This article reviews the history of Métis archaeological research in Canada. The Métis of Canada arose as a distinct Indigenous identity in the postcontact period and provide an interesting archaeological case study to explore how and why new cultures emerge. Previous research attempted to correlate patterns in material culture with Métis identity, particularly in terms of economy, use of space, and certain artifact types. New research has the potential to take a more nuanced approach to the process of identification among the Métis, to contribute to a broad understanding of ethnogenesis, and to do research that is relevant to the contemporary Métis community, as well as the discipline of historical archaeology.
Elizabeth M. Brumfiel and Cynthia Robin
This article discusses notions of class and ethnicity in ancient Mesoamerica. Class differences in Mesoamerica were papered over by the inclusion of individuals of varying social statuses within corporate groups that constituted the basic building blocks of native society. Lockhart (1992) describes these groups as “a series of relatively equal, relatively separate and self-contained constituent parts of the whole.” Subgroups included both the noble houses (teccalli) and commoner groups ( calpulli , or tlaxilacalli ). Ethnicity was another form of identity that cross-cut class lines. It can be defined as social identity based upon the presumption of shared history and common cultural inheritance.
Carmen A. Laguer Díaz
This article examines nation building and its perpetuation through social memory and social identity theory to understand how it affects, and is affected by, the politics surrounding archaeology. It is divided into five sections. The first, memories of a frontierless political community, describes how social memory helps maintain national unity in a region that has been greatly influenced by waves of migrations for centuries. The second, the (re)creation of identities, delves into issues of social identity theory and how it depends on social memory to develop a sense of self. The third, the politics of archaeology, deals with the ethics and political issues that permeate archaeological research. The fourth, racial schizophrenia and identity crises, focuses on the case of Puerto Rico. The last section, from Puerto Rico to the Caribbean, concludes the article.
If the authorship of rock art by particular groups is assumed, the very object under study can unwittingly be falsely attributed. Our interpretations have largely failed to incorporate evidence, in the colonial era and before, for the integration, mixing, and métissage of new peoples from two or more previously different ethnic groups. The results are equally assumed—namely: that one essential group impacted on the other, and the consequent imagery is a record of this secular narrative. Contrary to these simplistic reflections, creolization emphasizes cultural resilience, subversive agency, and a theoretical usefulness that enables better understandings of the rock art of people on the far side of colonial frontiers and texts.
Stefan Burmeister and Michael Gebühr
This chapter looks at the demography of European populations from the pre-Roman Iron Age to the Migration period, with a focus on central, northern, and north-western Europe. As well as cemetery data, it draws on contemporary textual and epigraphic sources, along with simulations. Given the diversity of societies in this large area and time span, regional variations are only to be expected. Palaeodemographic procedures and models are outlined, as well as the inherent problems of reconstructing prehistoric population profiles and densities. Age at death provides the starting point for reconstructing demographic composition, the life cycles of individuals generating mortality curves, which form the basis for calculating the age composition of the living community (expressed as a life pyramid). Divergences from the standard mortality curve or expected life pyramid, and variations between regions, require explanation, in terms of archaeological or cultural phenomena, migration being an obvious example.
The chapter discusses the contributions of ethnographic research to study of ceramic manufacturing practices in past societies. Ethnoarchaeology and material culture studies are identified as the two main approaches that have been used to frame research in modern pottery making communities; the former explicitly asking archaeologically relevant questions with a tendency toward positivist theoretical stances, the latter asking how ceramics are constituted in social relations using humanistic and symbolic theoretical frameworks. The discussion focuses on how research using these approaches and various theoretical frameworks have identified constraints upon manufacturing processes, how these are manifest during different stages of production, and how these have been synthesized to explain variation in manufacturing practices and finished products.
From Ethnohistory to Ethnogenesis: A Historiography of Hunter-Gatherer Cultural Anthropology in California and the Great Basin
Comparing the hunter-gatherers of California and the Great Basin illustrates enormous differences between the two regions in terms of indigenous society and the types of issues anthropologists have traditionally addressed. Nonetheless, the anthropological study of these neighbouring regions shares common roots. This article details a historiography of anthropological research of these two vast areas, focusing on the transition from early ethnohistorical sources to the current focus on issues of ethnogenesis. Understandings of the hunter-gatherers of the American Far West have gone hand-in-hand with the changing relationships between Europeans/Americans and native groups. This includes work by the Bureau of American Ethnology, the important work by Kroeberian anthropologists, and the post-Kroeberian period of collating and interpreting the ethnographic and ethnohistoric records. This article highlights recent critiques of previous anthropological work such as revisionists’ views of early twentieth-century memory anthropology, Steward’s view of Great Basin organization, the Ghost Dance movement, and neo-tribalism.
Robert Jarvenpa and Hetty Jo Brumbach
Genetic and archaeological evidence indicates that South Asia was one of the world's most densely populated geographic regions in the Late Pleistocene. Genetic coalescence ages point to the colonization of the region by Homo sapiens between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago, corresponding with the Middle Palaeolithic stone tool industry. Middle Palaeolithic occupations occur prior to the Toba volcanic super-eruption of 74,000 years ago, suggesting Homo sapiens may have reached South Asia earlier. Populations emerging from Africa may have used coasts and transcontinental routes to disperse across the Indian Ocean rim. Indigenous South Asian hunter-gatherers survived the Toba super-eruption, and adapted to environmental changes across the Late Pleistocene. About 35,000-30,000 years ago, new cultural innovations appear that correspond with environmental deterioration, habitat fragmentation, and demographic increase. Lifestyles of foraging populations became increasingly heterogeneous during the Holocene. During the Middle and Late Holocene, foraging populations coexisted alongside complex urbanized state-level societies
This article discusses identity in Roman Egypt, covering collective identities, state identity, social classes and legal categories, shifts in collective identity, gender, ethnicity and cultural-religious identity, and names as identifiers of kinship bonds and of other collectivities. Identity is about one's place in society. As under the Ptolemies, descent was crucial to belonging to an elite group, and upward mobility was possible. Through wealth, civic donations, and networking, members of the elite were candidates for social promotion. But compared with Ptolemaic times, there was a downturn for the ordinary Egyptian man, woman, and their children, whose path towards the elite groups was limited in many respects. Compartmentalization gained the upper hand. After the Constitutio Antoniniana, wealth replaced descent as the crucial criterion to belonging to the elite.
Head shaping was a common practice in the areas around the Black Sea in the first centuries ad. From there it spread into central and western Europe. By the fifth and sixth centuries ad it was widespread in Hungary and Austria, and occurred in rare cases as far west as France. Cranial modification is achieved by binding the head during early childhood when the bones of the skull are still incompletely mineralized and unfused. Ethnographic parallels show that head shaping was an aspect of childcare that required high levels of knowledge and involvement by those caring for children. It was frequently thought to provide benefits for the health, beauty, or intellect of the child. Skull modification suggests that concepts of the body varied among different early medieval populations, some of which considered the body as imperfect at birth and in need of improvement through social intervention.