and analogous characteristics in cases of “cultural radiation” and divergence.
COMMENTS: Responses were divided between those who accepted this framework either wholeheartedly or cautiously, and those for whom it was riddled with inconsistencies and flaws. Contention arose over diverse aspects, and included the assertion that Kirch and Green’s evolution was of a Lamarckian rather than Darwinian nature. Others questioned why an evolutionary framework was necessary at all and its applicability to other cultures. Most found that despite the impression the authors give of a well-defined model that creates an excellent context for understanding the wealth of data from Polynesia, they relied too heavily on known comparative linguistic data and failed to recognize its limitations.
REPLY: Dismissing some critiques as being argumentative and counter-productive to discussion, the authors focus instead on enlarging on how cultural evolution differs from genetic evolution, resolving the Lamarckian issue. They stand solidly by their framework and address at length their critics’ concerns regarding linguistics and other fine details.
ALYSSA CAYWOOD University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Leacock, Eleanor. Women’s Status in Egalitarian Society: Implications for Social Evolution. Current Anthropology Feb., 1992 Vol.33(1): 225-259.
In this article Leacock argued that the framework of egalitarian society had been misinterpreted because there was a misunderstanding of women’s involvement in this type of society as not being independent. She attempted to show historical and unbiased reinterpretations of these societies to reveal that egalitarianism was relevant to women as well as to men and that this was of the utmost importance to comprehend social evolution.
According to Leacock, egalitarian society was misunderstood as a weak version of modern society, when in reality the band consisted of a basic economic unit where individuals marketed their own products, property did not exist and decisions were made by those that would be carrying out the decisions. She looked at four different egalitarian societies: the Montagnais-Naskapi, the Australian Aboriginal and Ojibwa, and to some extent the Iroquois.
In each of these societies she demonstrated that women held different forms of independence and sovereignty from men. The women of the Montagnais-Naskapi band had no social or economic responsibilities that bound them to their men, but had great power since they held the status of shamans similar as the men. Among the Ojibwa, girls and women were taught all that boys and men learned, i.e. warfare, hunting and shamanistic ways up through to adulthood. The women in Australian Aboriginal societies had the power to show their husbands they were economically indispensable by withholding contributions from their husbands after domestic altercations or by moving out of the home until he made peace with his wife. Finally, among different bands of the Iroquois, women held two acceptable powers, the right to deal with captives of war and the right to make decisions about marriage.
Leacock stated that the roles of women changed as a result of social evolution which occurred during the transition of manufacturing goods for joint household use to manufacturing goods to sell for profit and this is when women began to lose command over their manufacturing status. Sexual division of labor in relation to bearing children became the foundation of their oppression as individual producers of services in individual households. She also stated that this was not an easy or rapid process that occurred but that women did retain some of their economic independence as traders and a comparatively elevated status.
COMMENTS: The author was given much praise about her findings and contributions to the role of women in egalitarian societies. Although there were a few that disagreed on her interpretation of egalitarian societies and some found there was a lack of examples of women’s roles.
REPLY: The author concedes that she should have lengthened her paper to include more details and examples of women’s roles in egalitarian societies and that there were four areas in which her paper needed work.
IZTLATZIGUATH R. CASTANO University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
MacLaury, Robert E. From Brightness to Hue: An Explanatory Model of Color-Category Evolution. Current Anthropology, Apr., 1992. Vol.33(2):137-186.
MacLaury discusses the Berlin and Kay color-term evolution model and his own research with various cross-cultural surveys of color categorization. He states that the conclusions of Berlin and Kay can be incorporated with his own explanatory theory.This theory discusses the debate between relativists and universalists regarding color.MacLaury summarizes Berlin and Kay’s basic color terms and their ideas that state that in many languages there is an idea of basic color in which, for example, the three colors yellow, green, and blue would have only one name.Berlin and Kay conclude that languages that exhibit this basic color concept call into question the idea of color-category universals because they contradict another color theory, the Hering opponent-process model.
MacLaury states that a theoretical design is necessary to interpret Berlin and Kay’s data.The author draws a correlation between the stage of a language and the number of words used to express a color.For example, a language in its early stages may use this basic color concept and have only one name for all cool colors and only one name for all warm colors, whereas in English, there are specific names for each color and shade.The author compares charts where color terms of different language-speakers identify different colors, showing the variety of the language in regards to color.The author concludes that the cool category (including colors such as blue, purple, and green) is more likely to be combined into only one word in a developing language, while the warm category (comprised of colors like yellow, orange, and red) will most likely have more than one word.MacLaury attributes this fact to his belief that green and blue look much more similar than red and yellow.He then states that his theory has yet to be thoroughly tested.The article’s highly specialized and technical vocabulary makes it difficult to follow.Someone who is unfamiliar with the subject of cognitive discrimination and linguistic differentiation of colors may have difficulty comprehending it.
Along with various other comments various scholars, Hewes suggests that MacLaury should continue his work in order to find a psychological and biological linkage between the appearance of color terminology and societal scale, along with a correlation between color complexity and societal complexity.Saunders declares that MacLaury’s article is simply a re-write of the previously known and discussed beliefs.Merrifield believes it is necessary to see further fieldwork before committing himself to MacLaury’s theory.
MacLaury addresses these comments individually, stating that he has been trying to make plans for himself to complete more fieldwork on the subject.He states that Kinnear and Deregowski may not understand his definition of a color or a category.He then claims that he would not have been able to make his development without Berlin, Kay, and Merrifield and their data.
ELIZABETH CARPENTER Marquette University (Jane Peterson)
MacLaury, Robert E. From Brightness to Hue: An Explanatory Model of Color-Category Evolution. Current Anthropology April, 1992 Vol.33(2): 137-186.
