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Major Aspects of the Interrelationship of Archaeology and Ethnology

Author(s): K. C. Chang
Source: Current Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jun., 1967), pp. 227-243
Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of Wenner-Gren Foundation for
Anthropological Research
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Major Aspects of the Interrelationshi
of Archaeology and Ethnology

by K. C. Chang

ANTHROPOLOGY HAS MOVED with amazing rapidity sheer mass of data and literature alone in each of
from the era of Boas and Kroeber into the age of the these fields makes it increasingly difficult for any
specialist. The omnifarious textbook in general anthro- single person to become master of both. Intercommuni-
pology is increasingly out of vogue, and great books cation does take place, but it may become even rarer
in all of its fields are today as often as not put and more inconsequential as the trend of specialization
together by editors instead of single authors. This is continues and intensifies.
particularly remarkable in the United States, where Although the merging of the two groups of scholars
breadth of outlook had always been considered the is neither practical nor advocated, several problem
hallmark of American anthropology. Many graduate areas are of potential common interest. This paper
and undergraduate curricula still cling to the tradition is intended to be an exploratory survey of these areas,
of an "anthropological whole" by insisting that degree and it will not attempt to be comprehensive. Since
candidates become familiar with physical anthropo- I am an archaeologist in America, my points of refe-
logy, linguistics, archaeology, and ethnology; but a rence will be reflected. Since the view is deliberately
"general anthropologist," equally at home in all areas, broad, rigid definitions will be kept to a minimum:
is now generally regarded as a mythological hero when it is not necessary to define, it is necessary
whose like is no longer among us. not to define.
It is not my purpose here to endorse or to criticize
this state of affairs, but it would be plainly unrealistic
to insist that archaeology and ethnology-the latter TYPOLOGY
term is used here in its conventional sense, including
Like other disciplines that deal with variations and
what is usually known as cultural or social anthro-
have to arrange their variables in order, archaeology
pology-are logically interrelated simply because they
cannot do without typology. Moreover, the variations
are subdisciplines of anthropology. Archaeologists and
and the variables that archaeology deals with are
ethnologists are two distinct groups of practitioners,
characteristically elusive; they are arbitrarily demar-
each having its own tools of tra e, its idiosyncratic
cated and defined, in either fluid or static situations,
formulations of problems and their solutions, its own
first by the natives and then by their students, unlike
parlance and jargon, its own journals, and professional
those commonly encountered in such fields as physics,
societies. There are differences of opinion within each
which can be defined in terms of discreet elements
group, to be sure, but these can be ignored for the
with commonly accepted boundaries. Typology, there-
purpose of this paper. No matter how closely inter-
fore, must be the focal point of archaeological research.
woven are their respective concerns in theory, the
If by typology we mean "a classification that is
explicitly theoretical in intent as opposed to one in-
KWANG-CHIH CHANG is Associate Professor and Associate Curator
in Anthropology at Yale University. He was born in China in
tended purely as a descriptive categorization" (Kluck-
1931 and received his B.A. at the National Taiwan University hohn 1960 :134), then classification in archaeology is
(Taipei, Taiwan, China) in 1954 and his Ph.D. at Harvard in nearly always typological, because it is nearly always
1960.
theoretical in intent. Archaeologists classify in order
Chang has published on a wide range of topics on the ar-
chaeology of the Far East, ancient culture and society of China, to reveal relevant information about the life and
and archaeological method and theory. His most recent book on history of ancient peoples. Even a descriptive cate-
the latter is Rethinking Archaeology (New York: Random House, gorization can be explicitly theoretical in mtent as
1966).
The present article submitted to CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY
long as the archaeologist assembles it in the belief-
14 xii 65, was sent for CA* treatment to 52 scholars of whom right or wrong-that he is making a cultural inventory.
the following responded with written comments: Lewis R. Are archaeological types discovered, or are they
Binford, Bernhard Bock, Alois Closs, George L. Cowgill, Samir designed? This classic question remains current and
Ghosh, Gutorm Gjessing, Shirley Gorenstein, Karl J. Narr,
Carroll L. Riley, Philip E. L. Smith, and Julian H. Steward.
meaningful among American archaeologists; we do
The comments written for publication are printed in full after not agree as to the extent to which cultural behavior
the author's text and are followed by a reply from the author. can be recognized from artifacts. Rather than propose

Vol. 8 . No. 3 . June 1967 227

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a clear-cut solution here, I ask two questions: (1) Is matter what objective physical criteria-is cognitively
it possible and fruitful to reconstruct culture and significant, and most are not. From experience, how-
history by classifying artifacts without recognizing, or ever, archaeologists know that of the countless ways
satisfactorily demonstrating, cultural behavior? (2) Is of classifying their objects, some produce more signifi-
there a recognizable logical and causal relationsliip cant and meaningful results than others. "Significant"
between the physical properties and contexts of the and "meaningful" can be pragmatically defined. An
artifacts and their relevance to the behavioral and archaeologist believes his classification to be signifi-
cognitive systems of the makers and users? A negative cant and meaningful when and only if it works-that
answer to the first question would naturally make the is, when and only if he can interpret his material, with
second more imperative, but an affirmative answer reference to his knowledge of the larger context of his
does not cancel the second. These are two indepen- site and culture, more consistently by means of one
dent inquiries that pertain to different aspects of classification than by another. Since his interpretation
the archaeological method. Neither of the questions is inescapably in the realm of man's behavior, its facets
can be answered without rigorous research into ethno- and its history, the question arises whether a classifi-
logy, and the archaeologist's work along such paths cation that agrees with the cognitive system of the
may prove to be of considerable ethnological interest. makers of the artifacts would, for a variety of pur-
Let us consider the second question first. poses, invariably work better than one that does not.
The criteria for the classification of potsherds by The answer has to be affirmative as long as one recog-
their color-black, white, buff, red, gray, black-on- nizes causal relations between cognition and behavior
white, brown-on-red, and so on, as specified by some and history of behavior. In fact, this has been the
color scale-seem to be entirely objective. But Conklin's implicit assumption of the archaeologists:
(1955) study of Hanun6o color categories makes it
clear that as far as color is concerned "sensory recep- By the term "mode" is meant any standard, concept, or
custom which governs the behavior of the artisans of a
tion" and "perceptual categorization" are two quite
community, which they hand down from generation to
different things:
gcneration, and which may spread from community to
community over considerable distances.... Not all the
Under laboratory conditions, color discrimination is prob-
attributes of the artifacts are indicative of modes. Some
ably the same for all human populations, irrespective of
attributes will instead express personal idiosyncracies of
language; but the manner in which different languages clas-
the artisans. ... Other attributes fall within the realm of
sify the millions of "colors" which every normal individual
biology, chemistry, or physics rather than culture....
can discriminate differ. Many stimuli are classified as equiv-
alent, as extensive, cognitive-or perceptual-screeningAnalytic classification, then, must single out modes, which
takes place. Requirements of specification may differ are cultural, and exclude those traits which are purely bio-
con-
logical, chemical, or physical (Rouse 1960:313-14).
siderably from one culturally defined situation to another
(Conklin 1955:340; italics in the original).
In dealing with new materials from an area with which
Each prehistoric community is surely a culturally he is familiar, an archaeologist usually arrives, witholt
defined situation, but can the archaeologist discover much difficulty and hesitation, at a classification that
its cognitive categorizations relative to color? Color works. In other words, archaeological classifications
is but one of -nany cognitive systems for the archaeol- tend to be cognitively significant-or so the archaeol-
ogist to consider. ogists presume. This is a point that deserves close
Ethnographers of late have given notable attention attention by ethnologists.
to this aspect of research, and their basic tool is a To explain, we may make the following two as-
culture's terminological systems-its systems of words sumptions: (1) Variations can always be reduced to
(e.g., Frake 1961, 1962; Conklin 1962a, b). Words, minimal units that exist in the physical world, but
alas, are hardly ever at the archaeologist's disposal. these are hierarchically and contrastively grouped dif-
Even in a rare protohistoric situation where words can ferently in different cultural situations. That is, even
sometimes be matched against things, seemingly in- though cognitive systems are culturally determined,
surmountable obstacles loom, owing to the lack of they do have absolute, however qualified, physical
informants. In a very suggestive illustration of the foundations. Therefore, in theory, it is always possible
"important difference between the analysis of semantic to recognize a cognitive system through observable
structure and the presentation of an arbitrary arrange- physical differences by recognizing the meaningful
ment," Conklin (1962a) compares two arrangements hierarchies and contrasts. (2) When informants are not
of monetary units used in the United States, one a folk available to provide information on the hierarchical
classification (penny, nickel, dime, etc.), and the other and contrastive meaningfulness of the variations, such
an arbitrary key-one that an archaeologist could have information can be recognized in a context of change,
designed-based on physically observable differences. i.e., in the context of history. There are, to be sure,
He concludes, countless ways in which variations can be contrastively
and hierarchically structured, but those that are cogni-
If we are concerned with the way in which a set of cate- tively significant in specific cultural situations do not
gories is cognitively interrelated contrastively and hier-
emerge, in time or in space, at random; they form a
archically, detailed examination of physically observable
part of the heritage of the behavior of the artisans
differences in an array of objects cannot-by itself-provide
decisive answers to questions of cognitive distinctiveness "which they hand down from generation to generation,
(Conklin 1962a:90). and which may spread from community to com-
munity," as stated by Rouse. Therefore, cognitively
Thle implication of this statement for archaeology significantis attributes stand out in a patterned manner
evident: Not every arbitrary key-based upon no in the archaeological record in the long run.

228 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY

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In fact, this partially answers the first question Chang: INTERRELATIONSHIP OF ARCHAEOLOGY

posed above. It is implicit in the archaeologist's


method that all classifications in archaeology that are Cultural and social change sometimes alters, slightly
workable in the realm of cultural and historical inter- or drastically, the correlation between artifacts and
pretation are cognitively meaningful, although the behavior, but this is a matter of detail rather than of
workability is always relative and subject to proof and principle.
the subjective elements can only be minimized by the A second kind of analogy has been called "general
continuous widening of the sphere of consideration. It comparative" (Willey 1953a:229). In contrast to the
is thus also implied that designed types are discovered specific historical analogy, the second depends on arti-
types for the period and in the area for which they fact-behavior correlation that "derives from a pattern
prove to be workable. of repeated occurrences in a large number of cultures"
Rather than claim that no work remains to be done (Thompson 1958:5). Since the applicability of the
in archaeological typology, I merely point out that first kind of analogy is obviously limited, and the
archaeologists and ethnologists have a common area of second kind is thus of prime concern to archaeologists
interest in the study of, and approach to, cognitive both in theory and in practice, one might have as-
systems. That categorization as a theoretical pursuit sumed a theoretical sophistication in analogical pro-
occupies a central place in archaeology, on the one blems among archaeologists. Ascher, who made a point
hand, and in ethnology (e.g., in ethnoscience, structural of finding out, concluded otherwise (1961 322):
linguistics, kinship, and folklore), on the other, is both
evident and natural. It is thus inexplicable that with It is apparent that there is no general agreement on the
rare exceptions students of these areas of study have new analogy, either in theory or practice. ... If it were not
for the fact that analogy in archaeological interpretation
seldom come to grips with each other's problems and
has suffered chronic ambiguity since the nadir of classical
potential contributions. evolutionary simplicity, an impasse could be said to exist.

