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Contents Cover Half Title page Title page Copyright page Acknowledgments Introduction

Part One: Foundations Chapter 1: The Human World Blombos Cave Out of Africa Kostenki and Aurignacian Cultures Rock Art Animism The Shaman Proto-Shintoism Dance Ceremonialism Chapter 2: Late Pleistocene—Early Holocene Societies Dolní Věstonice Venus Figurines The Hunting Tradition: From Inner Asia to the Americas Siberia Crossing into the Americas Magdalénien Cultures The Holocene

Lepenski Vir: Forest/Riverine Prototype Early Holocene America Chapter 3: Savanna and Forest Peoples Today !Kung The Peoples of Australia El Molo Bambuti Jarawa Women:—The First Architects Chapter 4: The Great Northern Continuum, Part I The Pole and Pit House Tradition: The Sacred Plan The Sami and Nenets The Bear Cult The Siberian Shaman Kets and Nani Yakut, Chukchi, and Koryak The Tribes of the Great Plains The Bison Hunt Sweat Lodges The Medicine Wheel Chapter 5: The Great Northern Continuum, Part II The Jomon and the Sanni-Maruyama Site Alaska: Yup’ik, Koyukuk, Iñupait The Northwest Coast Peoples The Potlatch The Haida The Nuu-Chah-Nulth Whale Shrine The Yokuts The Klamath and Shasta

The Dorset and Ipiutak The Thule and Inuit Chapter 6: The Mound and Plaza Societies of the Americas Ceremonial Exchanges Watson Brake and Poverty Point Atlantic Shell Mound People Adena Culture Hopewell Earthworks The Horizon of Ceremonialism Chapter 7: Plants, Animals, Rituals The Agricultural World Cattle-Tending Societies: The First Moderns The Ritual Revolution Niuheliang Ritual Center: China Nabta: Egypt GöBekli Tepe: Turkey Chapter 8: The First Agro-Pastoral Perspectives Çatal Höyük Khirokitia, Jericho, and ‘Ain Ghazal The Halaf, Hassuna, and Samarra Cultures Religion and Cult Buildings Building Materials The Luri of Iran The Indus Cultures 5000 BCE Copper and Gold The Vinča and Trypillian Cultures and the Production Crescent

Part Two: Transitions

Chapter 9: Village and Chiefdom Worlds Sacred Groves Chapter 10: Expansion into Europe The Longhouse World Ritual Landscapes and the Rondel The Kurgan Emergence Lake Shore Cultures Megalithic Cultures Spain, Portugal, and France Ireland Barrows, Enclosures, and Cursi Newgrange Gavrinis and Maeshowe Skara Brae Malta Temples 3000 BCE and Stone Circles Beaker Culture Stonehenge Redone 2500 BCE CODA: Asian Megaliths Chapter 11: Emergence of Central and South American Agriculture Societies Chalcatzingo, Mexico, and the Sacred Landcsape Olmecs San Lorenzo and La Venta Chinchorro and Paloma La Galgada, Peru The Cotton Revolution in the Extreme Landscape of The Supe Valley CASMA

Painted Platforms Chavín De Huántar Post-Olmec and Post-Chavín Civilizations Tairona Yanomami Chapter 12: Cattle-Tending Societies Fulani Dinka and Nuer Maasai The Naga and Other Mithun-Oriented Societies The Toda: India Chapter 13: The World of Portable Architecture The First Horse Cultures The Mongols The Ger (Yurt) The OBO The Camel and Ninth-Century North Africa Bedouin and Kababish Rendille Tuareg Chapter 14: The Oceanic Horticultural Continuum Trobriand Islanders Dayak Japan: Inari Ifugao Karo (Batak) NIAS Nan Madol

Chapter 15: African Transformations Bantu Himba Acholi Luo Konso The Mijikenda Gurunsi Batammaliba Chapter 16: Agro-Centrism in North America Hohokam Culture Anasazi Chaco Canyon Upper Mississippi Chiefdom Cultures Cahokia: Extreme Ceremonialism After 1100 CE and the ZUNI Cliff Dwellings Casa Grande and PaquimĂŠ Hopi Navajo Post-Cahokians Effigy Mound Cultures Lenape Iroquoian Longhouse Caddo Osage, Pawnee, and Mandan Endgame CODA: Encounters with Modernity Index


Copyright © 2013 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. Published simultaneously in Canada. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, or on the web at Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008, or online at Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with the respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. For general information about our other products and services, please contact our Customer Care Department within the United States at (800) 762-2974, outside the United States at (317) 5723993 or fax (317) 572-4002. Wiley publishes in a variety of print and electronic formats and by print-on-demand. Some material included with standard print versions of this book may not be included in e-books or in print-on-demand. If this book refers to media such as a CD or DVD that is not included in the version you purchased, you may download this material at For more information about Wiley products, visit Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Jarzombek, Mark. Architecture of first societies: a global perspective / Mark Jarzombek. pages cm Includes index. ISBN 978-1-118-14210-3 (cloth); 978-111-8-41921-2 (ebk.); 978-111-8-42105-5 (ebk.) 1. Architecture, Prehistoric—Textbooks. I. Title. GN799.B8J39 2013 722—dc23 2012039442

Acknowledgments Six years ago, I was preparing a lecture on the architecture of pre-history and discovered that the existing texts were either too generic or were written for experts. Plans, maps, and drawings were difficult to find, difficult to interpret, or altogether unavailable. Archaeological sites were disembodied spots on a map. And so what began as a desire to make a single lecture became a complex, multi-year project. As it developed and the more I learned, I ran various seminars to broaden the discussion with my colleagues here at MIT as well as with archaeologists, anthropologists, and researchers in various parts of the world, all of which proved invaluable. Students came on board to help with the drawings and maps. I would like to thank in particular Timothy Cooke, who not only made numerous drawings, but also served as the book’s drawings coordinator; Alexander Wood coordinated photo acquisition and managed the complex world of digital files; Nicholas Polansky and Anne Callahan worked on drawings as well as on digital formatting; Adam Fulton assisted with research; Florence Guiraud and Michael Kubo produced the wonderful maps. All of these individuals worked long hours and occasionally through the night to meet deadlines. Others who made drawings were Ella Peinovich, Andrew Ferentinos, Daniele Cappelletti, Sun Min May Hwang, Nadine Volicer, Sasa Zivkovic, Farshid Emami, Jonathan Crisman, Reem Abuzeid, Anna Falvello Tomas, and Nancy Jarzombek. I would also like to thank the people from around the world who contributed photos. Anne Deveau kept the production schedule and helped monitor the perpetual flow of books, letters, and emails in and out of my office. The ever-smiling librarians at Rotch Library here at MIT who provided valuable assistance but who are probably relieved that this project has come to an end. I would also like to thank the editors at John Wiley and Sons, who shared the vision of this book.

Introduction In 1901, a certain Reverend W. J. V. Saville visited an island off the coast of New Guinea to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. The book that he wrote about his efforts opens with the following words; “The first thing that strikes one upon entering a Mailu village is its orderly arrangement. The villages are built on one distinct and characteristic plan. Two rows of houses, running parallel to one another, take the curve, if any, of the high-water mark on the shore.” 1 He goes on to describe in great detail the feasts, ceremonies, and other activities that take place between the rows of houses. Saville never seems to notice a rather glaring paradox. The same people whom he calls savages and who use “stone age tools” in harvesting their yams and taro plants are not only accomplished builders, but have a highly prescribed social and ritualistic worldview as defined by the layout of their settlements. The paradox is easily resolved, as any contemporary anthropologist will tell us, if we remove from the discussion any comparison with the modern world. That allows us to recognize that the orderliness of the Mailu shore-line settlement is not an anomaly, but dates back to the ancient origins of mankind. Organization of space is an integral aspect of human society, as fundamental as language and fire. A hundred thousand years ago, it may not have manifested itself in the archaeological record with quite the clarity of a Mailu village, but it cannot be dismissed that when humans first began to develop social groupings, spatial coherence in one way or another also became an attribute. This book is an attempt to capture that history within the bounds of our archaeological and anthropological knowledge. In doing this, I tried to avoid some of the standard terms that one might encounter in such a text. Take for example, the word hunter-gatherer. Though widely used, it gained currency only in the 1970s against the backdrop of the United Nations War on Hunger and thus implies—quite falsely and pejoratively, as many anthropologists are now fully aware—that these people are obsessed with food acquisition. Food is just as important to ancient societies as it is to us, but so too are all the other activities that make us human. They will socialize, make huts, dance, cook, weave, and even relax. The image conjured up by the word hunter-gatherers also does a disservice to the affluence that many of these societies once had. The huge and geometrically complex mound of Poverty Point Louisiana, made up of approximately 238,000 cubic meters of fill, may have been made by so-called “hunter-gatherers,” but hunting and gathering were certainly the least things on the minds of the people who built this astonishing edifice. The term “First Society” may also have some limitations, but at least it reminds us that we are always dealing with societies not with individuals. The expression is used in the book for the broad range of cultures that did not change or shift to agriculture. This resolute attachment to the natural world should not be seen as a failing on their part, for we have to remember that people lived without agriculture for over a million years. These people not only survived, they thrived; nor is the history of the First Society world quite over. A few First Society cultures remain, despite transformative onslaughts, as living reminders of our ancestry. The first part, entitled Beginnings, tries to give a comprehensive overview of First Society attitudes to life, death, and social organization. The second part, Transitions, deals with the emergence of horticulture and agriculture and the rise of village worlds. It also introduces cattlecentric societies and the mobile cultures of the African and Asian deserts. Here we encounter a range of responses to First Society traditions from the cattle cultures, which tended to look down

