Re: diseases and immunity

Mary Beth Williams (
28 Jun 1996 21:19:18 GMT

In <> writes:
>These designations do not even fit very well outside of the Near East
>where they were originally applied. However, for the purpose of
>comparative technologies, aren't the identifying markers for the
>various periods of Near Eastern development used?

In Americanist archaeology, the answer is simply *no, they're not

>For any cross cultural comparison, there need to be some standard of

What is the value of *cross cultural comparison*?

>Although, it is important to remember (1) that generalizations are
>often misleading, and (2) the technology of a given group might
>contain elements crossing the boundries of Near Eastern designations.

Well, I don't think there is much concern in Americanist archaeology in
the latter, unless, of course, you're of the school of thought that
Egyptians built the Mayan pyramids ;-)

>Also, the designations apply to technology alone.

This is why Americanists have rejected such designations. Although
designations like Woodland and Mississippian are confining as well,
they deal with social, economic and political characteristics.

>They could not even be applied
>to Near Eastern cultures, much less others. Culture and technology are
>interrelated, but neither depends completely on the other.
>As for 'ranking', this itself is the worst use of anthropology.
>Comparisons often come in handy, but on what basis do you rank? To
>rank according to ones own culture is the ultimate vanity.

See, as an *Other*, I have a difficult time believing that cultural
comparison can lead to anything _but_ ranking (history is a wonderful
instructor.) Anthropology, and its associated *power*, is still in the
hands of Europeans, and as we know, *absolute power corrupts

(Just my thought for the day ;-D)

MB Williams
Dept. of Anthro., UMass-Amherst