This article addresses the idea that societies throughout the world interpret colors differently and how recognition and classification of color has changed over time. While some cultures and languages have words to describe red, yellow, green, and blue, other languages have hundreds of words to describe different shades of color and the hues of each of those shades.
This study was based on an initial color category evolution study by Berlin and Kay. Their study was a World Color Survey, with color chips, to see how people from around the world identified colors. Without further background on that study, it was difficult to follow Berlin and Kay’s study and some of their findings and ideas at times.
MacLaury described a number of experiments and tests to see how people identified colors. Many tests concluded that people are able to differentiate between colors better if the colors are displayed in a real experience or situation, like a painting along with other colors, rather than just a color swatch. He also stated that naming and recognition of colors is often based on personal experiences and the amount of contact that you have with a variety of colors, so as expected an artist would have a wider color vocabulary than perhaps an accountant. While some cultures are surrounded by a forest and numerous shades of green, another culture residing near the ocean may be able to distinguish shades of blue.
This article was extremely difficult to follow because of the many scientific terms for categorizing colors. Without the knowledge of color organization and naming, one may find themselves overwhelmed by this article.
COMMENTS: Roger Wescott believed that MacLaury made good points when discussing the fact that many Salishan languages do not have terms for yellow and the lack of terms for colors in Australian languages. He felt that MacLaury should have discussed more about the differences in these languages. J, Van Brakel, a philosophy professor, touched on the idea that some cultures are lacking descriptive words for color because they have no need for them. While a number of the comments praised MacLaury’s studies, some of them criticized his study and felt that it lacked substance.
CORTNEY HAHN University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Roebroeks, Wil, Nicholas J. Conrad, and Thijs van Kolfschoten. Dense Forests, Cold Steepes, and the Palaeolithic Settlement of Northern Europe. Current Anthropology December 1992. 33(5):551-586.
This article focuses on whether or not pre-modern humans could have survived the extreme climates present during the Upper Palaeolithic in northern Europe.The authors, Roebroeks, Conrad, and van Kolfschoten, concentrate on disputing C.S. Gamble’s theory that pre-humans could not have lived through this time period in northern Europe.They wish to show that some current explanations of the Palaeolithic occupation lacks evidence.Archaeological finds from specific sites are sited to prove that this occupation was possible.Finally, they want to give the implications of their data; it is impossible to ignore such a large information base.
The authors provide some context behind the argument, including information about the harsh environment during the Upper Palaeolithic in northern Europe and the challenges it would have presented a tropical adapted hominid.Roebroeks et al. explain the chronological framework that they are dealing with, the environment and landscapes present during the period they are discussing, and the likely climates of these areas.They provide a map showing the different environments of the area as determined by oxygen-isotope data.Subsequently they examine floral and faunal remains found from several sites in the area including Boxgrove in England, Maastricht-Belvédère in the Netherlands, and Lehringen in Germany.
According to Roebroeks et al. the data they provide clearly shows that pre-modern humans occupied northern Europe during the Palaeolithic.This is because the range of environments they could live in was wider than previously believed mainly due to their ability to change their behavior and adapt to harsh weather. They feel that Gamble ignored evidence that proves occupation of areas he deemed uninhabited such as settlement pattterns during the Eemian period.The authors believe that Gamble’s beliefs highlight differences between pre- modern and modern humans that do not actually exist.
Roebroeks et al. believe that environmental data from the region can not be used to stipulate the difference of major differences between pre-modern and modern humans.However, they do not intend to imply that no differences exist.They only wish to explain that there should be no link between behavioral characteristics and anatomical differences.Roebroeks et al. believe that the data they present shows that because pre-modern and modern humans occupied the same environments one can conclude behavioral similarities as well.
This article received comments from twelve different people, half agreeing and half disagreeing with the authors.Some acknowledged that the paper did address some valuable points, but that its main conclusion was solid.While some simply thought that the conclusions formed needed more support to be considered.In conjunction with the comments that disagreed with the paper, there were also comments stating that there argument was accurate as well as timely in its explanation of Northern European settlement.
Roebroeks et al. say that they are grateful for the all comments on their paper and that they feel the negative comments regarding the paper are not wholly related to the precise points they were making.Roebroeks et al. state that most of the commentators accept the paper as they intended it, simply an introduction of new evidence and ideas.They clarify that they did not contest Gamble’s theory, but have provided new evidence that gives a different conclusion.
AMANDA SUCHARDA Marquette University (Jane Peterson)
Roebroeks, Wil; Nicholas J. Conrad; Thijs van Kolfschoten. Dense Forests, Cold Steppes, and the Paleolithic Settlement of Northern Europe. Current Anthropology Dec, 1992 Vol.33(5): 551-586.
The authors aim to stimulate academic discussion about then contemporary ecological models of Eemian (pre-hominid) and Mesolithic (hominid) habitation and exploitation of Northern Europe. These models proposed that modern humans possessed an “Upper Paleolithic package” which gave them the material and cultural tools to exploit environments uninhabited by pre-modern man. The authors refute this claim and state that the geographic range of pre-modern humans is much wider than proposed, including the near glacial environments.