on their First Societies neighbors as well as on the agriculturalists with whom they traded, to the North American chiefdoms who, though adopting agriculture, remained closely associated with First Society norms. In this part of the book, the word “first” is used more metaphorically, indicating certain fundamental changes in the human social organization. Each of these firsts was a type of modernity that in one way or another, moved away from First Society norms. In these discussions, I strive to avoid the standard perspective that places cities, empires and states at the apex of civilizational history. Many maps of Pre-Colombian America, for example, will show the territory of the Incas filled in with a color, while leaving the entire rest of South America blank as if it were not even populated. This tendency to privilege state-entities in our cartographic epistemologies does a great disservice to those parts of the world that developed chiefdom societies or where First Society people lived. From the point of view of “world civilizations” almost everything in this book takes place in the uncolored areas of most maps. This book tries to reverse that perspective. In fact, if one were to think of the map of the world as late as 1400 CE and take out the empires and urban cultures, I would venture to estimate that nine-tenths of the globes land mass would remain, and of that, about a half was populated by thriving village communities and the other half by First Society people. Colonialism, modernization, and globalization have so radically reduced that territory that it is difficult for us to even imagine the intricate and powerful web of realities that not that long ago stretched across the globe. To help with the challenge of envisioning that world, this book will emphasize larger territorial histories. In the process, it will try to bring architectural and spatial understandings into focus as far as our contemporary knowledge allows. This is done to some degree as a challenge to both archaeologists and anthropologists who rarely produce drawings that serve larger pedagogical purposes. A typical archaeological drawing will have a lot of information about the area inside of the small plot of the dig, but will have no information of any kind outside of the lines. Site drawings are made only to put an X on a map to indicate the location of the dig. And as to anthropologists, they rarely make drawings any more at all and often see architecture as a backdrop to cultural activities, rather than as something to be studied in and of itself. Archaeology in the last fifteen years has, of course, made huge strides in coming to terms with our ancient past, but in the process it is now beset by layers of terminological complexity that only an archaeologist would love. A time period that was once simply known as “the Stone Age,” for example, is now chopped up into small time periods, usually, and obsessively, into threes—Early, Middle, and Late Paleolithic; Incipient, Initial, and Late Jōmon; Early, Middle, and Late Woodland; Early, Middle, and Late Bronze Age, with the Middle Bronze Age further subdivided into Middle Bronze Age I, II A, II B, II C, and so on—relating to ever more specific geographical and temporal entities. To not use these terms in this book might seem to fly in the face of archaeological expertise, but I would argue that teaching history is different from teaching archaeology. Although I have drawn on the latest archaeological information, I have not tried to shape the narrative so that it becomes little more than a primer to archaeology. There are other books that can do that. Anthropology too has made huge strides in the last decades. A generation of researchers has emerged armed with increasingly, complex methodological tools. The word “primitive,” which was used quite freely well into the late 1970s, is now, fortunately, universally rejected. They have also rethought attitudes regarding the use of words like “prehistory” and “pastoralism.” And yet, the word hunter-gatherer, despite critiques, persists, as does the equally humiliating term “forager.”

There are a few scholars who have struggled to overcome these various disciplinary problems. Their efforts are so remarkable in my view that they bear mentioning: Paul Memmott and his analysis of the architecture of the Australian aborigines; Werner E. Knuffel’s analysis of the Bantu hut; Jean-Paul Bourdier and Trinh T. Minh-ha’s study of African villages in Ghana and Burkina Faso; Alain Viaro’s work on the house of the Nias; and Suzanne Preston Blier’s analysis of the architecture of the Batammaliba. Peter Nabakov and Robert Easton’s book, Native American Architecture (1989), and William Morgan’s Ancient Architecture of the Southwest (1994) are also significant works. There are more, but not nearly as many as one would want, which means that hundreds of living cultures around the world have received little close scrutiny when it comes to their architectural expertise and their spatial and territorial under-standings. No analytical drawings exist of the marvelous houses and towns of the Konso in Ethiopia, the Dinka of Sudan, or even of some of the structures in the Brazilian rainforest. The best drawings of the Native American mound structures in Ohio were made in the 1890s! At stake is not some romantic association with the lost past, but the need to claim the legitimacy of architecture and landscape as an epistemological descriptor of the ritual and social activities of First Societies. Architectural discourses are, however, beset by their own problems. In the 1970s, when the concept of “primitive architecture” was drifting out of fashion, it was replaced by the word “shelter,” and numerous books appeared with that word in the title. The problem is that a tipi of the Plains Indians is designed less as a shelter than as a cosmological diagram. The house I live in, by way of contrast, is most certainly not designed as a cosmological diagram and is in that sense much more a shelter than any tipi. So to use the word shelter is to disrespect the most critical aspect of the architecture of many First Societies. Another term that is now solidly entrenched in the architectural literature is “vernacular.” It arose in the 1970s and was meant to describe structures that were built by craft traditions rather than by architects. Vernacular may be fine to describe barns or industrial buildings of the modern era, but when it comes to traditional village architecture, it is an awkward term. A vernaculum was a slave quarter at the rear of a Roman villa. And though it was not intended, labeling a shabono in Brazil or a house by the Nias as “vernacular” puts it on the wrong side of the civilization divide. These are majestic structures as grand in their context as any palace in Mesopotamia, and to give them the nomenclature “vernacular” is a real shame. Needless to say, the words “shelter” and “vernacular,” like “Stone Age,” “primitive,” and “hunter-gatherer” do not appear in this book. This book cannot repair in any wholesale way the comprehension gap of how to address our ancient history. That discussion is more appropriate in the context of advanced historiography. But the book can at least begin to orient the student to a better understanding of the architecture and life of the First Peoples and of early agriculturalists. The book also tries to provide for the student a global perspective. By the word “global” I do not mean universals that transcend history, but rather the presence of historically determined communalities that stretch across regions and oceans. It is the accumulation of these histories across space and time that produces a global perspective of history. In that sense, although the book is broad in scope, it is not an encyclopedia. Rather it tries to provide a framework for learning and discussion. I also tried to write this book with the idea that history is not something that happened and is over, but that continues on in various ways into the modern world. The history of the First Societies is our history, regardless of where we live on this globe. In that sense, I hope the book can open a classroom discussion about our modern age and its attitude to the past. Although modernity has escalated the terms of engagement with disastrous results for First Society people

this book is not a lament. In fact, the entire book is built on the premise of history’s dynamic force. To that end, the book operates transtemporally and transgeographically so that students can get a sense of the different and overlapping histories that are still operating around and even through our contemporary culture. And finally, the GPS coordinates are given throughout the book, so that readers can study sites for themselves in the contemporary conditions. Some sites still exist undisturbed; others might be under parking lots, or in the middle of cities. There is a lesson even in that.

ENDNOTE 1. W. J. V. Saville, In Unknown New Guinea (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1926), 30.

PART ONE Foundations

CHAPTER 1 The Human World Some ninety thousand years ago, our ancestors—optimistically labeled Homo sapiens—began to migrate out of Africa. Their movement was incremental so it would hardly have dawned on them how momentous the consequences of their action were to be. But Homo sapiens were not the first to have set forth. Homo erectus had left Africa some 1.8 million years earlier and over the course of time had spread as far as China and England (Figure 1.1). Although these early hominoids are often portrayed as less advanced than Homo sapiens, it is now clear that they laid the foundations for later developments.1 Tangible evidence is hard to come by, apart from one clear example, a unique type of hand axe that was to remain an essential and effective part of human life for hundreds of thousands of years.2 First a proper stone—usually a river cobble of basalt or quartzite or flint—had to be chosen and then it had to be hit in a particular way with the help of another stone to flake off pieces. The stone had to be flipped and rotated with different types of strikes producing different edges. The final result was an oval or triangular object, pointed on one end and rounded at the base to conform to the shape of the palm where it was held. The symmetrical design of these axes makes them stand out from earlier stone tools; the symmetry also clearly reflects the quantum leap in the cognitive and linguistic capacities that make all of us human. Furthermore, tool making was no longer an informal process but became something of an industry, with some place —and obviously also craftsmen—dedicated solely to their production (Figure 1.2). People also worked in unison at kill sites, as evidenced at Olorgesailie, Kenya, where, along the shore of a large, now extinct isolated lake, thousands of stone tools have been found Figure 1.1: Africa and Eurasia showing Homo erectus and Homo sapiens areas before 80,000 BCE. Source: Florence Guiraud

Figure 1.2: Acheulean hand axes, Olorgesailie, Kenya. Source: Emily Hoerner

The axes were mostly used for carving meat or breaking bones to access marrow. 3 But experiments have also shown that they might have been thrown discus-style. With a range of about 30 meters, the point hurtles earthward with tremendous force. Such weapons would not have been good for moving targets, but against stationary ones, like animals standing close to each other while drinking at a lake’s edge, they would have been ideal, which perhaps explains why axes like these seem so often to be found in riverbeds and along lake shores.4 In one site in England, near a watering hole, a hand axe was found still lodged in the skull of a mammoth. Despite the assumption that making weapons was the key factor in this evolutionary moment, it is not necessarily obvious that these were always weapons. Some are so well-crafted and made from unusually colored stones that they might have been used as a marker of ancestral status associated with ritual activity. This seems very much to be the case of a particularly well-made stone axe uncovered at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, at a site near the shores of a one-time lake ( Figure 1.3). Dating to about 1.8 million years ago, it is 23 cm long and was fashioned from a shiny, gray green volcanic rock. Olduvai Gorge produced another surprise, a circle of lava stones that were the remains of a hut or windbreaker consisting of branches anchored at the base by stones piled into heaps and spaced on the circumference about every .7 meters. This is the earliest evidence so far of a man-made structure.5 Scattered around the hut are the remnants of stone chipping and other activities Figure 1.3: Hand axe, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Source: The Trustees of the British Museum

The Olduvai Gorge settlement proves without a doubt that a social order and spatial differentiation had developed during the time of Homo erectus. What is also clear is that people could expand and replicate their culture across space and time and, indeed, in a variety of ecological zones. In India, where Homo erectus arrived around 700,000 BCE, they lived in the semi-arid regions of western Rajasthan, in the alluvial plains of Gujarat, even in the moist deciduous woodlands in central India. The Baichbal and Hunsgi Valleys , located in the Deccan region of India, were particularly rich in settlements. In the wet season, groups would have dispersed over the valley in search of plant foods, berries, and fruits, whereas in the dry season, they congregated in larger groups near the numerous spring-fed streams, and focused more on the hunt, leaving behind their tell-tale axes. The bones of wild boar, cattle, elephant, horse, and hippopotamus that archaeologists have found at these sites indicate that people hunted in both forests and open grasslands. The Acheulean axe made it to England by around 500,000 BCE if not earlier, with sites at Barnfield Pit and Boxgrove Quarry.6 While this colonization of the globe was taking place, a genetic mutation occurred back in Africa, giving rise to the fabled Homo sapiens, who, though of smaller build, had a brain that allowed them to intensify and broaden the incipient social, technical, and territorial accomplishments of Homo erectus. Stone tools became more complex and differentiated. The heavy hand axe gave way to slender points that were attached to sticks to form spears, allowing hunters to attack more dangerous prey. By 130,000 BCE, groups were exchanging materials over large distances and creating a network of relations that by necessity must have been based on mutually advantageous social bonds. The development of this distinctive culture took place in southern Africa in two regions, one in north central South Africa and the other to the south along the shore. The first was an area of savannah punctuated by lakes, for though the time period was colder than today, it was also wetter Alexandersfontein Pan in South Africa was in its heyday a typical site. What is now a dried-out watering hole was a hundred thousand years ago a large lake, 9 kilometers across and 20 meters deep. The shores and the rivers feeding it were home to numerous camps where humans lived and

thrived for thousands of years.7 Alexandersfontein Pan was hardly alone; it was, in fact, at the center of a large lake district, some 200 kilometers across, the sandy lake bed vestiges of which are still clearly imprinted in the landscape. Draining into the Orangia River at its southern end, it would have been ideal for humans with its extensive array of grasslands and wetlands, with animal herds ranging in between. Rocky outcrops provided a plentiful supply of lithic material. A camp near Florisbad next to a spring was where groups met to hunt and butcher animals.8 At a camp known archaeologically as Orangia I, people made C-shaped wind shelters similar to those made by the Aboriginal Australians. ( Figure 1.4a, 1.4b) Orangia 1 was located on the bluff overlooking a river tributary to the Orange River. With a cliff behind it, the site was probably only accessed from the river itself, and was probably used during the dry season. The remnants of such camps dot a hundred-kilometer stretch of the Orange River, along its shores and lower bluffs, and even though not all the camps that have been found by archaeologists were used at the same time, the river with its protected canyons was clearly a magnet for human activity.9 (Figure 1.5) Figure 1.4a, b: Orangia 1, South Africa; (a) plan, (b) site plan. Source: Andrew Ferentinos/Clavin Garth Sampson, The Middle Stone Age Industries of the Orange River Scheme Area (Bloemfontein: National Museum, 1968), 24–26

Figure 1.5: Orange River archaeological sites, South Africa. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Clavin Garth Sampson, The Middle Stone Age Industries of the Orange River Scheme Area (Bloemfontein: National Museum, 1968), 24–26.

