This article focuses on ancestor cults and archaeology. The term ‘ancestor worship’, and to a lesser extent ‘ancestor cults’ carry a lot of baggage linked with evolutionary approaches to religion. In such evolutionary schema ancestor worship was seen as developing from animism and Spencer (1876), for instance, argued that at the root of every religion was ancestor worship. This epistemological background means that ‘ancestor worship’ and ‘ancestor cults’ can become meaningless empty categories ill-advisedly applied to archaeological contexts if caution is not exercised.
This article focuses on the study of ancient Greek religion. It begins with a brief discussion of the need to integrate the archaeological evidence better into historically oriented scholarship on ancient Greek religion. It then considers the types of evidence and the emergence of a genuine discourse between classical archaeology and historically oriented scholarship on ancient Greek religion. There are now a variety of promising areas of current debate which pursue the study of ancient Greek religion and ritual as a truly interdisciplinary effort, grounded in both the literary and the material evidence. As a result, classical scholarship has come to realize that the archaeology of the sacred is, in many ways, central to our understanding of ancient Greek religious beliefs and practices.
The utility of the terms animism and totemism is questionable, and various anthropological observers have commented upon their problematical status and that of related terms such as ‘ancestor worship’ and ‘shamanism’. Their linkage with early evolutionary approaches to religion is undeniable. E. B. Tylor (1929) and Emile Durkheim (1915), respectively, proposed that animism and totemism were the primal forms of religion. Their thinking reflected the obsessive search for origins and the impact of evolutionary theory that was current in scholarship at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. This article focuses on the utilization and applicability of animism and totemism within archaeological contexts.
A. Zarankin and Melisa A. Salerno
Antarctica was the last continent to be known. Human encounters with the region acquired different characteristics over time. Within the framework of dominant narratives, the early ‘exploitation’ of the territory was given less attention than late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century ‘exploration’. Nineteenth-century exploitation was especially associated with sealing on the South Shetland Islands. Dominant narratives on the period refer to the captains of sealing vessels, the discovery of geographical features, the volume of resources obtained. However, they do not consider the life of the ordinary sealers who lived and worked on the islands. This chapter aims to show the power of archaeology to shed light on these ‘invisible people’ and their forgotten stories. It holds that archaeology offers a possibility for reimagining the past of Antarctica, calling for a revision of traditional narratives.
The Anthropology of Archaeology: The Benefits of Public Intervention at African-American Archaeological Sites
Cheryl Janifer LaRoche
Archaeology occupies an important place in historicizing the African American experience – principally where little historical evidence survives. The nature of African American archaeology is such that archaeologists are continually challenged by the unexpected and hampered by the unknown. These are the qualities of the field that alternately inflame and inspire the public. This article examines the constructive outcomes, lasting societal benefits, and enduring commemorative legacies that arise when individuals act collectively to define historical value and meaning through archaeology. Public intervention-shaped research and eventual outcomes at the four sites are discussed, namely: The President's House in Philadelphia; the Henrietta Marie; the Freedmen's Cemetery in Alexandria, VA; and New York City's African Burial Ground. For each site, the public has played a major role in reclamation, scholarly and public interpretation, and, finally, monumental recognition.
Applied Archaeology in the Americas: Evaluating Archaeological Solutions to the Impacts of Global Environmental Change
Jago Cooper and Lindsay Duncan
This chapter considers the role of archaeology in creating solutions for coping with the impacts of global environmental change, illustrated by cases from Latin America. Past examples of the practical application of pre-Columbian innovations and techniques are considered, and the key themes of social practice and community engagement discussed. These principles are then applied to the islands of the Caribbean where archaeology can play an important role in accessing and illuminating pre-Columbian lifeways in the region. The comparative resilience of past and present lifeways to the hazards created by extreme weather events, precipitation variability, and sea level changes are discussed, and the role of archaeology as a means of engaging the public, stimulating discussion, and informing debate is considered.
Applied Perspectives on Pre-Columbian Maya Water Management Systems: What are the Insights for Water Security?
Christian Isendahl, Vernon L. Scarborough, Joel D. Gunn, Nicholas P. Dunning, Scott L. Fedick, Gyles Iannone, and Lisa J. Lucero
Water security is a fundamental global challenge for humanity. Suggesting that scholars, water management engineers, and policy-makers draw from a wide range of examples, this chapter argues that knowledge gained from archaeological research provides unique insights into the long-term function and efficacy of water management systems. This chapter presents six cases of water management systems in the pre-Columbian Maya lowlands, from the Yalahau, Puuc-Nohkakab, Petén Karst Plateau, and Belize River Valley subregions, that demonstrate significant variation; a product of the interplay between social, political, and economic factors and hydrological regimes. The analysis suggests four insights relevant for current water security concerns: (1) water management systems are characterized by a diversity of solutions, (2) water scarcity promotes increased management investments that result in long-term vulnerability, (3) water abundance does not require complex management systems but increases the risk for mismanagement, and (4) institutional and technological diversity provide flexibility and greater security.
Stephen W. Silliman
This article aims to outline themes of research in Native northern California, specifically under Spanish/Mexican and Russian control, in order to highlight key issues in North American archaeology that manifest uniquely and informatively on the West Coast. It restricts this discussion to northern California since this region has produced to date some of the most detailed and theoretically rich insights into Native American histories and cultures in colonial California. A fundamental issue in the archaeology of Native Americans during colonial periods is the question of change and continuity. The answers frequently rely on dichotomous categories of colonizer and colonized, or European and Native American, and rarely delve into the intersection of material culture, space, social memory, and labor to answer these difficult questions.
This article demonstrates that the archaeologies of the senses do not simply offer some colourful detail of past life; they do not fill the gaps in a picture already drawn by other archaeological approaches — a picture of social organization, states, organized religions, technology, trade, subsistence, and ritual symbolism. The archaeologies of the senses in fact can succeed where abstract, top-down, functionalist, symbolist, textualist, and cognitivist approaches have failed. For example, we cannot fully understand the great iconoclastic dispute in eighth- to ninth-century
The French colony of Acadia, located in what is now the Maritime Provinces of Canada and part of the State of Maine, has long attracted the attention of writers and scholars. Immigrating to the region in the early seventeenth century, the Acadian colonists established a viable agricultural economy without alienating the region’s indigenous peoples. Despite these achievements, imperial politics brought war to the region in the mid-eighteenth century, and saw most of the French inhabitants removed by force. Historical archaeology is helping to recover details of this early Canadian immigrant experience, but the task is complicated by a scholarly tradition dominated by romanticism and myth. This chapter surveys the development of historical archaeology in reference to the Acadians in Nova Scotia, noting how archaeology has helped reframe understandings of this colonial experience, and suggesting ways to carry the project further.