Paleoecological data of Paleolithic Northern Europe are analyzed from well known archaeological sites, mostly in the Netherlands, to assert that researchers such as Gamble and Whallon are incorrect in proposing that only modern humans of the Upper Paleolithic could survive in extreme or “high risk” environments by means of social, behavioral, or cultural adaptations. Roebroeks et al. re-examine Gamble and Whallon’s data to assert that pre-modern humans could and did inhabit “high risk” environments, such as the glacial steppes and dense forests of northern Europe. They also assert that habitation of such environments would require advanced planning and cooperation: aspects of culture. They call into question the paradigm of thinking in terms of rigid behavioral categories corresponding to changes in human environment and anatomy. Roebroeks et al. go so far as to say “in Northern Europe we see no obvious difference in the range of environments occupied by modern and pre-modern hominids (567).”
COMMENTS: R.W. Dennell begins the Comments section the paper by agreeing with the thesis of Roebroeks et al.; that pre-modern and modern hominids inhabited wide ranges in Northern Europe, but he disagrees that this indicates similar behavior. Clive Gable, the archaeologist with whom the authors spend a good deal of their paper disagreeing with, claims “they have missed the wood by concentration on the trees- their own climatic bias (569).” Gamble feels that Roebroeks et al. did not take into account the vastly different environments available to hominids.
REPLY: In their reply Roebroeks et al. indicated that they were pleased that most of the comments they received were positive. They felt that the negative remarks were a result of the commentator writing “their own concerns and preconceptions into our text (579).”
LOWELL EVANS University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Sept, Jeanne M.Was There No Place Like Home?:A New Perspective on Early Hominid Archaeological Sites From the Mapping of Chimpanzee Nests.Current Anthropology, Apr., 1992.Vol.33(2):187-207.
Sept’s research supports arguments that early hominid settlement archaeological sites could have formed as by-products of a system of subsistence very different from a home-based or central-foraging system.She aims to discern whether the cumulative pattern of debris discarded by wild chimpanzees is distinguishable from the pattern of remains left behind by early hominids.This is a topic of interest because human social and economic activities are unique among primates.The earliest humans have left behind cultural debris, the accumulation of which has led these sites to be called ‘home bases’.The home base model was shaped by Glen Isaac and proposes that after foraging, hominids returned to a central place for refuge from predators or to share food.The home base model has three features: one, the artifacts/debris are transported there artificially; two, the bones are from different species showing that the meat was transported to the site for separate feeding episodes; and three, the concentration of debris shows debris producing activities such as food sharing occurring within the same spatial focus.Ethnoarchaeologists witness home bases among modern hunter and gatherer groups who return to central places in camps where they share food and activities and that are littered with refuse, artifacts, and food remains. Sept does acknowledge that the problem with applying modern hunter and gatherer behavior to hominid debris sites is that applications would be ethnocentric.Alternatives to the home base model in explaining artifact concentrations are:one, the ‘stone cache’ hypothesis; and two, ‘natural processes’ hypothesis.The stone cache hypothesis says that the concentrations of artifacts could have formed if early hominids were stockpiling stones in their foraging areas in order to serve as centralized tool sources for future food processing needs, such as butchery.The natural processes hypothesis explains debris accumulation due to the transportation of prey by predators to a home base where byproducts accumulate, or as locations that attract faunal and floral accumulation.
Sept compares chimpanzees to early hominids because of their close evolutionary history, intelligence, technical skills, omnivorous diet, and savannah habitat.West African chimpanzees have been observed returning to favorite nesting and feeding sites, leaving behind debris (such as broken twigs, seeds, nut shells, hair and bones from small prey), and they are also known to use stones to crack nuts or hard fruit.Therefore, by studying spatial patterns of chimpanzee activities that produce debris, archaeologist can explore alternatives to existing behavioral models of site formation.Sept studied ten to fifteen wild chimpanzees that inhabited the banks of the Ishasha River in Eastern Zaire.In this particular habitat it is dryer than most other chimpanzee habitats but it is similar to the semiarid riparian habitats in East Africa where archaeological sites were formed two million years ago.Sept’s crew surveyed thirty-five belt transects that ran perpendicular to the river for two seasons.They mapped and described chimpanzee nests and other physical traces (residues and feces) they found.Sept’s results show that the Ishasha chimps are spatially redundant, often returning to the same locations.Sept also contends that if the chimpanzees had left debris or residues where they constructed their nest it would not support the home base model.Concentrations would have formed because the local forest structure and composition favored frequent use such as ample food sources or canopy density.
The commentators generally agree that Sept asks good questions, but that without habituated chimpanzees that researchers can follow there is not enough solid data to answer them.She does not always supply the readers with technical points of information such as what constitutes a ‘dry’ month and other similar remarks that the commentators feel need clarification.Many of the commentators also felt Sept would have benefited by observing savannah baboons because they exploit the habitat and niches that early hominids preferred that left other great African apes in the forest.They also argue with Sept’s concentrations by natural processes such as the sleep-site-base model because both baboons and chimpanzees tend to consume their prey where they kill it.Finally, Sept fails to contrast “independent episodes of individualistic feeding and nesting behavior” to the home base foraging model, therefore, leaving open the issue of how the home based model would be challenged by the discovery of nest clumps analogous to Plio/Pleistocene hominid debris sites.
Sept recognizes that broader information could have been collected if the chimpanzees had been habituated, but that would have taken several more years.Also, even though her publication may appear to be premature for her data, she reiterates that her goal was to create dialogue discussing the home base model not to just document nesting behavior.In regards to her comments about avoiding the use of chimpanzee’s as ‘referential models’ for early hominid behavior, her goal was to develop a relational comparison between ranging patterns of chimpanzee’s and modern human foragers to show that they are constrained by the structure of their habitat and how that effects debris patterns.As to why she looked at chimpanzees instead of savannah baboons, it was because the scale of complexity of the Ishasha habitat is relevant for comparison with the archaeological records created habitat for large bodied, omnivorous, tool handling hominids.