Equally important to the emergence of Homo sapiens culture was the thousand-mile stretch of shores and cliffs that overlook the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean around Africa’s southern tip. The oceans would have been lower back then, allowing the cave dwellers to gaze out over a kilometer or so of salt marshes. At the caves at Pinnacle Point, Blombos, and at the mouth of Klasies River, people began to fish around 140,000 BCE, and around 70,000 BCE they began to use bone tools instead of stone tools to hunt dune mole rats and seals. (Figure 1.6) The caves were not temporary shelters, but home bases used seasonally and perhaps even the whole year around. They were inhabited in this way for thousands of years at a stretch. Figure 1.6: Blombos Cave, South Africa. Source: Chris Henshilwood

BLOMBOS CAVE Though Blombos Cave with its tools, fishhooks, scrapers, and hand axes gives us invaluable insight into the food acquisition of our early ancestors, what surprised archaeologists in particular was the discovery of a set of small mollusk shells that was part of a necklace, with each shell carefully drilled with a hole for the string10 (Figure 1.7). We have no way of knowing how the necklace was used, but it was not to adorn a pretty neck. For the Zulu today, beaded necklaces convey information about a person’s marital status, economic level, and origin. 11 For the Paiwan, who live in Taiwan, necklaces are imbued with living spirits and are carefully passed down among the chieftains from generation to generation. The necklace serves as a sign of status, a marker of historical events, and the embodiment of powerful spirits. Implications of this sort must already have been present at Blombos Cave. Figure 1.7: Necklace, Blombos Cave, South Africa. Credit Line: Chris Henshilwood

The ochre found in many of the South African sites is further proof of social complexity. ( Figure 1.8) Hundreds of small chunks of it were found in Blombos Cave. Some pieces were in the shape of crayons that were presumably used to paint their bodies or make images on the walls. Known scientifically as hematite, ochre is a reddish iron-containing rock that was used as a coloring substance made by grinding the stone into a powder that when mixed with fat or water formed a paste.12 Homo erectus had already begun to work with ochre, thus securing it as a key, nonfunctional element in human life. Stone balls colored with ochre were recovered from Olorgesailie and date to around 340,000 years ago.13 At Kabwe (Broken Hill) in Zambia, archaeologists found ochre with skeletal remains that date back to between 200,000 and 125,000 BCE, indicating its early use in death ceremonies. Figure 1.8: Ochre, needles, and artifacts found at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Source: Chris

Figure 1.8: Ochre, needles, and artifacts found at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Source: Chris Henshilwood

Ochre was the great universal of all First Societies. The Blackfeet of the American Plains referred to it as nitsisaan or “real paint” and profusely daubed it on their ceremonial garments. Its color was thought to represent the sun and the energy that permeates all things, making a person rubbed with it appear holy and powerful.”14 Its redness and brilliance signaled supernatural potency overlapping with a range of cosmological concepts revolving around rain, fertility, hunting, and death.15 The nineteenth-century painter George Catlin painted the Sioux worshiping at a red boulder in the open grasslands of the Great Plains. (Figure 1.9) Ceremonial uses of ochre still exist today, such as among the Maasai in Kenya during certain initiation rituals, by Amazon tribes and by Aboriginal people in Australia (Figure 1.10) Figure 1.9: Sioux Worshiping at the Red Boulders, George Catlin, 1837–1839. Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC/Art Resource, NY

Figure 1.10: A man applies yellow ochre to his body before a funeral, Tiwi Islands, Australia. Source: David Edwards/National Geographic Stock

The meaning attached to ochre can vary from place to place. But wherever the rock appears in the landscape as a red vein in a hillside, it could easily be interpreted as the earth’s blood, and indeed its association with blood is still part of the mythology of many indigenous peoples who view it as having magical and healing properties relating to birth and life. Sites that have been mined in ancient times still exist, as in Rustrell France and central Australia (Figures 1.11 and 1.12). The !Kung, who live in the Kalhari Desert of Botswana and who are among the oldest of the surviving First Society people in the world, use the pigment in rituals dealing with a woman’s first menstruation. A female initiate, on emergence from seclusion, would present the women of her kin group with lumps of ochre for decorating their faces and cloaks and also for adorning the young men to protect them when out hunting.16 Historically and cross-culturally in southern Africa,

women played a major role in the quarrying of earth pigments as well as in their processing.17 The !Kung will speak of an impending ritual action by referring metaphorically to the sound of women pounding ochre.18 The Himba women in Namibia in southwest Africa still grind ochre by hand and rub it on their bodies head to toe, mixing it with butter and sweet-smelling plants (Figure 1.13). Figure 1.11: Ochre cliffs, Rousillon, France. Source: Š Doogsta (

Figure 1.12: Ochre cliffs, Australia. Source: Š Toby Hudson (http:/

Figure 1.13: Himba woman grinding ochre, Namibia. Source: Bill Cain

Although ochre was the mineralogical staple of all First Societies, it was, of course, only one of the many rocks that were mined. Others included flint, chert, quartz, obsidian, and silcrete, suitable for blades, scrapers, choppers, and ritual objects. Each of these stones, excavated along mountain slopes or along cliff faces, had different properties and different advantages that had to be mastered and taught. The places from whence they were hewn were considered special and because different groups of people would have periodically visited the mines to replenish their tool- and art-making kits, these sites began to serve as places for meetings and rituals. The result was that natural formations, rock faces, and springs, as well as paths and trails between shores and mountains, came to be encoded with sacred significance. In South Africa, an ancient site in Swaziland, known as Lion’s Cave, was mined from 43,000 BCE onward with tons of ore removed. Another site, this one in South Africa, which began to be mined around two thousand years ago by the Bantu herders who had entered the area, lasted until modern times, with an estimated 80,000 tons of ore having been removed. In 1814, an early researcher noted that the hill, now flattened and the site of a modern mining operation, “was a kind of Mecca to the nations around, who are constantly making pilgrimages to it, to obtain fresh supplies of the blue shining powder and red stone.”19 Sites like this in Australia date back to 40,000 BCE and in the Americas to 10,000 BCE, if not earlier. The prime ancient source for ochre on the Pacific Coast was at Taltal, Chile .20 Red Pipe-stone Rock in Minnesota was sacred to the Native Americans and attracted people from far away who wanted to get a piece of sacred rock for the making of ritual pipes. Rhino Cave, located in a rocky outcrop in the flat and formidable expanse of the Kalahari Desert, was perhaps one of these sites in ancient times. It rises quite dramatically from the otherwise flat landscape. Still sacred to the local !Kung, its cliff surfaces have a large concentration of rock art paintings on them (Figure 1.14). The !Kung still know this outcrop as the “Mountains of the Gods” and the “Rock that Whispers.” Their legend has it that mankind descended from the python, and the ancient, arid streambeds around the hills are said to have been created by the python as it circled the hills in its ceaseless search for water. And indeed, tucked in a corner of the outcrop is a V-shaped chamber with a seven-meter-long horizontally shaped rock that looks very much like the head of a snake21 (Figure 1.15). Since the floor of the cave was two meters below what it is today, the snake would have hovered overhead. A narrow ledge behind the snake would have been the perfect spot for a priest to hide and utter omens or songs. Beginning

around 70,000 years ago,—ancient people made grooves on the snake to replicate scales. The cave is near a spring that functions to this very day. Also nearby is a site where one can find a rare form of ochre, known as specularite, which the local !Kung rub into their skin and hair to create a shimmer.22 Figure 1.14a, b, c: Tsodilo Hills, Botswana. Source: Š Joachim Huber (

Figure 1.15: Rhino Cave, Tsodilo Hills, Botswana. Source: Sheila Dawn Coulson

The journey to these sites was itself an important part of ritual life probably from early on. It might have involved traversing the territory of others and negotiating the rite to use the mine, which was controlled by a local tribe. In Tasmania, procedure required that the elders first send a message stick to the locals informing them that they would like access to the mine. Though the stick —handed down through generations and with markings on it—does not convey any actual message (the real message is communicated verbally by the messenger), it was regarded as a token of good faith. Gifts followed the message stick back. The expedition would then be organized. Though the tracks followed by the ochre party were well known because they had been handed down for millennia, the journey was seen as dangerous, for the risks were indeed very real. Negotiations, though formulaic, were tricky, for slights could be perceived. And then there was the perceived danger from the spirit world, requiring a continual set of precautions and protections. Ochre was, therefore, more than just a coloring agent; its presence at Blombos Cave implies a larger tribal network.23 And this means that whereas most discussions about the emergence of modern mankind emphasize language, symbolic production, and tool-making capacities, we should not underestimate ritual travel and the power that the resultant encounters, stories, and legends

produce in shaping our cognitive world. Blombos Cave had yet another clue that spoke of social complexity: a stone with clearly purposeful cross-hatch markings on its surface. Small stones or pebbles engraved with lines can be found in many ancient archaeological sites the world over and are often associated with hunting cultures. A stone recovered in Gault, Texas, and belonging to the Clovis hunting culture from about 11,000 BCE, had a similar checkerboard pattern and was found carefully paired with a spear point. Perhaps the stone provided its possessor protection of some sort, marked a ritual transition into adulthood, or served as part of an ancestor cult. The remarkable aspect of the thousands of such engraved bones and stones that one finds in ancient archaeological sites is that no two are alike, making it difficult to know how to interpret them (Figure 1.16a, 1.16b, and 1.16c). They range from the more figurative to those that seem to us to be purely abstract. How does one interpret these carefully made lines? Are they a type of calendar, an enumeration, or perhaps a divination mechanism? What links all these stones is that they are types of history and memory devices. First Societies would not have survived without the accumulated knowledge of multiple generations. Scholars today distinguish between “history” and “prehistory,” ascribing the latter to the age before the advent of writing. But this concept is misleading. It is safe to say that First Societies had a much more extensive understanding of their history than anyone of us today. Unless we put much effort into it, most of us can go back one or two generations at best. First Societies people had a much deeper historical awareness that includes not just the history of their tribe and clan, but of environmental events and changes in animal habitats. The Pima Indians in Arizona possessed a stick with notches and dots that represented important events to be remembered, such as a raid, a meteor shower, an earthquake, a snowstorm, or a flood. A message stick of the Seneca with a hole at one end for a string contains markings of days, calling chiefs to a particular ceremony at a certain time. Figure 1.16a, b, c: Engraved stone comparisons: (a) Blambos Cave, ca. 80,000 BCE; (b) Eastern Siberia, ca. 14,000 BCE; (C) Gault, Texas, ca. 10,000 BCE. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Margarita Aleksandrovna Kiriyak, Early Art of the Northern Far East: The Stone Age, translated by Richard L Blank (Anchorage: United States Dept. of the Interior, 2007), 193–194

Hunting, Gathering, Taking Symbolic expression, communal organization, memory consciousness, technological specialization, and landscape intelligence constituted the fundamentals of a cultural package that a hundred thousand years ago if not earlier was not only fully operative, but also fully transportable. People lived in kin-based groups, called bands, numbering from maybe ten to thirty individuals. Bands were egalitarian in nature; there were no chiefs or headmen. But not everyone was an equal. Women and men had different roles. Furthermore, elders carried a certain amount of authority. They might make key decisions or settle disputes, but they usually do not have the power to coerce.

