Current Anthropology 1994

Armstrong, David F. Stokoe, William C. Wilcox, Sherman E. Signs of the Origin of Syntax. Current Anthropology, Aug. – Oct., 1994. Vol. 35 (4): 349-368.

Within this article Armstrong, Stokoe, and Wilcox touch on the origin and evolution of the human capacity for language. They agree with a “continuous” hypothesis that language evolved slowly, as opposed to a “discontinuous” hypothesis that suggests language just appeared with the modern Homo sapiens. They suggest that gestures were a precursor and stimulator of syntax, “building blocks of syntactic language.” They touch on four major topics they build a scenario to support their theory: sign language, language as gestures, semantic phonology, and language-cum-syntax. On the topic of sign language the authors argue that it is equal to spoken language on the level of communication and cognitions, but different in surface structure and nuerophysiology, enough so that the study of such would provide insight to the evolution of language. They express favor towards Milo and Quiatt’s argument that the cognitive ability for language came before spoken language, deriving from the evolution of gestures; but disagree with their view that gestural systems were not fully syntactical when modern human vocal tracts appeared. Under the segment labeled “Language as Gestures” the authors go against the traditional idea of speech as abstract, formal linguistic units, and explain how speech can be described in terms of gestures. For example, the word ‘spoon’, if each letter is said alone there is no lip rounding but when combined the vowel segments force lip rounding. If language is thought of in terms of gestures or segmented activity the evolution of such is a continuous progression of gestures, supporting the authors’ original argument. To support the idea that language can be described as a collection of gestures, Stokoe introduces semantic phonology, the third segment of the article. The idea behind semantic phonology is that a sign can be seen as a combination of a gestured noun and gestured verb, so the sign is an agent-verb construction. By having a way to give gestures phonological aspects it allows sign language or gestures in general to be discussed along the same plane as speech. Next, the authors take the idea of semantic phonology into the final segment of the article, “Evolution of Language-cum-Syntax.” They believe the analysis of the structure of gestures can provide insight for the origin of syntax. They then discuss Greenfield and Savage-Rumbaugh’s “evidence that pygmy chimpanzees are capable of inventing and consistently using simple rules for relating classes of objects and actions.” This would be expected of early hominids according to the authors’ continuity theory. So, this would suggest cognition and communication progressed continuously, and syntax derived incrementally from presyntactic behavior. They go on to suggest that their scenario could also support the evolution of the large human brain. After a rather confusing discussion about the link between the left hemisphere of the cerebrum, cognitive development and language; the article concludes with a summary.

Comments
The commentators all at least agree that Armstrong, Stokoe, and Wilcox’s theory is plausible. They each then pick a segment the strongly agreed with or wanted to comment on. For example, Ben Blount comments on expanding out view of what language is. Catherine Callaghan commented that it is refreshing to read an article that takes an evolutionary perspective and offers a good question. “Why did we not maintain communication systems similar to one of the languages of the deaf?” Adam Kendon does criticize the way “gesture” is used without a detailed description of the word.

Reply
Armstrong, Stokoe, and Wilcox reply by basically thanking everyone for their helpful ideas and explaining some of their confusions. For example, they reply to Kendon, by explaining that they did not specifically define “gestures” intentionally because their focus is on finding a unity in bodily basis’s of language.

CLARITY: 2
NICOLE NARDONE Temple University (Deborah Augsburger)

Dominguez, Virginia. A Taste for “the Other”: Intellectual Complicity in Racializing Practices. Current Anthropology August-October, 1994 Vol. 35(4):333-348.

As anthropologists it is our responsibility to examine the inner-workings of society to see how it is thoroughly structured. Anthropologists have the responsibility to include themselves in the search for understanding, to examine their own successes, failures, and cognitive direction in an attempt to produce holistic knowledge. The devastating reality is that we, as the Western world, often embody the hypocrisy we wish to shed light on.

This article describes an issue that is quite sensitive among university intellectuals and students alike, making them both question their personal intentions and motives. Dominguez illustrates how society objectifies the “other,” throwing it into a forum of intellectual conversations and debates, with the contradictory product being the realization, creation, and reproduction of the “other.” The “other” can be said to be anyone who is not in the “majority,” anyone who does not fall into the “divine” category or similar cognitive pathway represented by the majority of people in a particular area. Dominquez discusses the United States, but also references other European countries.

