THE YEAR IN REVIEW
Explaining the Past in 2010
ABSTRACT In 2010, archaeologists investigated diverse, multilinear human histories and disagreed about what forces shaped these histories most powerfully. The varied new work covered in this review is organized into three broad themes. First, research on the relationship between people and environments included topics such as domestication and anthropogenic landscapes, social responses to environmental crisis, and adaptation. Second, archaeologists studying nonstate societies discussed the basis of inequality, the dynamics of early villages, kin organization (incl. “house societies”), lineage commemoration, social memory, and monumentality. A third body of literature concerned the complex interactions within, between, and around states, including colonial powers; here, archaeologists particularly emphasized the intersection of imperial or colonial processes with local actors. In all three themes, a focal interest concerns the extent to which local and regional histories were forged by conditions or by human actions and their chains of consequences. [archaeology, environment, inequality, archaic states, 2010 trends]
ontemporary archaeology is a varied, eclectic ﬁeld—so much so that writing a coherent review of a year’s publications seems about as easy as getting a pot of spaghetti back into the cardboard box. But if archaeologists do not speak in unison, their conversations do partake of the particular ﬂavor of the time, deﬁned especially by a preoccupation with agency and by the recent tendency—now very common even among North American archaeologists—to view the past as historical, as a direct outgrowth of a speciﬁc deeper past. In other words, the past was shaped by the accumulated legacy of previous human actions, in large part through the material world of artifacts, technologies, built structures, and modiﬁed landscapes. True multilinearity, as produced by these path-dependent histories, is apparent everywhere in archaeological writing today; words like trajectories and pathways are sprinkled liberally throughout the literature. Far from vitiating cross-cultural comparisons, this perspective seems to have invigorated them; comparing trajectories opens up a rich territory of explanatory possibilities. Hence, many archaeologists are dealing in some way with questions of how conditioned and constrained local and regional histories were—and by what critical factors or processes. Some stress demography, environment, and social or economic organization; others lay more emphasis on the con-
struction of meaningful monuments and commemorative traditions. Meanwhile, much archaeological writing conveys a palpable sense of “afﬁrmative action” in restoring agency to long-dead people, especially those involved in major transformations that outwardly appear monolithic and inevitable. The role of agency is a central question in studies of imperialism and colonialism, and it also informs bottom-up approaches to the adoption of agriculture and the establishment of inequality. How much room did actors of different kinds have to shape their futures and affect major transformations, and how much intentionality was involved? Broadly, our differences lie in the extent to which we stress contingency versus process, and agency versus conditions, in the making of diverse human histories. There is no way to write a comprehensive review of the year’s work. Here I aim for the humbler goal of usefulness and try to cover new writing on a few broad themes of general interest: the relationship between people and environments; social organization and inequality in nonstate societies; and the complex interactions that states engender. I neglect a great deal of worthy work published in 2010, including almost everything addressing periods before the Holocene or after C.E. 1700, and I deal mainly with what happened
AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, Vol. 113, No. 2, pp. 200–212, ISSN 0002-7294, online ISSN 1548-1433. c 2011 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1433.2011.01324.x
is how much control people have over their ecology. climate change) or as constraining settings (adaptation). multiple domestications. rather than method or the highest of high theory. Isotopes and phytoliths from coastal French Guiana trace the pre-Columbian conversion of wetlands into large complexes of raised ﬁeld beds for maize.C. Douglas Kennett and colleagues (2010) ﬁnd evidence for early forest clearance and maize cultivation among Archaic people of coastal southern Mexico. Of course. Rodning 2010) highlighted recent work on the interaction between people and environments. seasonality.Arkush • The Year in Review: Archaeology
in the past and how to explain it. Such contrasts indicate major differences in the longterm sustainability of different practices and the sensitivity of different environments. the dominant concern is how human agency works on the environment. encompassing historical ecology.
ENVIRONMENT AND SUBSISTENCE: HOW MUCH AGENCY?
Both previous AA archaeology “Year-in-Review” articles (Eiselt 2009. and predictability. Domesticates were not adopted quickly everywhere. Andreas Mieth and Hans-Rudolf Bork (2010) adduce new evidence from soil proﬁles that it was humans. the politically centralized application of labor-intensive technologies (e. and squash—raised ﬁelds that continued to have major impacts on the landscape long after their abandonment (Iriarte et al. then. 2010). Guy Bloch and others (2010) report archaeological evidence for surprisingly large-scale beekeeping in northern Israel dating from the tenth to ninth centuries B. the ﬁeld of agency is more circumscribed. Their analysis of a long sediment core shows that episodes of deforestation occurred at the adoption of agriculture and at Copan’s founding. Daniel Contreras (2010) usefully divides the Andean literature on human– environment relationships into “modiﬁed. as archaeologists routinely recognize. the keeping of unusual species. this artiﬁcial division belies the fact that the relationship between people and environments is a two-way street. This remains a topic of great interest. while isotope analysis by Andrew Somerville and colleagues (2010) establishes that scarlet macaws were kept and bred at Paquim´ (Casas Grandes) rather than traded in e from their natural range far to the south. Exciting work in the neotropics makes it ever clearer that these challenging environments were engineered and exploited in far-reaching ways. 2010. But sustainability was not always an either-or matter. who were previously thought to be hunter-gatherers. Here. social responses to climate change and natural disaster. canal systems). A central issue. resilience. Cameron McNeil and colleagues (2010) challenge the hypothesis that deforestation and environmental degradation precipitated collapse at Maya Copan. but gradual reforestation thereafter suggests forest conservation and sustainable land use. McKey et al. and heterarchical “labortasking” intensiﬁcation. Settlement survey in Bolivia’s Llanos de Moxos elucidates the use of the impressive earthworks and raised ﬁelds of this region (Lombardo and Pr´ mers 2010).. Greger Larson and colleagues (2010) use genetic evidence to document the early domestication and continuous long-term keeping of Chinese pigs as well as multiple additional (possibly independent) pig domestications in other parts of Asia. in which the land is incrementally engineered and managed by decentralized groups.. Studies of domestication provide another angle on how people altered environmental resources. and adaptations to environments. For example. building canals and raised ﬁeld beds (Beach et al. An important secondary issue concerns how successful actions were: Did people use the land in sustainable or deleterious ways? Did environmental problems prompt successful or dysfunctional social responses? At the most basic level. In “modiﬁed” visions of the environment. and studying why agriculture appeared so much later in “peripheries” can be as revealing as investigations of its
. Michael Barton and colleagues’ (2010) computer models sketch out several decades of different land-use practices in catchments around archaeological sites in Neolithic Jordan to trace complex anthropogenic erosion and deposition patterns in which initially beneﬁcial shifting cultivation and grazing gradually became detrimental as populations grew. Such evidence suggests that past
populations were deeply knowledgeable about local ecology and could manage it expertly. and variability. and diverse histories—a creative ﬂourishing of human interventions in animal and plant kingdoms. 2010). the ﬁrst two are most relevant here. precipitation.