Food was shared within the group and, when resources were plentiful, even with other bands. Among the Hadza in Tanzania, a large kill is quickly divided up, leaving even the hunter sometimes with very little.24 Most tasks were also done in groups, whether it was hunting, mining, food collection, or the building of a shelter. Bands would move into the uplands in the summer or along the shores in winter, exploiting the different seasonal resources. Since no one person had a recognized authority over the rest, it was the bond of kin relationships that kept people united and that maintained peace and harmony in the community. In almost all such societies, cooperation was highly valued and an essential part of myths and lore, as is clear from existent First Society people from the southern tip of Africa to the southern tip of the Americas. Since men might be out hunting and women preoccupied with various tasks, children spent a good deal of time with grandparents and or other family elders, creating powerful strands of continuity over the generations. When stresses in a band were too great, or groups too large, people left the band and set up a new one. Different bands lived close to one another along rivers and shores; they met to fish, mine, exchange resources, socialize, and find mates. In places where resources were plentiful and predictable, band lineages would last for thousands of years and be identified with a particular landscape through stories and rituals. Modern-day researchers call this social organization “hunter gathering,” but this is a recent phrase coined in the 1970s.25 We must, therefore, ask ourselves if the term might not carry along with it, indirectly perhaps, certain notions that were influenced by then-current thinking patterns such as the United Nation’s War on Hunger. Firstly, it is wrong to identify these cultures solely with food acquisition. Just as we do not spend all our time in the supermarkets, most of the time spent by “hunter-gatherers” is likewise not in hunting and gathering, but in activities of social cohesion. Naturally, food collecting is an important activity, but the majority of the time spent by the !Kung, for example, involves other pursuits, such as resting in camp or visiting other camps. Women spend their time preparing food, doing embroidery, visiting other camps, or entertaining visitors from other camps. The men go on hunts, but their schedule is unpredictable and subject to magical control. During periods when there is no hunt, the men spend time visiting, entertaining, dancing, and preparing their bows and arrows The life of the !Kung cannot be considered completely identical to those of ancient times, but at least it shows that a well-positioned camp close to water, nut-bearing trees, animal habitats, and other human settlements would have yielded an existence not dissimilar to that of the !Kung and certainly one that was more stable and orderly than was assumed even a few decades ago. This was made clear when the anthropologist Richard Lee asked a !Kung man why he did not farm. He was told, “Why should I farm when there are so many mongongo nuts?”26 The Aboriginal Australians put it in similar terms. “You people go to all that trouble, working and planting seeds, but we don’t have to do that. All these things are there for us; the Ancestral Beings left them for us. In the end, you depend on the sun and the rain just the same as we do, but the difference is that we just have to go and collect the food when it is ripe. We don’t have all this other trouble.”27 Nor is it accurate to assume that food gathering was some sort of aimless act (Figure 1.17). In marshy mountain valleys along the U.S.-Canada border, for example, an important food source was quamash. After being harvested in the autumn, once the flowers have withered, the bulbs can be roasted or boiled. It tastes something like baked sweet potato, but sweeter. When dried, the bulbs can be pounded into flour to make cakes. A valley in Montana is known by the Salish as Qal’sa, which means “It has quamash.” The broad valley, high in the mountains, maintained by the tribal

people with careful application of periodic fire, was a veritable sea of the blue-blossomed plant and tribes would journey there from far away to share in the abundance28 (Figure 1.18). In the forest of the eastern United States, people thinned and maintained forests of underbrush to create large swaths of oak and walnut trees, the nuts of which were a food staple in those parts. The first European settlers were impressed by these forests and compared them to parks. Figure 1.17: A berry-picker at Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia, Canada. Photographed in 1915. Source: Image PN 4854, courtesy of Royal BC Museum, BC Archives

Figure 1.18: Quamash field, Montana, USA. Source: Š yaquina (

Another plant that was common food to the Native Americans was Chenopodium quinoa, known as quinoa, also sometimes called pig weed. Considered sacred in ancient Inca and Aztec cultures, the plant still today grows wild on Bolivian slopes. The leaves and young shoots can be eaten as a leafy vegetable, either steamed in its entirety or cooked. More important, each plant produces tens of thousands of seeds that are highly nutritious. They have an amino acid balance that is considered near the ideal for human consumption as well as being high in protein, vitamin A, and calcium. In all cases, the plants did not just grow wild, but were tended to expand their range. The words “hunting and gathering” also imply a distinction between meat and plants that is not always reflected in native languages. Though the gathering of plant resources was generally considered women’s work and hunting the prerogative of the man, the activities were not necessarily conceptualized as distinct. Among the Yup’ik, who live on the western shores of Alaska, for example, the syllable -ssur- means obtaining anything taken from nature as food. It means literally “getting it.” So, for example, nayirrsurluni means “getting seal” and ikiituggsurluni means “getting celery.” In other words, there is no distinction between getting an animal and getting a plant. When the Yup’ik go hunting for birds, they use the prefix quyurte-, which means to “round up” or “make plural.” In other words, what we call hunting they would call “rounding up.” And since they do not technically “hunt,” they do not technically “kill.” The differences may seem small but are profound; for far from viewing their environment as an insentient supply of resources, the Yup’ik view it as responsive to their own careful action, attention, and need.29 The Andaman Islanders, another ancient society that survives on the remote Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean, have a term, gobolagname, which applies to anything that is given and taken, whether between individuals or between humans and the natural world. In other words, gathering and giving are analogous and complementary. Without gobolagname, the human body is subject to “drying up” or even death, as the result of the winds and the release of smells which attract the unwanted spirits. Without gobolagname, the spirits would arrive and transform a person into a spirit.30 In other words, gathering is an important aspect of life, but so too is giving. The Bambuti in the Congo employ something similar. When the women leave camp in search for food, they will sing, asking the forest deity, who goes by various names such as asobe or tore, to give them the things they are looking for. When they find some fruit, tore will get a symbolic share to “take and eat.” After a hunt, a piece of the animal’s heart is similarly cast into the forest or placed in the fork of a tree as a gift back to forest spirit.31 So instead of “hunting and gathering,” one should use the phrase “gathering and giving.” Even the word “hunting” can be misunderstood in the modern usage. The Yup’ik, for example, do not see a clear-cut distinction between humans and animals. Instead the two live in collaborative reciprocity where animals “give themselves” to the hunter in anticipation of the hunter’s respectful treatment of them. In fact, in their lore, animals originally possessed the ability to transform themselves into humanlike creatures. And as to the ancestors, they live in the spirit world with the animals and can thus help in the process of communicating with the animals. Hunting, therefore, almost always has to be conducted with ritual precautions.32 Among most early First Societies, there was also no concept of land ownership. Once most of the usable wild plant resources were depleted from a given location the camp would be relocated to another spot. But the general idea that these people are nomadic and have no connection to land is wrong. The Batek and the !Kung have a keen sense of geography and place. Territorial boundaries between groups are scrupulously observed. Similarly, the Aboriginal people of

Australia have strong cultural associations with specific territories. Within the bounds of their clan territory people will spend several months hunting, but once the hunting season is over they will move to a river or seacoast, engaging primarily in fishing. They classify the year into five seasons based on these activities and their associated territorial movements.33 The Inupiat in northern Alaska define their land as nunaqatigiich, which means literally “people who are related to one another through their common possession of land.”34 The concept of “hunting and gathering,” though sadly widely used in the scholarly literature, thus fails to do justice to the complexity and durability of these types of social organizations, whether ancient or contemporary, a complexity that was the foundation on which all early society in its numerous variations the world over was based.

OUT OF AFRICA Following the path of the Homo erectus, humans worked their way into Arabia. Once again, it is important to remember that climactic conditions back then were much different than today. The sands of the Rub’ Al Khali Desert in Saudi Arabia, which stretch over 700 kilometers east to west, were once the bottom of lakes and marshlands. Between the southern edge of that area and the ocean, there was a corridor in Yemen and Oman in which archaeologists have already discovered dozens of ancient settlements. From there, people made it into Iran where there were seveal extensive wetlands and around the coasts of India, and by 80,000 BCE had moved into Indonesia. But around 70,000 BCE, disaster struck; the Toba Volcano on the island of Sumatra erupted (Figure 1.19). It was one of Earths largest cataclysms, laying down several meters of ash over India and parts of South Asia and producing a six-year global volcanic winter. The famous Mt. Vesuvius or even the eruption of Mount St. Helena would be pinpricks in comparison. The stratospheric layer of dust and debris that covered the planet left its traces even in Greenland. Unfortunately for Homo sapiens and the residual populations of Homo erectus in India, the geographical distribution of people at that time ensured almost maximum possible exposure to the effects of the explosion. The populations in India and Indonesia were wiped out. Even the people who lived in the Levant and West Asia seem to have vanished. A subsequent thousand-year ice age did not help. So devastating were these events that it has been estimated that the global population was reduced to as few as ten thousand people or fewer living in isolated pockets mostly in eastern and southern Africa—in other words, back where they started.35 Figure 1.19: Mt. Toba eruption. Source: Florence Guiraud