Ascher's prescription: More ethnology, but of a special


ANALOGY kind:

Unlike typology, in which there is conceptual reci- Every living community is in the process of continuous
procity between archaeology and ethnology, analogy change with respect to the materials which it utilizes. At
any point in its existence some proportion of materials are
is largely a one-way street. Analogy is the principal
falling into disuse and decomposing, while new materials
theoretical apparatus by which an archaeologist are being added as replacement. In a certain sense a part
benefits from ethnological knowledge. of every community is becoming, but is not yet, archaeo-
"Interpreting by analogy" is, according to Ascher logical data. The community becomes archaeological data
(1961:317), "assaying any belief about non-observed when replacement ceases. ... The observational fields of
behavior by referral to observed behavior which is ethnology and archaeology overlap on that proportion of
thought to be relevant." He cites the claim that "ar- a living community which is in the process of transform-
chaeology depends on ethnographic data for interpre- ation It is the study of this very special corpus of data
within the living community which holds the most fruitful
tation" (p. 324). This depen ence is explicated by
promise for analogy in archaeological interpretation (Ascher
Thompson (1958:5):
1961:324).

The archaeologist who formulates an indicated conclusion There is no doubt that Ascher 'has brought to our
is suggesting that there is a correlation between a certain
attention an area of study of great interest and import
set of archaeological material percepta and a particular
range of sociocultural behavior. He must test this con-
that has been heretofore neglected. This, nevertheless,
clusion by demonstrating that an artifact-behavior correl- is a problem distinct from the main purpose of ana-
ation similar to the suggested one is a common occurrence logy: reconstruction of the living, before as well as
in ethnographic reality. during and after the "transformation." The process of
transformation from ethnology to archaeology can
These quotations are adequate indication that in only be of archaeological interest; the pattern of arti-
analogy lies the most generally recognized inter- fact-behavior correlation, of greater consequence to
relationship of archaeology with ethnology (Hole and archaeology, is in itself an ethnological problem.
Heizer 1965:211-14). No archaeologist is worth his The microcosmic regularities of culture, in essence
salt, it can almost be said, unless he makes an analogy accounted for by the intercausality of diverse elements
or two in every monograph he writes. The examples when integrated, are regularities of variations and the
in literature cannot be enumerated. variables. Each element, under study, is, as pointed out
The first and most obvious (the "straightforward") by Thompson (1958:6), a type and is phonemic in
kind of analogy is found in folk-culture study in the nature, abstracted from variables which are compa-
Old World (Clark 1951) and the "direct historical" rable to allophones (to use an old-fashioned linguistic
approach in the New (Steward 1942). Where there is analogy). The more elements one considers for each
demonstrable cultural continuity from the prehistoric complex of relations, the more specifically their res-
to the ethnographic, as in the New World (as well as pective allophonic realities can be characterized. In
in the Pacific islands, India, the Near East, and much ethnology, the basic method of working out such
of Africa), the archaeological reconstruction of late regularities has been variously called the sociological
prehistoric sites is often greatly aided by ethnological or structural principle, the limited generalization, and
knowledge. One easily recognizes the same stage set- the concomitant variation. To place his analogies on a
ting when an old play is staged at another theater. firmer ground, the archaeologist asks this of the ethno-

Vol. 8 . No. 3 . June 1967 229

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logist: In your network of variations of each deline- RECONSTRUCTION OF
able intercausal area of behavior, will you please con- SOCIOCULTURAL SYSTEMS
sider, include, and specify as many physically obser-
vable and imperishable elements as you can? The more Archaeology, along with linguistics, has been charac-
such elements are available, the greater number of terized as the most "culturological" of the culturologies
unobservables can be restored, and the more specific (Nicholson 1958). To resort to so-called correlation, as
and realistic characterizations they can be given. This, is done above in regard to analogy, may seem to be
of course, is easier said than done, but there is no reductionistic. If so, and if reductionism is sin, so be it.
question that such attempts will prove rewarding in An archaeologist, no less than his ethnologist colleague,
providing some concrete and demonstrable guidelines has to take a culturological position.
for the archaeologist's analogies. In an article entitled "Archaeology as Anthro-
For example, slash-and-burn cultivation as a be- pology," Binford (1962:217-18) makes some accusa-
havioral network includes many manual activities, so- tions and then follows with some suggestions:
cial relations and interactions, temporal sequences, and
utterances that can never be archaeologically retrieved. Archaeologists tacitly assume that artifacts, regardless of
their functional context, can be treated as equal and
But such activities and interactions always take place comparable "traits." Once differences and similarities are
in spatial loci and contexts and with reference to mater-"defined" in terms of these "traits," interpretation proceeds
ial instruments and symbols that come to be especially within something of a theoretical vacuum that conceives
adapted to such purposes, and such spatial contexts of differences and similarities as the result of "blending,"
and instruments could survive in the right sequence. "directional influences," and "stimulation" between and
What distinguishes them from spatial contexts and among "historical traditions" defined largely on the basis
instruments for other kinds of cultivation processes? of postulated local or regional continuity in the human
populations.
If there is more than one kind of slash-and-burn culti-
I suggest that this undifferentiated and unstructured
vation process, do variations leave impressions on their
view is inadequate, that artifacts having their primary
material correlates? What is the relationship between
functional context in different operational sub-systems of
residential patterns and kinship patterns? What is the total cultural system will exhibit differences and simil-
indicated by the horizontal distribution patterns of arities differentially, in terms of the structure of the cultural
minute variations in contemporaneous ceramics in the system of which they were a part. Further, that the
light of ethnological knowledge of the potter's social temporal and spatial spans within and between broad
status and social roles? Once one begins to think along functional categories will vary with the structure of the
such lines, the possibilities are alarmingly unlimited. systematic relationships between socio-cultural systems.
Bride-prices are usually material goods; political Study of these differential distributions can potentially
yield valuable information concerning the nature of social
prestige has visible symbols; and a medicine-man
organization within, and changing relationships between,
leaves his paraphernalia bag in some houses in a village socio-cultural systems. In short, the explanation of differ-
but not in others. Many small things that have to do ences and similarities between archaeological complexes
with location, form, association, and sequence of must be offered in terms of our current knowledge of the
seemingly intangible or even unobservable behavior structural and functional characteristics of cultural systems.
are occasionally taken for granted and left unrecorded
by the ethnologist, but these are precisely the kind of Cultural items under comparison can be considered
things on which an analogical archaeologist must either within or without their context, and their
depend. Should the ethnologist observe and record methodological problems will be discussed later. The
these data so that they might someday be of some use importance of providing that context-the reconstruc-
to an archaeologist? Or should he do so in any event? tion (or formulation, if one dislikes the word recon-
Or should there perhaps be a branch of archaeology struction) of the sociocultural systems-cannot be
(ethnoarchaeology) to take care of such things? The overstated, and these remarks of Binford's reiterate
solutions to these problems are left to anyone who is effect the views of Childe (1936), Tallgren (1937),
willing to attempt them. Steward and Setzler (1938), and Taylor (1948).
In the absence of such networks of tight intercausal Even if further elaboration of principle were super-
relationship, or at least concomitant occurrence, of fluous, pertinent questions still should be asked regar-
behavior-cum-physical-manifestation, the archaeologist ding the specific procedures in which sociocultural
must continue to make analogies, and on a broader systems could be reconstructed or "structured." Let us
basis, resulting in reconstructions of mere possibilities. first list some of the questions that are begging for
Indeed, in a broad sense, archaeological reconstruction answers:
is analogy, with or without explicit ethnological -In what manner can cultural universals as against
recourse. To claim any information at all, other than cultural relatives be saild to fossilize in the archaeolo-
the stone or the potsherd that is actually discovered, is gical record?
necessarily to presume knowledge of man and culture -In the formulation of particular sociocultural
in general and to assume the existence of cultural systems and subsystems, is there only one way, the
regularities, however broadly conceived. Since each correct way, or are there alternatives?
archaeological object and situation is unique, every
-What is a "sociocultural system" in archaeology? Is
archaeological reconstruction is analogy based upon a it a list of archaeological finds? An abstract model
number of such presumptions and assumptions. The linking actual artifacts together? A bundle of facts,
ethnological recourse does not make analogy possible; classes, and inferences?
it only renders its results probable or even scientifically -How much of the reconstructed system must depend
true. on chance of preservation and discovery?

