Re: Anthro/Archaeology Depts combined

Thomas Kavanagh (
10 Nov 1995 14:43:58 GMT (Benjamin H. Diebold) wrote:
>Thomas Kavanagh ( wrote:
>: wrote:
>: None, if, as Binford said, archy is anthro.
>Binford actually quoted someone else saying this. (I forget
>who, but I can dig it up. Deetz?) The concept certainly predates Binford.

Oh, most certainly the *concept* predates Binford, but uncle lew was its
the most prominent advocate in the 1960s. If Deetz vocalized the concept,
it was not near so stridently as did the Binfords.

Of course, and this was my major point in my earlier response, it can
also be argued that even though the archeaologists claimed to be doing
anthropology, very little of ethnological theory was ever applied to
archaeology. Granted, there were the efforts--such as Hill and Longacre
in the southwest and Deetz with the Arikara--to see social organization
in pot sherd distribution/decoration, they had only limited success. More
common are the efforts which mechanistically apply ethno theory to
archaeological data, but with little evidence understanding of the
problems inherent in those theories to begin with.

For instance, the Sahlins/Service typology of band-tribe-chiefdom-state
is often used as a framework for analysis, but it is seldom recognized
that that typology is a complex and multi-dimensional scale. That is,
with each step in that typology a new dimension of measurement is added;
but the distinguishing dimensions of previous steps remain. That is,
tribes are distinguished from bands by the presence of linking
sodalities. And sodalities remain in operation even in states. Chiefdoms
are marked by redistribution, but that can range from the disorganized
redistribution of Big Men, through the uncentralized redistribution of a
Hopi village's katsina dance, to the centralized and sanctified
redistribution of a feudal "affinity" (a *very* good book on feudalism is
a recent economic history study of Richard III; I can't remember the
author though). Moreover, the typology is as much a typology of
"specific" evolution as of general evolution (that "tribes" can as easily
dis/ re-organize into bands, that big-men organizations can collapse with
death and retirement, and that chiefdoms can be broken apart by internal

The recent efforts by the so-called "post-processual" archaeologists are
a step in the right direction--that is back to ethnologically informed
archaeology.Now, if only they weren't quite so pompous about claiming to
be original.

[[Skeptical Graduate Student: Did you know Binford personnally?
Real Mesoamerican Archeaologist: Yes, I was with him when he fed the 5000
undergraduates with a loaf of bread and a newspaper full of fish.

--K Flannery, Early Mesoamerican Village.]]