The process of leaving Africa began again and this time it would succeed. In fact, Homo sapiens would inherit the earth as the residual strands of Homo erectus died out one by one. This means that every one of us is a genetic relative of these first people in southern Africa. Geneticists know this because of haplogroup studies. A haplogroup is a type of genetic package, the oldest being Haplogroup A, which belongs to the !Kung who live in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana (Figure 1.20). They are, at any rate, its last remnants. By the time people had expanded again into east Africa, we see the emergence of Haplogroup C and because it was these people who then left Africa around 60,000 BCE, Haplogroup C became the common male ancestor of nearly all people living today who have non-African roots. Haplogroup C people were shore- and water-oriented and would eventually work their way to Australia and then around the Pacific to form the basis of some of the Native American genetic stock. Haplogroup D, which also formed in East Africa and is equally as old as Haplogroup C, is found today at high frequency among populations in the Japanese Archipelago and the Andaman Islands, though curiously not in India, perhaps because India and central Asia were already dominated by Haplogroup F people. This genetic strand developed around 50,000 BCE, not in Africa but probably in India and was the center of a dispersion cloud that radiated northward into Asia. Facilitating this movement was a dramatic warming of the climate during the period 55,000–45,000 BCE that allowed people to return to the Levant after an absence of 40,000 years. From there, humans encountered a vast stretch of semiarid, grass-covered plains stretching from eastern France to Korea that allowed movement

throughout Asia, yielding new haplogroups such as K, I, J, O, and others. Humans were spreading so quickly and over such a diverse geographical range that no single natural disaster could now impede their progress. Figure 1.20: Africa and Eurasia: The major haplogroups. Source: Florence Guiraud

Australia, which became home to Haplogroup C people around 42,000 BCE, or perhaps earlier, was the most enticing of human habitats at that time.36 People there encountered astounding and unfamiliar animals: marsupial lions, two-meter-long goannas, short-faced kangaroos (procoptodon), and the rhinoceros-sized, though harmless, diprotodon. The latter two were herbivores and were thus tempting prey for the humans, who may indeed have contributed to their extinction.37 Though the continent was relatively arid, it was cooler and moister than today. Rains brought a good deal of water to the eastern shores, water that was funneled by mountains into west-flowing rivers and streams, producing broad woodland belts and lower down large stetches of savanna. Glaciers in the mountains produced a constant stream of summer run-off.49 The rivers fed dozens of lakes, now known as the Willandra Lakes (Figure 1.21). Figure 1.21: Willandra Lakes area. Source: Florence Guiraud

These lakes, which reached their highest level some 35,000 years ago and which today are nothing but dried-out sand pits, were situated between low ridges just to the north of a vast marshy area. They teemed with fish and mussels that were caught with nets and apparently transported in baskets.38 In fact, the heaps of discarded shells (called shell middens) are the clues indicating that

humans once lived in what is today a forbidding desert.39 A wide range of nut trees grew in the temperate forests along the mountain slopes to the east, including the majestic Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii) that is still considered a sacred tree by the indigenous people (Figure 1.22 and 1.23). It produces cones about the size of a football, each containing from fifty to a hundred nuts. Highly nutritious and an excellent source of starch, they can be eaten raw or roasted and have a taste similar to chestnuts. All in all, this was not a place where humans eked out a minimal existence a few steps away from starvation. Food and water were plentiful. From the footprints of adults and children preserved in the once muddy shores that have since hardened into rock, we know that adults were tall, on average 180 centimeters (5 foot 11), no doubt due to the plentiful and varied food supply.40 Figure 1.22: Bunya Pine forest, Australia. Source: Marie Read

Figure 1.23: A Bunya Pine cone, Australia. Source: Steve Swyane

As one might expect, this also was a place of ceremony and ritual. A burial near one of the lakes contained the remains of a woman who had first been cremated, then her bones were smashed and the fragments placed in a pit in the center of a fire for renewed burning. The whole was then covered with sand. Another burial contained a man whose bones had been stained with red ochre. We even know some of the places where the ancient Australians mined their ochre, namely in the northern Flinders Ranges some 200 miles to the west where, for millennia, people extracted not

only hematite (red), but also magnetite (brown to black), goethite (yellow), and lepidocrocite (yellow).

KOSTENKI AND AURIGNACIAN CULTURES At the same time humans were entering Australia, they were also arriving in Europe. Why it took people so long to leave the Levant and enter Europe, which is so much closer to Africa than Australia, is a mystery, but perhaps it was due to the interference of the last remaining humanoid competitor, the formidable Neanderthal, the last descendants of the Homo erectus strain that had elsewhere either died out or were obliterated by the Toba eruption. They were taller and stronger than Homo sapiens, with reputation for being brutish. But given that they had existed in their own world for several hundred thousand years, they possessed well-honed survival skills. They used ochre, may have begun to eat plant foods and also began to use caves for protection as is evidenced in the Grotte du Lazaret near Nice, France.41 Nonetheless, the Neanderthal never seem to have produced what could be called a “home base,” which was typical of Homo sapiens.42 With a climate in Europe warmer than today, the open forest conditions led to relatively easy hunting of deer, bear, wolfs, and horse. It seems that the valleys would have been kept open by the large herbivores, such as elephant and rhino, creating corridors for human movement, surrounded by woodlands on higher ground. Around 55,000 BCE, the weather began to fluctuate from extreme cold conditions to mild and back to cold in a matter of a few decades. These fluctuations caused the disappearance of the forests and the emergence of wide expanses of grasslands and open woodland stretching from France into Russia. The Neanderthal had difficulty hunting in the open landscape and by 28,000 BCE they had all but vanished. Humans moved into the European world along two parallel but related vectors. One was westward around the Mediterranean, the other was around the northern shores of the Black Sea, then a vast inland lake. Kostenki, Russia, was a typical site for early humans, belonging to a community that, some 38,000 years ago, stretched along an east-oriented terrace overlooking the flood plain of the nearby Don River (Figure 1.24a, 1.24b). It was an excellent perch to observe the animals as they moved along the valley below. The site was more than just a lookout, but a base camp where a range of activities took place. It was used for thousands of years. Figure 1.24a, b, c: Kostenki, Russia: (a) map; (b) map; (c) hut plans at site IV show two huts and row of hearths. Source: Timothy Cooke/G. P. Grigor’ev, Current Anthropology 8 (Oct. 1967): 346

Among the several huts that dotted the terrace, there was a pair of 30-meter-long huts with rows of fireplaces in them. Separate living zones were created by means of hide partitions.43 It is generally assumed that each family had a hearth. For the women, who remained while the men

hunted, the common space allowed the sharing of work and the care and protection of children. Although multi-hearth linear buildings began to gradually disappear from the archaeological record in Europe and Siberia, they do not disappear elsewhere. The tradition is found in the Americas, for example. The principal house of the Nimi’ipuu (also known as Nez Perce), who once lived in the Idaho region, build 30-meter-long, mat-covered longhouses with hearths in the center of the structure. These houses were primarily used during the winter as well as for ceremonial purposes during the summer (Figure 1.25). The Dayak in Borneo also live in the longhouses and yet each family acts relatively independently of its neighbors. In this instance the primary reason for cohabitation is largely economic in that constructing one longhouse reduces the amount of material and time necessary for construction.44 At Kostenki, one could venture to conclude that a similar arrangement was in operation. But it was not just economy at play here. Longhouses produced uniquely strong social bonds since they were probably built and lived in by a single clan. Figure 1.25: Nez Perce long-house, Nespelem, Washington, USA. Photograph circa 1900. Source: Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society, L97-5.97

Further to the east, in Europe, the newly appearing Homo sapiens formed part of what archaeologists call the Aurignacian Culture (38,000-24,000 BCE). The southern range of the Alps in northern Italy was a typical Aurignacian area as it offered a wide range of hunting resources. Ibex, alpine hare, lion, and hyena lived on the high plateau; deer and bears lived in the forests below; ducks, small animals, and fish could be found in the valleys. In line with the cultural package that left Africa, the Aurignacians used not only ochre, they made necklaces and also, as one would expect, maintained the engraved bone and pebble tradition. One engraved bone from southern France bears a series of enigmatic pits that seem to indicate phases of the moon45 (Figure 1.26). These markings could also have been used to represent the seasonal sequence of activities. Another similar stone has rows of pits along with grooves and notches.46 Figure 1.26: Two faces of engraved Aurignacian bone plaque. Source:

The presence of animal bones in the caves combined with the representation of animals on cave walls should not lead us to overlook that plant food was now an increasingly important source of nutrition. And in this respect humans were profoundly different from the Neanderthal, who were largely meat eaters and who as a result had to be highly mobile. The Aurignacians had the patience to await the ripening of plants, to anticipate the rotation of the seasons, and, above all, to experiment with the plants around them. This fundamentally changed migratory habits and social customs. The success of humans, in fact, was built around this diversification of their menu and the organizational specializations that it entailed. Evidence comes from an Aurignacian cave in Greece—Klisoura Cave—that had hearths built not for warmth, but for the preparation of plant food derived from goosefoot (chenopodium) and knotweed (polygonum), which were collected from the nearby hillsides.47 Goosefoot, which grows in vast patches in many parts of the world, is similar to spinach and Swiss chard (Figure 1.27). It is high in protein, calcium, and iron, a good source of vitamin E and B, and contains an almost perfect balance of the amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. It can be eaten raw or roasted. Knotweed is equally nutritious. The young stems are edible in spring and have a flavor similar to rhubarb. Rushes, which grow in marshes, were also collected. They can be consumed after cooking and removing the skin, while the peeled stems and leaf bases can be eaten raw or cooked. A few late-spring stalks provide enough food for a delicious meal. The roots can also be harvested and are an excellent source of carbohydrates, starch, protein, and fat. The pollen of a marsh rush can be used to make a type of bread. Figure 1.27: Goosefoot, Coal-house Fort, United Kingdom. Source: Š Tim Harrison (

Plant gathering and food production was probably done by women, which points to another distinction with the Neanderthal. Their women, so it seems, were not particularly interested in plant exploitation and hunted side by side with the men. The development of the use of plants thus brought into existence a fundamental aspect of human society, medicine. The jellylike substance on the leaves of the marsh rush, for example, was used as medicine on wounds by the Native Americans.48 Whether this was known to the Aurignacians is not known, but there can be no doubt that plant medicine was from early on a major element in the early human social structure and was to alter self-understanding. Plant medicine requires expertise as well as a system of transmission and soon became a core element in the emerging spiritual relationship to life and death. It also enhanced gender differentiation, since plant medicine and its associated magic was almost always in the purview of women.