230 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY

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-Are archaeological variations within the site signifi- Chang: INTERRELATIONSHIP OF ARCHAEOLOGY

cant only contrastively, or have their physical attri-


butes their own inherent significance? of diffusion, trade, imitation, exogamous marriage, etc.? ...
-Can sociocultural reconstructions be interpolated in Can the ethnologist help us understand why technology or
the same culture at different sites? certain broad types will diffuse much more rapidly and
-Can "use" and "function" be differentiated in ar- easily than specitic art styles? We might even ask what
happens to the individual during periods of change or
chaeology? Is it meaningful to do so? Can functional
relative stability, if this can be viewed by the ethnologist.
reconstruction be accomplished without certain know- This may be perstonality and culture, but the reconstruction
ledge of all the uses? of ancient personality types is interesting to the archaeol-
-Must reconstruction depend upon an extreme deter- ogist.
ministic viewpoint? Must one assume circular inter- Seventh, the problem of cultural types and models: for
causality to avoid being-or being labeled-extremely instance, Rouse, some years ago, had a type concept in pot-
deterministic? tery. He tried to achieve or recapture what was the original
model or type in the mind of the prehistoric artist. Perhaps
Many of these sample questions are obviously ethno-
the ethnologist could find out how the craftsman in a
logical, and I am not sure that they do not involve particular group felt about a style or type, if he in any
ethnological controversies. If practical archaeology way verbalized or conceived of types and realized that
must depend upon answers to these questions and the modes of a certain type were changing. Culture types
others of the same nature for its guide, the notion, or
then,
models also bear on the question of culture units. Did
cannot be tenable that archaeology is a more solid, various communities of an area consider themselves politic-
factual, unsubjective, and dependable discipline than ally or culturally linked? In general, how do their concepts
is social anthropology. Archaeological reconstruction of such divisions, on the present time level and political and
of sociocultural systems is model-construction, gover- cultural divisions, check with what we can find from
prehistory (Willey 1953a)?
ned by theory and guided by understanding of rhe
human psyche and human behavior. In short, "archae- These remarks serve well as a checklist to determine
ology is the ethnography and culture history of past to what extent the archaeologists have now received
peoples" (Kluckhohn 1957:46), and its cornerstone is what they wanted a decade and a half ago from the
analogy. ethnologists.
More than 14 years ago, Willey, remarking on Instead of reviewing each of these areas and in-
"What Archaeologists Want" from ethnology, listed dicating what has been achieved and what has not, I
the following "areas of specific information where would like to take an over-all view of the methodologi-
reconstructions of context are attempted" as those in cal problem with reference to sociocultural reconstruc-
which "'we need facts bearing upon the use and back- tion as a whole. I assume that there are various possible
ground of material objects or features": approaches in social anthropology for the formulation
of structural models and further, that some of these
The first... I have listed as ecology. For instance, how
approaches are archaeologically practical or feasible,
do a particular people exploit an environment? How do
they modify it-knowingly or unknowingly? but others are not. (For instance, semantic analysis and
A second area would be subsistence techniques and their interaction theory can be ruled out immediately.)
relations to artifacts or features in prehistoric context, I suggest that the most feasible anid fruitful approach
social participation in subsistence activities, or cultural for the archaeologist in reconstructing the sociocultural
elaboration and integration of subsistence activities. system is to isolate social groups and to characterize
Third is settlement: houses, construction methods, uses their activities. An archaeological sociocultural system
or functions of house types or other buildings, the number can be construed as a model of a series of such groups
of people in a community, general demographic problems, of various kinds and at various levels, ordered
the cultural significance of spatial arrangements of buildings
hierarchically and contrastively and integrated with
of different types in a community, or the arrangement of
series of activity classes. For if, as Eric Wolf
one community with relation to another community.
Fourth, technology: methods and techniques of manufac- (1964:68-69) says, "a new archaeology, freeing itself
ture; uses of specific material culture forms; social divisions from both the collector's madness of obtaining show
of labor-for example, do captive womcn or women pieces and from the infantile wish to restore the lost
married out of one group into another make pottery?- splendor of ruins long covered by earth or jungle,
which would help us in the matter of diffusion of pottery [turns] to the recovery of entire settlements of past
styles; social and class divisions in usages and possession populations," then it must "look beyond the mechanical
of material; priest class or shamanistic paraphernalia. gathering of isolated bits of material culture to the
Fifth, art: ceremonialism, burials, beliefs in the afterlife. reconstruction of past communities, attempting to
We are interested in the context of art on socioeconomic or
grasp the archaeological equivalent of the ecologists'
sociopolitical levels, as well as in interpretations placed on
the particular iconography. How is style or ceremonialism
group and the social anthropologist's organization-
integrated into the culture? bearing unit." I have proposed a methodological proce-
Sixth, we might consider, under problems of development, dure "to identify and characterize the social groups of
diffusion, and acculturation, what ethnology could offer to archaeological cultures. The a priori assumption is that
archaeology. The ethnologist is hampered by a short-time one must look at archaeological sites as local social
view, but his observations on acculturation may provide groups instead of as cultures or phases. Cultures are
some very helpful analogies to project the present back fluctuant, but social groups are clear-cut" (Chang
into the past.... Under this, we could look for acceptances 1958:324). This plea echoes Childe (1936:3):
or rejections of innovations, as noted by the ethnologist,
perhaps in some cases reflecting deep-seated or ancient The study of living human societies as functioning organism
attitudes of a cultural tradition. ... How do ideas spread has revealed to archaeologists this approach to their ma-
between communities, tribes, regions? What are the means terials. ... The culture is not an a priori category elaborated

Vol. 8 . No. 3 . June 1967 231

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in the studies of philosophers and then imposed from between norms and deviations meaningful? Are
outside upon working archaeologists. Cultures are observed "norms"? the common denominators of all the varia-
facts. The field-worker does find specific types of tools, tions within a class, and are they in agreement with
weapons, and ornaments repeatedly associated together in
the archaeological types or modes? These, together with
graves and habitations of one kind and contrasted with
the problems raised above concerning artifact varia-
the artifacts found in graves and settlements of another
kind. The interpretation of the observed phenomenon is tions and cognitive systems, must provoke some
supplied by ethnography. The traits of a culture are thus thought among archaeologists and ethnologists alike.
presented together to the archaeologists because they are Logically related to group identification but poten-
the creations of a single people, adjustments to its environ- tially independent of it is the archaeological identifi-
ment approved by its collective experience; they thus cation of "activity systems" as formulated by
express the individuality of a human group united by ethnologists (e.g., Howard 1963; Nash 1964). "Instead
common social traditions. With this idea prehistory vindic- of conceiving of a society as having a social structure,"
ates its character as a human, in contrast to a natural,
Howard (1963:410) suggests that "we conceive of
science.
social behavior as being structured by participation in
It seems quite feasible in archaeology to identify "the given activities within which behavioral choices
individuality of a human group united by common (decisions) are regular and predictable." Activities can
social traditions." One approach is the categorization be physically indicated by loci and instruments, and
of dwellings and other kinds of architecture that behavioral choices materialize in artifactual variations.
provide the loci for group activities. This is included The archaeologists can thus structure their types around
in so-called settlement pattern studies (e.g., Willey a series of activity systems such as subsistence,
1953b, 1956; Chang 1958, 1962). Whether house re- domestic, technological, and other behavioral categori
mains are available or not, social divisions within a (or their subdivisions). While such works as Notes and
prehistoric community can be categorized by grouping Queries (RAI 1951) and Outline of Culture Materials
artifacts and/or attributes of artifacts in relation to (Murdock et al. 1961), which purport to provide a
loci or to assemblages. Lothrop (1942:5) and Karlgren universal categorization of culture materials for
(1937:91-92) have applied this principle to the divi- ethnographers, are indispensible to archaeologists fo
sion of art styles within a single site, and Longacre designing such activity systems, these designs must
(1964) and Deetz (1965) have attempted to do the primarily be determined by the nature and preservation
same thing in greater detail with minute ceramic of their material in the field.
attributes (see also Smith 1962; Foster 1965). Clark's It remains to be reiterated that the reconstruction of
(1957) study of flints is of the same kind. What can be sociocultural systems described above can be greatly
done with variations within a prehistoric community aided by direct historic or ethnological analogy; rhe
can also be done with the site's culture as a whole in best examples can perhaps be found in the American
relation to and contrasting with a larger sphere of Southwest (Parsons 1940; e.g., Di Peso 1956).
interaction. A grouping of sites is a hierarchy of classes
of sites; sites as variations grouped structurally take on
sociological significance at a higher societal level, and
the variations within this larger sphere bespeak its PROCESS AND THE COMPARATIVE METHOD
range and kinds of behavior. At the broader end of the
spectrum, the archaeologists, inspired by social "The interest of modern archaeology," says Kluckhohn
typology, unabashedly classify whole civilizations (Coe (1957:44) "is focused upon helping to establish the
1961; Willey 1962). These methods, with social groups principles of cultural growth and change." Of all
delineated by the attributes of the remains as the anthropological disciplines, archaeology alone uses
theoretical units of departure, are obviously ethnologi- "time" as a fact rather than as a reconstructed or
cally suggested, anid their operation must be sharpened restored dimension.
with precise ethnological knowledge and techniques.
On the other hand, such studies will provide infor- By extending in time as well as in space the comparisons
mation for the ethnologists. Can information ad- that can be made as to how different peoples have solved
or failed to solve their problems, the chances for testing
ditional to what is already available in living societies
scientifically certain theories about human nature and the
be thus obtained when the model of archaeological
course of human progress are much improved. ... As the
social grouping necessarily depends upon knowledge archaeologists inject chronology into a confusing mass of
provided by existing societies? The answer must, per- descriptive facts, one gets a sense not only of the cumulative
haps, be negative until archaeological techniques are nature of culture but also of pattern in history (Kluckhohn
better and more self-contained; but archaeological 1957:45, 41).
reconstruction will at least be able to supply a greater
variety of models of considerably greater time depth. The most obvious application of archaeological
Variations indicating group behavior must be results to ethnology in matters of cultural process
sharply distinguished from those indicating individual concerns the history of material culture elements and
behavior. Archaeologists no less than historians must the history of ethnic elements and entities. Equally
emphasize the uniqueness of each individual act; but understandable is the fact that recent contributors to
patterns of group and patterns of individuals are not the theory of cultural evolution either are themselves
dichotomic, and a broad range of behavior can also be archaeologists (Childe 1951; Braidwood 1960; Rouse
identified within a group (cf. Oliver 1958:803). To 1964) or have utilized archaeological results as the
take the decorative art of a prehistoric community as backbone of an evolutionary scheme conceived from
an example, what are the stylistic norms or ideals, and ethnological theories (Steward 1955). These need not
what are the deviations and variations? Is a distinction be elaborated but cannot be overemphasized.

