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Materialist Approaches in Prehistory Author(s): P. L. Kohl Reviewed work(s): Source: Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 10 (1981), pp.

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Ann. Rev. Anthropol. 1981. 10:89-118 ? Copyright 1981 byAnnual Reviews Inc. All rights reserved

MATERIALIST APPROACHES IN PREHISTORY


P. L. Kohl
of Department Anthropology, Wellesley College,Wellesley, Massachusetts 02181

.9672

... weshould wrong thinking a human be in that the society on what surrounding feeds is on generation landis best suited produce. to Society a prisoner practices of passed from ... has these togeneration altered with and only difficulty. Thehistorian toinvestigate to in past. to begin with when seeking describe agricultural practices the G. Duby(41,p. 17) exclusive Wefeelthatthe rewards abandoning potential of focuson theadaptationist We are a as programme very great indeed. do not offer council despair, adaptationists of have does charged; non-adaptive notmeannon-intelligible. for S. J.GouldandR. C. Lewontin p. 597) (60,

subtle contradictory The concept materialismladenwith is and political For andphilosophical connotations. somea materialist suggests approach or as to rigorous empirical research a highly inductive, opposed deductive, for the a view methodology; others term signifiesphilosophical ofreality to thataccordsgreater causal weight a society's behavior thanto its orjustifications itsbehavior. essay for This usesthe thoughts, reflections,
in termsmaterialism and materialist approaches thislattersense and at-

schools materialism of dominate to contempotempts showhowdifferent in The historical of development rary reconstructions prehistory. in of history philosophy cannot reviewed. be materialist interpretations of it of Suffice to notethat modem the roots materialist accounts cultural extend back to the Enlightenment, to evolution particularly Scottish such and philosophers as Ferguson Millar pp.29-33,48-52),andthat (65, linked withtheidea of socialprogress materialism becameinextricably whenfundamentally different materialist the during nineteenth century 0084-6570/81/1015-0089$01.00
89

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influenced thewritings Comte, of schools, by and Darwin, Marx, emerged little common for basicassumption thereal in which shared save the that thantheideal.Awareness thephilosophical of was moreknowable and these different is political differences among schools important underfor forms standing distinctive ofmaterialism characterize the that contemporary archaeology. with Archaeology's association materialismbasic, thevery is by nature oftheir believe thematerial that data,archaeologists at least must remains that ofa pastsociety allowforitsreconstruction, thesociety's tangible, to sufficient informationreconstruct actividiscarded its products provide In tiesand history plausibly. other words, archaeologists consciously or that unconsciously the adopt materialist is correpremise there a significant lation between a society what and produced howitfunctioned. Correlations arenotequivalent causes, acceptance this of to and premise notimply need of to that or adherence a conception history denies minimizes signifithe This that canceofideasandbeliefs. essay, however, argues contemporary or of someform anthropological archaeology implicitly explicitly accepts or the in materialism treats fundamental activities as performeda society. what importantwhat is is In thefinal existed what or analysis, physically not or within cultural a happened system, whatwas thought conceptualbetween ized. The exactrelationship materials ideas-specifically, and are as whether notthelatter treated epiphenomenalor in someway or to interactive theformer-varies with greatly among different materialist approaches; essay this hopes explore critically to and evaluate materialist the approaches currently dominating contemporary archaeology.

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF MATERIALIST MODELS


in archaeology as old As is to be expected, materialist interpretations are in as thediscipline itself. Three The Age system adopted C. Thomsen by theearly nineteenth ordered a of century history throughsuccession techinnovations. Worssae's nological Primaeval Antiquities Denmark of contains that of echo ecological passages strikingly the emphases contemporary into studies Nilsson and ranked societies discrete to stages according their modeof subsistence Renfrew Pitt(38). has (150) recently resurrected Rivers' fascinating on "TheEvolution Culture" which essay of in material in evolve a manner to objects comparable organic species (136). Perhaps most was important thecloseassociation between developmentsgeology in andinprehistory most de nineteenth throughout ofthe century; Mortillet's of on geologic epochs prehistory p. 237)were (38, consciously patterned the time scaleandassumed prehistory that advanced through universal stages

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thatdefined history theearth. The of to the that werecomparable those interpretation ofprehisor of epochal "chest drawers" breakdown this of that and the as of tory occurred theresult discoveries contradicted model in of DawnofEuropean Civilization. culminated thepublication Childe's in favor thefirst ofthetwentieth half Other materialist approaches gained ap(53) and Clark's(30) economic century, such as Fox's ecological with Marxian concepts a functional attemptedintegrate to proaches. Childe from (24-26; partially Durkheim ofsociety wasderived that interpretation an to while questionand to 187, 122-123) tried discover order history pp. evolution formulae lawsofcultural or of evolutionary ing reality general the (27, 29). in with NewWorld developed closeassociation institutions archaeology of Museum Harvard were that suchas theSmithsonian thePeabody and of in methods in refinements history man;although interested thenatural of indetermining sequence duration pre-Columbian the and anddifficulties ofregional "cultures" a preoccupaand led developments toa proliferation such (175) and tionwithchronology (204), anthropologists as Steward confreres adopt more to a comparatheir archaeological Barth chided (11) ofculin interpretation tiveapproach ultimately grounded an ecological to (178) or Willey The earliest respondents thiscall,suchas Taylor ture. the be "conjunc& Philips materialists; former's (203),cannot considered behavioral explanations tive effectively for argued functionalist approach" two to socialanthropology andthelatter that were indebted British (107), historical interpretathat to developmental refined concepts were promote the launched Binof by tions NewWorld However, revolution prehistory. White'snarrow-if accepting by fordendedthisambiguity explicitly "as means of of reassuring-viewculture theextrasomatic archaeologically for (13, organism." p. 22) adaptation thehuman on Numerous scholars 90,143,145,146,150, 204)havecommented (38, shift a historical a comparfrom to in such recent trends archaeology as the utilization systems of or less models; recogative perspective thewidescale of of interpretation nizedis theunquestioning acceptance a materialist sincecontemporary is Thisomission paradoxical is archaeology culture. of of if its moreover, rejection grades self-conscious; nothing nottortuously of in (71, evidence 131)anditsadoption a holistic reliabilityarchaeological from free should havehelped thediscipline itsartefacsystemic perspective of as tualbaseandprecipitated interpretations idealist, wellas materialist, that the thepast.Instead, explanations emphasize roleof ideas or the rare subsystem" areconspicuously (45,98,99, 158,201), (147) "symbolic who old-fashioned reacor with associated archaeologists are considered as humanism tionary 119),or ridiculed thelastgaspofa misguided (31, of the (72, 150). obstructing advance science