ELIZABETH LANGENFELD Marquette University(Dr. Jane Peterson)
Sept, Jeanne M. Was There No Place Like Home?: A New Perspective on Early Hominid Archaeological Sites From the Mapping of Chimpanzee Nests. Current Anthropology Vol. 33 No. 2 April 1992 p. 187-207.
Sept has a hypothesis that one way we can learn how early hominids lived is by studying the nesting patterns of chimpanzees to see if there are any patterns that could be compared to debris patterns left in sites known to be inhabited by hominids.
The article begins by explaining what criteria mark a site dubbed to be an early hominid campsite, such as transported rocks and evidence these rocks have been shaped by forces other than those found in nature. The flaws of these arguments are then pointed out, then why a new model of trying to determine how early hominids lived is needed. Some of these sites were used for butchering animals, but not necessarily for living. Another reason why most of these haven’t survived is because the materials left there have rotted away.
She decides to study a band of chimpanzees in the Ishasha river valley in eastern Congo, because it closely resembles the habitat that hominids inhabited. She points out that chimps have some similar behaviors to hominids, and that theoretically the debris patterns should be similar as well. Six surveys take place in 1989 and 1990 during the dry season, which is in June, July and August. During these, she checks debris patterns left by chimps around their nests and compares them to sites that have been proposed to be used by early hominids. Although she makes some good points, she doesn’t really draw any conclusions to her work and states that this is a preliminary study. There are several charts and graphs showing her numbers of nesting sites, of transect sites and how frequently nesting sites were used.
COMMENTS: The comments section has a variety of comments, questions and criticisms. A few of them cite the lack of conclusion in her work; one person compared it to a research proposal rather than a paper. One complains that she acts like chimpanzees and humanoids were the only ones to leave unique debris patterns around their nests. Another criticism is she reads too much into the chimpanzee sites and that they are merely gathering places because they have abundant fruit or offer a safe place to sleep and are not what could be called a “home.” Some do praise her for mentioning this as an area of research. A few commentators have problems with the names of trees she cites as ones the chimpanzees use.
REPLY: She breaks down her reply into the categories the criticisms were based, (modeling, home bases and central foraging and the data considered) and states that she wanted to start the discussion on how chimpanzee nesting sites, modern human foraging patterns and hominid archaeological sites can be used to create a better picture of what life was like for the hominids.
SARAH NISKANEN University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Shore, Cris.Virgin Births and Sterile Debates:Anthropology and the New Reproductive Technologies. Current Anthropology, Jun.,1992.Vol.33 (3): 295-314.
Cris Shore argues that the lesson from anthropology is that every society has a vested interest in controlling reproduction.As evidence he states that within society it is possible to find dominant institutions, such as the Catholic Church or the medical field, that compete to control the way in which the society accepts concepts of birth and reproduction. Shore explores the political, social, and anthropological issues raised by new reproduction technologies.New reproductive technologies are controversial because of their social and legal implications.They challenge traditional ideas about motherhood, biological inheritance, the integrity of family, and the “naturalness” of birth itself.Shore begins his paper by stating that questions about reproductive technologies fall into one of three categories:(1) those that emphasize the ethical and practical problems resulting from experimentation on human embryos, (2) those that redefine the structure of parenthood, and (3) those raised by feminist writers.Shore contends that a fourth category should be added that would raise anthropological concerns; what new technological advances reveal about attitudes towards social institutions such as marriage, parenthood, and childbirth.Ethical problems include such questions as: does experimentation on human embryos violate the sanctity of human life, and will it result with genetic engineering? Who is the legal parent of a child born to a woman who is neither its genetic nor its social mother, explores the structure of parenthood.Feminists writers raise such questions a: in societies where women are largely defined in terms of their reproductive capacities, what effect will these technologies have on women’s lives?
These issues are explored within the framework of advanced capitalist societies of North America and northwestern Europe. The 1984 Warnock Report and the Embryology Bill of 1990, that were issued by the English government, are used to illustrate the conflicts and debates surrounding the issue of family, parenting, and kinship.Various opinions from different professional fields and organizations illustrate different responses among groups regarding new reproductive technologies.For example, Shore states that science and medicine view the new reproductive technologies as having potential medical benefits.However, groups like the Roman Catholic Church believe that life begins at conception, and the human being must be respected from that very moment.A position that puts the church at odds with scientists, who favors embryo research because of its potential medical benefits.Responses from feminist writers show the disparity within groups.Although some feminists see artifical insemination as a way to free women from depending on men in order to have a child, some see embryo research as potentially harmful to the woman and a way for men to control the process of reproduction.
In the remainder of the article, the relationship between artificial insemination and kinship is explored.The Warnock Committee established by the English government, assembled evidence from more than 350 different organizations, ranging from the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council and the British Housewives’ League to the Law Society, and a variety of health authorities. The purpose of the committee was to confront the relationship between social parenthood and biological procreation.The different responses from the various groups are used to demonstrate that in Britain an ideology of kinship and affinity still exists, which supports the notion that the family must be preserved with its biological and sexual integrity.
Although many of the nine commentators praised at least one aspect of Shore’s paper, the majority of them found that his paper, especially that in all societies there is a vested interest in the symbolic control of fertility and reproduction, was not convincing.Both Abrahams and Melhuus praised his work for contributing to the growing body of literature on the social and legal implications of new reproductive technologies.Melhuus further adds that Shore’s paper reveals the various levels of social significance; however that he would like more concrete connections in order to understand see the cultural links imbedded in those debates.Both Melhuus and Frankenberg raised methodological questions concerning whether a text, such as the Warnock Report, should be used as a source of anthropological data and if it accurately shows public opinion.Delaney, Frankenberg, and Schneider had objections to Shore’s claim that the debates he investigated show, from an anthropological standpoint, that all societies have a vested interest in controlling reproduction.Schneider argues that the new reproductive technologies have only changed the expectations of how biological links are established; not that they challenge cultural categories.He further argues that the cultural definitions of kinship remains unchanged and what is challenged is who qualifies for these positions and on what grounds.