Modiﬁed Environments: Domestication and Anthropogenic Landscapes
People in the past transformed environments for both good and bad. Although these topics sit within a broadly materialist paradigm. Geographers Chris Caseldine and Chris Turney (2010) note in particular the poor chronological control and limited regional applicability of many paleoclimate records and a weak understanding of what those records really mean in terms of past temperature.g. who denuded Rapa Nui of its forests. environmental archaeology in recent decades has emphasized human agency. manioc. In “structuring” environments. Vernon Scarborough and William Burnside (2010) trace Maya land and water management over time to distinguish between “technotasking” intensiﬁcation. forming a more sustainable and resilient infrastructure.E. Genetic analysis of ancient turkey specimens by Camilla Speller and colleagues (2010) reveals separate domestications in Mesoamerica and North America. and environments powerfully shape human society either through dynamic changes (disaster. Yet some human land-use practices were deeply detrimental. new work documents early domestications. perhaps especially those associated with ﬁrst colonization (as at Copan). often through the creation of anthropogenic landscapes.” “structuring. obstacles remain in integrating paleoenvironmental history with archaeology. Timothy Beach and colleagues’ e trenching and analysis demonstrate that the Maya intensively modiﬁed wetlands in Belize.” and “sacred” categories. not rats or climate change. Indeed.
demographic modeling. respectively. where fortiﬁcations became more common overall during the Little Ice Age (C. and abandonment. Nowhere have archaeologists considered environmental crisis to have a more determining effect on human populations than in the marginal ecology of the Southwest. to rebut the hypothesis that a meteor impact caused a Paleoindian population decline and the end of the “Clovis culture. burned. but everyone knows that people in the past did something of the sort—especially hunter-gatherers. which they interpret as a case of interethnic conﬂict perhaps triggered by colder and drier conditions. environmental stress apparently led to social conﬂict. Anna Revedin and colleagues  present starch grains on grinding stones from Upper Paleolithic Italy. Successful responses included building stilt houses in wetland areas.
Structuring Environments: Adaptation . Russia.P. is the very interesting argument made by Michael Harrower and colleagues (2010). choosing locations in ﬂood-resistant areas and outside of major hurricane alleys or in close proximity to caves for shelter.202
American Anthropologist • Vol. Such treatments have obvious relevance to a contemporary world in which adapting to disruptive climate change becomes more necessary as hopes for effective political action fade. including their research in Cuba. resulted in a volcanic “winter” over much of the northern hemisphere and caused a demographic collapse of the Neanderthals. Leaving Mesa Verde. 2 • June 2011
primary heartlands—this. catastrophic and overrated. the site was attacked. these articles highlight differences in the severity and impact of environmental catastrophes as well as. that the exploitation of plant foods did not wait for the Holocene. The effects of environmental crisis and adverse climate episodes on past societies foreground agency and its limits.E. violent conﬂict directly followed re-
source stress and forced the abandonment of this part of the Mesa Verde region.) Such adaptive strategies had far-reaching social effects. Here.” Likewise. 800 at the Sacred Ridge Site. Kristin Kuckelman (2010a. Such episodes were not unprecedented in southwestern prehistory. were gathering and grinding what were most likely ferns and cattails. Juxtaposed. showing that Europeans at about 30. No.P. Shortly after a defensive palisade was constructed. . rather. although they do not correlate closely in time with periods of intense ENSO events but. Liubov Golovanova and colleagues (2010) postulate that coeval European volcanic eruptions at circa 40. In that volume as well as in American Antiquity. Mark Collard and colleagues’ (2010) analysis of carbon dates ﬁnds gradual population expansion at the Clovis to Folsom transition. Variations on behavioral ecology continue to work to explain prey choice. edited by Tim Kohler and others (2010). or Not?