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idealist Thisreaction against nonexplanatory interpretations is underand for standable largely justified. Unquestionably, idealist many concepts or such explaining prehistoric change stability, as Piggott's tautologous and distinction between (132) innovating conserving societies, deserve the havereceived. other assessments to thenature as censure they However, of suchas Leach'selegant-if and potential archaeological deevidence, pressing-criticisms 104),bearmorecareful (103, scrutiny. a more On philosophical itmust admitted the level, be that materialist assumption that or of ideology represents consciousness" that content ideas only "false the in is irrelevant themanner which to values beliefs manipulated and are for remains toserious focuses social ends which open question Thisessay, (10). onmaterialist cannot the of approaches, unfortunately discuss inadequacies idealist interpretations ofprehistory merely and notes decline passing the or for models understanding past. the ofthese oncepopular In order understand materialist are it to why interpretationsso popular, within discipline structural the is necessary consider to briefly changes At since theories models the or in the during last30 years. thesametime, as of of never anysocialscience develop solely theproduct an evolution it to the of ideaswithin particular a discipline,is essential trace reflection within of Western the broader concerns late twentieth century society in models archaeology. example, For dominant materialist historians of howthepopular archaeology 187, 40-55)haveshown (70; pp. hyperdiffuwhich into theories the of early twentieth often sionist century, degenerated of racist accounts national reflected scarcely disguised supremacy, clearly nation-states therise fascism. and of growing competition among European So today, dominant the materialist models environmental stressing misof management 37) or theinevitabilitylong-term (e.g. population growth ofthe (32) mirror difficulties contemporary as advanced the world nations to and resources control numbers people the scarce of residattempt obtain Earth. NewArchaeology The ingon spaceship emerged during America's stimulated fear, calleduponto was post-Sputnik when phase Science, by It solvesocialas wellas technical the problems. passeditsyouth during the war of years protest against Vietnam byinsisting thediscipline's upon for future relevance explaining andpossibly social past directing change (54, it factthatwhileother socialsciences and 194). However, is a curious history, strongly influencedthe by civil rights movement Vietnam, and were their traditions questioning possibility imand rediscovering earlier the of value-free socialscience were partial, research, archaeologists advocating the and as vehemently positivist ofhypothesis goals testing objectivitythe Whilesocialanthropologists widening of were salvation their discipline. horizons and their their spatial temporal (168),acknowledging discipline's to and unsavory relationship colonialism and rediscovering (7), history

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Marx(163),archaeologists pursuing admirable were the goalsofrefining their methodological and establishing skills generalizations "laws" of or cultural processes. Thisdisparitydevelopment beexplained in can partially basicchanges by in thewaysin which archaeological research conducted. was Sources of funding shifted public to agencies, richest which the of supported scientific, nothumanistic historical, or investigations. Archaeology's association with natural physical and sciences became much closer with widescale the adoption techniques indispensableradiocarbon of as as dating trace and element of analyses. Problems, suchas the beginnings domestication, adwere dressed which active with required collaboration specialists thenatufrom ralsciences. Thatthese problems contained their by very nature strong a materialist component biasis undeniable. they to Why were systematfirst ically addressed World after WarII is a more complicated question which of inpart at simply reflected state knowledge thetime the (18). Oncesuch collaboration occurred, however, multidisciplinary researchquickly which a stimulated fostered and became standardized procedure ecological ofthe which the interpretations past. Archaeology, developed during ninein with like sciences geology, returned teenth century association natural to in a to them themid-twentieth century forge new,more sophisticated The of naturalistic ordering prehistory. adoption dataprocessing of techniques and employmentquantitative of methods likewise profoundly has influenced discipline; the while suchmethods or maynotbe usedto may a the to view support materialist ofculture, attempt specify quantitatively at of thenature a problem of implies, least,theacceptance a tangible, to of concrete that reality culture is capable statistical manipulation. in has Archaeology, particularly theUnited States, always responded in to anselectively developments its sister(or parental) discipline, or has thropology Cultural (110). ecology ecological anthropology enjoyed the and considerable prominence during pastdecade (63, 128,141,191), its findings literature beenwidely and have cited archaeologists. culby The tural that materialism Harris 66) andhiscolleagues 96) advocate (65, (e.g. more hasinfluenced than other its archaeology perhaps any school; archaeand can ological appeal undoubtedly beexplained itsrigorous consistent by Anthat has to correlates. adherence a strategy by definition material on thropologists 125, (22, 205,206)andethnohistorians whowork the (88) in from more a socialand of critical beginningscivilization theNewWorld their simihistorical perspective influenced archaeological have colleagues; in of larly, Assyriologists interested thereconstructionsocialstructure, arthe schoolheaded Diakonoff havehelped particularly Soviet by (39), in the understand emergence complex of chaeologists society Southwest Asia (2, 93, 211). Dependency theories development, of the particularly

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of history" Braudel world-system ofWallerstein andthe"total model (193) to in andthehistorians theAnnales of school (176),arebeginning be cited explicitly Marxist apthearchaeological literature 114,155).Finally, (94, thatare proaches archaeology 91, 171,172, 183) haveappeared to (56, structural Marxists suchas indebted bothto Childeand to morerecent Godelier 59) Terray (51). (58, (179),and Friedman in have It also is worth noting which approaches anthropology only the of influenced course contemporary archaeology. Specifically, slightly the thediscipline largely has provided structuralby ignored perspectives or and approaches (137,pp. 28ism, cognitive behavioral acculturational 30), cultureand personality studies,and symbolicand aesthetic that cannot explained thefact be Their by anthropology. absence simply associated theeticreality produces that suchschools lessclosely are with and aesthetic andata Symbolic the hard artefactual of archaeology. for are their with directly materials: style thropology, example, concerned Lechtman forcefully that andcultural argues technologisignificance. (106) the can reconstructed cal systems be completely through laboratory analya cultural that sisofartifacts believes suchsystems and encapsulateshared But has on to codethat conveys meaning. hercall largely fallen earsdeaf The of ofdistinctive cultural the significance styles. description"archaeoloor of normative once approach gicalcultures" theelaboration theso-called focus archaeological of suchstudies are constituted a major research; today and has dismissed particularizing unscientific. as research been Acceptable in have redefined. Nonmaterialist approaches anthropology notbeenintenot they stress intangible grated contemporary into archaeology, because nor of that the features society do notfossilize because adoption these of to silent remains archaeologydifficult; of is rather, have they approaches the culture man'sexas beenignored simply becausetheydo not regard meansof adaptation his environment do notsharethe or trasomatic to the materialist perspective pervades discipline. that features contemporary Two related of archaeology be mentioned: must evolutionary perspecfirst, nearly the universal acceptance a comparative of utilization systems of theory. tive;and second, equallywidespread the of or the does approach Strictly speaking, adoption an evolutionarysystems notimply acceptance a materialist of interpretation ofculture. Cultures the for of canevolve a variety reasons, depending one'sdataand/or upon and, and ideascanbe invoked primary as agents philosophical political beliefs, ofcultural evolution. most, can be argued At it that evolutionary studies the of processes describe; thesis stress natural character the they the usually that will time into is given enough Polynesians evolve Englishmenmaterialistonlyin thebroadsensethatit postulates shared a human nature exa common course development. rebirth cultural of The of evoluperiencing