232 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY

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More problematical is the matter of social history. Chang: INTERRELATIONSHIP OF ARCHAEOLOGY

Social evolution is interpretation of sociocultural


systems seriated temporally, or the sum of archaeologi- stable, and others as functionally adaptive" (p. 374).
cal variations of a social and societal nature oriented But Service admits that "we do not know enough about
according to a time scale. Ethnologists can construct this yet, certainly not enough to take one or the other
quasi-static systems without regard to difference in side so firmly as we conventionally do," and therefore,
time; they can also conjecture about what might have suggests that "one of the most appropriate tasks for
happened in the past, on the basis of their understan- cultural anthropologists today should be to conduct
ding of the mechanisms and patterns of cultural and some studies designed to reveal more clearly and
social change. But they can never empirically verify precisely how culture actually does behave" (p. 374).
a historical hypothesis without archaeological recourse. In a similar attempt, as yet unpublished (Chang
S. F. Nadel says that "archaeology by itself can never 1960), I have called cultural elements "stylistic" when
be social history" (1957:7). The collateral is also true: they are historically stable and culturally idiosyncratic
ethnology by itself can never be social history. The and "ecosocial" when they are adaptive and recurrent.
assistance ethnologists offer archaeologists in this con- Historical relationships based upon comparisons of
nection really serves their own interest. stylistic elements are considered to be more reliable
Patterns of historical process cannot be revealed than those based upon comparisons of ecosocial ele-
without comparative study. No matter how systematic ments.
an archaeologist's analysis, he must compare finds from Such categorizations of cultural elements according
different times and places. "One-people ethnologists" to their stable, diffusible, and adaptive nature for
there may be, but "one-site archaeologists" are only a comparative purposes are apparently valid on a general
joke. Occasional comparisons are undertaken at a level, but they have their limitations in archaeological
higher level, but such comparative studies must fre- application. It is doubtful, for instance, that cultural
quently proceed on the basis of single traits. elements are inherently classifiable in these terms so
Service (1964:364) has recently reminded us that that the archaeologists can make clear-cut distinctions
"There should... be ways in which archaeological in each case. Cultures, either as abstractions or as
theory and method could profit from greater attention realities of collective behavior, do not behave; it is
to ethnological fact." Since "historical reconstruc,tions people who behave, who make choices among the
in archaeology are based on comparisons of traits and available alternatives. In other words, the tripartite
attributes of traits representing different cultures," the classification of archaeological material is not inherent
archaeological method apparently centers in the com- in the traits or complexes themselves, but is determined
parative study of similarities: by the roles they play in the sociocultural system to
which they belong. In order to determine the com-
Similarities in two lists of traits could suggest any of
three distinct kinds of occurrences. (1) The traits might
parability of traits and complexes and to specify their
be similar because they represent two descendant cultures nature with reference to historic relationships, recon-
of one homogeneous parent culture; ... (2) Similarity may structions of sociocultural systems must take priority
also have been created in certain respects by diffusion or to provide a functional context.
trade betweeni two otherwise historically distinct societies.
(3) Some similarities may be chance parallelisms or adaptive
convergences to like environmental or historical influences. POSTSCRIPT
A major methodological problem is revealed here: How
can comparisons of traits and attributes be made so that How does one recognize an archaeologist as an archae-
a conclusion is reached as to which of the above possibilities ologist? What are the symbols of his trade? In the
is responsible for the similarities?
field he uses trowels, spades, transits, and plane-tables-.
He suggests that the answer lies in a better understan- He is surrounded in his laboratory by glues, brushes,
ding of the nature of culture: shelves full of sherds, stones, anld bones, microscopes,
light-tables, and tracing papers. He holds conferences
Culture is composed of conceptually isolable elements-i.e., with geologists, biologists, and "archaeometrists," who
traits and trait complexes-and some kinds of these change
supply him with "hard" scientific data. He writes ar-
form, diffuse, and appear or disappear at different rates
from others; that is, they are differentially responsive to
ticles, books, and monographs with solid titles. Thus,
particular kinds of conditions (Service 1964:365). he can be distinguished at a glance from his ethnologist
colleague, with whom he sometimes exchanges ideas
Accordingly, these traits are placed in three categories: and information about type, analogy, social recon-
(1) "Certain characteristics of art styles and rituals ... struction, and perhaps evolution.
seem to persist among a particular people through Despite his scientific disguise, the archaeologist is a
long periods in their history, even under greatly humanist. In his classic essay, Sir Mortimer Wheeler
changed conditions of life." (2) Some other features, reminds us that "as archaeological scientists, our sub-
on the other hand, are "rapidly borrowed or traded ject is Man... We dig up mere things, forgetful that
from one people to another." (3) Still other aspects of our proper aim is to dig up people" (1950:122, 129).
culture are "likely to respond functionally or adap- Rouse (1965:2) has recently reiterated that "we now
tively to varying circumstances" (p. 356). This tripar- dig sites not only to obtain artifacts but to learn all
tite scheme is thus essential for the "discovery of we can about the peoples who lived in the sites." In
phylogenetic relationship, diffusional continuum, or short, archaeology is a learning about peoples, namely,
independent parallelism" (p. 375), for "there are ethnology. It is "a method of reconstructing, from
aspects or parts of culture that in fact are best seen as scant remains, the ethnology of a people now gone,
diffusible shreds and patches, others as historically and of whom we can learn only from such of their

Vol. 8 . No. 3 . June 1967 233

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remains as have endured the test of time" (Smith tify simplistically the present with the past is only to
1899:1). reiterate the obvious.
From this viewpoint, the title of this article is tauto- Archaeologists and ethnologists will have to continue
logical. But, as stated in the beginning, the identifica- on their separate ways, even though a complete under-
tion of these two fields of learning is one of strategy, standing of man and his culture must be a summation
not of tactics. A cultural whole may be characterized of their respective findings. But a methodological
as peoples and things in interactional association; system based on the people provides useful experience
ethnologists usually start from the people, whereas ar- for the study of the things, and vice versa. To say that
chaeologists must start from the things. This tactical ethnology and archaeology -depend on each other may
difference calls for separate methodological systems, be extreme; but it is clear that neither can profit from
and to affirm their logical interrelationship or to iden- extreme specialization.

Abstract them that he has a lot to learn from, and contribute


to, the other. Recognizing this practical fact, this paper
Anthropologists in the United States are faced with nevertheless attempts to draw attention to some major
the issue of specialization vs. generalization; simply to areas of presumably common interest: typology,
say that the archaeologist and the ethnologist are both analogy, the formulation of sociocultural systems, and
anthropologists no longer suffices to convince either of process, and the comparative method.

are "cognitively meaningful," although palaeopsychologists, and our training


Comments their workability is always relative. equips us poorly for this role. If ex-
Chang's position is an archaeological planation is sought in cultural or
by LEWIS R. BINFORD*
version of extreme cultural relativism, ecological terms, direct linkages can
which, if carried to its logical con- be made between the relevant variables
Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.A. 9 Ix 66 clusion, would deny to archaeology without translating them into idea-
the possibility of becoming an ob- tional terms. Ideas are cultural and
In a short comment like this, it is im- jective, comparative science. As Bidney should therefore vary in functional
possible to analyze in detail the argu- has pointed out (1953:425): ".... the congruence with other cultu-ral ele-
ments set forth by Chang. Since I am fact of cultural variations in historic ments. Since they are cultural elements,
in basic disagreement with the proposi- cultures does not imply the absolute they can never be cited as the in-
tions on which his discussion is value of cultural differences and the dependent variables bringing about
predicated, I shall address myself to obligation to respect them." change in a system of which they are
these. I maintain that given the theoretical a part, unless one is willing to say that
Chang states that the taxonomies tools available to us we may: (1) ask basic biological differences determine
with which we work should agree in certain questions about the past or variability in ideas independently of
their formal characteristics with the about the operation of cultural systems their cultural setting. This position was
cognitive systems of the producers of generally; (2) develop classifactory rejected long ago in considering the
the cultural elements under study. His criteria which inform on variables archaeological remains of anatomical-
argument can be summarized as believed relevant to the questions ly modern man.
follows: (1) Classification "must single being asked; (3) investigate the ar- I disagree with Chang's view of the
out modes" (italics mine), the latter chaeological record in terms of these aims of archaeology:
being "any standard, concept, or criteria and draw valid conclusions,
Is it possible and fruitful to reconstruct
custom which governs the behavior of irrespective of the degree of con-
culture and history by classifying artifacts
the artisans of a community." The role formity between our criteria and the (p. 227).
of taxonomy in archaeology is seen as cognitive systems of the manufacturers
The more such elements are available [mate-
the expression of identified "modes," of the artifacts we study. It is, in fact,
rial referents in ethnographic description]
or norms and values, held by extinct quite unlikely that the cognitive the greater number of unobservables can
people. (2) Modes, or norms and systems of extinct peoples would be in be restored, and the more specific and
values, can be abstracted from the any way adequate to, or relevant for, realistic characterizations... can be given
patterned and repetitive occurrence of modern scientific investigation of the (p. 229).
attributes in a population of artifacts. processes responsible for observed dif- Indeed ...archaeological reconstruction is
Chang's argument is in line with ferences and similarities between cul- analogy (p. 231).
Herskovits' view of culture (1955: tural systems. The importance of... the reconstruction of
354): "The very definition of what is I further question the utility of the the sociocultural system cannot be over-
normal or abnormal is relative to the general normative frame of reference stated (p. 230).
cultural frame of reference." There- in which Chang's arguments are cast I propose a methodological procedure to
fore, Chang appears to be arguing that(see Aberle 1960 and L. R. Binford identify and characterize the social groups
of archaeological cultures (p. 231).
our taxonomies should be compatible 1965 for general criticisms of norma-
with the cognitive frame of reference tive theory). If we were to attempt to It [archaeology] is a method of reconstruct-
ing... the ethnology of a people now gone
of the peopie under study; then and work within the frame of questions
only then are our taxa meaningful. (p. 233).
Chang seeks to answer, we would be
(3) A typology is judged successful if forced to explain cultural differences If the reconstruction of the past wvre
it works. How do we know it works? and similarities in the archaeological the major aim of archaeological in-
It works if with it we are able to record in terms of different modes vestigation, then archaeology would
identify modes. How do we identify (norms) held by extinct peoples. The be doomed to be a particularistic, non-
modes? In the recognition of pattern- value of Chang's position would lie in generalizing field. Our taxonomies
ing in the archaeological record. explanation of the past in psycholog- would be as numerous as the different
Therefore, all workable classifications ical terms. In this case, we would be historical entities identified, and our