“Adaptation” may be an unfashionable concept. (Let us note. 113. where drought might trigger severe cultural disruption. 2010). 2010b) details a compelling case from the ﬁnal years of Sand Canyon Pueblo. combines new paleoenvironmental studies. Jago Cooper and Matthew Peros (2010) highlight this idea as they review paleoclimate research and recent Caribbean archaeology. the largest of several small sites in the Ridges Basin in Colorado. variable rainfall. in which inhabitants transitioned from farming to hunting and gathering and soon thereafter were massacred in a brutal attack that ended the occupation of the village. Julie Field and Peter Lape (2010) test this relationship for the Paciﬁc Islands.000 B. The contributors develop a robustly coherent picture of drought and environmental degradation that (in combination with rigid social practices) led to depopulation and violent conﬂict. appear to lag somewhat after them. violent conﬂict. 1450–1850). They examine the transition to animal husbandry and eventually crop cultivation in the Horn of Africa and southwest Arabia several millennia after agriculture’s origins in the Levant to conclude that the different delays on either side of the Red Sea are best explained by speciﬁc social histories of these regions rather than climate or demography as determining forces driving toward (and away from) cultivation. In contrast. suggesting that the end of Clovis lifeways is better explained by climate change than the meteor. and how the Mesa Verde region was abandoned in the late 13th century C. and very thorough fragmentation and burning—which suggests an attempt not just to slaughter but to utterly destroy even the corpses of a population that appears biologically distinct from the other inhabitants of the Ridges Basin. Elsewhere. scalping. At least 35 related individuals of both sexes and all ages were subjected to facial and head trauma. Forts strongly cluster where ENSO (El Ni˜ o– n Southern Oscillation) disruptions are most severe. and episodes of frequent. from deer and rabbit exploitation in California (Codding et al. and the Czech Republic. perhaps. at any rate.000 B. while talking of meat. to make a preliminary but intriguing assessment of how preColumbian populations coped with sea-level rise. differences in resilience or sheer luck among populations facing them.
Structuring Environments: Bad Times and Natural Disasters
Two articles from one Current Anthropology (CA) issue address early natural disasters that that were. .E. and abandoned. and establishing networks of interaction to ensure food security. and a wealth of archaeological evidence to clarify when. particularly radiocarbon dates. felicitously opening these regions for the expansion of early modern humans (protected from the blast in more southerly climes). James Potter and Jason Chuipka (2010) uncover a brutal massacre circa C. Vance Holliday and David Meltzer (2010) draw on several lines of evidence. why. severe hurricanes. Particularly interesting is the argument advanced by several contributors that outmigration itself caused social disruption that hastened further abandonment. 2010) and oysters and ﬁsh in Korea (Kim 2010) to extreme salmon specialization in British Columbia (Coupland et al. Andrzej Weber and Robert Bettinger (2010) demonstrate
VARIABLE HISTORIES OF NONSTATE SOCIETIES: SOCIAL ORGANIZATION.Arkush • The Year in Review: Archaeology
this point by synthesizing a variety of lines of evidence to assess variability over time in the strategies of Siberian hunter-gatherers. these studies do not radically overturn longheld assumptions. Historicized (2010) rejects the vision of Archaic people as a static neoevolutionary type adapting to local environments. and perhaps water control. household spaces. 2010. Angela Close (2010) writes a thought-provoking piece on inequality in skill. Shenk et al. Yet this literature is not easily divided. It turns out that these intangibles are not transmitted reliably between generations. and gifting that made links to past times and other peoples. ritual performances. and they deﬁne wealth broadly to include nonmaterial resources such as social relationships (“relational wealth”) and health. are highly heritable—although inequality is not an automatic corollary because partible inheritance and external crises may dilute inequality from one generation to the next. kinship organization. overall health. 2010.
Inequalities and Organizational Strategies
On the materialist side. they were not clearly ranked. and storage were not reducible to utilitarian adaptation to ecological conditions. 800 to 1400: conﬂict and defense. ﬁshing. by affecting crop abundance. AND MONUMENTALITY
The year 2010 saw many explorations of variability in nonstate societies. to use the above typology) in “egalitarian” societies. The shell-mound debate encapsulates broader tensions between materialist and culturalist visions in which the roles played by agency and intentionality are a particular sticking point. one could attempt a crude division of these treatments into materialist and culturalist perspectives. Barbara Roth (2010a. based on an impressively coordinated large-scale program of ethnographic studies in a range of nonindustrial societies.000 B. Land and livestock. migration. principal among them that some things are more suited than others to be inherited and hence to form the basis of long-term social inequality. Gender systems may have taken time or certain conditions to solidify into rigid tradition. instead taking a historical vision of trajectories in the eastern Archaic shaped by large-scale interaction. Kenneth Sassaman’s The Eastern Archaic. left ﬂakes expediently struck on the spot as well as previously made. She urges archaeologists to look for these differences even in the most ancient time periods and the most modest artifacts. INEQUALITY. Interestingly. Yet others argue that the structuring inﬂuence of environment and subsistence has been overstated. the authors use statistical measurements to test to what extent children’s wealth really does replicate that of their parents. MEMORY. Kevin Nolan and Robert Cook (2010) argue that spatial and temporal variation in precipitation. cultural heterogeneity or homogeneity. they are full of useful insights. In contrast. one “must-read” was not strictly archaeological at all: Current Anthropology’s February special