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in tionism archaeology 164) must distinguished materialist be from (121, to interpretations this purporting explain evolution. Thatis, despite the from of historical association Morgan White evolution materialism, to with there nonecessary is between (65,p. 635),andseveral them correspondence ofthemost of ardent multilinear proponentsthenew, expanded evolution, suchas Renfrew, cannot considered be materialists. in If one simply the of considers utilization systems theory thesocial sciences Parsons hisfollowers and by that is (177),it is obvious there no link necessary between materialism systems and Mostsystemic analysis. models culture into divide each arbitrarily subsystems, ofwhich definiby tion upset culture's can the sensitive homeostatic andinduce state change. As already it that of noted, is paradoxical acceptance a systemic framework ofanalysis not toa rejection materialismthat latter of in has led the explains in as of development primarily theproduct changes those specific subsysto material economic or tems related thesociety's base.In other so words, of has pervasive beentheacceptance both and models systemic materialist has thattheir logicalincompatibility been scarcely It recognized. also that should noted even be adherents as Hill(76)nowrecognize such systems that societies ormaynotseeksomedefined ofequilibrium, state may that conffict somehow beincorporated systemic must between social into groups and all is but models, that change notgradual maybe sudden cataand Sufficetoaddthat assumption cultural it the strophic. that is change always multifactorial tellus little more thanthatsuchchange a complex is may process. the Accompanying riseofmaterialist in prehistory interpretations has beena corresponding on of and deemphasis thesignificance variability differences archaeological among Studies 167)havepropassemblages. (97, ofpots criticized identifications with facile erly and the peoples questioned of as validity concepts basicas thearchaeological culture. forour Yet suchstudies purposes the againillustrate materialist orientation the of A cultural or style trait discipline. specific cannot explained itsown be on terms the as product a unique of historical but be development, must related tothematerial orsomehow base as in interpretedadaptive an evolutionary sense. Eventhevariability UpperPalaeolithic in that assemblages cannot be explained is considered evidence thenatural for functionally evolution ofHomosapiens and to sapiens hissuccessful response adaptational stress; like humans, mountain evolved means defining maintaining of sheep, and "in boundaries a precarious environment" pp.76-78).The periglacial (33, is the of point notto question validity Conkey's stimulating butto essay observe theargumentmarshalled, intellectual inwhich how is the arena it is set.Themost elaborate cultural such practices, as theritual of slaughter pigsin NewGuinea[Rappaport's study (141) is cited approvingly], repre-

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to are style to sent adaptations theenvironment; andsymbols reduced their the to arguethatin its unwillingness admit material base. One cannot the cultural differencesdiscipline detectable of importancearchaeologically to comparable that vision prehistory of epochal to has returned a natural is materialism century; today's in by advanced de Mortillet thenineteenth that however, themost and One more sophisticated flexible. can suggest, not will in of avenues investigationthenearfuture focus, on productive both in and similarities, on differencesadaptation willrecognize-as but in also themselves cultures define Childeand Boas acknowledged-that ownhistory. to cultures produce and their relation other

MATERIALIST APPROACHES
recontemporary dominate interpretations Ifitis granted materialist that that be of past, constructionstheprehistoric it also must admitted these of from determinism assume ranging a crude interpretations a variety forms or changes inexorable to in which onlyrespond environmental societies conin cultures to ecology which pressures a sophisticated demographic The of stimuli. remainder this and adaptto external sciously selectively for the models explaining pastand different materialist essaywillreview of but matetapped the potential a powerful scarcely explore archaeological in or materialism. will We proceed the historical dialectical rialist approach: of a of by classicmanner thediscipline establishingtypology materialist works. Suchpigeonholing, of their and reviewing representative schools Few works easily are is and course, arbitrary canbe misleading. scholars' such different approaches, as cultural and divisions separating classified, the from or materialism, from materialism cultural ecology economic historical difficultdetermine. to and aresubtle frequently to selective does notpretend be and review highly is The following in are that Materialist approaches so ubiquitous archaeology no complete. will Morespecifically, essay this review couldhopetobe inclusive. single in that literature, particularly written theUnited cover English the largely and isregrettable reflects author's but the competence this States; limitation It unfortunate space that of review. isparticularly and nature length this the in of a approaches socialist considerations prevent treatment materialist few Sufficetosaythat it with notable Union. the countries, especially Soviet in Union the and,presumably, archaeology theSoviet (90, exceptions 116), their of concerns; by People'sRepublic Chinais dominated descriptive the and to may reports or maynotattempt integrate cultural ecological attributed schema evolutionary questionably remains a conventional with to Marx.

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is in archaeology assoA dominant form materialism anthropological of popularized Harris by (65, 66) andhisdisciples ciated with approach the overtheappropriateness of one (e.g.64,96, 153).Although mayquibble admit that theadjective cultural characterize approach, must to this one For the and in Harris beenexplicit consistent his definition. Harris has is of strategy cultural of materialism baseduponthe"principle technodeter(and environmental techno-economic nowalso demographic) and minism":
holds that similar to environments to tend Thisprinciple technologies applied similar and these in oflabor production distribution, that in and produce similar arrangements similar of which and their turn forth call kinds socialgroupings, justify coordinate of of of systems values beliefs....theprinciple technoand activities means similar by of assigns determinism priority thestudy themateto techno-economic environmental, of of as selection assigns life, rialconditions sociocultural much theprinciple natural reproductive success p. 4). (65, priority thestudy differential to of

CulturalMaterialism

of or base In other the words, properties theinfrastructure determine the Peculiar cultural of practices, idiosyncratic features thesuperstructure. or ultisuchas Azteccannibalism Hindutabooson cattle consumption, to are environmental, by mately tobeexplained referencethetechnological, in Exotic are features thesystem question. of ordemographic practices not or of historical accidental thebizarre process products an uncontrollable The of to cultural forms adaptation a functioning butarespecific system. of have difficulties limitationsthis and extensively approach beendiscussed intheanthropological literature 105,156).Hereitisjustworth noting (51, of strategy with are in the and howconsonant style substance principles this is in Harris's those current contemporary archaeology. approach explicitly of scientific pp.5-28);rigorous and testing falsification (andstridently) (66, can a the means which by anthropology become hypotheses provide only less historical are approaches nomothetic discipline; rigorous generalizing, obscurantist. materialism at Cultural adopts atbest andeclectic, worst soft not the and with relationship among systems terminology isconcerned only their evolution time over of but different subsystemstheculture also with is of overemicbehavior perfectly (66, p. 47). The priority eticreality meansof of as with congruent a definition culture man'sextrasomatic in the around their to carry people adaptation hisenvironment; ideasthat sincethese heads-an alternative definition (186)-are inadequate pithy and base. ideascan be reduced explained theeticor extrasomatic by in The studies abound contemporary Cultural materialist archaeology. Tehuacan directed MacNeish(111, by Valleyproject, highly successful in that 112),assumed and demonstrated domestication pre-Columbian