This article tells us that “otherness” is not natural, but instead, diversity is invoked through hyper-privileging, through society’s recognition of biological differences. Dominguez begins her fourth paragraph stating, “Otherness is consequential because of how deeply it is learned and then reproduced through seemingly innocuous practices. For every posited otherness there is a reinforced sense of shard selfhood.” Through the social construction of reality, we see that people create the majority and the minority, alienating minority groups to give the “majority” a sense of unity among themselves. We see that society invokes diversity by objectifying, internalizing, and racializing. People endow biological differences with meaning, giving more power to a certain skin color or body type. Dominguez tells us that in the Western world we try to set ourselves apart from the racial discussions by invoking laws such as affirmative action and creating school courses to learn about diversity. Through affirmative action and diversity courses, people are forced to racialize and notice biological differences. This system of discrete racializing has not been questioned because of the positive light that illuminates it, giving it a glow of equality when it is really perpetuating difference. It is the common trend for universities to hire “minority” scholars to further their own personal goals of having a “diverse” faculty. By labeling people as “minority” and “majority,” we are crippling society and its ability to become egalitarian. Affirmative action leaves people feeling left out and awkward.

In this article, Dominguez shows how Western society is not free from racism just because it declares it “unacceptable” in formal discourse. The discourse that society uses to free itself from racializing practices ends up condemning it instead. Dominguez tells us that we must search our own hearts for the intentions that motivate us to categorize people.

CLARITY: 4
DANIEL NABERS Valdosta State University (Melissa Rinehart).

Escobar, Arturo. Welcome to Cyberia. Current Anthropology June, 1994 Vol. 35(3): 211-231.

This article by Arturo Escobar addresses questions relating to the development of technology and science in every culture. These questions include; how are new technologies reshaping social construction and what impacts have reproductive and medical technologies had on morale and identity? Escobar uses the term “hybrid cultures” to describe the combination of a virtual world with the modern world. Through research Escobar shows how this world is being changed through technology and science. He focuses on three areas of study including: the bodies (organic), organisms (technoeconomic), and communities (textual-cultural). Through these areas of study, Escobar gives five detailed overviews of how technology and science impact the world.

The first impact is how technology and science reconstruct the identities of teens and adults through video games, where they can disguise their physical identity by creating a new appearance in the virtual world. Technology and science have created desired human groups, which are called “virtual communities” and “virtual villages,” that construct a non-existent reality. Technology and science also impact the views of every culture and how it mainstreams into the media. Technology and science have brought forth a new culture of human interactions.

Lastly, Escobar discusses how technology and science emerge into the world economy and make third world countries dependant on this techno-savvy-generation. Escobar seeks to find all changes within society because he feels society has neglected some of the potentially flawed aspects of science and technology due to all the positive responses it has already generated. In conclusion, Escobar provides five comments on his article that acknowledge how science and technology are creating a new way of life for this world, worthy of anthropological investigation. He ends with a reply that urges society to become more open to anthropological views, in hopes that people will be able to see both the pro’s and con’s of this new technology and science generation.

CLARITY : 3
KELLY DELONG Valdosta State University (Melissa Rinehart).

Kim, Seung-Og. Burials, Pigs, and Political Prestige in Neolithic China. Cultural Anthropology, 1994, November. Vol. 35, No. 2, 119-141.

Seung-Og Kim presents a brief work on the importance of pigs in Neolithic Chinese culture. The author argues that pigs were not only depended upon highly for sustenance, but also functioned as a symbol of power and prestige in a culture rising into social and political complexity. By using archaeological data previously collected from various research, the author attempts to make inter-site and intra-site interpretations on the frequency and locations of pig interment in Neolithic Chinese burials. The author examines four sites in the Shandong province: Yedian, Sanlihe, Chengzi, and Dawenkou. These four sites are the largest Neolithic burial sites in the area, and are felt to represent primary and secondary centers. Using ample figures and tables to illustrate his data, Kim examines the number of burials, their spatial orientation, pig interment, grave wealth and other factors and, from this, determines that pigs were used as a means of expressing and maintaining political power and prestige in Neolithic China.

Comments:
The overall opinion of the reviewers is that Burials, Pigs, and Political Prestige in Neolithic China is an overall success, giving the author praise for using comparative methods to explore a region relatively prohibited to non-Chinese archaeologists, and for incorporating historical and ethnographic aspects and comparisons into the archaeological research. Despite these praises, the reviewers offer much constructive criticism to the author. Some examples of these critiques are mathematical application and interpretation, areas of insufficient development, inconsistencies in data, and weakness in evidence. In general, that article was well received as a first attempt to analyze the data.