ROCK ART The Neanderthal, as far as we know, did not have that all-consuming need that humans had to represent the world back to themselves. A testament to this difference is the art that humans produced and that has survived in many places around the globe in the form of drawings and carvings that were made on the walls of rock overhangs.49 Rock art—sometimes called petroglyphs (from petro, meaning “rock,” and glyph, meaning “symbol”)—can be found from the Arctic Circle to the tip of South America, from southwestern France and the deserts of Africa to the Himalayas and China all the way to the deep canyons of the southwestern United States and the

cliffs of Bolivia. If one counted them, they would be in the millions. The origins of rock art cannot be determined archaeologically, but since such art is found in Australia, India, and Aurignacian Europe, all dating to about 40,000 years ago, it must have left Africa with the Homo sapiens 90,000 years ago (Figure 1.28). This is born out by the discovery in India, of ochre drawings on a rock face at Jwalapuram that were made before the Toba explosion maybe around 75,000 BCE. Figure 1.28: Significant rock art sites around the world. Source: Florence Guiraud

Rock art has to be seen in the context of body painting, which was itself an ancient universal practice. We today describe this practice as ornamentation, but for these ancient people, painting the body was a way in which a person became linked to the creative forces that shaped the world (Figure 1.29). Among the Andaman Islanders, for example, clay-based paints are perceived as having the quality of kamakulehlekwe (efficacy) in that they bind and confine smells to their source of emission. Red and yellow are particularly important because they make the body hot and induce “smell,” not literally but conceptually, thus making the human recognizable to the spirits who can perceive these “smells.” In this way, the spirits can locate their living relatives and thus enhance cohesion between generations. The word that the Andaman Islanders use to describe body paint means literally to remind or to remember. 50 In other words body paint is not just a visual cue, but conceptually and primarily part of an olfactory-based system of exchange between the world of the living and the world of the spirits. It is for this reason that ochre is often associated with burials. Figure 1.29: Karo tribesmen preparing for ritual, Ethiopia. Source: © HeyValera (

But whereas body painting might last a day or two, rock art was designed to survive through the generations. And it probably should not be called “rock art” but rather perhaps “spirit art,” for its purpose was not so much to portray reality back to the human as it was to connect to the human world of world of animal and ancestral spirits. And yet, as this skill moved across the dimensions of space and time, not everyone lived near places suited for such expressions. How did it survive and develop? No one knows. Fortunately for us, many of the images are painted with mineral compounds that under the right conditions can withstand the test of time. Orange pigments are often made directly from ironstone. Ash-rich clays yielded white pigment, copper-oxides produced blue-green colors, and charcoal made black. Blood, animal fat, eggs, and urine could be used as bonding agents. Some paints were applied by fingers, some by brushes or by “crayons” of rock. Sometimes paint was blown from the mouth. Images were also scratched or pecked onto the surface. Erosion, the effects of exposure to wind and sun, and other factors have destroyed such a vast proportion that what we have left are only those in more isolated and protected environments. Even so, rock art gives at least a glimpse into ancient aesthetic practices. A dense area of rock art is located in an area near the Texas-Mexico border that includes the Lower Pecos River region, where a scrub desert is cut by narrow, deep canyons. In Seminole Canyon, for example, there are hundreds of images, some showing giant figures and animals, some mysteriously abstract in nature (Figures 1.30 and 1.31). Another dense accumulation is on the mountain cliffs and canyon walls of Baja California Sur, clearly another vast sacred site. Some of the murals, which depict large herds of animals, are on roofs of caves 10 meters high, meaning that extensive scaffolding had to have been built. Drawing a 3-meter-tall animal with the correct proportions on a cave ceiling would have required coordination with fellow artists from below.51 Figure 1.30: Fate Bell Shelter, Seminole Canyon, Texas, USA. Source: Bob Cates

Figure 1.31: Petroglyphs, Seminole Canyon, Texas, USA. Source: Bob Cates

Early examples of rock art in Australia at Carpenter’s Gap and at Arnhem Land date to 40,000 years ago.52 One drawing seems to depict a genyornis, a giant flightless bird that became extinct around that time. Another one depicts a figure that looks like it had been x-rayed (Figure 1.32). In India, the largest collection of art—dating to perhaps 30,000 BCE—are at Bhimbetka with its approximately 500 caves (Figure 1.33). In those days, the caves were not surrounded by dense forest as they are today, but by grasslands and open forest, ideal for hunting bison, tigers, and rhinoceroses, animals that are painted in linear representations on the cave walls in green and dark red.53

Figure 1.32: Petroglyphs, Anbangbang Rock Shelter, Australia. Source: © Thomas Schoch (

Figure 1.33: Petroglyph, Bhimbetka Rock Shelter, Madhya Pradesh, India. Source: © Raveesh Vyas (

Atop a rock in the middle of the Sahara Desert is a 6.3-meter-high carved depiction of a male giraffe and a shorter female. The figures are chiseled out of the rock’s gently sloping surface in bas-relief, capturing the swaying grace of the animals gate. The lead giraffe has a leash on its nose, implying perhaps some level of taming. Nor is this the only image; nearby are over eight hundred images of bovids, ostriches and antelopes, lions and rhinos. They were made maybe 10,000 years ago or earlier, at any rate before the great transformation of the Sahara in the fifth millennium into

the desert that we see today (Figure 1.34). All of these sites served as regional centers for a long period of time—for many thousands of years—with successive generations adding to the range of images and thus to a particular site’s increasing sanctity and mystique. At the Sahara site, figures were added until at least 2000 BCE. Some of the Bhimbetka images may have been painted as late as 1200 CE. Figure 1.34: Giraffe rock art, Niger. Source: Rudolph Atallah

These drawings give us a vivid impression of an active and dynamic world, suggesting the presence of seasonal and ceremonial coherencies. But we should not see this art as an attempt to represent real-life events. Rock art representations are not in that sense like modern photographs. An image of men shooting arrows may not be a hunting scene, but a demonstration of a persons fighting spirit. Animals may be the spirit of those who have embodied the form of an animal to take on its potency. Early rock art could also have been an attempt to bring the ancestors who embody animal spirits into visual range and associate them with particular places in the natural landscape, for it is not just the representations that one has to consider but their location as well. Many of the sites are associated with water, and almost all seem even today to evoke something special in the landscape, whether an unusual geological formation, a special orientation to the sun, or a feeling that one can get of being in an alien or subterranean zone. A t Writing-on-Stone in Alberta, Canada, a 4-kilometer stretch of the Milk River, the combination of strangely shaped rocks, narrow canyons, and the looming presence of Sweetgrass Hills created a potent landscape where spirit power was concentrated by means of rock art on the cliff walls (Figure 1.35). For the Algonquian, who lived around the Great Lakes in Canada and the United States, the foot of cliffs, as well as caves and large cracks, were seen as constituting points where the celestial and the terrestrial intersect with the subterranean and underwater world of the universe. Certain rock formations served as homes for natural spirits, who often took the shape of small furry creatures; although not malevolent they could play tricks on humans. They could be helpful if properly approached. The Algonquian believe that these creatures made these drawings using their own blood. The custom of offering tobacco at rock-art sites is still practiced by certain Native American communities living in northwest Ontario.54

Figure 1.35: Writing-on-Stone, Alberta, Canada. Source: David Lloyd

It is safe to say that rock art demonstrates not just idle representations, but expressions of liminal reality. Were they made in the hope of a future hunting success, or did they serve as a type of scenographic backdrop to a dance or ritual? Were they markers of a sacred landscape, or did the rock face itself constitute a space of exchange between this world and the next? All of the above? We will never know.

ANIMISM The belief structure of early human society is usually summarized by the term “animism” which means that people did not yet conceive of deities in the modern sense, but saw nature and even themselves as a composite of thousands of overlaid and often competing life forces of different scales and potencies. The term “animism” derives from the Latin word “anima” and implies an indwelling life force that one could also conceive of as “soul.” It is of course a modern term coined in the nineteenth century. Even so, explaining animism is not easy since it is often seen simply as nature-worship. This could lead to a misleading oversimplification. Nature, as we perceive it, differs from society, and indeed it stands in sharp contrast to it, while in these ancient times it was a continuum in which a person was included, rather than to which he or she was opposed. But the range of intensities about this relationship can vary. The Hazda, who live in Tanzania, and the Haida in northwest Canada are on the extreme ends of this difference. The Hazda, like the !Kung, are quite informal in their relationship to death. A dead person is placed in his thatch hut, which is brought down on him and burnt. The Haida, by way of contrast, have mythologies filled with powerful animals, and in death the clan will host elaborate feasts. This

seems to imply that early human society, as it moved eastward from Africa, became more complex and ritualistic. And yet in both the Hazda and the Haida, death is not a finality, but a transition into the world of spirits. The native people of Australia, for example, see themselves as part of a world full of interconnected forces that can transition into a rock or a large tree. They themselves are imbued with kuranita (life essences) that form a continuum of beneficent energies. At certain times, groups of hunters will assemble at specific markers in the landscape such as a “kangaroo stone,� for example, and by means of songs and rituals, or sometimes a ground drawing, conjure up the life essences of kangaroos so they can reenter the living sphere.55 This is often achieved by inducing dreaming. Indeed, a dream abolishes the barriers between the past, the present, and the future so that time is experienced as a sort of simultaneity in a timeless space. Geographical features such as certain mountains may be also endowed with a magical aura (Figures 1.36 and 1.37). Ancient Indian texts from between 500 BCE and 400 CE speak about elaborate mountain top rituals and thus give evidence of the astonishing longevity of these devotional practices. The people of the Surasena Kingdom, for example, worshipped the Govardhana Mountain (located near the town of Vrindavan in India), circulating around the base of the hill whilst praying and singing.56 Figure 1.36: Bodhi tree, Wat Kham Chanot, Thailand. Source: Š Mattes (

Figure 1.37: A Khanty women and her friend tying material around a sacred tree to protect her youngest son, Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Similarly, the Inca visualized that each mountain had its own indwelling spirit, or apu, the most important ones of which required offerings of sacrifices to the mountain spirit. Some rocks and caves also are credited as having their own apu. The best-known sacred mountain today is Mount Fuji, at the base of which is the sacred forest Aokigahara, or the Sea of Trees (Figure 1.38). The mossy ground is uneven, broken up by the numerous earthquakes. In some place the trees are so thick that it is not hard to find places completely surrounded by darkness. Mist often hangs over the slope. Folk tales and legends tell of demons and spirits that haunt the area. Mount Misen is another sacred mountain in Japan, sitting midway along a route often traversed by followers of Shugendo, who practice an ascetic lifestyle. The area often resounds even today with the blasts of trumpet shells energetically blown by those participating in ritual exercises.57 Figure 1.38: Aokigahara, “Sea of Trees,� Yamanashi, Japan. Source: Takeshi Akamatsu

Peak sanctuaries, and more specifically peaks together with caves, were at the heart of Minoan religious practices on Crete. Three caves were particularly important: the Dictaean Cave on Mount Dicte near the village Psychro, the Idaean Cave on Mount Ida near Anogheia, and the Cave of Eileithyia, dedicated to the birth goddess. The Dictaean Cave, cold and moist even in the heat of summer, with a pool of water surrounded by stalactites, was the site of rituals dating back to the earliest time of Cretan habitation. The Cave of Eileithyia is now a Christian site and is still visited by Cretan women. The cave most intimately connected with the Cretan creation myth is the cave on Mount Ida, where the earth mother Rhea gave birth to Zeus. Myth describes him as tended by nymphs and protected by youths against his father, the legendary Chronos. Zeus then fathered Minos, who became King of Knossos and of Crete (Figure 1.39). A procession led up to the peak of the mountain to a special sanctuary where offerings were “fed” into a cleft in the rocks. Still today an annual procession makes its way up to the top of the mountain for the feast of Afendis Christos—an instance where Christianity tried to nullify “heathen” cults by appropriating ancient rituals and customs. Figure 1.39: Psychro Cave, Crete. Source: © Jerzy Stzelecki (http:/