234 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY

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analytical tools would be geared to the Chang: INTERRELATIONSHIP OF ARCHAEOLOGY

explication of those aspects of pre-


historic life which our current values ethnographic data in archaeological into types which are ordered in terms
and biases deemed meaningful to con- investigation, Chang writes: of our preconceptions of what those
temporary audiences. This is not to activities were? Our task as archaeol-
say that reconstruction and characteri- The ethnological recourse does not make ogists is to devise analytical means of
zation of the past do not have their analogy possible; it only renders its results discovering what past activities were,
probable or even scientifically true (p. 228). not to fit artifacts into activity classifi-
role in the general education of the
public; they may also serve to make Can information additional to what is al- cations arrived at arbitrarily. If all of
significant contributions to the in- ready available in living societies be thus this has a familiar ring, it is, I fear,
obtained when the model of archaeological
te lectual climate of today, as suggested because it is just another facet of the
social grouping necessarily depends on
recently by Clark (1966b:99). I old argument about arbitrary vs. dis-
knowledge provided by existing societies?
maintain, however, that they are not The answer must perhaps be negative until covered types (Ford 1954a, b vs.
the ultimate aims of archaeology. I archaeological techniques are better and Spaulding 1953, 1954). Techniques for
have elsewhere stated (1962:217) what more self-contained (p. 232). discovering activities in the past are
I believe these aims are: the explica- available and have already been fruit-
tion and explanation of cultural dif- A behavioral correlate for an archaeol- fully employed (Hill 1965, Binford
ferences and similarities. Chang is ogical fact may be postulated on the and Binford 1966).
asking for explication of the past; I basis of ethnographically known con- If we take an analytical, rather than
would claim that archaeology is cap- ditions; but recourse to ethnography a descriptive, approach to the past, the
able of more-explanation. Spaulding could never render such an argument limits on our generalizations are set
(1966:4) has argued that the recon- probable or true, except in the form only by the analytical techniques
struction of past events does not con- of an argument by enumeration. (This available, not by our substantive
stitute explanation, that there "is no is not the same as an argument by knowledge of the present. The issues
such thing as 'historical' explanation, analogy; see Stebbing 1950:243-56 for raised by Chang have been debated
only the explanation of historical a full statement of this distinction.) for more than 20 years and are im-
events." We must demand of ourselves In discussing analogy Childe writes: portant ones. Chang's views are
concepts and methods which go (1956:49): shared by many of our colleagues. In
beyond the mere reconstruction of the stating this I am not accusing Chang
Ethnographic parallels in fact afford only
past. of being a traditionalist; the originality
clues in what direction to look for an ex-
I also disagree with Chang on the planation in the archaeological record it-
and usefulness of his work argues
roles of analogy and of ethnographic self. against this. I have expressed my views
data in archaeology. On analogy, he here in the belief that discussion of our
says: I have argued elsewhere (1966a) that basic ideas is essential to progress.
analogical arguments are more prob-
Analogy is the principal theoretical apparatus able or true only when subsidiary
by which an archaeologist benefits from hypotheses, drawn from the postulate by BERNHARD BOCK*
ethnological knowledge (p. 229). made possible by the analogy, have
In short, "archaeology is the ethnography been tested against other archaeolog- Braunschweig, Germany. 15 VII 66
and culture history of past peoples" (Kluck- ical data. As I strongly advocate cooperation
hohn 1957:46) and its cornerstone is
There have been several recent among the various sciences of man, I
analogy (p. 230).
statements on the role of ethnographic have read Chang's paper with
Since each archaeological object and situation
is unique, every archaeological reconstruc-
data in archaeological reasoning (Free- particular attention. It will certainly
tion is analogy based upon a number of man 1966, S. R. Binford 1966, L. R. be welcomed by everyone who is
... presumptions and assumptions (p. 230). Binford 1966b); in all of these, argu- interested in the whole of anthro-
ments are given against the proposi- pology and its fundamental aspects,
In his discussion Chang makes no tion that our knowledge of the past is for it is a fine exeample of the inter-
distinction between theory, generaliza- limited by our knowledge of the dependence of the various sciences of
tions of abstract qualities, arguments present. We have available today both man from the point of -view of their
by enumeration, and arguments from the techniques and sufficient self- common methods as well as their
analogy. This is one of the old con- containment to formulate testable common object.
fusions of anthropology (see Buettner- hypotheses to explain archaeological Chang writes: "Intercommunication
Janusch 1957:320-21 on Boas). Even observations. does take place, but it may become
if we were to admit that archaeological The limitations imposed by Chang's even rarer and more inconsequential
arguments always include an analog- approach are further exemplified by as the trend of specialization continues
ical component (and I am not con- his discussion of "activity systems." and intensifies." I don't see why this
vinced of this), this does not make Chang endorses the suggestion that should be true. On the contrary, I feel
these arguments analogies (L. R. Bin- these should be the basic units with sure that the growing specialization
ford 1966a). The basic form of ar- which archaelogists deal. He goes so of the sciences will force scholars
chaeological argument, or of any argu- far as to suggest that "archaeologists ... to cooperate and to communicate.
ment which seeks to formulate general structure their types around a series ofSpecialists will often study the same
propositions, should be logico-deduc- activity systems such as subsistence, subject from their respective points of
tive. From a set of remises, we can domestic, technological, and other view, and they will have to learn the
frame testable hypotCeses whose con- behavioral categories.. ." (p. 230). He plans and results in each other's
firmation will lend support to the further suggests that we might classify specialties as early and as compre-
postulates and assumptions (premises) our materials according to an activity hensively as possible in order to co-
on which the hypotheses are based. It paradigm such as that provided by ordinate their studies.
is in the testing of hypotheses as to the Murdock's Outline of Cultural Mate- In this sense, Chang 's readers are
relationship between two or more rials. The crucial question to be asked encouraged to extend the principle of
variables that we can raise our hypo- here is: What new information could "interrelationship" to other sciences
theses to the level of general laws of possibly be gained about variations in of man beyond archaeology and
culture. the activity systems of the past by ethnology. The aspects he mentions
With regard to the role of simply fitting archaeological remains (typology, analogy, reconstruction,

Vol. 8 . No. 3 . June 1967 235

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evolution, comparison) are common to ethnology and prehistory served the Therefore, in theory, it is always possible
other areas of anthropological studies purposes of universal history and was to recognize a cognitive system through
observable physical differences by re-
as well (e.g., prehistory, linguistics, thus in the field of general ethnology;
cognizing the meaningful hierarchies and
social and physical anthropology), see Closs (1956) for references to the
contrasts (p. 228; italics mine).
though of course their application is works of Koppers, Schmidt, Haekel,
slightly different in each of the various Jettmar, Heine-Geldern, and, for a I do not understand this argument; I
fields. In this connection, another critique, Pittioni, and, on the other cannot see that the "Therefore, in
aspect applicable to all fields of an- hand, see Otto (1953). theory.. ." is a logical consequence of
thropology should not be forgotten: The terminological distinction be- what precedes it, nor can I see how,
statistics. tween archaeoethnology and ethno- even if it were so in theory, the cogni-
archaeology raises the important tive systems could be recognized in
question as to where this special practice. Chang, if I understand him
by ALOIS CLOSS* integrative discipline really belongs. rightly, proposes that cognitively
We here on the continent generally significant attributes will be the ones
Graz, Austria. 18 VII 66 prefer to speak of prehistory rather that are relatively stable "in the long
Chang's article is written from the than archaeology, since the term "ar- run" over space and time. Here I am
point of view of an American ar- chaeology" is restricted to the study not merely unconvinced; I definitely
chaeologist, but its selection of of finds with inscriptions. A closer reject stability as a trustworthy
questions and their answers is so connection between ethnology and criterion for cognitive significance.
stimulating that it can be considered rehistory seems generally better While it is important and interesting
illuminating for the Old World as well. founded; but ethnoarchaeology would to investigate variations in the stability
The fact that it was in America that also constitute a special field within of different attributes, we must be
connections between prehistoric groups "special-historical" ethnology insofar open to a great many possible inter-
and surviving primitive tribes were as it is concerned with prehistoric pretations of observed variations.
first discovered has been an important peoples and their migrations (see Closs Using stability as an indicator of
factor in the tendency toward integra- 1956:176). To identify peoples and cognitive importance, one would
tion of archaeology and ethnology in migrations from prehistoric evidence is
attempt (if no native speakers could
that country from their beginnings. If to bring into play a specifically eth- be interviewed) to discover the struc-
I am not mistaken, Holmes (1914) and nological aspect. We should, I think, ture of English by looking for common
Nelson (1919) were pioneers in this pay special attention to the historical features in a number of texts written
effort. A comparison of their work value of typology, i.e., the extent to over several centuries and in various
with the present situation as Chang which a correct typology contributes regions. Surely a linguist would say
describes it would have been useful. to the understanding of the historical that "in the long run" there has been
Certainly the integration of ar- moment (compare Burgmann 1964). quite a bit of change in English and
chaeology and ethnohistory (see The great question is whether a some of the cognitively significant
Baerreis 1961) is part of this present general cultural-historical ethnology features of any specific dialect are
situation, and it was preceded by an could exist at all without considering shared with few or no other dialects.
attempt (Closs 1956) to show that the "archaeology." One could even argue that features
fields of "special-historical" ethnology which show the greatest variability
(the study of peoples and their between communities may have the
migrations) and general ethnology by GEORGE L. COWGILL* greatest saliency for the natives
(the systematic presentation and com- Waltham, Mass., U.S.A. 28 VII 66 (especially when they are regarded as
parative investigation of the basic markers of ethnic or class identity)
Chang's paper, in most ways very and may be most emphasized in native
forms, particularly among non-literate
fine, begins with what I think is yet terminology. I do not mean to propose
peoples, of material, social, and sym-
bolic culture) have methods in another of the many unsatisfactory variability as an alternative criterion,
common. This latter essay contains an
discussions of classification in ar- but rather to stress that it is not at all
extensive review of literature relevant chaeological literature. I will briefly clear what criteria archaeologists can
to Chang's theme. The most important note some major disagreements. use for inferring native systems of
1) I share Chang's belief that many terminology. Of course, since clarifica-
of these works are the following:
of the anthropologists doing "ethno- tion can only come through relevant
On typology, Schwantes (1952) and
science" are not just using new terms
Angeli (1958); on the reconstruction ethnographic work, my objection
for old methods and ideas, but are in actually strengthens my agreement
of sociocultural systems, Gjessing
fact making important advances in with Chang's more basic point about
(1962, 1963), Narr (1962), and
techniques for eliciting, verifying, and the importance of ethnology for ar-
Hancar (1955). In Italy Pigorini estab-
representing alien systems of cognition. chaeology.
lished "Paletnologia" as a discipline
Nevertheless, this is one of the most 2) Chang says (p. 228) that an ar-
and founded a journal of the same
difficult (though probably not totally chaeologist's classification is "signi-
name; in the beginning, it was more
impossible) aspects of human behavior ficant" and "meaningful" when it
concerned with known prehistoric
to get at through archaeological tech- "works-that is, when and only if he
peoples, but since Laviosa Zambotti
niques, and I agree with Gardin's
(1950; see Koppers 1952:46-57 for a can interpret his material, with refer-
(1965) discussion of the problems in- ence to his knowledge of the larger
critique) it has been directed more
volved. It is a mistake to insist too context of his site and culture, more
toward so-called culture-historical eth-
nology. Historical data on this school strongly on resemblances between the consistently by means of one classifica-
are given by Barocelli (1940). In
archaeologist's categories and native tion than another." To my mind, this
Germany, the study of the archaeology categories, because one cannot do so only replaces one ambiguity with
of settlements was called "tribal re- without glossing over the difficulties, another, for it remains unclear what is
and because it diverts attention from meant by "consistent" in this context.
search" and had definite nationalistic
other reasons for classification. Con-
tendencies (see Kossina 1911). For the A substantial paper could well be
cerning the difficulties, Chang says:
theory, see Jahn (1952) and also written on this topic alone. Archae-
Menghin (1950); for an opposite view, Even though cognitive systems are cul- ologists have often had very limited
see Wahle (1940-41) and Eggers turally determined, they do have absolute, oblectives in their interpretations of
(1950). In Vienna, the integration of however qualified, physical foundations. data, and classifications which have