Shore begins his reply by pointing out that the responses to his article highlight the problems facing anthropologists when dealing with controversial public issues within their own countries. Generating new knowledge is not difficult, but studying what is already known in order to generate new ideas and concepts proves to be difficult.In response to Schneider’s assertion, Shore argues that he is making the assertion that kinship is rigid and that culture itself is not static. Shore defends his use of texts as a source of anthropological data, because a liberal parliamentary democracy does represent the attitudes and opinions of the people.He recognizes that it might not represent everyone in the society, but point out that no ethnographic does. Shore concludes by stating that further anthropological investigation is needed as newer reproductive technologies continue to challenge our concepts of kinship and family roles.
CLARITY RATING: 4
LESLEY ELLEFSON Marquette University(Dr. Jane Peterson)
Shore, Cris. Virgin Births and Sterile Debates: Anthropology and the New Reproductive Technologies. Current Anthropology 1992. Vol. 33, No.3 (Jun., 1992), pp. 295-314.
In this article, Shore discussed the debate over whether to continue embryo research and what part anthropology plays in these new technologies.
After the world’s first in vitro baby was born in 1978, the public was proud and uneasy. This lead to the establishment of the Warnock Committee by the British government to ensure the public has nothing to worry about. Since the publication of the Warnock report in 1984 on human fertilization and embryology, debates about farther research occurred all over Britain. The supporting groups included the Warnock Committee, the syod of the Church of England, and some scientists. Those defending embryo research argued it might lead to more effective treatments of infertility and genetic disease, such as finding the cause of infertility or why women have miscarriages. The opposing parties included feminist writers, the Roman Catholic Church, and many doctors and scientists. Their arguments were that in vitro fertilization was an attempt to undermine women and exploit their procreativity, that embryos were “true human”, and that the scientific grounds for experimenting on fetuses were poor.
According to Shore, basic assumptions about the parenthood, procreation, conception, and the family are undergoing radical transformation. With new reproductive technologies, the anthropological constructions of the kinship and family will no longer apply, since anthropologists look at kinship and family structure when parents, children and kinship relations are biological or genetic.
The article was a little hard to follow. The debates about embryo research are clear as well as where each party stands and their reasons. But the anthropological view on this issue was very unclear and without the comments, the anthropological view would be very hard to understand.
COMMENTS: Comments on this article range from agreeing with Shore to disagreeing with the changing of family and kinship system. Almost all commenters touched on the issue of the power in the “gift of life”. One commenter, Verene Stolke asks for more information on the issue.
REPLY: In responding, Shore agreed with Stolke about further investigation and disagreed with David M. Schneider that these new reproductive technologies do not change the basic assumption about parenthood, procreation, conception and the family.
MAI XIONG University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Tishkov, Valery A.The Crisis in Soviet Ethnography.Current Anthropology, Aug. 1992.Vol.33(4): 371-394.
Tishkov addresses the problems of Soviet ethnographers and Soviet social scientists in general: the problems in their methods, the problems in their philosophies and theories and the question of what role social scientists would play in the post-Soviet world.He criticizes the Russian Academy of Sciences for being overly conservative and complacent, too “stuck in its ways” to be effective.However, he makes it clear that the true flaws in Soviet ethnography do not lie in the conditions at the Academy of Sciences, but in the philosophies that create the core of the discipline itself.He feels that the discipline is tied to an outdated and incorrect positivism wrapped in doctrine, that it is still rooted in the Marxist notions of class struggle and “scientific management of society,” at a time when it should move past this, and into more modern relativism.
Meanwhile, the discipline has grown stagnant, with researchers stuck in a “Sovacademic” state, waiting for years for new books about groups in foreign lands, but never thinking to study those in their own backyard: A lack of researchers working in the field and collecting first-hand information is one of the key problems that Tishkov sees affecting his field.He proposes that Soviet ethnographers go into the field more frequently, and stay in the field for longer stretches.This way, they can penetrate and understand the culture being studied better, and also be more like ethnographers in other parts of the world.
Aside from the methods of Soviet ethnography, a serious flaw lies in its philosophy.For decades, it was linked to the Marxist-Leninist theory of nations.Tishkov claims that Soviet ethnography sees ethnicity as “absolutely ‘natural’,” and that this is a symptom of the emphasis ethnicity was given in the Soviet Union. He feels that this view of ethnicity is partly to blame for the Soviet Union breaking apart into a collection of “ethnonations”.Furthermore, he feels that the course taken by these nations- forming nations based on ethnic loyalty without regard for the possibility of its “absence, mutability or plurality”- is a mistaken path.Beyond this, he thinks that the “scientific management of society” is outdated and misguided.He thinks that in the creation and governing of nations the intellectual should no longer say, “here is what you must do”, but instead serve as an analyst, one who provides a detailed survey, and nothing else.
Several reviewers share Tishkov’s assertion that Soviet ethnography focused too heavily upon the ethnic mass and failed to pay attention to the individual.Dragadze feels that he was too harsh in his critique of fieldwork done by Soviet ethnographers.He feels that these workers were constrained by the Soviet system and the difficulties of working within that system are responsible for the failings in their work.Other reviewers share this viewpoint, and feel that Tishkov has been to quick to criticize Soviet ethnographers and praise western ones.They feel that he needs to reconsider his criticism, and that a dialogue between Soviet and western ethnographers, addressing the strengths and weaknesses of both systems is the way to resolve the crisis.