section on intergenerational wealth transmission. Jane Peterson (2010) reviews a broad range of evidence (bioarchaeology. That does not mean. where interfamilial difference (though it is sometimes quite considerable) mainly derives from those nonmaterial resources. similar tensions can be seen in the literature on social organization and inequality. and ethnogenesis. Sassaman proposes that these phenomena were accomplished in part by the construction of earthworks. retouched ﬂakes. skill. 2010a. largely determined many societal outcomes in the Middle Ohio Valley from C. exchange patterns. emphasizing to different degrees material wealth. Smith et al. He also argues that Archaic shellﬁshing. For instance. 2010. Though especially notable for hunter-gatherer societies. from hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists to agricultural and pastoral people (Borgerhoff Mulder et al. monumentality. Gurven et al. True. Ximena Villagran and colleagues (2010) reach similar conclusions about Archaic shell mounds on the Brazilian coast. and social status was not based on gender. and know-how (“embodied wealth”). especially for hunter-gatherers. and gendered workloads.E. helping to explain why long-term inequality is difﬁcult to maintain in foraging and horticultural societies. more carefully fashioned. that more transient forms of social difference are unimportant. Nevertheless. and personal status (or “embodied” wealth. and central themes (such as inequality) appear throughout. are sufﬁcient to explain “monumental” shell mounds for at least the southeastern United States. This apparent difference in the quality of basic personal possessions is her departure point for an exploration of subtle indicators of inequality in published literature about the Paleolithic. asserting that their microstratigraphy resulted from many intentionally and ritually motivated depositions associated with funerary practices. of course. Bowles et al. such as the lithic assemblage of an Egyptian desert sandsheet. mortuary treatment. 2010b). Difference between genders is another kind of “egalitarian” inequality. knowledge. strength. nor do they explain why or how forms of wealth and ideas about property change or how leveling mechanisms are circumvented or lose their efﬁcacy (Kelly 2010). the variability in gender systems in the Neolithic Levant suggests that the adoption of farming did not determine gender roles in any predictable fashion. who argues that Archaic freshwater shell middens of the Ohio Valley were the remains not of quotidian subsistence but of feasts and burial ceremonies. where meticulous analysis reveals that cattle pastoralists circa 8. they responded to social needs and interactions. craft making. Differences in the reliance on ﬁsh versus game affected the distribution of settlements. and social complexity. William Marquardt (2010) argues that domestic midden accumulation and disposal. in a chapter in her edited book Engendering Households in
. Rather than relying on informants’ statements. Some of his ideas build on the work of Cheryl Claassen (2010). Again. and memory.P. by contrast. rather. 2010b). and ﬁgural representations) from the Neolithic southern Levant to conclude that although women’s and men’s lives and work differed. 2010.
of human body parts) that were perhaps the central nodes through which membership in a house society was expressed (Hodder and Pels 2010). on its own. more architectural elaboration. and more evidence of specialized production. Another perspective is evoked in George Lau’s work at the Recuay chieﬂy center of Yayno in Peru’s northern highlands (Lau 2010b). Becoming Villagers. (A ritual emphasis on ancestor commemoration may have started extremely early in the Middle East: Natalie Munro and Leore Grosman  uncover evidence of Natuﬁan feasting on aurochs and tortoises associated with a burial context in a cave in southern Israel. This is one gist of Stephen Plog and Carrie Heitman’s (2010) contribution to the long-standing controversy about Chaco Canyon society. In this case. based on Schachner’s analysis.) Notwithstanding the CA series on wealth transmission. more burials.)
Lineage. more storage space. These and other practices at Catalh¨ y¨ k are discussed in an unusual ¸ o u volume edited by Ian Hodder (2010) that compiles contributions from specialists in the anthropology of religion who were brought to the site with support from the Templeton Foundation. These “house societies” have become a hot topic lately. circular) and construction quality suggest discrete corporate groups of varying statuses. room blocks. Here. population aggregation and the formation of structured corporate groups appear closely related to new kinds of inequality based on both ritual and material wealth. Gregson Schachner’s article (2010) on the northern San Juan region of the Southwest pinpoints this process at the transition in the early eighth century C. This fortiﬁed town is composed of several high-walled. spatialized and reinforced by separate houses. aggregated pueblos. traces changes in the spatial layout of Mogollon pithouses that may have accompanied more rigid gender roles and labor division at larger village sites after the late 800s C. this pattern may not hold elsewhere: as John Blitz’s review  demonstrates. The major insight of this book is that. Finally. in some cases. an intensiﬁed level of ritual. They reanalyze published data and archival sources documenting an extraordinarily rich burial crypt at Pueblo Bonito and date the human remains from this context to establish that the ﬁrst and richest burials were interred soon after construction started at Pueblo Bonito in a room that continued to be used as a mortuary site for perhaps three centuries thereafter. multistoried residential compounds. many archaeologists would argue that commemorative burial practices can play key roles in the establishment and naturalization of inequality. explores common cross-cultural patterns in the transition to sedentism in a variety of regions in both Old and New Worlds. had a larger group size.204
American Anthropologist • Vol. 113. Jodie O’Gorman (2010) explores longhouses as a distinctive type of community that intersected with other kinds of group identities. some of which not only played disproportionate roles in ritual and feasting but also. or other ediﬁces. early settled life presented wholly new challenges and put in motion new social dialectics. including. A rich archaeological case is found in the identiﬁcation and interpretation of “history houses” at Catalh¨ y¨ k: longer-lived houses with more rebuilding ¸ o u episodes. The importance of that transition is underlined by Matthew Bandy and Jake Fox’s (2010) innovative edited volume. shifting the emphasis away from the origins of agriculture and toward the novel processes and problems produced by early village life. McPhee Village. was organized into architectural blocks corresponding to separate corporate groups. including genders. One result of organization into corporate or lineage “houses” was the potential for social differentiation between these groups. and more curation (incl.E. all concerned with strong distinctions be-
tween protected group members and excluded outsiders. aggregating into large communities raised the stakes for ﬁxing and organizing social roles and identities. Vernon Knight (2010) contributes a detailed. Distinct contemporaneous mounds suggest separate corporate groups and a segmentary quality to authority at Moundville. recent research indicates considerable diversity in Mississippian societies. and Monumentality