Reply:
Due to the large variation in critiques, the author chooses to respond to the two most frequent comments: the use of pigs to manipulate political control and their use in the long distance exchange of prestige goods. The author attempts to clarify these two aspects by further explaining the data (statistical and ethnographic) and his subsequent interpretations. In summation, the Seung-Og Kim receives the critiques graciously and agrees that the argument can be improved in future work by the incorporation of many ideas noted by the commentators.

CLARITY: 3
JAMIE SHAMROCK, Temple University, (Deborah Augsburger)

Kim, Seug-Og. Burials, Pigs, and Political Prestige in Neolithic China. Current Anthropology April, 1994 Vol. 35(2):119- 141.

There are many types of political powers that are described thoroughly in the beginning of this article; starting with chiefdoms where one chief controls several villages, to an egalitarian society or a society that minimizes differences between wealth. The diverse social statuses in Eastern societies are determined by different objects, such as pigs.

Pigs are important for different reasons in Eastern China. Pigs are a great source of protein and energy for people as they are sacrificed at funerals, marriages, and at other events such as political feasts. People believe that sacrificing a pig will keep the evil spirits away as they hold significance symbolic importance to the community. Those that raise pigs are seen to have power in the community. Not everyone can have objects derived from pig remains, such as flutes and it is these objects that help separate the elite from the poor. In some communities they are used as currency. Pigs are also traded from the mainland to nearby communities, villages, and islands.

The main -question here is that when pig remains are found in a burial, are the extravagant burial goods from other communities? The author details four different locations that have been excavated and researched: Dawenkou, Sanlihe, Chengzi, and Yedian. The Dawenkow site was separated into three time periods and in each time period there were pits that enclosed pig skulls and tools or instruments made from pig remains. The burials that had pig remains were buried in a pattern, where they were laid out next to each other, whereas the empty graves were scattered about. In the Sanlihe, excavation similar burials contained pig skulls that were all in the northern part of the burial grounds. However, in Sanlihe, other artifacts were found that helped support the hypothesis that graves containing pig skulls were of the elite. Again, at the Chengzi site, the graves that contain pig skulls were buried on the north side and were in a specific pattern. These graves also contain wooden caskets and are much larger than the grave pits without pig remains. At the Yedian site the graves that included pig remains were located in a linear pattern; however, Yedian is the smallest of the four sites.

The use of graphs to show the grave pits’ location and the time charts helps the data flow and one to fully understand his main ideas. The author also inserted statistical data into charts to compare and contrast the different sites at specific time periods.

CLARITY: 4
AKINS, AMANDA Valdosta State University (Melissa Rinehart).

McGhee, Robert. Disease and the Development of Inuit Culture. Current Anthropology December, 1994 Vol. 35(5):565-594.

Robert McGhee presents an argument that runs contrary to much archaeological theory concerning the replacement of Thule culture with Inuit culture in Arctic Canada and Greenland. McGhee contemplates his supposition that the Inuit culture developed out of a devastating series of epidemic diseases resulting from contact with European traders. His theory rests partly on the analogy of the catastrophic results of European contact with the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas. Furthermore, a good deal of his motivation for finding an alternative to the hegemonic theory of the development of Inuit culture seems to relate to his desire to reevaluate the anthropological perspective on a culture that anthropologists considered to be virtually uncontaminated by the West. The author associates the environmental-ecological adaptation perspective of Thule to Inuit culture negates the historical reality of European, pre-columbine, contact and the disruption this must have entailed.

Comments
Rather surprisingly there is not a single commentator who responds to McGhee’s theories of the Inuit culture’s development out of the ashes of a series of epidemics. The opposing arguements take various lines of reasoning. There is one commentator who respects McGhee’s attempts at offering an opposing hypothesis that McGhee himself proposed earlier in his research among the Inuit. The standard argument appears to be that the Inuit developed out of a reaction to their physical environment. However, one commentator sensibly responds that there is a lack of research and access to the plethora of undiscovered archaeological sites that must exist in this very inhospitable environment, inconducive to preserving, for example, the ice huts that the Inuit (and possibly Thule) used.