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in Mesoamerica zoneswhere began those wildmaizeor teosinte couldbe found. were Microenvironments defined, settlement and patterns their seasonalshifts observed, subsistence and activities todefine reconstructed the culture of history thevalley. not Explanation, description, theaimof was the from study shifts onephase another believed betriggered and to were to by someagent-orin MacNeish's use idiosyncratic of theterm-some sufficient such condition, as environmental to change (Ajureado El Riego) orpopulation increase Riegoto Coxcatlan) (El (111).Forthelater phases suchconditions takethelesstangible may form "ceremonial of exchange but "new systems," these represent energy and expenditures" areconcerned with "thetransfer emic of information" p. 169).Evolution sucha (112, is natural process thatone can define seriesof microenvironments a for NearEastandshow Mesoamerica, andthe Peru, howthe settlement pattern in system eachareapassedthrough samedevelopmental the in sequence response identical to "sufficient conditions." pp. 222-35) (112, The studies Sanders Pricealso areconcerned theevolution of and with of culture Mesoamerica; adoptan explicitly in both cultural materialist with strategy theformer emphasizing technology, particularly irrigation agriculture p. 245),and thelatter (159, and population growth pressure (139, p. 209; 140, p. 162) as primemovers. theirseminal In study Mesoamerica: Evolution a Civilization pp.71-73), The of (160, they expand Steward's of coreby postulatingseries ecological concept a culture a of principles cultural evolution. Culture "thecomplex techgoverning is of niquesadaptive theproblems survival a particular of to in geographical model to region"; their of purports be an extension Darwin's of principle natural selection human to societies is explicitly and baseduponcultural materialist Whatis significant principles. is intensification modeof ofthe production, which defined in Marxian is not terms thecombination as of theforces socialrelations production, as a technoeconomic and of but regime; progressive inthis basearedecisive more shifts and important than variables for secondary suchas trade, responsible change, becausethey allow more to people befed increase carrying and the of system capacity the (139,p. 215).Despite Millon's persuasive and arguments datato theconfor trary evidence intensive forms agriculturethe of (120)andconvincing in lowlands the in Mayan arose highland (188,189), State Mesoamerica the as product increasingly of water complex management systems. Wittfogel is in resurrected, suitably attired fashionable ecosystemic clothes. Although consciously less of supportive cultural materialist concepts, suchas theemic/etic countless other distinction, studies emphasize the role determining oftheenvironment cultural for development. Plog'ssophisticated demonstration of a correlation (138) between environmental features subsistence and on practices theonehand, and features social of

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a perspective shares similar for on organization theother, PuebloIndians of four explanations; "connections"-irrigaanddistrust cultural-historical variaenvironmental landuse,crop and practices, demography-link tion, differences Western Eastern and between tionto social organizational into migrations the based explanations uponhistorical Pueblo obviate and in of useful synthesis ofthedevelopmentcivilization (144) area.Redman's an view (144,pp. 17, adopts "ecological ofculture explicitly Mesopotamia was Palaeolithic of that 112);"he argues thetechnology theNearEastern setting" 59)andthat (p. to prevailing ecological a "means adaptation the of (p. advantage" 93). becauseof its "adaptive was agriculture introduced and for his model thelocation function to Jochim begins construct general "that and by ofsettlementshunters gatherers recognizing theexploited of as proceeds is culturally (83, defined" p. 9) butthen natural environment can and For areasites be located ifthis fact were unimportant. anygiven as the environmental as their function specified long oneconsiders relevant resources 187).As a and (p. elements topography, of vegetation, animal in of of state account theorigins theAndean Isbell's turgid final example, neofunctionalist a terms perspective: rigid, ecosystemic accepts more
of to a human isself-regulating byvirtue itsability adopt, one, including Any ecosystem, it the stable state-that come adopt most to andremain different In time, will states. in, is conelements individualsmost and inwhich number specialized of participating the of or is the diversity,number specialized stable state onewith greatest stant. most The use efficient ofavailable energy p. 305). (82, that the elements facilitate most

in is cultures notexist thebestof do of problem, course, that The major or a more less and represent very all possible worlds that their presence by ensuitably to Although adaptation anygivenenvironment. successful and flows, carrying capacities, regulatory referencesenergy to riched with the it to describes phenomena purports tautologously laws,sucha study explain. lurks recent studies many A crudeenvironmental determinism behind as materialist. can Manyof (e.g.9, 15,89, 161)that be classified cultural of condition inand are these embellished theomnipresent inevitable by and ocThe of growth. domestication plants animals creased population number people of the more foodfor increased it because provided curred at existed theendofthePleistocene 32, 130,170).A few propothat (14, that model nents this of demographic (212,213)recognize itis unappealing sincetheprocesses of but fatalistic, arenotdeterred politically or,better, or one whether adoptsa Boserupian Malthusian are history inexorable; The eat remains manmust or starve. incredible that the view, basicfact and of populations the prehistoric difficultiesestimating methodological when effect populaof cause near problem distinguishing from insuperable

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are tion can overwith series assumptions a of changes be detected glossed of that obscure circularity thearguments. the Excellent critiques 35, (20, 36,68,69) ofpopulation theindependent as in variable cultural evolution haveappeared which make obvious the that or point cultures classes within can cultural systems curtail their numbers instituting a variety birth of by control and to techniques aremore likely do so when it they perceive tobe in their bestinterest also 113). Appealsto thecumulative (cf of effect over time population growth evolutionary should disguise fact not the that as population growth today inthepastwasmarked frequent someby and times violent reversals oscillations had profound and that for significance of areas. alsoshould mentioned both It the be history specific that archaeological[e.g. Kelteminar culture (192)] and ethnographic California [e.g. Indians (98)] counterexamples thatdocument exist dense, non-nucleated or concentrations ofpeople at living relatively simple atleast pre-State (89) levels cultural of development. importantly, More it should recognized be models be attractive that because are population growth may precisely they If evolves as of neutral. culture politically primarily a result ourinsatiable desire self-propagate,might wellfollow divine to we as the to injunction Noahandenjoy The of inthe ourselves. complexitydevelopment contemporary world therealproblem, ofabsolute and not numbers people of of but theunequaldistribution socially of determined are wealth, obscured by to references an innate human tendency eternally fixed a "law" of by evolution. cultural Some recent British assume even an cruder materialist writings approach. the on Specifically, British Academy's MajorResearch Project theEarly of History Agriculture 74),a project which achieved (73, has several notable in advances thedevelopmenttechniques theretrieval archaeologiof for of cal remains, asserts insights prehistoric that into behavior best are gleaned from ethological literature equates and man'spalaeoeconomy exclusively his For with subsistence activities. example, and that: Higgs Jarman argue
... itis revealing observe similar to how of many theconcerns, and the concepts, even of of language much animal and is ecology ethologytothat simple of economics point [a alsonoted Sahlins hisdevastating in of by critique sociobiology (157)].Theethological can of and be to Norshould be concepts territory home range usefully applied man. we ... concerned studies primate of ... myopically with only behavior (for) inmany ways thelarge carnivores more offer relevant data comparative (75,p. 4, parentheses added).