236 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY

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served them well may be very un- Chang: INTERRELATIONSHIP OF ARCHAEOLOGY
satisfactory for other purposes. Also,
in practice major criteria of work- with the remainder of Chang's paper, linguistics with pragmatic aims and
ability have been that the scheme, which is the greater part, and, for sound thinking. Modern archaeologists
without too much ambiguity, provides most people, the more important part. and ethnologists cannot ignore trans-
one and only one place for almost all He has done a splendid job of out- formational linguistics, and they will
objects encountered, and that no ob- lining kinds of ethnographic informa- greatly benefit by getting acquainted
vious violence is done to any of the tion needed for better archaeological with it. I may also be permitted to
worker's notions about the nature of interpretation and, ultimately, valuable draw Chang's attention to the papers
man, society, and culture. There is a feedback of ethnological theory. What of the international conference on
great need to examine various widely we need most now are people and Universals of Language at MIT,
used notions in terms of the extent to money to do work which will fill the especially those by Casagrande and
which they are wrong, doubtful, or so gaps in data pointed to by Chang Greenberg (1966). The mental and
vague that almost no data could and the other archaeologists he quotes. cultural world of a community is too
contradict them. Also, there is danger complicated for pragmatic firsthand
of logical circularity, certain notions study, but its deep structure has few
being taken as axiomatic and classifi- "kernel" types, and the use of (com-
cations being accepted or rejected by SAMIR GHOSH* pletely or partially) ordered trans-
accordingly as they fit or do not fit formational rules makes it possible to
Berlin, Germany. 20 VII 66 interpret and understand the surface
the original notions, without any real
use of data to test the notions. Further- It is important to know the Past in structure of a culture, diachronic (or
more, Chang glosses over a real dif- order to intepret the Present; on the historical-comparative), in the case of
ficulty by not mentioning that there other hand, without a proper analysis the archaeologist and synchronic (or
are cases of persistent controversy in of the Present it is impossible to under-descriptive-structural) in the case of
which each party claims that his stand the Past. Here lies the meeting- the ethnologist. I very much agree with
classification "works," yet the schemes point of archaeology and ethnology. Chang that a "rethinking in ar-
differ enough to have importantly dif- Chang's sober, timely, and very wel- chaeology" is necessary; ethnology and
ferent implications for culture theory. come paper seeks close collaboration archaeology do not really depend on
3) I suggest that a useful way to between two distinct groups of each other, but they do have a major
approach archaeological classification practitioners of anthropology, ar- common area of interest and knowl-
is to look for methods which will re- chaeologists and ethnologists. The edge, if both are interested in "Man."
quire the weakest possible a priori as- areas of common interest are (accord-
sumptions about what may be im- ing to Chang) typology, analogy, the
portant in the data. Obviously we do reconstruction of sociocultural systems, by GUTORM GJESSING*
not really observe or record very much and process and the comparative
in the first place unless we have some method. I would add one more: cul- Oslo, Norway. 7 Ix 66
idea that the data may conceivably ture-trait universals. In spite of its originality, Chang's
prove meaningful, nor can we begin While ethnologists (to use Chang's excellent article in many respects
to explore every logically conceivable term) will agree to (and indeed do) reflects an important trend in modern,
relationship between different items ofcollaborate with archaeologists, I particularly American, archaeology,
data. But, given a choice of alternative doubt that archaeologists, with their viz., the attempt at epistemological
techniques, we should prefer that solely "taxonomic" approach, will be and theoretical analysis of methods
which (within the limits of feasibility), able to cope with C hang's proposals. and results, the first fumbling steps
reguires the fewest a priori decisions Moreover, the extent to which cultural toward integrating the field with the
about what is profitable or unprofit- behavior can be recognized and family of theoretical sciences. From a
able to emphasize in the data. quantified from artifacts is a moot European point of view, the reasons
Classification is in the first instance point. Thea archaeologist, posing as a for this American attitude are at least
body of operations relevant to data "scientist" and claiming to be digging two-fold: (1) The American insistence
storage and retrieval, and, while it is up the past, in fact often measures his on keeping anthropology a single field
never independent of synthesis and own footsteps; by the same token, the of study and the temporal continuity
interpretation, it ought not to be ethnologist, often ego-centered, may between archaeology and ethnology
confused with them. We want to besee as the culture he is trying to interpret make for a closer interrelationship be-
free as possible to explore any body as merely a storehouse of concatenated tween the two disciplines. As one of
of archaeological data for anything or conglomerated elements. There is my Southwestern friends once put it,
systematic about the distribution of danger in both these attitudes. It is, of "You know, when we are faced with
any features, with regard to time, course, sensible to ask ourselves as a difficult problem, we can just step
space, or one another; and anything social scientists whether we are into the next pueblo and ask!" (2)
systematic we find, if not readily at- interested in a model-directed or a While in Europe archaeology is still
tributable to chance, is an "interest- data-oriented discussion. Both types generally considered prehistory-that
ing" archaeological fact which requires have good and bad points; but unless is, part of the national history-it
explanation and which may have im- a social scientist has a theory, a cannot, for obvious reasons, be so
plications for anthropological theory. philosophy, a weltanschauung of his considered in the Americas, and thus
Cognitive systems theory is only one own, his efforts, even with the best of American archaeology is freed from
of many frames of reference within intentions, will come to a dead-end. the fetters of a one-sided, ethnocentric,
which a given finding may be mean- Unfortunately, Chang has no com- historical point of view.
ingful. Today, for example, the most ments on this. Although there is certainly a long
fruitful archaeological interpretations I am surprised to find that, well- and very stony road ahead before ar-
are in culture-ecological frames of informed as he is, Chang gives no cross-chaeology can be considered a deduc-
reference. Highly relevant ecological reference to another sister-discipline, tive, theoretical science, any valid step
data may not always be reflected in linguistics. The publication of Chom- in that direction should be considered
native terminology, but terminology sky's Syntactic Structures (1957; see progress, and European prehistorians
must handle such data nevertheless. also 1965) established a new vigorous, still have much to learn from their
I have no arguments of consequence well-rounded philosophical school of American colleagues and hence from

Vol. 8 . No. 3 . June 1967 237

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Chang's important article. I will here tional-as either one by itself will not recently there has been an increasing
be primarily concerned with the do" (Haury 1956). It is, on the whole, trend in this direction). Ethnologists
section "Reconstruction of sociocul- regrettable that Chang has failed to who do deal with this material, some-
tural systems." take into consideration Haury's beauti- times come up with something of use
In many European countries, both ful example of what can be achieved to archaeologists. On the whole, how-
East and West, the scope of pre- by combining ecological, historical, ever, the ethnologist chooses subject
historic research has been greatly and functional methods. Nor does matter that does not need to be typed,
widened, not only in terms of socio- Chang seem to have exploited Julian and therefore he is not forced into
archaeological studies (Gjessing 1957), Steward's pioneering work on the cor- formulating a theory of typology.
but also in terms of general cul- relation between ecology, economy, While many archaeologists are vitally
turological studies (Clark 1966a, b). and social systems, or Eggan's paper, interested in drawing on the work of
In fact, the interrelationship between "The Ethnological Cultures and their ethnologists, ethnologists are seldom
archaeology and ethnology is of long Archaeological Background" (1952), aware of archaeologists' needs if they
standing in practical European pre- to mention only a few American are different from their own and do
historic and protohistoric studies examples. From the European quarter not orient their fieldwork or analyses
(Br6gger 1925, Childe 1940, Clark I miss particularly a reference to toward the solution of archaeological
1951, Gjessing 1955). Thus, Binford'sClark's important work (1952) on the problems. It is more common for the
not too kind characterization of ar- prehistoric economic basis of Europe.archaeologist himself to undertake an
chaeologists (quoted by Chang) has As I have myself tried to demonstrate ethnographic study in order to solve
many and valuable exceptions. As a the relevancy of ecology and a an archaeological problem.
counterweight it may be well to balanced use of analogies to ethnology Chang has given us a useful synthesis
remember Childe's (1951) words that (1955, 1963, 1964), I shall not re- of what should be, at least in part, the
capitulate the arguments here. How- interrelationship of archaeology and
archaeologists today have realized that they
ever, it seems at any rate obvious that ethnology. We should not overlook,
are dealing with concrete remains of
societies, and that these societies, albeit conversion of energy and the energy however, the interrelationships of ar-
illiterate, have left concrete embodiments pyramid make for the possibility of chaeology and other disciplines. Eth-
not only of their material equipment, but denser populations in agricultural com- nologists can best help archaeologists
also of their social institutions, superstitions, munities than in those based on hunt- who deal with the kind of societies
and behavior, fragmentary and ambiguous ing. It is also obvious that bilateral traditionally studied by ethnologists,
though these undoubtedly be. kinship systems are more functional innamely those with primitive and folk
Chang quotes Willey on the import- small hunting societies, in which culture. For archaeologists dealing
ance of ecology but he himself transfer of property and status are with very early culture (unlike any-
neglects to deal with the ecological more important. The implications in thing extant) or with civilization,
aspect, which is of basic importance terms of authority, political organiza- however, other disciplines have as
to the relationship between archae- tion, etc., are also rather evident. much to offer as ethnology. Palaeo-
ology and ethnology. Indeed, it is the lithic archaeology, for example, has a
common ground of the two, not least close relationship with geology and
for its definition of, and insight into, by SHIRLEY GORENSTEIN* geography because they provide
social groupings and their organiza- chronological data and because of the
New York, N.Y., U.S.A. 20 VII 66
tion. Chang does say, I admit critical importance of the environment
While it is useful to discuss from a in the development and life of early
Instead of reviewing each of these areas theoretical point of view, the several man. High-culture archaeologists turn
[listed by Willey] and indicating what has aspects of the interrelationship of ar- to the work of historians and political
been achieved and what has not, I would chaeology and ethnology, in practice scientists because they must interpret
like to take an over-all view of the method-
a close reciprocal relationship does not written records and describe complex
ological problem with reference to socio-
cultural reconstruction as a whole. in fact exist. There has been very little political systems. As archaeologists we
working together on common prob- are interested in understanding the
But if one is to recover entire settle- lems and even less of one discipline's culture of the past. From this point of
ments of past populations, as Wolf undertaking to solve the problems of view the work of ethnologists is of
(quoted by Chang) suggests, one must the other. What we have instead is an interest to us all; but some of us can
attempt "to grasp the archaeological occasional and tangential meeting. learn as much or more from the
equivalent of the ecologist's group and In general, the theoretical constructs natural sciences or from the more
the social anthropologists' organiza- in ethnology which archaeologists humanistic disciplines.
tion-bearing unit." This is so im- draw upon are formulated by ethnol-
portant, both theoretically and method- ogists without any reference to ar-
ologically, that it should not be chaeological theory or substance. by KARL J. NARR*
ignored, the less so as ecological view- Chang, having quite rightly pointed
points often extremely naive have Miinster, Germany. 20 VII 66
out that recognition of the character
nearly always been at the bottom of of cognitive systems may help the ar- The interrelationship of archaeology
culture-historical archaeological re- chaeologist in developing a theory of and ethnology, especially the prob-
search. typology, wonders why archaeologists lems of analogy and cooperation in
The interconnectedness between ar- and ethnologists have not worked reconstructing sociocultural systems
chaeology and ecology is implied in together on this aspect of categoriza-and historical units and processes, has
the premise that Man always has had been thoroughly discussed by many an-
tion. Perhaps it is because ethnologists
to live in ordered societies organized are not particularly interested in thropologists of the Old World. K. C.
in such a way that he was able to typology. Typology is a matter of Chang seems to regard these questions
utilize certain culturally selected concern to those who deal with as almost entirely an American affair.
niches of the resources present. This tangible material whose attributesCURRENTcan ANTHROPOLOGY iS a "world
necessarily must influence both theory be measured or specifically described. journal." If Chang's aim was to give
and methodology of any reconstruc- Studies involving such material (for scholars of other parts of the world
tion of sociocultural systems. "Two example, technology or settlement an example of a specific American
threads in such a study must be inter- patterns) have been infrequent in con-approach to the problems in question,
woven-the historical and the func- temporary ethnology (though very the article should have been presented