Reply
McGhee produces a chart outlining the approximate time line of the existance of the Thule and includes information relating to both Nordic and European contact. He admits that his reaction and new hypothesis concerning the development of the Inuit was in partial reaction to the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s “discovery” of the Americas. Futhermore, he wishes to align the theories surrounding the decimation of the indigenous populations of the Americas with that of the indigenous populations of what is now Northern Canada and Alaska.

CLARITY: 4
PHILIP MORRIS SHRAGA-FIVEL ROTHBERG Temple University (Deborah Augsburger).

Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko. Brain Death and Organ Transplantation. Current Anthropology June, 1994 Vol 35(3):233-254

This article explores cross-cultural approaches on organ transplantation and the moral implications involved in the process. Japan is the cultural opposite to Western societies like the United States and the United Kingdom regarding cultural definitions of “brain death”. Ohnuki-Tierney explores the differences in the cultural definitions of brain death to create a viewpoint for the reader to understand both societies. Brain death is a legal term used by doctors throughout the Western world to justify the harvesting of organs from vegetative patients. Ohnuki-Tierney reveals that in many dying patients, a person’s brain will shut down before the body does. “The body is still warm and the heart is still beating” (235). It is shocking to learn about the reality of brain death, but Tierney’s description and details about the topic are handled well.

Ohnuki-Tierney explores organ donation in America to reveal the important connection with brain death. For the patient to be completely dead, the heart must no longer be beating. For the brain dead American patients registered as organ donors every second their organs sit unused is critical. The doctor’s “kill the patient” to gain access to their organs faster (235). Organ donation is a time sensitive procedure because of the delicate nature of human organs. When an organ donor becomes brain dead in a hospital, their organs are of the upmost importance because the doctors can control the death of the patient to best suit the organ transplantation time. Western doctors seem to show lack of respect for dead or dying patients. The patient becomes a set of organs for sale once they die instead of a newly deceased person. Their organs are vital for another paying customer and American doctors will remove the dying patients organs as fast as possible, even if it means killing the person prematurely.

The Japanese culture appears as a stark contrast to American ideology about brain death and organ transplantation. Japan does not support organ harvesting or the Western definition of brain death because the body and spirit are a complete entity. In Japanese culture they believe in the unity of body and spirit; internal surgery, implants, and various invasive medical practices violate the unity of body and spirit in the Japanese culture. As a complete entity, the body of the deceased cannot be altered in any way. The unity of the body and spirit are essential for a complete and balanced life and death.

Many ethical questions are raised in this article. In Western medicine brain death becomes legal justification for doctors to harvest necessary organs for transplant patients. In Japanese culture balance is achieved through unity, and if a person is sick or needs to be healed balance is first restored to the person’s body. Ohnuki-Tierney weaves through this complicated issue with cultural definitions of death, the body, and humanity.

Clarity: 4
NIGEL ALFORD Valdosta State University (Melissa Rinehart)

Smith, Eric A. and S. Abigail. Inuit Sex-Ratio Variation: Population Control, Ethnographic Error, or Parental Manipulation? Current Anthropology, Dec., 1994. Vol. 35 (5): 595-624.

Population data on Inuit groups from 1880-1930 report a substantially lower amount of female children. Many researchers have attributed the difference to female infanticide. Others have argued that the data is flawed because girls, who marry at a younger age then boys, were counted as adults. This perspective also explains why most groups have a near equal adult sex ratio despite the child differential. By comparing life model tables to the data, Smith and Smith show that faulty data collection methods can only partially explain the imbalance. They conclude that female infanticide explains the remainder of the difference, a lower rate then previously claimed. They then challenge prominent explanations of Inuit female infanticide. For Smith and Smith, population control theory is inadequate because it assumes long-term scarcity of resources and that families would sacrifice for the group. Another theory that proposes that female infanticide was a response to high adult male mortality is discounted, despite moderate quantitative evidence, because the ethnographic record contains no supporting qualitative evidence. Smith and Smith next dispute the evolutionary theory that the sex that costs less will be preferred. The Inuit case is contrary because boys, who marry much later, actually cost more. Smith and Smith propose the differential payback hypothesis: boys cost more initially but their contributions as adults surpassed those of women. This theory can also account for the balance of adult sex ratios. High male mortality rates, due to harsh environmental conditions, would encourage infanticide in order to increase the chance of having a son by decreasing the delay between births.