lion Unquestionably, parallels between prides wolf or packs palaeolithic and and has peoples may prove enlightening, this project forced archaeologists in of interested thebeginnings foodproduction reexamine concept to the in ofdomestication question particular and when howtheherding and of first "wild"animals record from least at began.Yet thearchaeological

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Palaeolithic times onward shows elaboration culture, an of Middle clearly including, mostlikely, self-consciousness as reflected burialrites, in far beyond simple tool-making is completely that unparalleled theanimal in world. Denialofthese differences representsmisguided a overreaction to earlier ofprehistory idealist interpretations which stressed human inventiveness cultural and diversity; untempered, approach recommend the they can only yield equally specious implausible and results. Archaeological studies implicitly explicitly or grounded Harris's in culhave tural materialist the value strategy successfully questioned explanatory offormerly of suchas conquests, popular agents change migrations,the or inherent nature specific of archaeological cultures. have They focused attentionawayfrom background ofsuperstructural the noise or features variations distinguish cultures forced toconsider such that particular and us how cultures environmental Their concentrationproon adaptto their setting. activities sharpened underhas our ductive, particularly subsistence, of standing prehistoric societies the constraints and underwhichthey on their focus material such factors as envioperated. Moreover, exclusive or often ronment, technology,demography provides insights would that be in also studies. is,these That lacking more holistic analyses areworthwhile in showus thelimits a strictly of and illuminating thesensethatthey materialistic suchstudies what approach; helpus to understand better cannot explained reference to a society's be by solely material base.Howwhich claimed prehistory toorigid inflexible; is for is far ever, order the and historical as processes today, in thepast,are nottotally predictable (or be as and to retrodictable) cannot credibly explained mechanical responses in environment. dialectical The culchanges an external interplay between in ture nature, manner which and the culture consciously selects rejects and basicfeatures theenvironment, must appreciated. of also be of Recognition this role feature creative isa distinguishing ofthe second materialist popular cultural approach: ecology.

Cultural Ecology
Mostcontemporary texts archaeological (44; 81, p. 77; 166,pp. 522-25; 180, 43) adopt form materialism is derived p. a of that principally the from a ofSteward between baseandsuperstrucworks (173,174).Distinctions or is core features apply, culture and ture a cultural andlessessential still a specifically ofadaptation viewed an open-ended as human form system, toa broader which One indienvironment includes other cultures. studies vidual societies detect to cross-cultural regularities construct and generalof izations about nature cultural the Froma cultural processes. ecological the between is and evolutioninexact perspective, analogy biological cultural

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oflearned and since culture depends upon transmission the behavior is not constrained physical or organic by laws methods inheritance. of of are Differences thecultural with materialist approach Harris realbut or subtle, nearly and every archaeologist, cultural materialist not, paysat leastlip service theprinciples to adumbrated above.The major difficulty resides theambiguities in surrounding Steward's definitionthecultural of core:
I have the of core-the constellation offeatures which Elsewhere offered concept cultural and related subsistence to activities economic The aremost closely arrangements. core as includes social, such political, religious and pattems areempirically determined tobe with connected these closely arrangements p. 37). (173,

Ifthe cultural caninclude core "social, political, religious and patterns" or, in another interrelated it passage, "functionally esthetic features,"encomfeatures constitute realmore than techno-enviro-demo that the etic passes in the core ity(65,pp. 660-62).However, actualpractice cultural usually form. materialist assumes recognizable a role In general, of ascribe active to an adherents theecological approach is to of which adapting itsenvironment. Flanthevalues theculture Thus, that subsistence nery Marcus argue & (48) persuasively traditional practices of inthe Oaxacavalley not are guided a strategymaximizing by agricultural beliefs. thelongrunthese In but linked Zapotec to output areintegrally in resources be lesseasily will beliefs be adaptively may advantageous that will and and exhausted thesociety be less specialized morecapableof Ford responding unusual to climatic conditions. and hiscolleagues adopt in ethnobotanical studies a similar substantivist perspectivetheir (49). For thattheMesillaphasepeopleofthe Wetterstrom argues example, (199) in HuecoBolson utilized consistent with initially introduced cultigens ways of At maizemayhavebeen customary practices foodconsumption. first, usedas a relish, a staple, squashmayhavebeencollected its not and for In a suchstudies not seeds, itsflesh. fact, adopt materialist perspective only in thebroadest senseoftheterm, perhaps and should considered be ata cognitive symbolic or at tempts constructing archaeology. Radiations Prehistoric Panama in Linares's impressive study, Adaptive As title ofthe (110),ismore representative cultural ecological approach. the of areas the into suggests, movementhuman groups previously unoccupied is conceptualized biological in terms. Despitea likely shared highland the ancestors theGuaymi to Indians Chiriqui of and origin, prehistoric in Bocasprovinces western of Panama differedsubsistence practices, settlelevelof political socialcomplexity; and ment and these density, general inturn, explained reference subtle are cultural to differences, by ecological and distinctions between Pacific Caribbean the littoral zones. Thebroader

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Pacific coastalplains Chiriqui of allowed greater for socialdevelopment. While correlation the between development environment and is "obvious," itis admitted thelatter nottheonly that is factor promoting change, and in other writings (108, 109) Linaresinsists thatthe "social"nature of is subsistence-related practices important admits theassociation and that natural and is for between setting cultural developmentweakest complex to can or imsocieties which someextent overcome mitigate limitations posedbytheenvironment. in traceshifts thedistribution settlements time of Studies which over are or indebted Steward hiscultural to and frequently explicitly implicitly in of ecological approach (200).Thesurveys Adams southern Mesopotamia an (1, 5, 6) clearly betray intellectual this heritage wellas reveal equally as profound to theCentral debt Asianstudies Lattimore 102). For of (3, discussion settlements the of in authoritative example, his recent along and ofthe was factor theirregularity unpredictability water supply.... In cities as to thelargest sense, Mesopotamian can be viewed an adaptation of thisperennial problem periodic, unpredictable shortages" pp. 243(5,
44).