238 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY

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accordingly. As it stands, however, Chang: INTERRELATIONSHIP OF ARCHAEOLOGY

it seems to me merely one more


example of the deplorable tendencyingof that will allow him to reconstruct in overspecialization in university
many American anthropologists to some fragments of the non-material departments of anthropology (a rather
be contented with the works and culture. In the final analysis, every serious problem in Canada), which
thoughts of their own circle. interpretation in archaeology is con- may nearly or totally exclude either
structed, more or less, by use of eth- ethnology, or more frequently, archae-
by CARROLL L. RILEY* nological (or historical) analogy. ology.

Carbondale, I11., U.S.A. 25 VII 66


by PHILIP E. L. SMITH* by JULIAN H. STEWARD*
Chang begins his interesting and
provocative article by posing two Montreal, Canada. 25 VII 66 Urbana, Ill., U.S.A. 15 VII 66
questions that seem to me to warrant A great deal of what Chang discusses Chang's four foci of mutual interest
consideration. The first of these is and proposes falls within the area of to archaeology and ethnology-ty-
whether it is "possible and fruitful to general agreement; at least, I think pology, analogy, sociocultural systems,
reconstruct culture [italics mine] and that few anthropological archaeologists and processes-are real and important,
history by classifying artifacts without on this side of the North Atlantic will but I cannot overemphasize my
recognizing... cultural behavior?" It disagree with his central theme that conviction that the kind of research
is, of course, possible to classify archaeologists have something to learn now done in these areas has resulted
artifacts by form only, but since cul- from ethnologists and vice versa. The from fundamental changes in the prob-
ture is at least in part a vast bundle specializations he mentions in his first lem orientation of cultural studies in
of behavior, I fail to see how culture few paragraphs and the decline of the general.
itself could be reconstructed by such "general anthropologist" in North Only 30 years ago, archaeology
means. The second question is whether America are, of course, phenomena retained the natural-history and hu-
there is a meaningful correlation be- which occurred in Euro pe a good manistic orientation developed during
tween archaeological artifacts and the many years ago, early in this century. its many years as a museum discipline.
behavioral and cognitive systems of Some famous journals which had Taxonomy was constructed for its own
their makers. If I understand this their roots in the more unspecialized sake, and in many monographs the
question rightly, it is both central to era (e.g., L'Anthropologie, Journal of major categories were based on mate-
the issue and irrelevant; for if the the Royal Anthropological Institute, rials-"objects of stone," "of wood,"
answer is "no" archaeology becomes Zeitschrift jfir Ethnologie) have etc.-with the presumed use and the
impossible, and archaeologists turn continued to attempt to cover all the style of the objects secondary.
into mere art collectors. subfields, although (as is increasingly Materials thus classified were arrang
Only if archaeology is the "eth- the case in North America) the in- in time sequences and distributions.
nology of the past" and only if humandividual contributions are virtually Ethnology had developed its own
behavior, including the production ofall written by specialists. This ap- culture area taxonomy (which was
artifacts, is essentially patterned and parent separatism, whatever its dis- later applied with some difficulties to
repetitive regardless of time and advantages, was inevitable considering prehistory), and its major objective
space does archaeology have value, at the spurt in growth and the adoption was descriptive rather than ex-
least in any kind of anthropological of new methodologies (as well as the planatory analysis and it ascribed
context. Chang does, in fact, seem to abandonment of some old ones) in little importance to history and
assume that there are meaningful both subfields in the first few decades process.
regularities in human behavior, and of this century. However, there have A fundamentally new problem
the body of his paper provides recently been some signs of renewed orientation was begun during the
an excellent statement of some of interest in a more active relationship 1930's, but it did not achieve full
the pitfalls and complexities of ar- between archaeology and ethnology in impact until after World War II and
chaeological interpretation. some countries (e.g., in the work of has only in the past decade paid off
Chang points out some shortcomings such individuals as Leroi-Gourhan in in a substantial number of publications.
of the classic ethnological approach France and J. D. Clark in Britain, not The new goal of achieving causal
and suggests that perhaps we should to mention that of various Soviet and explanations of culturual similarities
have a group of ethnoarchaeologists African workers who have never re- and differences and it has permeated
who know what kind of ethnological linquised some forms of this ap- both archaeology and ethnology. It
information is most applicable to ar- proach; there are also some cases of has necessarily introduced an interest
chaeology. I agree that this is needed increased cooperation between certain in processes of change and in the
but suggest that what both fields need university departments of prehistory factors that initiated these processes.
even more is a flourishing branch and ethnology). I am optimistic that a This has led to comparisons of socio-
which we might call archaeoethnology similar sense of enlightened self- cultural systems wherein similarities
and which would approach archaeol- interest will prevent the trend toward as well as differences are accorded im-
ogy with a firm grounding in eth- specialization in the New World from portance. It has also entailed extra-
nological research. Operating to some reaching an extreme. ordinarily difficult problems of social
degree in both fields, I am constantly Individuals will, and probably taxonomy, especially since different
disturbed, not only by the scant atten- must, specialize, but as long as they forms may serve similar purposes and
tion paid by archaeologists to eth- continue to operate within some kind vice versa.
nological theory and method, but evenof system in which they and their The search for causal factors and
more by the general indifference of ideas are constantly interacting ar- processes that produced the great
practitioners of one field toward the chaeologists and ethnologists will variety of sociocultural systems has
other. This is bad for the ethnologist, continue to give some thought to required new concepts that give
for he becomes stranded in that never- their common aims, problems, and relevance to phenomena previously
never-land of the ethnological present.methods. To paraphrase Nicholas ignored by both archaeology and eth-
For the archaeologist, it can be fatal, Murray Butler's remark that he was nology. The concept of cultural
because, working with the artifactual not worried about unbalanced books ecology is now generally accepted as a
bones of human culture, he is ignorant as long as there were balanced conceptualization of adaptive reactions
of the complex and significant pattern- libraries, I see more cause for concern of a society to its natural and social

Vol. 8 . No. 3 . June 1967 239

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environment that create internal and techniques must, of course, methodology-a task for imaginative
processes of change. Recent detailed distinguish archaeology and ethnology, scientists. Until the basic problems
analysis of microvariations in en- and individuals may continue to be that link archaeology and ethnology
vironmental niches is disclosing local interested in archaeological materials become clarified, there is litlle place
and seasonal sociocultural variations for their own sake, in the uniqueness for stereotyped procedures that can be
within societies-bands or tribes of each ethnology, or in any of the applied by any technician.
which according to the older taxon- innumerable specializations into which The new problem orientation, how-
omy-based implements and elements cultural studies are splintering. The ever, is increasingly evident in sub-
lists, had nearly identical cultural interest in explanatory or causal stantive applications. The recent
inventories. The ecological approach formulations, however, affords a Ottawa Conference on Bands and the
while not the explanation, has given common ground for archaeology and Chicago Symposium on Hunters have
relevance to aspects of the natural ethnology, and if its effects have not utilized the concept of ecology along
environment, technologies, and social yet culminated perhaps it is simply with cultural-historical factors to
systems that were wholly lacking in too recent. Of Chang's 52 references, place analysis of prehistoric and
the so-called ideal ethnologies written all but 7 were published after 1950. historic food hunters and collectors in
before 1930. Employed by archae- Only 30 years ago, the intellectual fundamentally new perspectives. The
ology, it is throwing new light on climate was strongly antagonistic to interest in process and changing struc-
early hunters and food collectors and speculation about causes and to essays tures has led to research on the
creating new understandings of the in cultural ecology. My comparative origins of the primary state structures
processes involved in developments study of hunting bands (Steward 1936) and this has required attention to
following the agricultural revolution. was ignored for two decades, and my ecological changes that accompanied
Another concept that has develop- ecological study of the relationship of the agricultural revolution as well as
ed from the recent orientation is that prehistoric settlement patterns to to the changing functional roles of
of levels of sociocultural organiza- Western Pueblo social organization theocratic, militaristic, commercial,
tion which are created by new (Steward 1937) was refused by the and other institutions. A particularly
processes in the course of change. American Anthropologist. impressive product of the new prob-
This, together with the many Today, detailed comparative studies lem orientation is Robert Adams'
varieties of cultural-ecological adapta-that use concepts of ecology, social (1966) analysis of evolutionary pro-
tions, negates the early evolutionary structure, and processes as tools for cesses in Mexico and Mesopotamia
assumption that universal principles causal analysis are constantly inter- from the early farm communities to
can explain culture change in all relating the data of archaeology and tne stratified states. Both areas in-
periods and places. If substantive ex- ethnology. They are also requiring volved ethnology, as inferred from
planations of particular cultures are drastic modifications of earlier hy- early documents, and plain dirt archae-
to be achieved, a thoroughly empirical potheses. It should be stressed, how- ology, and the analysis includes pheno-
approach is required. ever, that the new approach still mena that would have been ignored
Certain differences in field methods consists of the exploration of a new two decades ago.