Community organization into corporate houses or other lineage groups formed a logical pairing with rituals emphasizing ancestors and memory. This book. data-rich treatment of ﬁndings from excavations conducted throughout the 1990s at Moundville: the chronology of mound construction and abandonment and the resulting evolution of public space. For instance. Here. Differences in compound shape (rectangular. from scattered single-family pithouses to large. (However. This sequence suggests an emphasis on founding ancestors and establishing the burial place of a continuing elite lineage in a space sanctiﬁed by ritual deposits of symbolically charged
. reinforced community. The successes and contradictions of these solutions are visible in case studies that trace long-term trajectories of stability or dynamism.E. No. the product of an Amerind symposium. 2 • June 2011
the Prehistoric Southwest. Memory. drawing on both Oneota archaeology and the ethnography of Iroqoian and Dayak (Borneo) longhouse traditions. and smoothed over conﬂicts at the transition to increased sedentism. warfare formed the context and perhaps the impetus for the deﬁnition of group identities and new warrior-elite roles (Lau 2010a). and the associated platform-slope middens that indicate this architecture was the site of elite residence and crafting activity. the pole-frame architecture that densely covered mound summits and blocked access and view. and they posit that this kind of public ritual commemorated the dead. One kind of social “solution” to the problem of village organization was the formation of corporate kin groups larger than the nuclear family. Chapters address the rapid population growth and scalar stress associated with early sedentism as well as the resulting ﬁssioning or coping mechanisms that villagers came up with. The largest of these pueblos. each enclosing a central open space onto which apartment-like dwellings face. each with just one difﬁcult entry.
factionalism. which analyzes collections and excavation reports from Moundville to identify the rebuilding of residential complexes in situ and the reuse of those residential spaces as cemeteries for centuries after their abandonment. INTERACTIONS
The dazzling complexity of ancient and recent states offers bountiful avenues for research. population. Plog and Heitman’s contribution. allowing for unusually conﬁdent. Jerry Moore (2010) discusses nearly 5. requiring considerable labor investment. was characterized by precocious Neolithic settlement but slow population growth and political integration of relatively small regions. Organizing Bronze Age Societies. Second. 2010). embodied. halfway around the world. These kinds of comparisons help us glimpse answers to some essential questions. Perhaps other words like tradition.
STATES IN ACTION: ORIGINS. such as Inca ceremonial platforms (usnus. and colonialism. what favored the status quo or tipped the balance for one center to expand to supremacy at the expense of its rivals? Such questions lead to new research on an old topic: state formation. Hungary. PATHWAYS. eventually. suggesting the maintenance of routinized. A long-term sequence in the Taraco Peninsula of Bolivia illustrates generally stable. By contrast. One. and Scandinavia. Alas. symbolic) and nondiscursive (embodied. The archaeological projects and analyses summarized in this volume used similar methods and recording strategies. despite a late start in settlement. land use.” Here. such as the construction and renewal of ceremonial architecture related to ancestor commemoration. resistant-to-change practices such as food and pottery production.” An example is Gregory Wilson’s article (2010). Robert Drennan and Xiangming Dai (2010) compare early settlement patterns in two regions of North China with dramatically contrasting trajectories. The editors and contributors particularly emphasize environmental conditions. Moore’s critique raises the question of whether archaeologists who identify sites of memory are truly investigating what and how their subjects communicated about the past or whether the term memory just allows them to avoid answering these difﬁcult questions. Two articles on the Andes take aim at this problem from a practice perspective. see Meddens et al. Several other contributions address the link between monumentality and elite power.” an idea that can encompass both conservative acts and innovations related more to the recognition and reuse of a sacred locale than to “memory” in any strict sense. also serves as a model for the reanalysis of information previously collected—in some cases. Timothy Earle and Kristian Kristiansen’s (2010) tightly organized edited book. Other acts. or regional extent than contemporary societies nearby without such impressive burial monuments. detailed comparisons. unconscious) traditional practices. “social memory” may be a victim of its own trendiness. What enabled and encouraged dense nucleated settlement in some cases and not others? In an environment of competing regional centers.Arkush • The Year in Review: Archaeology
. or history telling offer more precision for thinking about the uses of a past older than personal memory. long hiatuses in occupation and major disjunctures in site use suggest that rituals at the site are best conceptualized broadly as “practice. But perhaps some monuments didn’t accomplish much aside from attracting the attention of archaeologists: Christian Peterson and colleagues’ (2010) comparative study shows that Hongshan chiefdoms in northeast China. associated with rich burials in elaborate platforms. compares Bronze Age settlement patterns. Ultimately. 2010) shows that the central plaza was very early and very large. and interregional interaction in explaining the distinct pathways taken by societies in different regions of Europe. considers the meaning and use of stone sculptures in pre-Classic Mesoamerica through a close exam-
ination of their context. Andrew Roddick and Christine Hastorf (2010) move beyond the idea of social memory as either passive or active by deﬁning a continuum between discursive (intentional. Burial ritual and traditional lineage commemoration tend to get talked about nowadays as “social memory. decorative motifs) that also took on discursive meaning. Julia Guernsey and colleagues’ edited book (2010). rose to the plane of the conscious and discursive as inequalities between lineages solidiﬁed. These acts are interpreted as the creation of social memory and kin-based identity within a segmentary society. they entrained aspects of food and pottery production (feasting. often politically charged messages. conquest. One result has been exciting work that is both comparative and diachronic: the contrasting of regional trajectories. Recent work highlights the varied interactions between groups that states put in motion through processes of urbanism.