Euphratesin the Nippurarea Adams concludes:"... the most decisive

in Thehistorical actors Adams's landscape assume passive active not but their to roles, constantly shifting strategies maximize short-term degain The spite potential long-term andenvironmental losses degradation. landnarrowlimitsas naturaland humanforces within scape fluctuates such continually modify andcertain it, perennial problems as the unpredictof and needtobe solved. Patability thewater supply salinization always and terns settlement as cultures their of vary technologies, particularly water but remains management techniques, evolve, thesetting relatively and and of unstable precarious nature agricultural constant, theinherently life theMesopotamian on alluvial to plain forces societies respond adapt or in limited, partially predictable ways. Numerous in studies Near syntheses (118, 127) and other specialized this As Eastern share perspective. a result ethnographic of prehistory and Hole a of archaeological investigations, (79) devised series criteria based for the between herders their and animals upon closesymbiotic relationship locating early nomadic anddistinguishing from sites them those hunters of and gatherers 162-64).Nomadsare "notsimply creatures their of (pp. environment" are clearly but physical "effected social and political by circumstances" 134);thelatter, are (p. however, unspecified they since cannot helpsolvethearchaeological problem documenting beginof the nings pastoral of nomadism. Similarly, pioneering the investigations of in Deh Luran and of Hole,Flannery, Neely the plain southwestern (80) Iran were concerns. economy largely The guided ecological by was equated with

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for subsistence and concern torecover was evidence practices, their primary theadaptation local prehistoric of to environcommunities theregional ment. archaeologists would Few today disagree their with reaction against of earlier explanations culture and their belief thatchange change was gradual, adaptive, a product growth stimuli and of and largely internal to in thesociety question:
we orracial Asa matter to ofprinciple, areslow invoke catastrophism change explain to in Asia whathappened southwest between 10,000 4,000B.C. We feelthateach and in must and regional development beseen itsown light that internal, "adaptive" change often than the that Each was,more not, change mattered. oftheprehistoric regional of its cultures theNearEastdeveloped ownsetofbehavior aimed exploiting at patterns thegrazing farming of zone and potential theecological inwhich lived. specific it The on with adaptation depended eachgroup's technology, its contacts and neighboring who groups haddifferent techniques solve to their ecological own problems. matters It little people that occasionally borrowed a painted "red-ware" from pot people the in next valley 7, italics (p. added).

in in Thisstatement, written 1968on fieldwork conducted 1961and 1963 shift ornear beginningthe the of paradigmatic toecological interpretations it ofarchaeological is important because is so explicit and data, precisely the its reasonableness underscores pervasive because apparent acceptance oftheir "principle." studies archaeolin As this cursory review cultural indicates, ecological The recent themselves. most ogydiffer considerably among interpretations and data the ofthe archaeological ethnographic from Oaxacavalley emphasizethat strategies tillers not the pursued itspre-Columbian were ratioby on nalina modern, his capitalist sense; Adams, theother hand, interprets in settlement data a economic formalist pattern within more perspective which over resources periodically and peasants compete strenuously scarce as their environmentthey and destroy overgraze overcultivate marginal in to alive. these Yet not a lands their effortsstay studies only share common in writingsSteward show respect intellectual heritage grounded the of and a in forlocal variation detail and frequently lacking themoremechanical discussed cultural materialist approaches above,but also are primarily of the with concerned therelation mantohisenvironment, fundamentally of with adaptive features culture. Correspondingly, arelessconcerned they theoccasionally sudden cataclysmic vioor accidental frequently and and in lentevents conjunctureshistory in and which result cultures relatively in addition, adaptato such unadapted maladapted their or environment; are as level tions on community with little usually seen beneficial the inquiry intotheir or the effects distinct on subgroups classeswithin society. in The cultural has ecological approach reoriented archaeology an un-

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new of questionably positive fashion; types dataretrieved new by techniques havegrounded reconstructions paston a much our ofthe firmer more and whether newandnearly this credible It must questioned, base. be however, universally accepted leastin theAnglophone (at is world)paradigm as claim.One should all-inclusive sufficientitsadherents and as to attempt of evolution directly determine problems cultural the not solvedby an ecological approach. who the Particularly, prehistoric archaeologists study or origins theState investigate of societies examine complex should historiof and cally documented what additional examples development ascertain ever or factors besides culture's shifting inconstant a to relation itsenvironment induce change.

Economic Materialism
Theterms and are derived the from sameGreek economy ecology both root oikosor household clearly and delimit fields. the overlapping Commonly household or term defines former instituted literally as someculturally refers a much to while latter household reality, the expanded encompassing in this senseecology more thenatural is inclusive econand environment; and intimately associated withsocialstructure omymoredirectly and In organization. a very Cook (34, p. 810) defines thoughtful the paper, as contours" "a culturally of economy's "general mediatedfield a human in population's its interact their activity which members with and physical socialenvironmentthecalculated in to acquire or attempt directly indiIf is a definitionaccepted, is clearthat economy, it rectly living." this the acts its between nature particularly productive activities, as theinterface andculture; a its through economy culture deliberately manipulates tangiReference economic for ends. to ble,physical objects social on materialism, the other the of hand, popularly suggests writings MarxandEngels the and strawman of theory economic determinism; unfortunately, common this misconception, was frequently which denounced thefounders the by of materialist conception history 115, 487),cannot reviewed of (e.g. p. be here. Forourdiscussion economic of materialist in approaches prehistory, referenceis to those a studies or emphasizingsociety's technology reconpast its networks. structing exchange In general, mostcontemporary discusarchaeological have sions cultural of evolution notemphasized technological development A as a primary dominant or of can agent change. sharp contrast be drawn with role the technological in general advances played the reconprehistoric structions Childe(24, 25) withthetypically of or dependent secondary status accorded them to a today. Although separate paperwouldbe reTECHNOLOGY

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it in for the to quired explore reasons thisshift emphasis, can be noted (14)," "Post-Pleistocene Adaptations such briefly articles as Binford's that or as dismiss technologically explanations vitalistic tautolobased which or change, climatic to mechanical responses theenvironment, gous, prefer inducing change. causalfactors growth primary as population inexorable of "crude" "vulgarly or materialist" explanations socialdevelopHowever that factors still may advance be,they stress upon technological ment based to linked and of and intimately complexly area creation society somehow to trend As structure. such, run they counter thecurrent ofinterpretsocial by process, explained general natural as evolution an entirely ingcultural of forms. the lawsgoverning behavior all life shift is of analyses this Although theoretical in emphasis real,physical in abound contempoofancient technologies and artifacts reconstructions reconsimply (e.g. rary archaeology 19,50,78,95, 106).Most,however, and concerned the with tangentially an technology areonly struct ancient Imevolution. and innovation cultural technological between relationship that occur (40,57, 122,127,155),butitis noteworthy exceptions portant in that technologies ledtothe advances subsistence document most these of offoodproduction. intensification The workof Tosi and his colleagues (16, 133, 134, 181-185)has atfrom activities to the rangeof technological tempted reconstruct entire at site to millennium of subsistence production thethird practices craft in Iran. Marxian these Sokhta eastern Utilizing concepts, investigaShahr-i to the valueofrawmaterials evenhaveattempted determine relative tions or the to based needed acquire fashion andfinished upon labor-time objects, in control over resulting increased developments them. Majortechnological to an represent adaptation do fire, plants animals, orwater notsimply and ofnature man.In Tosi'sown and but theenvironment, a transformation ofnature the "Thetransformation ofman, requires transformation words: ofresources an effect thesocial is of is the that to saythat transformation of it and together" (184). order theamount individuals can keepworking in how resources a more learns tocontrol human its the Eventually, society in of manner "proto-urban" efficient resulting theemergence a complex, formation. the and (85, investigations 87,209,210)into Similarly, Wright Johnson's on of of emphasis theevolution information placeprimary origins theState is opaque, their transfer processing and Although terminology capabilities. rest theseorganizational presumably upon technological developments The and costs. mechadministrative that efficiency reduce changes increase ofcraft and proanisms exchange thecentralization intraregional fostering of are unspecified p. 388),butitis thedevelopmentthese duction left (209,