THE SHAMAN Although the First Societies saw nature as a living force, its energy could be focused and even possibly harnessed by specialists, known in the modern world as shamans. The word, which comes from the Tungusic people who live in Siberia, was introduced into scholarship during the eighteenth century when German explorers of Siberia brought the word to Europe. The original word, samanil, is thought to derive from the Evenkis word sama-mi, meaning “knowing,” which contrasts with nineteenth-century translations that use the term “witch doctors” or “medicine men.”58 What the Shamans know is the way of the spirit world and how to extract potency from its multiple realities (Figure 1.40). Figure 1.40: Shaman performing ritual on Mount Salkantay, Peru. Source: Christopher Mozzochi

Although shamanism is used as a generic term to describe an ancient worldwide belief structure,

each culture will have its own designation and its own variation on the role of the shaman. In practical terms, shamans serve as healers, as guides of the souls of the dead, and as the custodian of tribal lore. For the !Kung, since people do not actually die but their spirits go to live in a special place where they remain in a sort of continuum with the living, it is the job of the shaman to keep the interaction between the two realms alive and on an even keel. Shamans also play an important part in puberty rites and in induction ceremonies as well as in many aspects of a person’s life. They can outwit malignant spirits and persons and keep pestilence away. They are, however, not priests as there are no prescribed texts or ritual practices. Shamans can go on trips to recharge their energies. In east Asia, a trip to a mountain might be performed. 59 Shamans were often buried close to mountains or sometimes in cracks in the rocks. Although the shaman is an integral part of the clan’s or tribe’s identity, he or she is not necessarily the leader as such. The shaman is often seen as somewhat apart from the group existing in a connected but separated space of existence. Among the Avá-Chiripá in Paraguay, the shaman is traditionally known as mbae-ira, “the solitary one” or “the one set apart.”60 The shaman is knowledgeable, in particular, of the medicinal properties of plants. In Homers Odyssey, Argeiphontes explains that Hermes “gave me the herb, drawing it from the ground, and showing me its physis,” its “inner nature.”61 In the context of American cultures, the term “medicine man” was used to describe these individuals who were venerated and respected.62 But by the word “medicine” we must understand a very broad definition to connote a mystery/learning that is beyond normal human understanding. The list of medicinal usages among American native cultures was extensive. Willow bark, for example, which contains the chemical salicin, related to the salicylic acid found in aspirin, was widely used as a pain reliever. The leaves of wormseed, though poisonous if eaten raw, contain an oily resin that was used to purify the ceremonial grounds for the Green Corn Festivals and from which a medicinal tea was made. And the list goes on63 (Figure 1.41). Figure 1.41: Saliva, an Oglala Sioux priest, dressed for the Hu Kalowa Pi ceremony, South Dakota, USA. Photographed by Edward S. Curtis, 1907. Source: Edward Curtis Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62–136598

Curing ceremonies are, therefore, one of the central activities of the shaman. The ceremony’s main purpose is to expel the disease-object that has been lodged in the body. There is no set procedure since a shaman will cure according to instructions received from his or her power, but the graver the illness, the longer the ceremony. In most cases, the shaman is brought to the residence of the sick person. It is rarely a private event. Relatives and even visitors will be sitting nearby. The shaman will sing and dance, but will also possibly interrupt the proceedings to inform the onlookers about where he is in the process. The purpose is to “maneuver� the sickness into a position where it can be easily extracted from the body. How an individual becomes a shaman varies from society to society. In some societies, it is possible to become a shaman by having a particularly vivid or powerful vision or sensation in which it is claimed that spirits enter the body. In other societies, the position of shaman is inherited. Elsewhere, the future shaman is visited by powerful forces that make him or her ill for a period of time, during which voices teach him the skills of divination.64 In yet other societies an apprenticeship is required under a practicing shaman. Among the Aboriginal Australians, the shamans have to prove their healing skill and in that sense can just as easily be considered professionals as magicians.65 In societies that regularly use hallucinogenic drugs, almost any person can achieve the altered state of consciousness needed for the practice of shamanism. Among the Jivaro of the Ecuadorian Amazon, where hallucinogenics are used in ritual practices, about one in four men is a shaman.66 In the Americas, tobacco came to play a central role in

shamanistic rituals. In some places it was smoked or made into a juice. The shaman-priest of the Waro carries out the feeding of the gods by holding a long cigar vertically and pointing it in the direction of the sky. Smoke is also “offered” to sacred items. 67 Among North American tribes, the most common way of acquiring shamanistic power was by dreaming. A spirit, whether that of an animal, a place, the sun, or another natural object, visits the future medicine-man in his dreams and the connection thus established becomes the source and basis of the latter’s power. From the guardian spirit he receives the song and thus the knowledge that enables him not only to cause or remove ease, but also to endure what other men cannot.68 Among the !Kung, almost every young man and even some women desire to become a shaman, but the training is difficult—particularly psychologically—as the initiates have to learn to master and control the art of the trance.69 Among the Maasai, the ability “to see” is inherited by descendants of a particular clan. Because of its complexity, the history of shamanism is clouded in uncertainty, but the fact that in one form or another it stretches from the tip of South Africa to the tip of South America implies that it predated the departure from Africa by the earliest humans. It is also apparent that as it moved with people eastward through Siberia, it became more intensely ritualized and specialized, with shamans using specific clothing, objects, and sound-making devices. In Siberia, the shaman’s dress features small mirrors and bells hanging from a belt or covering the chest and back that are meant to frighten evil spirits. A helmet might also be worn representing a powerful animal. In east Asia and the Americas, the most important part of the shamans paraphernalia was the drum and drumstick, with a rattle sometimes built into the drum’s handle (Figure 1.42). Its sound was intended to frighten the evil spirits away, to establish contact between man and the supernatural powers, or to secure a good outcome in an undertaking. The typical Mongolian drumstick will have a horse head at its top and a hoof at the bottom, enabling the shaman to journey to a specific place to battle the demons. This journey takes place in a state of ecstasy and is not without its perils.70 Figure 1.42: Shaman on 10,000-foot mountaintop ceremony, Western Mongolia. Source: David Edwards/National Geographic Stock

Shiny objects often hold a special significance in shamanistic practice. The Native Americans, for example, saw spirituality not just in things that literally shine, but also in things that shine in a more conceptual way, such as celestial bodies, meteorological phenomena, the Milky Way, fire, water, metals, minerals, shells, ceramics, feathers, bones, and even blood. Despite the multiplicity of significances, there is a common notion about the inner sacredness of glistening surfaces, whether greenstones in Mesoamerica, gold in the Andes, copper and mica in North America and among the Olmec, polished wood and guanin (a copper-gold alloy) in the Caribbean, or rock crystals in Amazonia. Even perhaps the sweat from a sweat bath places one in the presence of the spiritual. Light and shininess are particularly important to the shamanistic worldview, since it was seen as a portal into the unseen. For the Inuit, shine was a quality that enabled the shaman to see in the dark. Gold for the Incas, had this value. Jade and obsidian shared this property, thus their practically universal significance in many cultures.71 This explains the importance of small mirrors, usually of polished mica, or various types of stones in the shaman’s tool kit.

PROTO-SHINTOISM The most coherent survival of ancient animism known to us is Japanese Shintoism. The word “Shinto,” which can be translated as “the way of the gods,” was coined in the nineteenth century to identify it as a religion distinct from Buddhism. Until then Shintoism was so fundamental to Japanese life and culture that it had no name apart from the names for the various cultic procedures, ceremonies, and rituals. In its earliest formation we find no architectural expression at all. The famous Ise Shrine and all the hundreds of other temples that are such a large part of the Shinto culture of today all arose as a response of Shintoism’s seventh-century CE encounter with

Buddhism. Buddhism, which came to Japan from India via China and Korea, brought with it a highly developed architectural culture of temples and shrines that Shintoism in a sense adopted. The story of pre-Buddhist Shintoism has, therefore, to be first told from the perspective of its prearchitectural phase when it was characterized solely by the worship of kami, which can be defined as the “spirits” of mountains, rivers, lightning, wind, waves, trees, and even rocks72 (Figure 1.43). Figure 1.43: Himorogi of Amenoho-Hinomikoto on Mount Rokkou, Kobe Japan. Source: © OpenCage (

Their presence can be indicated by a honden which might be nothing more than a rope, but often is a small box-like structure with a roof made of stone or wood (Figure 1.44). Kami and humans exist in a shared continuum; they exist within the same world and share its interrelated complexities. Nonetheless, the kami, as innate supernatural forces residing in all things, are above the actions of man. Certain localities, such as the sacred grove, or mod, are viewed as particularly propitious for the meeting of humans with the spirit of kami and are therefore held to be sacred.73 There are several such groves still existing in Japan, such as the 20-hectare wooded area, Atsutaku, in the city of Nagoya. On Okinawa, one finds the Rikyu Shinto sanctuary, known as Seifa-utaki (meaning “purified place of Utaki”), a sacred grove where ancient gods are believed to have descended and dwelled (Figure 1.45). This sanctuary, held to be particularly sacred, was until recently closed to ordinary people. It has, apart from its dense undergrowth, unusual rock formations, and cliff faces that drip sacred water. Figure 1.44: A typical Japanese kami shrine or honden, Japan. Source: © Tanaka Juuyoh (

Figure 1.45: Rikyu Shinto sanctuary, “Seifa-utaki,” Okinawa, Japan. Source: © Hideyuki Kamon (

