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Archaeological Interpretations of Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways in the Past: Questioning Traditional Assumptions

Dr. John D. Speth, Emeritus Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan
Thursday, November 8, 2018
12:00-1:00 PM
Room 1315 School of Education Map
In the 1970s and 1980s, under the banner of “processual archaeology,” new ideas such as logistically organized hunting strategies, embedded toolstone procurement as indicator of annual foraging range, biface technology as response to transport constraints, and many others provided innovative ways to think about the archaeological record. These were small yet bold steps away from the field’s traditional obsession with description, typology, and chronology toward a more anthropologically grounded endeavor. But over the intervening years many of these ideas have become fossilized, transformed from interesting hypotheses to unquestioned “givens.” What has genuinely continued to advance over this period is our understanding of chronology, paleoclimate, and many technical matters. But our understanding of past hunter-gatherers as real peoples with real cultures—the anthropological part of the endeavor—has progressed much more slowly, in part because we remain wedded to a host of underlying assumptions, some flawed, others very likely wrong. In this brown bag I will identify a number of these, and provide reasons why I think they are in serious need of a fresh look.
Building: School of Education
Event Type: Presentation
Tags: Anthropology, Archaeology
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Museum of Anthropological Archaeology