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in activities which necessitates productive changes theregulatory system to of leading newforms socialcontrol. studies prehistoric EXCHANGE Numerous of and netexchange trading works the haveappeared during last fewyears(e.g. 43, 101,102),and have which models been the of developed explain rise complex and societies as of of necesempires largely a result thedevelopment socialinstitutions to and trade sary control direct interregional andtribute 142,154,197, (120, the of 198).As with technological studies, vastmajority studies detailing are pastexchange materialist systems notguided anyexplicit by paradigm; of rather, most(e.g. 129)consist detailed which empirical investigations reconstruct exchange patterns through increasingly sophisticated techof element structural and niques trace analyses. or of The localization uneven distributionresources thelandscape over is as both stimulus determinant the and ofexchange commonlyinterpreted reflection distance of Cost from source patterns. is a direct area,and the progressive inthe falloff distribution ofexchanged materials thenatufrom ralsupply isseen a common zone as of pattern simple exchange systems (12, of the 148).Suchan explanation, course, mayrepresent mostplausible ofa interpretationspecific distributional but pattern (151,152), as a general modelit undoubtedly simplifies The reality. costsand mechanisms for are the of but exchange never simply product resource availability, alsothe result socialandpolitical of factors imposed uponthenatural distribution (67).Forexample, many investigators 208)haveinsisted analyz(149, upon inglocalandlong-distance exchange systems separately. distinction This is but useful, not alwaysstraightforward, becauselocal tradefresimply a functions within specific quently sociopolitical theboundaries unit, of which someimmediately mayextend beyond recognizable regional geounit.Thus,mostof theexchange materials graphic of alongtheIndus inthe Valley into subcontinent third and the millennium represent may the redistribution ofgoods within politically a unified "empire" nottrade and between resource areas[contrast separate (165) with (8).] ofpatterns interaction the Similarly, reconstruction of baseduponthe theories limited, special purpose (190) oflocational geography probyield lematic results. Factors skewing observed hierarchical settlement patterns from predicted the hexagonal cannot explained be clusterings solely by referencepeculiar to environmental features distorting assumption a the of uniform such landscape as thewatercoursessouthern of Mesopotamia (84); thesestudies also musttakeaccountof social,political, historical and factors which effect interaction the between communities pp.120-21). (169, Evenignoring realproblems contemporaneity estimation site the of and of

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can settlement data, most pattern wepessimistically conclude sizethat beset inform in us of models directly only that prehistoric applications locational settlement patand the between observed expected therarecaseswhen fit do not us is noncorrespondences effectively tell by terns precise; themselves has and methods must be archaeological whythemodel failed, different (62), thereal the simulation models As usedto explain anomalies. with they "encourage is in and models indirect that valueoflocational gravity the in to moresystematically variables involved archaeologists consider interaction" p. 487). (86, Polanyi's conadopted studies 135,207) uncritically (47, While earlier the exchange and perspectiveminimizing roleofmarket of cepts theoretical that reprein antiquity, recent more studies 23,93) haveargued trade (4, in the participants ateconomic activity which various sents conscious a for own Sucha perspective return their goods. to an tempt obtain optimal ofprehistoric economies since more credible reconstructions should yield between and exchange partners potento itdirects analysis therelations the and that us the strategies, calculations allows tounderstand motives, tially In we that and the fueled directed exchange. fact, cangeneralize an examirelations networkscritical determining is for of exchange nation prehistoric Unlike and within culture. a cultures groups classes or ecological between to the studies which focuson a culture's relationship its environment, is and with tensions, of patternsconcerned therelations, analysis exchange or a and within society between society itstrada relative power groups of the to which attempt determine economic analyses ingpartners. such, As one for systems represent method prehistoric exchange motives behind in a materialist conspicuous itsabsence contemby approach constructing materialism. archaeology: historical porary theorist activist and limitation Gramsci that basic felt the Thegreat political in fluctuationpolitics was to and ofmaterialism theattempt explain "every
of expression the (materialor economic) ideology... as an immediate

Materialism Historical

whichhe termed thatthisfailing, structure" p. 407); he believed (61, and was political by infantilism," overcome Marxinhisconcrete "primitive or works analyses of general studies, in his morefamous not historical or If The capitalist society. weexamine XVIIIthBrumaire TheCivilWar not historical developments by a in France, see thatMarxanalyzed we and conditions by the but to society's response environmental economic in interestedmaintaining interests socialandpolitical of groups confficting written from orextending socialpower. their Similarly, although explicitly of Weber's famous a non-Marxist (195) analyses thecity justly perspective,

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similar lines(46; 55; andancient society (196) proceed alongremarkably reflectshared a training interest the and in 162, 11)andmust p. academic history legaland socialinstitutions. of refers a nonmetaphysical to For our purposes, historical materialism that to distinct to political, economic, and approach reality refuses separate of or distinctions ideological spheres activity to makerigidconceptual the nonequilibbetween subjects objects; emphasizes ever-changing, and it of or materialist rium seeking nature sociallife.A dialectical historical a as to theory society of approach accepts conflictual,opposed consensual, inwhich conscious actions socialgroups classes of or remain the political central paramount and however or rooted they maybe to firmly loosely the their "economic base."In other is not words, focus on activity, on its on to realideological justification even nor primarily itsrelation economic mustbe explained reference the of by to ity.Political activity, course, but and conditions, theserelations to relevant group's beliefs economic and Unlike are the changing. correspondences always complex constantly and advocated Harris tacitly accepted many by contemporary approach by materialism notconsider does ideasepiphenomehistorical archaeologists, ofthe but or reflections infrastructurerecognizes naltoan etic reality mere the onceformulated the of that beliefs a given can-during course group a of own ofanyhistorical effect process-assumelife their andsubstantially activities. are motia society's productive Manyactswhich ideologically in terms vated be explained historical can materialist as duetotheinternal the in or needsofthegroup party championing ideology organizational Gramsci p. 409) citesthefamous, As bitterly question. an example, (61, and Christian churches on the contested debate between Eastern Western the or both whether not HolySpirit or the proceeded from Father from only which totheschism 1054andhad led of theFather theSon,a conflict and economic numerous profound consequences:
conflictdependent the is and existence whose and on structure Thetwo Churches, whose and which principles distinction internal are of of onthewhole history, questions posed have of Churches have could but that for cohesion eachside, itcould happened either the The of and in was what fact argued theother. principle distinction conflict argued by all of and and would havebeen upheld thesame, itis this problem distinction conflict to and that that constitutes historical the problem, notthebanner happened be hoisted byonesideor theother.

of neednotreflect protein Analogously, bizarre the practices Aztecritual in diet needs organizational deficienciestheMesoamerican buttheinternal and their within exan to ofAztecpriests power trying maintain extend the is the For panding empire-state. archaeologists challenge toreconstruct or of within societies the needs complex conflicting andstrategies groups

