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ARCH 201 Week 11 Lecture

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ARCH 201
David Maxwell

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ARCH 201 Week 11 Lecture Symbols, Ideology, Art and Ritual Cognitive beliefs: •Arch is study of people and their stuff •More to people than making and using things - we should be able to study this as well •Realm of cognition, beliefs, symbolism can be explored Scales of Activity •Scale of difficulty in interpreting things in arch •Tools easiest, then economy and subsistence, then social and political organization - written records helpful, ideology - what did people believe? Emic vs Etic perspectives •Emic - interpreting culture from within, use perspectives of that culture •Etic - interpreting from outside, looks at objectively •Combination of both produces reality (probably) •In most cases, almost impossible to get at emic perspective - most who try British? •Renfrew (textbook) wanted to get at emic perspective - post processualism - see stuff through eyes of the people who lived there - how else would we see how ancient people viewed their world? •Ancient people may not have thought the way we do today, especially as you go further back Analogy and Ancient Cognition: •Analogy - inference by comparison - familiar with one thing, another similar, must have other similarities like function •How far back can you push this? •Do those stones have same function? •Perspective! Those stones are completely different, even in size •Reasonable when dealing with people with cog ability similar to us now •Anatomically, humans 150000 years, roughly. Another species of hominid, can we still use analogous reasoning? •Even very different cultures - Inuit as analogy for desert culture •Or as complication of inferences increases - complex issues like a social or belief system •Have to be careful about using! •Olduvai gorge - structure must have been a shelter, processing, tool making areas - humanness must go back this far to Homo habilis! •Problem: was Homo habilis capable of those kinds of thoughts, concepts, plans? If this was their home base, how did they protect themselves? Refuse would attract predators •Homo habilis used VERY simple, Oldowan tools - likely not effective against predators •What if pattern isn't hominid activity? Fallen tree? Other predators take prey there, habilis scavenged it, why we found stone tools? •Interpretation of Homo habilis as scavenger, not hunter. Probably couldn't build home base as we know them. How smart is Homo habilis? As smart as we are? Did it view the world the way we do? Even have abstract though? Culture vs Function •Typology for explaining variation in stone tools - based on shape patterns in artifacts •Combinations of his types that would show up at different sites •Argued different cultural groups making different tool types •Graphed out - different frequencies of different types in different regions •Binfords - functional, not cultural, pattern? Certain tools for certain jobs? Tool for butchering reindeer, rabbit? Symbols •Human burials an example •Common related to uncertainly of life and nature of reality - nature of unknown •Concept of what happens after death? •Differences in burials - more elaborate, rock on top, why? Artifacts? •Give us lots of insight into human thought processes •Some burials have offerings - meaning to deceased or survivors •Items related to role in life? Wood working tools, exotic artifacts? •Deceased did not place symbol in grave (except Egypt) - other people left it behind •Intentional burial suggests concern for remains after death •Neanderthals buried dead, we think - we find very complete skeletons, which suggests burial •Don't have to bury to dispose of body •Flower child burial •Fires on top of grave - some kind of ritual behaviour •Earliest: boy buried in shallow grave with goat horns, man with flowers - were brightly coloured, many had medicinal effects •Tightly flex, head north, facing east - significance in placement of body •Or just to avoid scavengers, rots? Fictional, not ritual behaviour? •But so many look intentional, we think they wondered: what happens next? •No habilis burials, maybe erectus Ritual behaviour •Actions have symbolic meanings, as well as objects •Example - placing of offerings •Death related rituals - Renfrew and Bahn thought began even earlier than Neanderthals •Depositing of large group of people together, +400000 years ago - homo erectus •Age related treatment of individuals? Prehistoric Art •Most famous - Paleolithic cave art in Europe •Expression of simple and abstract ideas •Blombos Cave - lo
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