Contemporary approaches across the theoretical spectrum recognize a diversity of social pathways. for it is invoked so broadly by archaeologists that its meaning has become quite vague. Trenching at Cahokia (Alt et al. are not substantially different in terms of settlement. in Chifeng. culminating eventually in the emergence of the paramount center of a large regional polity. economic organization. communal drinking. and household economies in Sicily. habitual. the other. over a century ago. as it augments our understanding of the greatest southwestern center. was from the beginning on a “fast track” of rapid population growth and nucleation into unusually large settlements.000 years of deposits at a sacred mound site on Peru’s far northern coast to critique the “archaeology of memory. commemoration. immigration. Here are two examples. Other kinds of monuments have been recently investigated. highly restricted sets of actions—a nearly unconscious form of social memory. discussing stone monuments as conveyers of special. The Place of Stone Monuments. including ones toward institutionalized inequality. in the Yellow River valley.
council-based structure. Peru. the argument may rely too much on categories susceptible to endless debate (like “the state”) but does usefully highlight the processes that territorial expansion puts into motion.E. One novelty of this book lies in Dietler’s argument that the legacy of the ﬁrst millennium B. involving more commoners in positions of authority than in other central Mexican polities ruled exclusively by nobility. (Those interested in the topic will also wish to peruse Patrick Kirch’s  new book on Hawaiian state formation. and Roman colonists. Greek. it relied on informal trade and transport mechanisms already in place (in contrast with the Incas’ later control of the same route). which examines the long sequence of interactions between indigenous people of southern France and Etruscan. 113. Michael Malpass and Sonia Alconini’s (2010) edited book. Jason Ur (2010) reviews new research in northern Mesopotamia that indicates an early and independent. Beyond Wari Walls. and the experience of new urban spaces and architectural styles—entangled natives and colonists in increasingly close relationships. They argue that Tlaxcala developed a somewhat more egalitarian.206
American Anthropologist • Vol. An extension of Spencer’s previous work in Oaxaca. urbanization.C. brings together a number of case studies from the edges of empire that illustrate both the variety of Inca strategies in different regions and the variety of local responses. though it came out too late in the year to be
. One such foundational moment was the Inca conquest of the Chanka. In the Andes. after 2500 B.)
Interaction and Imperialism
Much new research on ancient states addresses the nature of state interactions with peripheries or provinces. a new edited book on Wari’s impact outside its heartland (Jennings 2010b).. we might hope one day for a better understanding of early southern Mesopotamia. for Carrie Hritz (2010). according to Inca state mythohistory. identifying uniquely Cretan col-
lapse and postcollapse processes to explain the divergent forms of government of subsequent Cretan states versus the democratic polities of central Greece. And. violent confrontations.C. the intersection of local agency with macroregional processes comes into sharp focus. Jean-Francois Millaire (2010) presents dates from residential and civic-ceremonial sectors of the Gallinazo Group in the Vir´ Valley and from a secondary administrative center to u suggest regional state development coeval with the Moche or perhaps earlier. with major implications for understanding the region’s prehistory. instead. The net result is an impression of many kinds of expedient imperialism in a single short-lived empire. promises to bring new insights to the nature of Wari expansion. Jason Sherman and colleagues (2010) use several lines of evidence to argue that Monte Alb´n attempted to extend its reach to the Paciﬁc coast. in a clever analysis of satellite imagery.E. reveals not this dauntingly powerful foe but a politically and culturally fragmented region (Bauer and Kellett 2010. Perhaps more signiﬁcant to most archaeologists is the shift Dietler accomplishes in the vision of colonialism—from a grand premeditated imperial strategy to the unforeseen outcome of local engagements and native as well as foreign agency. In a closely related piece. shaped (or misshaped) the origins of European identity and attitudes toward colonial expansion as a beneﬁcent engagement with outsiders. including studies of contrasting pathways after initial state formation. both funding and necessitating bureaucratic governance. demonstrates that the southern Tigris river channel has changed substantially. Now. Here are extremely different pathways of development in close geographical proximity. and China (Erlitou) as well as tentative evidence in Peru and the Indus Valley. Distant Provinces in the Inka Empire. as southern Mesopotamian cities reached their height. Along with future work clarifying these fascinating transitions in northern Mesopotamia. How do states arise? Charles Spencer (2010) proposes a general model for primary state formation in which territorial expansion into areas farther than a day’s travel is the engine of state institutions. ancient states often attributed their own origins to transformative conquest events—if we take their histories at face value. published too late in the year to be examined ﬁrsthand. For instance. How Chiefs Became Kings. rise of complex society in the upper Khabur basin. a survey by Charles Stanish and colleagues (2010) shows that Tiwanaku did not directly control the route to its most important colonies in Moquegua. This work ﬁnds an intriguing echo in central Mexico. Bauer et al. 2 • June 2011
State Formation and State Histories
Pinpointing ﬁrst-generation states got a little more complicated in 2010. some of the most promising research on state development is comparative. and craft specialization by about 4000 B. and they suggest that it was this more collective political system that allowed Tlaxcala to successfully resist absorption by the Aztec Triple Alliance. The area entered a phase of deurbanization by the end of the third millennium B. Egypt. Saro Wallace (2010) synthesizes new information on Early Iron Age and classical Crete. Inca strategies also differed from their Andean predecessors. cities reemerged in a different form. In support are chronological correspondences between these processes in Mesoamerica (Oaxaca). including monumental architecture. Mesopotamia (Uruk). The multilinear approach taken by these authors is particularly helpful in mapping out the wide realm of organizational possibilities in ancient states and in untangling causal factors. No. indeed. A history of encounters—including the trade and consumption of wine and food. Here.C. 2010). Processes of precocious centralization and urbanization were apparently going on in several valleys on the north coast in tandem.E. a highly centralized and aggressive confederation on their western ﬂank. if not unrelated. a As in Spencer’s model. where contrasts in governance are explored by Lane Fargher and colleagues (2010).C. archaeological survey by Brian Bauer and colleagues in the Chanka heartland of Andahuaylas.E. Especially noteworthy is Michael Dietler’s Archaeologies of Colonialism (2010).
