Hobbtion B.C Feedback

Hi Edgar,

I have just a few points, most of which could probably be summed up by adding another caveat at the start. So when you say based on Mesolithic Ireland I would add the caveat that this is complimented by comparably equipped and sized populations from the same period in Europe and modern groups from around the world today, as well as using some of the evidence from earlier periods to kind of say "why not?" for this one. That would cover most of the points I'll include below.

1) Quite early on your co-host says something along the lines of "I mean there are still people alive today who have stone-age lifestyles". While that may seem on the surface to be the case that's an example of one of the problems with using modern analogies. Those people are not living stone age lifestyles. Just like us they had stone age ancestors and have probably come a long way since that. Also, many of the people we think are still living "stone age" lifestyles are actually using technologies far beyond those of the stone age, either through their own invention or by contact with western societies. So, I suppose what I'm trying to say is we can, and have to, compare societies, as with the use of analogy to inform the past, but we can't equate them, as with saying modern non-industrial peoples have a stone age lifestyles.


2) The question of whether people were bound by blood or not - I can't really remember what I said originally but I thought I should make it clear that there must have been other ways of binding groups together and that those potential seasonal meet-ups would have been the perfect opportunity to find partners from outside the family unit. Kinship is one of the things we're most interested in as archaeos but one of the hardest things to infer from the material record. 


3) The bit about them not having the established knowledge and having to discover or test things anew was kind of answered later on by the bit about keeping older generations alive but just to add that there are theories about histories and knowledge based on an oral tradition and how a lot of info can, quite consistently, be passed from generation to generation over hundreds or thousands of years. Take the myths and legends which were only written down in the medieval period. They think some of them go back thousands of years, or that recent study of fairy tales. So if those kinds of things are passed on, much of the practical knowledge was probably quite consistently passed on and also thought to children quite early. 


4) The tooth-mark cheek piercing thing is from the same time period but from Russia (but that's addressed by the caveat above) 


5) The gender binary would probably not have existed like it does now, at least when it comes to tasks. There are examples of societies in which people who cross sex boundaries are seen as special, so maybe there's the potential for there to be a gender binary but much more potential to cross it and even the heightened status of people that do/can. I quite like the Native American way of looking at multiple genders

There was also the idea of people who had what is today seen as a disability being special in some way, for example - people who may have had regular fits being seen as having special powers.  


6) I don't know of any evidence for atlatls from the meso, I think we only have them from the Palaeo but this is addressed by the "why not?" caveat above.


7) The grater thing has not been found, it's just an idea one British academic had, can't remember who wrote the paper though. 


8) The bit where you and your co-host are talking about analogy, after mentioning the San bush-people. When he says you've used analogy twice already it's fair, and there's loads more subtle analogy throughout all of our interpretations of the past (like when we pick up a bowl-shaped object and call it a bowl - how do we know? Maybe it was a hat and that was the style at the time :D ) So, the point to make is that analogy is intrinsic to life, completely necessary to our reading of the past and loaded with all of the historical context in which we're doing the interpretation. It's as much filled with potential problems as it is with opportunities so we need to just be explicit about when and how we use analogy. 


9) Lastly, at around 01:35:00 you guys are talking about people seeing themselves as human participants in the natural eco-system and this is really interesting for us to think about because perhaps the classic Cartesian dichotomy of a nature-culture divide didn't exist for them. Maybe they didn't separate themselves from nature in the abstract like we do now. 


That's pretty much it :)