Tishkov’s reply had not arrived at Current Anthropology at press time and would therefore appear in a later issue.
JAMES BURCH Marquette University (Jane Peterson)
Tishkov, Valery A., The Crises in Soviet Ethnography. Current Anthropology, Vol. 33, No.4 (Aug.-Oct., 1992), 371-394.
Valery A. Tishkov, the Director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Minister for Nationalities, explained how “The Crises in the Soviet Ethnography” became a problem in Russia. Before his present position in the Institute, in 1989, he was the Head of American Ethnic Studies and Deputy Director. He was an expert on North America history and cultures, indigenous people, contemporary ethnics, nationalism and ethnic conflicts. He also published books and articles on Canadian history and contemporary politics and United States ethnology.
The author explained that the “crises” in the Soviet ethnography arose because of self-satisfaction and intellectual isolationism based on the political control of information. Tishkov believed ethnography should use long term field work, use resources from other sciences, and develop a new interpretation of ethnicity. The “Repatriation of Ethnography” proposed by Tishkov involves collecting knowledge and the experiences of local people. Anthropology students should spend more time with specific ethnic groups. The scientific community should also practice introspection and self-analysis. The author believes that social scientific tradition has involved arrogance and messianism. A new interpretation of ethnicity must include methods of theoretical construction and unfortunately intellectual communities no longer play important role of an advisor in anthropology.
COMMENTS: Tishkov was criticized by his colleagues in Russia because of his liberal views for “openness” to the discipline. However, some comments agreed with Tishkov’s views especially from the American intellectual community. For those of Russian intellectuals saw Tishkov as a threat to their society.
YIEN KONGDUONGDIIT University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Tobias, Phillip V.Piltdown: An Appraisal of the Case against Sir Arthur Keith.Current Anthropology, June, 1992.Vol 33 (3): 243-293.
This lengthy article is a discussion of the Piltdown forgery with an emphasis on the author’s contention that Sir Arthur Keith was the main perpetrator.Tobias opens with an argument as to why, after eighty years, the case is still worth investigating. Exoneration of those not guilty and insight into the ways that scientific data are viewed were among the reasons cited.He also gives reasons for his personal interest in the forgery; the main reason is his view that discovery of Piltdown delayed acceptance of Raymond Dart’s “Taung child” for over 25 years.Tobias sums up the sequence of the Piltdown “discoveries” and the later analysis that proved them to be fakes.He devises a list of all the men suspected of involvement in the forgery, including Charles Dawson, the primary investigator at the Piltdown site; Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and Sir Arthur Keith.The rest of the article is devoted to the evidence against Keith.Tobias’ main concern is reviewing the evidence already assembled by Ian Langham and Frank Spencer, but he adds a few of his own suspicions as well.He lists nine reasons for Keith’s guilt, among them, data Keith included in an article published a few days before the public unveiling of Piltdown; an untrue statement made by Keith to another anthropologist regarding Keith’s own access to the Piltdown material; Keith’s destruction of all his correspondence with Charles Dawson; and misrepresentation of another scientist’s analysis of the Piltdown material.Tobias also points out the fact that many of Keith’s contemporaries disliked and distrusted him.As for motives, according to Spencer (supported by Tobias), Keith desired prestige and further advancement of his scientific career.He also wanted evidence to support his theory that early hominid brain size was roughly equal to that of modern humans.Finally, Tobias points to Keith’s vehement rejection of African hominid fossils, including Australopithecus and the Taung skull, as a signal that Keith was defending the verity of Piltdown.Tobias’ final comment is on the “high degree of probability” that the culprit has been uncovered.
COMMENTS: The nineteen authors who responded to Tobias’ article display quite a range of opinions over the validity of his case, but they tend to fall on two sides of a distinct line.Peter Bowler, Andrew Chamberlain, and Caroline Grigson are among those who not only refute Tobias’ evidence as weak and circumstantial, but also question the worthwhile-ness of the investigation in the first place.Robin Dennell’s feminist perspective challenges Tobias’ examination of only the male members of the group involved with the hoax.F. G. Fedele supports both the case against Keith and the relevance of the investigation, but points out the weakness of some of the evidence.
RESPONSE: Tobias’ reply to his commentators is curiously more akin to a summary of their viewpoints than a response to them.He categorizes the type of response made by each author.He adds, however, at Fedele’s behest, a timetable of events involving Piltdown.He also refutes Bowler’s skepticism concerning the link between Keith’s hostility towards African fossils and his involvement with Piltdown.He agrees with those authors claiming that the evidence is ultimately not proof.As for the critics proposing other suspects, Tobias suggests that they themselves investigate the claims.
ADRIANNE DAGGETT Marquette University (Jane Peterson)
Tobias, Phillip V. Piltdown: An Appraisal of the Case against Sir Arthur Keith. Current Anthropology June, 1992 Vol. 33(3)249-293.