Comments
Most commentators thank Smith and Smith for reviving evolutionary ecology and praise their use of life model tables. Several offer suggestions for how their argument can be strengthened. One notes that their method for calculating rates of infanticide and then confirming it by comparing the results to rates of adult male mortality is a circular argument. Another commentator disagrees with Smith and Smith’s explanation for infanticide and believes that endogamy and patriarchal authority are responsible. Another doubts that infanticide is the cause of the recorded imbalance and reminds the authors of the Inuit practice of raising some female children as males until puberty.

Reply
E. Smith thanks the commentators who support the differential payback hypothesis for progressing the argument. He expands on their method to demonstrate that it is not circular as the data for rates of female infanticide and male mortality were obtained independently. Smith says that endogamy was not widespread enough to account for the imbalanced sex ratio and that preventing their daughters from marring out was not sufficient motivation to kill them. Smith says that gender switching could account for a small portion of the difference but it was not common enough to discount infanticide.

CLARITY: 4
DANIELLE K WESTERGOM Temple University (Deborah Augsburger)

Symboling and the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic Transition. Current Anthropology. 35(4):1994.

Marin Byers discusses the presence of symbolism between Upper and Middle Paleolithic cultures in Southwestern Europe. His argument is that during the transition to the Upper Paleolithic you see the origin of symbolism amongst this cultural group. To confirm this claim would have wide-archaeological implications, in that it requires the acceptance of symboling and associated activities as being rule-governed and therefore their material had a rule-governed style. Furthermore, Byers states, that non-symbolic cultures perform only material behavior, whereas symboling cultures perform material actions. Byer describes this rule-governed symbolism as reflexive behavior, or in short, behavior that is done unconsciously but modified by a human’s own mental content. Symbolism as defined by Byers is a rule-governed rather than end-goal oriented behavior. Throughout this paper Byer gives examples of what he calls ruled-governed behavior, claiming that there are theoretical grounds to state that all symboling behavior is indeed rule governed rather than end goal behavior which can be distinguished by reasonable benefits for the individual.

Comments
Many commentators accuse Byers of not paying attention to the archaeological record. The commentators agree that symbolism is more apparent in the Upper Paleolithic then in earlier cultural groups, but argue that there are many signs of symbolism before this time. They also chastise him for not dealing with objects on functional terms, and instead just searching for rule-governing evidence; in short that Byers misinterprets archaeological evidence as symbolic in nature. These criticisms not only question artifact function and interpretive data sets, but the collection analysis itself and the ability to, recognize objects as “stylistic,” “rule governing,” or “functional.” Lastly issues arose surrounding his proof for such symbolism in the Upper Paleolithic, criticism his ability to articulate substantial evidence for this symbolism or behavior.

Reply
Byer replies that he took some knowledge for granted when he wrote his article, expecting the reader to have some background recognize his proof from the citation of well-published articles. During this reply he does admit he is not an archaeologist of the Paleolithic, however his issues were meant to be viewed from the aspect of looking at symbolism from practical theory or a post-processual view. In applying our understanding of our own symbolism to the Paleolithic. To summarize he takes heed as many points are presented by the commentators and generalizes to say there are many theories of the innate human ability to be “effortlessly reflexive beings.”

JOE GINGERICH (Temple University) Deborah Augsberger.

Thiel, Barbara. Further Thoughts on Why Men Share Meat. Current Anthropology Aug-Oct, 1994 Vol. 35(4): 440-441

The author begins this article by discussing a previous article concerning the reasons why men in hunting gathering societies share meat. The first article stated that men shared their food because it was for social and not economic benefits. Thiel adds another hypothesis of why men share food. Thiel asserts that men share meat to support their children. Extramarital affairs are common in hunting and gathering societies and most of these affairs produce children. Most of the good hunters are chosen for the extramarital affairs. Women go after the successful hunters who they know will be able to feed them during pregnancy and support their children thereafter. So, Thiel’s hypothesis is that men share their food to the mothers of their children in order to help them survive in turn increasing their reproductive success.

The trick to sharing meat with the other children is not to let the other men to find out. They have to give the child and his/her mother food inconspicuously. If the male of that household found out, he may kill the child so that he doesn’t have to provide for it. It is also suggested that the hunter can manipulate the system by taking the husband of his child’s mother hunting with him, that way he is helping him take meat back to his family. In some cases, the hunter will even share meat with the opposite sex of his children (their possible mates) which in turn is helping his grandchildren.