in words is not matched by my ef- cognitive significance. Here there is no


Reply fectiveness in their use. What I meant disagreement, for I also would reject
was simply this: Cognitive systems in- stability as the sole criterion for
by K. C. CHANG clude systems of units, and when the cognitive significance. I cannot find
units in question involve physical ob- the word stability in my paper. What
I shall confine my brief remarks to the jects (such as archaeological artifacts) I have said is
few apparent disagreements between they are units of physical variations.
The culturally determined part of Information on the hierarchical and
my views and those of George Cow-
contrastive meaningfulness of the variations
gill and Lewis Binford on some of the a cognitive system like this has
... can be recognized in a context of change,
archaeological issues discussed in my primarily to do with the level of i.e., in the context of history.... Therefore,
paper. Comments by the other scholars categorization and hierarchy of the cognitively significant attributes stand out
in the main supplement and comple- physical variations but not at all to in a patterned manner in the archaeolog-
ment my paper and have helped fill do with the level of the physical ical record in the long run.
many of its gaps. I am particularly properties of the variations themselves.
appreciative of Alois Closs's list of If there are 100 and only 100 grades The key phrase here is "in a pattern-
works by continental scholars on the of red color, Culture A may call 1-50 ed manner," which includes stability
archaeology-ethnology interrelation- pink and 51-100 purple, and Culture but cannot be equated with it.
ship, for it is an example of the inter- B may call them all red, but both of Cowgill emphasizes that the "work-
national exchange of information for these cultures necessarily mean the ability" of archaeological classifica-
which CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY is a same 100 color gradations. This being tions is ambiguous and can be con-
forum. I am therefore puzzled by so, any mathematical ordering of these troversial. This essentially underlines
Karl Narr's criticism that my paper 100 grades of color would include my own statement that "the work-
does not have world-wide coverage. both of the cognitively significant ability is always relative and subject
Since this involves the nature of classifications. to proof and the subjective elements
review articles in this journal, I should The problem that follows, one can only be minimized by the con-
like to pass on to the Editor the onus that Cowgill has raised, is how the tinuous widening of the sphere of
of making any reply. For my part, I cognitively significant classifications consideration."
wish merely to underline what I have could be recognized in archaeological Cowgill thinks that "a useful way
said in the third paragraph of the practice. He says I have proposed to approach archaeological classifica-
paper. "that cognitively significant attributestion is to look for methods which will
Cowgill "cannot see that the 'there- will be the ones that are relatively require the weakest possible a priori
fore, in theory, .. .' is a logical con- stable 'in the long run' over space assumptions about what may be im-
sequence of what precedes it." I am and time," and he definitely rejects portant in the data." The reason for
afraid that my penchant for economy stability as a trustworthy criterion forthis seems to be that "classification is

240 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY

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in the first instance a body of opera- Chang: INTERRELATIONSHIP OF ARCHAEOLOGY

tions relevant to data storage and


retrieval, and, while it is never in- involved, but I may on occasion have of explanation, archaeology-ethnology
dependent of synthesis and interpreta- let expediency and enthusiasm gain interplay is also highly significant, and
tion, it ought not to be confused withthe upper hand over basic convictions I briefly touched upon it under the
them." But he has stated previously in principle. If so, I appreciate having heading "Process and the Compara-
that "archaeologists have often had it pointed out. tive Method." As Julian Steward has
very limited objectives in their inter- For instance, on archaeological ty- pointed out, this aspect was not given
pretations of data, and classifications pology and the ethnological study of the attention it deserves, and I am
which have served them well may cognitive systems, I have, for the thankful for both his and' Binford's
be very unsatisfactory for other purpose of the paper, stressed their comments on it. I must say, however,
purposes." With this I agree complete- close interrelationship, but I have that the "mere reconstruction of the
ly. But unless one makes some-per- been careful-though apparently not past," which Binford holds to be my
haps a large number and several careful enough-not to make any rigid view of the "ultimate aims of ar-
bundles of-tentative a priori assump- equations. I said "archaeologists chaeology," is not exactly a point of
tions about "what may be important classify in order to reveal relevant view that I care to be associated with,
in the data," how can one proceed information about the life and historyalthough my view on this is not neces-
with one set of classifications as against of ancient peoples," not "in order to sarily relevant in the present context.
another set? Here I am not sure that reveal the life and history of ancient Archaeology has many aims, and for
we are in any disagreement; he talks peoples." I said "a classification that each there is an area or areas of ar-
about "weak" assumptions, whereas I agrees with the cognitive systems of chaeology-ethnology interplay. That
call them "tentative" ones. Classifica- the makers of the artifacts would, for is all that is relevant. The "ultimate"
tion is basically a tool to fulfil certain a variety of purposes, invariably work aims of archaeology, on the other
objectives in archaeological studies. better than one that does not," instead hand, vary from one archaeologist to
The tool itself is mechanical, precise, of "classifications must always for all another.
and devoid of distortions; distortion purposes agree with the cognitive Much of Binford's argument about
results from improper matching of systems of the makers of the artifacts." analogy and the role of ethnological
particular classification systems and I said "all classifications in archae- data in archaeological investigations
particular objectives. To make a ology that are workable in the realm has presumably been presented in full
priori assumptions-either weak or of cultural and historical interpreta- by Binford and others in the as yet
strong -does not mean that the tion are cognitively meaningful," unpublished works that he cites. These
classification results must be forced ratherto than "all meaningful ar- have not been made available to me,
fit them. If they do not fit, perhaps chaeological classifications must be and I can have no learned basis for
the assumptions were wrong, or per- cognitively significant." Perhaps these deliberation. To Binford's question,
haps the wrong set of classifications distinctions were too fine to be
noticed, but it should be clear that my What new information could possibly be
was adopted.
gained about variations in the activity
Apparently more serious disagree- intent in these passages was to em-
systems of the past by simply fitting ar-
ments seem to obtain between Binford phasize that "archaeologists and eth- chaeological remains into types which are
and myself over the following issues: nologists have a common area of considered in terms of our preconceptions
(1) the relation between archaeological interest in the study of, and approach of what those activities were?
classifications (fulfilling a variety of to, cognitive systems." I had no inten-
objectives) and "relativistic" cognitive tion whatever of proposing or re- -a question that is said to arise
systems; (2) the aims of archaeology- iterating any normative theory of ar- because of my alleged suggestion that
analytic-comparative vs. descriptive; chaeological types. Binford may have "we might classify our materials ac-
(3) a distinction between analogy and noticed that the only reference to cording to an activity paradigm as
"logico-deductive generalization;" and "mode" was in a quotation from provided by Murdock's Outline of
(4) the extent of archaeological in- Rouse (1960), and the quotation was Cultural Materials"-I can only reply
dependence from ethnography. used because it was relevant in that by repeating what I said in the paper:
These include some of the most im- context. Rouse, it must be noted,
While such works as Notes and Queries
portant issues in archaeological theory, discusses mode there in connection and Outline of Culture Materials, which
and I cannot agree more with Binford with what he calls analytic types, and purport to provide a universal categoriza-
that "discussion of our basic ideas is he has a separate concept of descrip- tion of culture materials for ethnographers,
essential to progress." I feel, however, tive types for other archaeological ob- are indispensable to archaeologists for
jectives; he, too, must not be accused designing such activity systems, these
that this is not the proper place for
of advancing there a solely normative designs must primarily be determined by
their detailed discussion. My views on
the nature and preservation of their material
these issues-from which Binford's interpretation of archaeological types.
in the field.
own position as stated in his comments(Incidentally, I am not at all sure that
sometimes, though not always, differs "mode," "norm," and "cognitive I regret that this reply has not contri-
-have been presented in some detail significance" are identical concepts, as buted anything new to my paper, but
in a yet unpublished paper, "Toward Binford states, but this is beside the has used much space to repeat and ex-
a Science of Prehistoric Society," that point.) plicate (and explain) my positions as
I read at a conference in 1962 of the Similarly, in the paper I stressed the stated earlier. Some of what I said
American Association for the Ad- use of archaeology in the reconstruc- was perhaps not clear; too much may
vancement of Science and in Rethink- tion of the past because I am have been taken for granted. Ap-
ing Archaeology (1967). The paper at convinced it is in fulfilling this ob- parently the basic concepts in ar-
hand discusses not the basic issues of jective above all that archaeology must chaeology are still so controversial that
archaeology but the major aspects of draw insight and specific knowledge one cannot be too precise in making
archaeology-ethnology interrelation- from ethnology. I was not discussing statements that might be misinterpreted
ship, and, therefore, it stresses the the aims of archaeology. I agree with by others holding different theoretical
mutual dependence of the disciplines. Binford that both "explication and ex- positions. I am grateful to both Cow-
I tried not to overstate my case planation of cultural differences and gill and Binford for raising these prob-
wherever basic "propositions on which similarities" are among the principal lems so that my own position might,
[my] discussion is predicated" were archaeological aims. In the matter it is hoped, be clarified.

Vol. 8 . No. 3 . June 1967 241

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neolithic social grouping: Examples from nischen Deutung in der Friihgeschichte,"
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Vol. 8 . No. 3 . June 1967 243

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