Piltdown: anthropology’s greatest joke or greatest foe? According to Phillip Tobias the planting of the forged bones in Piltdown was nothing short of a mortal wound to the paleo-anthropological field. After discovering Piltdown as a fraud some forty years after its ‘discovery’, the great ‘who done it’ case began. Fingers pointed to more than twenty possible suspects ranging from the discoverer of the site to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the article eleven of these possible suspects were listed, along with a brief explanation as to why the cases against them were discredited. At the end of the original investigation it was decided that the discoverer Charles Dawson had played a key role in the farce, however, due to the intensive details of the case a second “scientist” sidekick was implicated. Tobias writes that along with anthropologist Langham there was enough evidence to indicate anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith as the scientific culprit. Listed are nine ‘pointers to Keith’s guilt”, ranging from inconsistent dates and corresponding data, denial of his and Dawson’s previous encounters, destruction of his correspondence with Dawson, and misrepresentation of data. He then relates some convincing motives for Keith’s participation in the farce: proving his ideas on human evolution and the connection to England, and career advancement. At the time England’s anthropologists were in a state of self-pity, having claim to no early hominid bones of their own. Piltdown gave England bones earlier and unlike any previously discovered, proving some of Keith’s earlier assertions. No one individual prospered more from Piltdown than Keith.
While Keith prospered, the world of science suffered. Tobias insists that Piltdown not only created a breakdown of trust in the scientific community it also impeded the acceptance of important discoveries; namely the Taung baby. When the Taung skull was introduced about ten years after Piltdown it materially challenged the acceptance of the Dawson’s data. Because of the unwillingness of English scholars to accept Piltdown as a farce a twenty-eight year hiatus began before they fully acknowledge Taung’s authenticity. It is because of this detriment to the field of anthropology that Tobias believes the perpetrators should be brought to light, despite the amount of time that has passed.
COMMENTS: There were a great number of responses to this article, approximately thirty pages. For the most part people were confused as to why Tobias would press the issue after eighty years. Other commentators felt the case built against Sir Arthur Keith was insufficient and needlessly defaming to his reputation. However, there were some reviewers who felt as the author did, that the Piltdown scandal had been detrimental and needed to be addressed. On the whole, most people agreed that not only is Piltdown a relevant issue, but that Keith appears to be a more than reasonable suspect.
REPLY: Tobias replies with a lengthy reaction to the many commentators and continues to back up and elaborate further on some of his previous observations.
KRISTEN VENZKE University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Wood, James W. et al.The Osteological Paradox: Problems of Inferring Prehistoric Health from Skeletal Samples. Current Anthropology, Aug-Oct, 1992.Vol. 33 (4): 343-370.
The authors’ purpose for this article is to show the problems of using skeletal remains from prehistoric sites to create general conclusions about the health of populations.The three main problems they focus on in this article are demographic non-stationarity, selective mortality, and heterogeneity in the risks of disease and death.The authors define demographic non-stationarity as the occurrence of large changes in age at death rates compared to relatively small changes in the fertility rates in non-stationary populations, or populations that are in not in equilibrium.Because of this, the use of mean age of death is not always as useful a way of calculating mortality as it is of calculating fertility of the population.This makes it unfair to state that a population had poor health and high mortality rates based upon a relatively young mean age of death.
Selective mortality is described as the biased representation of a population by the skeletal record.Only a portion of a population that suffered from a disease is shown, the portion that died as a result of that disease.Also, only a portion of a specific age bracket is shown in the skeletal samples, that being the portion of the population that died at specified age.For example, one does not have the whole populations of twenty-year olds living at a specific time shown in the skeletal record, only those that died at the specific layer of excavation.Because of this, it is difficult to determine the number of persons exposed to a specific disease, as well as the duration for which they were exposed.Not all individuals exposed to a specific disease are shown in the skeletal record, as some may have recovered.
Finally, in describing the hidden heterogeneity in risks of disease and death, the authors refer to variation in the rate of susceptibility; that is that certain individuals are more frail and predisposed to disease than others.The skeletal samples represented at prehistoric sites would tend to include the frail portion of the population.This makes it difficult to make general conclusions of poor health in the population, based off of weaker members of the society.
The authors continue to elaborate on the problems of inferring health situations based on the factors that they described earlier in the article.In a population where the risk of death is constant and homogenous, the graph of morbidity created is a simple decline.In a population where there is a heterogeneous rate of frailty, several different morbidity graphs can be created from the findings.Another problem is that the cause of frailty is unknown or may be the result of several factors.One solution to this is to only report the disease statistics found directly from skeletal evidence.The problem with this is that it may place too much focus on only a few diseases, instead of several which may have affected the population.The distinction between active and inactive diseases also must be made known.The article uses the example of skull lesions to point that inactive lesions could result in three possible hypothesis: (1) the person had survived the illness, (2) the individual was less frail than the others of the population, or (3) the individual was less susceptible to other causes of death than other members of the population.
To provide examples for the problems they have noted with evaluating health of populations with skeletal remains of populations, they authors provide two cases.One is the evidence of enamel hypoplasia at the Dickson Mounds in Illinois.As a result of the applications of their previous findings, the authors state that the better the health in the society, the larger the number of skeletons they find, the lower the average age of death will be.The second example applies to populations during the transition from hunting and gathering to agricultural ways of life in the American Midwest.By examining the increase of cranial lesions and the decrease in age at death, it is as likely that there was in increase in fertility rather than an increase in morbidity of the populations.The authors sum up their article by stating that with consideration of the issues they raised; demographic non-stationairty, selective mortality, and heterogeneity in disease risk and death, the study of paleopathology and osteology should be greatly improved.
COMMENTS: The majority of the comments on the article are positive and thank the authors for not only their word of caution about accepting conclusions applied from skeletal samples to the broad field of health situations of past populations, but also for still retaining an optimistic view towards the fields of paleopathology and paleodemography.Many of the commentators also share the authors’ views that an important shift in the field of physical anthropology is to look at the wider population rather than the selective individual in order to avoid sampling errors.Several of the commentators also include the problems of using skeletal remains in concluding health of populations considering that several skeletal remains have poor preservation.Negative comments of the article focus on the pro-civilization bias in which the authors tend to argue that an agricultural way of life constitutes an intrinsically better and healthier lifestyle. Also, the negative commentators remind the authors of the argument that they made themselves, that one should consider various conclusions as having merit and consider multiple competing hypotheses.