Overall, meat sharing has to do with how good a hunter is. If he is not that skillful, he probably has less sexual activity with other women, therefore, he only has to worry about killing enough small game for his wife and children.

CLARITY: 5
AMANDA AKINS Valdosta State University (Melissa Rinehart).

Urban, Patricia A. and Schortman, Edward M. Living on the Edge: Core/ Periphery Relations in Ancient Southeastern Mesoamerica. Current Anthropology August-October, 1994 Vol. 35(4): 401-430.

To outsiders observing a new culture, bigger civilizations can easily overshadow smaller civilizations surrounding them with technological, political, and social advancements. As anthropologists and archaeologists observe new people and civilizations, they sometimes lump civilizations based on differing criteria like technology and architecture.

Anthropologists Patricia Urban and Edward Schortman dissect this lumping of civilizations into “core” and “periphery” civilizations to show the reader how erroneous overlooking these civilizations can be. Core civilizations are thought to dominate peripheral civilizations through physical superiority assuming the peripheral civilizations are smaller versions of the core.

There are many peripheral civilizations that do not mirror the core civilizations they are in close proximity to. Naco Valley was classified as a peripheral civilization to the core Mayan civilization. Through their descriptive analysis of the Naco Valley civilization, they detail the advancements that the Naco Valley civilization made for themselves apart from the Mayans. Naco Valley is a shinning example of a society that has been overlooked and lumped by anthropologists.

Naco Valley civilizations showed signs of advancements beyond stereotypical peripheral societies. They had a successful government structure and even imported pottery and art pieces from other cultures apart from the Mayan civilization they neighbored. Easily overlooked and disregarded as a peripheral society, the Naco Valley people distinguished themselves from the Mayans and anthropologists should be the first scientists to distinguish the two cultures successfully.

A theoretical guideline needs to be created for studying core and peripheral civilizations by thoroughly exploring the political, economic, and technological advancements of all core and peripheral societies. Anthropologists are not taking the time to prove if societies are core or peripheral. Urban and Schortman create a framework for studying various civilizations to better divide the two civilizations and to help better determine the advancements of all the civilizations.

CLARITY: 4
NIGEL ALFORD Valdosta State University (Melissa Rinehart)

Wilkinson, T.J. The Structure and Dynamics of Dry-Farming in Upper Mesopotamia. Current Anthropology December, 1994 Vol. 35(5): 483-520

Mr., Wilkinson’s article is used to back up his hypothesis that during the Bronze Age settlements, depending on rain, in the Mesopotamian states did not exceed 100 hectares. What makes his research unique is the range data used, especially off-site, by Wilkinson.
This article is extremely dense as each page is packed with fact after fact with little breathing room. Wilkinson first gives an overview of his hypothesis and goes on to discuss the study region and the types of settlements (pattern, hierarchy, size, etc.) that are located there. It is about now that Wilkinson gets to testing his hypothesis. He argues in some areas for the land only supporting the growers while his main argument rests on the idea of surplus agriculture from the satellites feeding urban centers, which still have a size cap of 100 hectares. He uses a wide range of data from linear hollows and site catchment boundaries to ceramic sherds that he may rely, as we will see, too heavily on. The sherds represented storage or movement of agriculture in ceramic bins and their use in manuring. Wilkinson used the sherds to estimate whether there was storage or import/ export of grown goods. His article is not a quick read, but a long intense study intended for the serious researchers of archaeology.

Comments
Many of the responses to this article fit the same pattern: excitement at a new study by Wilkinson, accolades for Wilkinson, questions about the use of sherds, and finally a quick statement about Wilkinson’s wide range of data. Depending on the responder, the sherd issue was either lightly blown over or looked at in depth. Many believed it did not hold the relevance that Wilkinson would have liked. Joan Oates cited the fact that a single thunderstorm carried sherds 15-20 meters into another plough. Another commenter did not like that Wilkinson only looked at the villages as suppliers of grain surplus without looking at the sociological implications.

Response
Wilkinson responds to the issue of the sherds with a quick joke and then jumps in to his defense. His reasoning was the continuity of sherd patterns dispersed throughout the settlements. He also uses a lot of climatic examples that were left out of his original essay to discuss the manuring (fertilizing) of the land. He ends this response in another burst of humor rebutting a comment made about his lack of pastoral research. His response is extremely clear and easy to read and a great overview of his academic paper.

CLARITY: 3
WILLIAM L. WACKER Temple University (Prof. Deborah Augsburger)