the book directs attention to how particularly vigorous ﬂows of information. when the growth and urbanization of complex societies drew people.
Architecture. Charged symbols of elite authority such as bronze ritual vessels. Helene Bernier (2010) analyzes data from small ceramic. Cahokia. Archaic State Interaction. nativism vs. Bioarchaeology and stable-isotope analysis have been yielding eye-opening ﬁndings about the movement of people into ancient state centers. As for portable objects. who identiﬁes a Nubian subgroup in Heirakonpolis with attachment scars and wear typical of vigorous jumping and running. squatters. One is documented by Margaret Judd (2010). The incidence of spindle whorls spiked under Chichen Itza’s regime. Alexander Mart´n (2010) examines inı teraction from the perspective of the Ecuadorean periphery. and sustainability (Smith 2010a). Amy Hirshman and colleagues (2010) ﬁnd no evidence for reorganization to meet the demands of the political economy. Cameron Monroe’s (2010) study of the architecture of successive royal palaces in west African Dahomey traces a sequence of increasing complexity. and metal workshops to deduce that Moche craft specialists were “semi-attached”—neither wholly independent nor closely controlled by elites. acculturation. and people created chains of unexpected side effects. What was the social composition of ancient neighborhoods and the nature of differentiation within and between them? To what extent was bottom-up agency or top-down administration responsible for spatial patterning within cities? Such questions are also relevant to contemporary urban issues of sprawl. things.000 years of ceramic production in the Tarascan state heartland. with critical variations in structure masked by brisk interaction and shared fundamentals of elite culture and religion. suggesting that cloth was levied as a form of tribute. and ideas from huge regions into a core (examples are Uruk. too: Douglas Price and colleagues (2010) deduce from strontium isotopes that some royal individuals buried in the Acropolis at Copan. examining over 1. Were similar things happening at Kaminaljuyu.
Colonialism and Historical Archaeology
The study of European colonialism and its aftereffects reprises themes from ancient state interaction and imperialism. including the probable founder of Copan’s royal dynasty. in which he argues that the phenomenon of “complex connectivity” that typiﬁes contemporary globalization had analogs on a smaller scale in the ancient past. they engaged in it themselves (Halperin and Foias 2010).Arkush • The Year in Review: Archaeology
examined here. Stimulating in its range of approaches to domestic space. This is a multicentric view of the development of complexity. with the difference that the question of native agency. and Production
Archaeologists of ancient states have contributed new work on built spaces. accommodation) with a very interesting study that matches historically known Potawatomi
. sometimes little. Yet. These individuals may have been athletes involved in performances or contests at the Egyptian center in the Second Intermediate Period. and Wari). when mapped. this book could be a source of ideas and insight to those working on houses and households in any region. on a variety of scales. and restriction of movement. Mark Schurr (2010) breaks down problematic dichotomies (resistance vs. peripheral individuals and decapitated skulls may have been from the Maya lowlands. resistance. were not local. Maya elites of the Ik’ polity not only controlled polychrome ceramic production. show stylistic coherence along the Silk Road. those small areas of intense interaction—and the questions they raise. Michael Smith (2010b) urges archaeologists of urban spaces to attend to subdivisions of cities—especially neighborhoods.
Although perhaps too hung up on the semantic quibble of what counts as globalization. Urbanism. These kinds of ﬂows get summed up in Justin Jennings’s book Globalizations and the Ancient World (2010a). showing how the trade in Spondylus shells to Andean states to the south affected local developments and involved nonelites. Some Maya elites moved around. or accommodation is much more political. lapidary. A dominant motif in recent work is the diversity of colonial experiences: distinct responses in distinct settings contradict the seemingly monolithic colonial juggernaut. lending credence to much-later Maya inscriptions about a founding king with ties to Tikal and Caracol. suggesting that trade channeled interaction and the formation of elite culture. 2010). Similar ideas are taken up in William Parkinson and Michael Galaty’s (2010) edited book. bureaucracy. Another fascinating case is Tifﬁny Tung and Kelly Knudson’s isotope study (2010) documenting the abduction of nonlocal children (as well as adults) into the Wari capital and the transformation of their decapitated heads into trophies used for central state rituals. By contrast. Alice Yao’s review (2010) of earlier Bronze Age societies in southwestern China links their simultaneous paths of increasing complexity to a context of peer-polity interaction and trade with greater powers. Gary Feinman and colleagues (2010) use settlement survey to trace early Qin expansion into coastal China. forcing domestic (probably women’s) craft production to intensify (Ardren et al. which has long been hypothesized to have ties to both Teotihuac´n and the Maya region? Lori Wright and a others’ stable isotope analysis (2010) shows that although the centrally buried individuals in high-status tombs were local. ancient state leaders apparently sometimes paid them great attention. Jeffrey Quilter and Luis Jaime Castillo’s edited book on the Moche (2010) highlights the emerging consensus that there were plural Moche states rather than one. goods. which gathers scholars of the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean to reassess and reﬁne world-systems theory and develop models for interactions between societies of different shapes and sizes. suggestive of royal attempts to reinforce political order in unstable times. Lisa Nevett’s Domestic Space in Classical Antiquity (2010) examines a series of Greek and Roman houses in conjunction with written and iconographic evidence to reveal changes over time in identity and the use of space.