REPLY: The authors thank the commentators for their generally positive comments on their article and offer a few points as clarification.They also address the additional problems that many of the commentators had brought up such as preservation of skeletal remains as well as issues of sampling populations.In response to the negative comments they received regarding their stance in the hunter-gatherer versus agriculturalist debate, the authors maintain their desire to stay removed from the debate and only provide another hypothesis as to what may have been the results of agricultural development.
SUSAN SCHEEF Marquette University(Jane Peterson)
Wood, James et. al. The Osteological Paradox: Problems of Inferring Prehistoric Health from Skeletal Samples. Current Anthropology 1992: 343-370.
Paleodemography and paleopathology have been commonly used by anthropology in determining the health status of people by skeletal remains. The authors suggest that there are three problems to relying on skeletal studies to determine the health of a population: demographic nonstationary, selective mortality, and unmeasured individual level heterogeneity.
Demographic nonstationary is a society where population changes are based on the fertility rate. Selective mortality is a problem because the skeletons show that the person died of a disease at the age they are found. There is no way to know if others were at risk of a disease at the same age, but then died later on in life. This means that skeletons are not reliable as a representation of a population. The problem of hidden heterogeneity is that factors such as social, environmental, and genetics are unknown. Life-table estimates showing the mortality rates based on age are misleading. When adding subpopulations there are endless combinations that can be made in a aggregate mortality pattern if one is looking at the possibility of hidden heterogeneity.
The authors propose a model in which the conditions that one would become a risk for disease and death is compared to the individuals age. There are four things the authors feel will help data to become more reliable: the frailness to heterogeneity, the relationship between frailty distribution and distribution of risks among individuals, pathological processes, and a better understandings of cultural context.
COMMENTS: Some commentators caution the authors to not discard all theories on information skeletons may provide because there are new findings, but that their findings can improve on the already developed theories. There is agreement that data is often found through inadequate techniques. The concept of heterogeneity risks are considered a good addition to determine the health of populations but it is probably impossible to create an index of frailty.
REPLY: The authors agree that the problems they have suggested are not easily solved, but hope that the readers will help contribute to creating solutions. Since the replies to the article were positive, the authors address other issues to clarify their standings on multiple hypotheses.
LYNDSEY LOCKHART University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)
Wright, Gary A. Origins of Food Production in Southeast Asia: A Survey of Ideas. Current Anthropology, February, 1992 Vol.33 (1): 109-139.
The article starts with how agriculture began and spread to the rest of the world. It arose because hunting and gathering was no longer able to sustain groups and new “technologies” were developed. Cultivation of wild plants and the domestication of wild animals for more food and livestock pens and farms flourished. There is debate on which came first, animal or plant domestication. The two did not have to occur together, but many think they happened at the same time as one idea of one culture. There is some evidence of dog domestication for hunting purposes without agriculture and there is evidence to support the reverse; the reverse stating that man cultivated plants and potentially gave surpluses of cultivated crops to local animals and over time the animals became tame and worthy of domestication and needed protection from prey.
Factors meaningful to the origin of plant domestication are: whether the plant grows wild in the area, is the soil suitable, free from animal destruction and/or consumption, fixed population and economy, and out right need. One factor that has provided a basis for a theory, referred to as “oasis, desiccation, or propinquity” states that after the glacial retreat at the end of the Pleistocene period man had to adapt to living by big, isolated water holes to survive along with other animals. With less rain in the southern latitudes, people were forced to move closer together around water and this brought about diffusion and shared knowledge. Food production, cultivation of distinct flora and animal domestication, are the greatest advancements of mankind since fire. Initially researchers thought plant cultivation and domestication greatest likelihood of first taking place in the Nile River valley because there is a constant water source with rich soil year after year. With the reduction in substantial rainfall, people begin to gravitate towards the river for water, animals (hunting) and farming is discovered as a result of this migration.
Climate change could also be a factor in the beginnings of agriculture, but culture adaptation could also play a role. Other theories suggest that cultivation can only take place where a plant grows wild and the best data shows that Southeast Asia is the most prime location for wild plants, the right climate and prime area/soil. Out of this hypothesis came another based on cultural ecology, stating that the environment and man’s interaction determine culture and cultural change. With the cultivation of seeds, comes the domestication of animals and a food staple to feed the livestock. What is for certain is that culture has evolved to the point that greater population sizes generally meant plant and animal domestication and an advancement of an economy and further cultural advancements.
COMMENTS: For the most part the people commenting gave Wright praise for his examination or reexamination of the ideas behind food production origins and for being the catalyst for the discussion on the origin of food production in Southwestern Asia. Those who commented see the value in the research and discussion, but some believe that more needs to be looked at and some think that climatic changes alone could not be the leading factor in food production. All support the idea environment and human interaction in nature played a likely role in food domestication. One person stated that they thought it was highly relevant and noteworthy that the author worked in some of the locations discussed in the research.
REPLY: Wright says the paper is long enough, so he would only address the facts contributed. He does support the hypothesis that food production/ cultivation likely started in Southeast Asia and migrated with the people to the Middle East. He is steadfast in his belief that animal domestication came before plant domestication, but admits some sites show the presence of plant and animal remains at the same time. He goes on to state that population increase could skew the results and that population growth was not necessarily grounds for plant and animal domestication.
STEVEN AMSLER University of Minnesota Duluth (Jennifer Jones)