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Lecture 2

Lecture 2 Sept 20.rtf

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Matthias Koenig

SOC256H1F- LECTURE 2 September 20, 2011 Documentary – how archaeologists try to figure out what human life was like before recorded evidence – Introduce you to Kung society – they are a people in transition, not traditional tools (used iron, Western clothing- relates to Lenski et al. and the communication of technical societies to more simple ones) “The Making of Mankind” – Richard Leakey - Homoerectus- Africa 1.5 million years ago- there were small bands of these people…how could you tell how they were organized? To understand why our species succeeded we need to understand these ancestors and their behaviour, since ours started with them - 1975 skull – answered many questions, put previous discoveries into perspective - Classic erectus at 1.5 million years ago- proves erectus evolved in Africa – but how much can we learn about their behaviour by looking at bones- not much. - Other ways – since 1977 – Kenya researchers looking for clues on past way of life – found evidence buried here for over 1.5 million years - Glen Isaac – Leakey’s partner in study - Set up camp – 4 months – remote part of world – major organizational job - All humans create “home base” whenever they settle, and always leave traces behind - Site 50 – Lake Takoma = how to start with a site buried for 1.5 million years – Jack Harris and Paul Abel – found trail of fossil bones indicating objects sources - This kind of archaeology depends n peeling layers of earth to get a original surface, they move down 5 cm at a time - Trying to build picture of original site, learn from sediments, modern landscape very dissimilar from ancient (featureless, flat flood plain) - The excavation exposed flood plain (According to Harris) there was a river channel, lined with trees providing shade, river continued to floor at intervals etc. - Density of bone fragments increased at certain density – 2000 pieces of bone recovered – every piece preserved but how did it all get there - Plotted piece of each fragment to see if here was a pattern to the scatter – but to say humans did it, need to eliminate all other possibilities - Problems: random scatter, bones naturally broken, remains of an animal’s meal - Are these stones tools? – do experiments, - identical making of tool via manmade, also scatter of flakes should be similar but how to prove? – flakes could be refit to construct previous tool – many cases it is possible- further proof tools man-made – more evidence people worked like the way Nick did What were tools used for? – cut meat, wood, scrape wood, cut fur/skin, - if they were useful, investigated by researcher – found polish on tool showing it has been used on wood, shape concave- scraping circular piece of wood or small branch, another had been used on meat- had all correct but 1. - Stones present problems, figuring out if animals brought fragments over- look at how they were broken… some bones swept in by water – learnt they were litter bugs, tool- making, eating more meat than primates, carried food back to primary place (evidence for fossil home base) - Suggest pattern existed in which males/females with children had different roles- division 1 of labour- opens up other demands on human ability to help understand human evolution – some fundamental distinctive features already established Evidence of bones and stones- good to learn about other societies - Behavioural patterns- we still make assumptions – archaeology only gives a partial picture, needs to be supported by other evidence - Kalahari desert to view what were once called bushman, now Kung – not as isolated as they used to be, no longer move with seasons, now semi-permanent villages, adopted modern western style clothes, popular use of trading posts o Still get a lot of food from gathering and hunting o Speak unusual language, Richard Lee interpreter – basic food: still gather about half for selves o Myth around hunter gatherers- that they live a harsh aggressive life- nasty brutish and short- but the reality is different! Kalahari is not desert in strict sense, lot of vegetation, rainfall is low, life for Kung is not poor struggle for existence- great variety in plant and food (meat) o Some leave for a few days to gather food and game  Sleeping arranged in kinship groups, unmarried men have special spot, married women without husbands in special spot, close though so food can be shared (30 people in group) – hunter gatherer live in groups of usually 30 – Glen Isaac said 30 too for his site  Kung home-base- distinctive of human behaviour – similar to apes, monkeys returning to trees but only humans create home bases (for care) - Observing 30 group – learn about ancestors o Begin day: Women leave camp to gather vegetable foods (mogongo nut) big part of their diet + roots and bulbs (40 species providing carbs and fibre and fluid + comoago berry (carb and sugar) = well rounded diet for Kung o Can only assume vegetable and fruit important o Anthropologists assume woman’s separate role is inferior but the KUNG DISPROVE THIS – women are actually important in terms of power: because they bear the children, without women there would be no society and #2: women provide more food than men thus their influence in these 2 areas gives influence in general discussions – real equality between the sexes o Leakey sure women played successful role in first societies o Ex. Sling- to carry baby and carry food o Women with children were limited in terms of hunting so hunting was primarily male activity o Skills of hunting- enlarged brain and our species  Hunting tools- bow and arrow: poison on end  Hunt in 2-3s, requires special skills, like Kung our ancestors new terrain well  Use hand signals to communicate to one another when hunting, down on all 4s to attack, poor success rate- bring home meat on 1 in 4 days… fortunate to have vegetable foods to give them strength to hunt o This society is about SHARING- key element that made us humans, what we are, and what we see in purest form, in these pure societies- hunting and gathering… o Especially with meat- more formal rules in terms of how it is distributed o Human infants helpless at birth- until 7-8 – long dependence on mothers must have shaped human society from earliest times – encouraging division of labour within the group – shared task of raising offspring- more likely for them to survive o Females point of view- necessary for man to provide food and protection- strengthening of special bonds between all 3- move towards family and kinship groupings- sharing of food and division of labour crucial for human survival – role of both sexes equally important - Learned about Kung- importance of mutual dependence, early ancestors must have developed this way back in time, food sharing, essential for humanities development, set us apart from other
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