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relations among different "band"and"tribal" societies during Palaeolithic times. should assume society a whole It that Neolithic not as andEarly was passively adapting itsenvironment to and/or technological base. to and Theprimary emphasis accorded social political institutionsthe by social fathers contemporary science should of also sober for simple us the of reason many themost that important relations, as patterns land such of Childe are in record. ownership, notdirectly preserved thearchaeological of stressed importance technological the beoverly developments precisely were and causethey archaeologically recoverable, hislater writings, particSocialEvolution showa keenawareness thelimitations of of ularly (28), ofsocialinstitutionsthe for or evidence thereconstruction archaeological as to forces, production. Childe of Yet worked relations, opposed the largely in a pre-"new," pre-radiocarbon and hissensible even has age, pessimism in or since beensuperseded displaced advances thediscipline hisdeath. by ofexchange the Thereliable reconstruction examisystems, technological ofthe of of and nation artifacts thereconstruction stages their production, of and thelarge-scale recovery environmental subsistence-related and data, studies settlement and thefocus regional on pattern analyses-allcan be the and of and activities usedtodetermine presence nature conflicts political in within societies ways that Childe never deemed among groups possible. For example, microwear analyses theexamination debitage and of and of semi-finished canallowus toreconstruct objects aspects work organizaof the division labor stratification, however and tion, social and, tentatively, and finctional labor-time value.Nissen's perceptive analysis (126) ofthe of seal and to development cylinder manufacture its relation changing tothe representational and, styles more importantly, evolving requirements allows todetect us elusive ofearly Sumerian relations such society juridical A of of as thepresence corporate groups. reconstructionthestagesof production soft of stone artifacts TepeYahyaandShari-i from Sokhta and their with "industries" as metallurgy such integration other developing us the ofcraft allows tocontrast development and extent and production the of at two character socialstratification distinctive roughly but contempoin Iran raneous sites eastern (92). If approached from historical a materialist perspective, analysis the of and remains inform as to theexistence nature can us floral faunal and of distinct classes within society. a Heretheproblem to identify what is not the total subsisted but or within society upon, what specific segments groups A itconsumed. representative sampling strategy would first have identify to areas different functional or neighborhoods within siteand then a devise for at appropriate recovery procedures eacharea.One conscious attempt has sucha study beenundertaken Massonand hiscolleagues by (117) at

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retheir unfortunately, suggestive Turkmenistan; Altyn-depe Southern in techvitiated relatively unsophisticated retrieval by sultsare somewhat did Alban not that in work Oaxaca(17) hasshown Monte Recent survey and settlement, important largest most into develop gradually thevalley's or of the conquest sucbutappeared suddenly, presumably result political of the uniting inhabitants all reof cessful establishmenta confederation to to it be and of While may unfortunate misleading refer gions thevalley. as of of settlementanexample "disembedded this and nature the process the ruled of city, which clear that formationthis the seems capital" (202)itstill areas influenced Oaxaca and surrounding forcenturies, overand greatly bestbe act; cannot political it simply and represented a sudden decisive internal Theoretiof unfolding growth. as product a smoothly explained the Brumfiel's insightful analysis reof results from (21) emerge callysimilar that of She persuasively within Valley Mexico. argues the gional exchange transformed traditional of thepolitical dominance Tenochtitlan-Texcoco in local communities lateAztec among patterns relations marketing and her of forced from The results a surface survey Huexotla times. unexpected were capital and of that growth demands theurban to conclude therapid interaction specialized than for intercommunity more critical determining conditions. to adaptations localenvironmental in does approach prehistory In short, materialist of adoption a historical and can dream. Groups classes be identified or an notconstitute impossible from material remains. Major interests reconstructed their their plausibly which focus attention society on studies haveappeared (52) evolutionary the others and itslatent contradictions; (42, 57) havestressed conscious, behavior cogently and the character elite of questioned benefits acquisitive The orfunctions activity as conveys the upon society a whole. calculattheir of of man from artifacts ecofacts the and ingactivities political canemerge A to historical materialist approach prehistory archaeology. sophisticated the not advancesachieved shouldcomplement, replace, unquestioned a within cultural the words, political paradigm; in other or, ecological more the and meaningful economic is to archaeologyneeded elaborate make ofprehistory. interpretation in that evolution a unique is human process which Recognition cultural doesnotdeny animal our nature theparticipants its modify course actively and subsistence northefundamental of importance omnipresent pressing do activities and frequently have can thatconscious needs;it is obvious influence further the development unforeseen consequences profoundly that of society. the dominant But has ecological paradigm too consistently features theevolutionary of and process stressed passive, the unrecognized
niques.

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uninteresting trite and reconinspired many too unbelievable basically or openfora newemphasis, structions thepast.The doorhas beenleft of in diversity and already apparent theliterature on thebewildering (77), of cultures;neo-Boasian a reaction, short, in inexplicable character human evolutionary models, unlesswe mayensueand replace multilinear our to our attempt write to prehistoryterms in familiar us from dailylives. Marxat thebeginning the of "Men maketheir ownhistory," wrote butdirectly and from encountered, given, transmitted thepast."Childe and itas title famous accepted simple this truth reformulated the tohismost labor a work. archaeologists under paradigm so popular Contemporary of that run the selective and pervasive they therisk ignoring deliberately cultural evolution. Today,for calculating features also characterize that of in development example, our understanding pre-Columbian of That is Mesoamerica epitomized thestory howmaizemadeitself. by in the plastic plant profoundly altered unforeseen changes thisincredibly but cannot doubted, thereasons be civilization why course NewWorld of interacted itmust more with be and complex man selected then first actively the wisdom than current Moreover, temporal depth provided by suggests. cultural but lets data evolution, also archaeological notonly us reconstruct of and of allowsus to understand aspects culture thedurability cultural The prehistoric of cannot rulers analyze. traditions ethnographers that utilized corvee laboron a large scalefor Perumost northern coastal likely if to of works centuries, notmillennia, prior the theconstructionpublic attested tells fact us advent theIncas(123,124).Thisarchaeologically of area within historically a thatsocieties interacting adoptbasicorganizaas solutions natural to but not problems, tional principles solely common to with and societies havebeentested proven work earlier by because they Recourse an idealist to which are interpretation-the "gethey familiar. of not to nius" a people the"form" a civilization-is necessary explain of or to and a sensitive the thiscommon important phenomenon;materialism of alonewill as processes contingencies wellas thenecessities historical suffice.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

". chosenbythemselves ... XVIIIth Brumaire, . . notundercircumstances

that include studies I should Several scholars and/or provided suggested Their draft thisarticle. of useful comments an earlier to helpis gratefully K. I would to thank McC. Adams, C. like R. acknowledged. Particularly A. Shimony, R. Wright and A. C. Chang, Gilman, C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, All or criticisms. factual errors lackof and for their constructive detailed in remain soleresponsibility. balance presentation my

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MATERIALIST APPROACHES
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