out of many possible pathways. Jeff Oliver’s book (2010) takes a novel approach to the conﬂicts and interactions of the indigenous and colonial experience in the Fraser River valley in British Columbia by emphasizing the transformation of landscape: how the land was used. Ardren. mentioned above. A
Alt. formed in part by accidents and agents. and at the same time as having general applicability and comparative potential. University of
Pittsburgh. Fox. Isaac Ullah. and Timothy R. historical archaeology’s bottom-up approach uniquely enlightens daily experience outside written records. chooses a middle ground between these poles. Barton. and Jake S. This poses an obvious challenge for archaeological explanation: Is history (and prehistory) “just one damn thing after another. especially in North America. some who did not—with their archaeologically studied village sites. http://www. technological change.208
American Anthropologist • Vol. eds. and Helena Mitasova 2010 Computational Modeling and Neolithic Socioecological Dynamics: A Case Study from Southwest Asia. Diachronic change is also carefully addressed in Eric Jones’s (2010) reconstruction of ﬁne-grained population change over the 16th and 17th centuries in two Iroquois nations.
couple of outliers help illustrate. Pittsburgh.. nor indeed unique to our discipline. where archaeologists explain why. This book takes inspiration from the Annales division of historical scales but shifts the emphasis to the conjuncture—the turning point. 2010) and beautifully preserved fragments of paper at an early colonial coastal town. an unexpectedly telling indicator is village proximity to waterways and trails. T.edu. On the side of predictability and even inevitability: Charles Spencer’s (2010) article on state formation through territorial conquest. remade. including a Spaniard’s jotted notes on a hitherto-unknown indigenous language (Quilter et al. successively occupied village sites. 2010 Becoming Villagers: Comparing Early Village Societies. Diana Loren (2010) explores the various ways in which clothing and adornment expressed and refashioned identity in the multiethnic world of colonial North America. Jeffrey D. In Laura Scheiber and Mark Mitchell’s (2010) edited book. and internal factionalism. a particular one was traveled. My thanks to Carla Sinopoli and Tom Boell-
storff for the invitation to write this review and to Charles Stanish and Carla Sinopoli for helpful editorial suggestions. Michael.” after all? The majority of archaeological writing. Orser 2010) and even. gendered experience. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. but we are tackling them in new ways now—or at least with new terminology. Matthew R.
Reading this vibrant assortment of new work gives one a tentative sense that archaeologists today are trying to explain the past in ways that do not make it seem inevitable. links to wider social networks and external patrons who were instrumental in successful resistance. More commonly. and Alejandra Alonso 2010 Cloth Production and Economic Intensiﬁcation in the Area Surrounding Chichen Itza. and conceptually reorganized. which stresses the pivotal importance of sudden unpredictable transformative events. Bandy. claimed. Eventful Archaeologies. potentially.. In this fertile middle ground. Susan M. Traci. Pauketat 2010 The Construction and Use of Cahokia’s Grand Plaza. C. Meanwhile. Archaeologists try to accommodate both contingency and process in their explanations—to envision regional or local trajectories as unique. The material culture from these sites proves less than adequate to reﬂect the contrasting strategies and life histories of these men. a disheartening ﬁnding for prehistoric archaeologists. Latin American Antiquity 21(3):274–289. American Antiquity 75(2):364–386. arkush@pitt. 2010). these questions are not unique to this moment in the discipline. Where such rich documentary evidence is lacking. while Jillian Galle’s (2010) article on slave participation in the “consumer revolution” in 18th-century Virginia uses costly signaling theory to interpret the gendered consumption of expensive metal buttons and ﬁne ceramics. Archaeology likewise bears witness to the unstoried side of capitalism’s development (Matthews 2010. Across a Great Divide. Julie Kay Wesp. On the side of radical contingency. Journal of Field Archaeology 35(2):131–146. Of course. based on the sizes of well-dated. This study reveals distinct local histories of depopulation and migration and provides concrete data on the impact of introduced diseases. Kam Manahan. demonstrating a great diversity of experiences and responses. archaeologists can still gain insight into the colonial encounter by taking a diachronic view. Chapters address ethnogenesis.
. Kruchten. PA 15260. to the postindustrial world of recent decades (Harrison and Schoﬁeld 2010). 2 • June 2011
village headmen of the early 19th century—some who successfully avoided being removed from the Great Lakes region to reservations. Adding to a growing body of work on Spanish colonialism in the Americas (reviewed Van Buren 2010) are remarkable new ﬁnds from earliest Spanish Peru: bullet wounds in Inca bodies interred outside Lima (Murphy et al. contributors look at Native North American societies across the continent both before and after contact with colonial regimes. No. nativism.edu/∼arkush/Elizabeth_Arkush/
Acknowledgments. pitt. they emphasize to different degrees external conditions versus human actions and their chains of consequences. 113.
Elizabeth Arkush Department of Anthropology. even inexplicability: Douglas Bolender’s (2010) edited book.
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