Mountain kami locations are particularly sacred as they are considered the conduits to the supernatural. The more cone-like the mountain, the more significant its attributes, thus the particular importance of Mount Akagi and Mount Fuji. At the foot of Mount Akagi archaeologists found several stone replicas of swords, of round mirrors, and of mysterious jewels that were

perhaps used to induce the kami to descend from its world and manifest itself in the world of the living. Yama no kami , “deity of the mountains (or woods),” is the owner and master of the hunting animals; it is he who grants or refuses the game to the hunter. Now and then, in Japanese myths, he appears in the shape of an animal, often as a white stag, a huge bear, or of a boar. When a hunter has killed a hundred stags or boars, he will erect a memorial stone to appease the kami.74 Unlike modern, monotheistic religious practices, Shintoism does not require those respecting its premises to be believers or practitioners. There are no sacred writings, nor is there an organized theory of death. The spirits of the dead go to the mountains, above the sky, below the earth, or beyond the horizon. Living beings from this world may visit those from the other worlds in border areas such as cliffs, caves, and coastlines. The deceased generally do not become kami unless there are special circumstances associated with their death. Contemporary kami rituals still survive in some places and this despite the decentralization of villages, the modernization of Japans political structure, and extensive cultural contact with Buddhism and Christianity.75 In a village in Okinawa one ritual is as follows: Eight middle-aged and elderly women enter the kami-ya (village shrine). They sit on tatami mats on the floor and chat. Gradually, the conversation ceases. One of the women instructs a male assistant to light incense and place it on the altar. This woman, flanked on either side by her associates, turns toward the three rocks arranged on the altar and pours sake (rice wine) over the rocks. All of the women kneel, press their hands together, and quietly murmur prayers. The eight women then file outside, where a bus provided by the town hall drives them to the beginning of a trail that leads into the jungle. They begin their ascent, single file, the male assistant walking in front in order to clear away vines and look out for poisonous habu snakes. After fifteen minutes of steady climbing, they pause at a clearing. The male assistant walks on. The women take out fivepiece white robes from the bags they have been carrying and quietly don the robes. They are now officially kami-sama, or guardian spirits, -sama being an honorary suffix added to names or titles. The eight kami-sama continue their trek into the increasingly dark jungle, finally reaching the sacred grove. There are two stone benches where they sit and weave crowns of leaves and vines to put on their heads. One of the kami-sama goes farther into the scared grove, stopping at a small stone altar on which rest six conch shells. She squats in front of the shells, prays briefly, and “feeds” rice and sake into the opening of each shell. She then joins her fellow kami-sama, taking her place on the center seat. The male assistant pours sake for each kami-sama; they pray briefly and quietly. The eight kami-sama rise and begin their journey back to the bus. The bus driver takes them to the edge of the village, and the kami-sama walk to the village square, where they are met by clan members and the village headman, who bows and pours sake for each kami-sama. Clanswomen provide food and drink of the kami-sama. After a small meal the kami-sama rise, take off the white robes, and hang the crowns of leaves on special nails in the village square. The women then walk home and return to their normal activites.76

DANCE CEREMONIALISM Ritual dance is such a pervasive aspect of First Society life that it too must have left Africa some 60,000 years ago as an essential—and already by then well-defined—aspect of the human cultural package. In many cases, the dance is part of a larger ceremonial event. It is important to stress the concept of ceremonialism to draw emphasis away from the tendency to see dance as an autonomous event or as a form of entertainment. In Australia and the Americas in particular,

ceremonies consist of a number of related events that may even involve different performance grounds belonging to different clans. A ceremony may attract, by invitation, participants from neighboring and even distant communities. Some ceremonies are seasonal, but others can be related to the death of an important figure, or to certain shamanistic requirements. The Hazda have a sacred dance ceremony that takes place every night when there is no moon in the sky. In other words, it is done in complete darkness. Once it has been dark for a while, people begin to assemble in the open area in the camp. The men congregate in one area and the women elsewhere. Only one man dances at a time, wearing a black cape and headdress of black and brown ostrich feathers, with tie bells on his ankles and holding a seed-filled gourd as a shaker. These objects are considered sacred. The man dances by stomping very hard on the ground, providing a slow, steady beat with the jangling of the bells and the shaking of the gourd. He sings in a call-and-shout style and sometimes whistles. He will dance a minute or two, then disappear to return to dance a bit longer. With each return, the women who answer his singing become more animated in their responses. Eventually they too will get up and dance around the man, whom they can only hear or whose shape they can vaguely intuit in the darkness. When the man finishes, he passes the ritual over to the next man and the same thing occurs again, until all the men have danced.77 Night-time dances are typical and still practiced by the Karo in Ethiopia, for example (Figure 1.46). Figure 1.46: Men and women of the Karo tribe gather for an evening dance, Dus, Omo Valley, Ethiopia. Source: Randy Olson/National Geographic Stock

In more complex First Societies, these types of dances often featured ritual acts of gift giving, which served to affirm the identity of the group and establish the link between the humans and the non-humans. And since songs are often considered to have been made by the spirit world, it was the duty of humans to transmit them as accurately as possible to the next generation. Ceremonies

also served as venues for social interaction with distant communities. Though ceremonies have a particular script that does not mean that First Society people never wavered from tradition. From early contact with Native Americans in the United States and with First Society peoples in Australia it is clear that ceremonies could change over time. Some, for example, were adopted from surrounding cultures as the influence of those cultures spread.78 Dances often feature elaborate sacred costumes and headgear, either worn or carried by the dancers. In Australia, the gear can represent rainbows, pelicans’ bills, shields or ba/angan spirits of a deceased person, among other things. In the Americas they can represent birds, bison, and a whole range of animals. Some dances are intended to help make contact with the spirit world through an altered state of consciousness brought on by the dance itself. In some places the dances were more athletic than others, but they were rarely short events. A dance can last through the entire night; some can be part of ceremonies that last for several days, and occasionally even weeks (Figure 1.47). Some mark seasonal transitions, others the transitions in the human life cycle. For the Zuni in the American Southwest, a dance ceremony includes speeches made by the chief that take six hours to deliver, and which he has to learn by heart.79 Figure 1.47: Night-time ceremony, Australia. Source: Luca De Giglio

In some places the difference between men and women singing and dancing is not sharply drawn. But in Arnhem Land in Australia, this is not the case. Men’s dancing is athletic with high leaps, vigorous and strongly differentiated movements, and skillful imitation of bird and animal behavior. Women’s dancing is more restricted to standardized postures and hand and foot movements. In north-central Arnhem Land one finds circle dancing and fluid rhythmic movement, similar to the stomp dance in the Americas where dancers, male and female, move counterclockwise around a sacred fire. In Australia, the posture is often a semi-crouching position with knees apart and trunk

forward and arms flexed. Dances are usually performed on specially prepared ground, either in the area of the camp or nearby, depending on the context of the occasion (Figures 1.48 and 1.49). In Australia, a boughshade is usually erected on the side of the performance ground. In this shade, the objects to be used are prepared and the dancers are decorated. These preparations, which can be quite time consuming, are integral to the event and are accompanied by songs summoning the spirits to ensure the efficacy of the event. Similar preparations are to be found among the Native Americans. In most cases, in fact, the boundary between preparation and the actual dance are imperceptible so that the whole event is a gradual building up to a climax. Endings, however, are usually abrupt, signaled by the removal of the dancers’ headdresses and decorations. Figure 1.48: Ankle rattles made of shells at a tribal dance in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana. Source: Š Ben Lai (

Figure 1.49: Tribal dance in Borneo, Malaysia. Source: Š Aruna (

In places where it is cold, these events are held indoors (Figure 1.50). Such dances will have more restricted movements and are sometimes done in a seated position. The Inuits, along the Arctic Circle, constructed a special structure, known as kashim, for their ceremonial dances, shamanistic healings, yearly meets, and initiation rites. Rectangular in Alaska, and more circular in eastern areas, they were partially dug into the ground and had a roof of logs and earth supported by timber posts. Ten or more meters across, they could hold at least a hundred people. Larger villages might have had more than one. Some had elaborate venting for the fire in which a channel was dug from just outside the entrance under the floor to the fire pit. This prototype can be found in Siberia all the way to Peru. To enter the kashim, a person had to crawl on all fours through the low entry, which, apart from trapping the warm air inside, served as a reminder of the animal-human transformation. The smoke hole represented the upper world, the fire pit the lower world, and the ceremonial house the human world. The ability of the spirits to “enter” and “exit” from both fire pit and smoke hole made this interaction explicit. Figure 1.50: Yupik Eskimo women at a drum dance, Provid-eniya, Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

The Washoe, who lived in the mountains around Lake Tahoe in California, also built special Dance Houses. First an area 10 meters in diameter and about a meter deep was excavated; above this a 3.5-meters-high, conically shaped structure of poles covered by earth and tule mats was created (Figure 1.51a and 1.51b). The fireplace was at the center and the entrance faced to the east. They were built primarily to assist a person transitioning into a shaman or for ceremonies to expel evil spirits.80 The central post of the structure received at its apex the accumulated tips of the roof poles. Between the center post and the outer walls was a ring of seven posts. The structure carried a host of short poles on which is piled earth, tule, and brush. The entranceway sloped down from the outside and was about 1.2 meters wide. The rectangular smoke hole was over the fireplace and between the entrance and the center pole. The floor was covered with fresh green willow boughs and leaves. This design, known as a pit house or earth lodge, was widespread and can be found from Siberia into Peru, with numerous local variants, as we shall discuss later. In the case of a sacred dance, the dark outer circle was occupied by the onlookers, who sat or reclined with their feet toward the center. The performers assembled near the entrance and when ready ran through the entrance and grouped themselves on the western side of the house, beating time by striking the ground vigorously with the feet and singing or blowing low musical strains on whistles made of goose or eagle bones. At intervals, the chief climbed the roof and sang a chant. These ceremonies could last up to four days.81 Figure 1.51a, b: Typical Pawnee dance house, Nebraska, USA: (a) view, (b) section. Source: Mark Jarzombek & Timothy Cooke/C. Hart Merrian, Studies of California Indians (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955), 13.

Even in warm climates a special Dance House may be erected. The Avá Chiripá, who live in the rainforests of Paraguay, for example, have a ceremony called ñemboé kaagüy, or the Prayer of the Forest. The Dance House, situated in the center of the village, is about 6 by 4 meters, larger than the ordinary house, and has one side that is open and facing east. In front of this space, a large trough made of sacred cedar is placed that holds the ceremonial drink. The trough is in the shape of a canoe. In front of it there are three cedar posts, about 1.2 meters high. The two outer ones hold candles. Feathers and an arrow ornament the central post. The ceremony lasts for four days, with ritual dances taking place in front of the trough and the posts. As the days go on, more and more people from the surrounding areas show up to participate. The ceremony ends with the drink being imbibed first by the shaman and then by the rest of the people, who all dance in circles and crisscrossing groups of men and women. The date for the ceremony is determined by the dream of the highest-ranking shaman responsible for the ritual, but usually takes place as a ritual inauguration of the first fruit and harvest.82 Perhaps of all the activities that came out of Africa, dance, despite the fact that it leaves only the most intangible of traces, was the most important. Its capacity to bond humans both to one another and to the cosmos—while at the same time linking them across the differences of space, time, and even language—is enormous. Dancing was the glue that held everything together. An anthropologist studying the Mbuti in the Congo rainforest was once taken on expedition to

collect honey. One evening, when everyone was back in the camp, he noticed a man dancing by himself. The anthropologist asked him why he was dancing alone. “He stopped, turned slowly around and looked at me as though I was the biggest fool he had ever seen; and he was plainly surprised by my stupidity. ‘But I’m not dancing alone,’ he said. I am dancing with the forest, dancing with the moon.”’83

ENDNOTES 1. Scholarly literature uses a complex series of terms to designate the development of different cultures through time. In Africa: Early Stone Age (2.5 million to 200,000 BP ); Middle Stone Age (200,000 to 20,000 BP ); and Later Stone Age (20,000 BP to Present). In Europe: Lower Paleolithic (750,000 to 220,000 BP ); Middle Paleolithic (220,000 to 45,000 BP ); and Upper Paleolithic (45,000 to 10,000 BP ). In India: Paleolithic (500,000 to 30,000 BP ); Mesolithic (30,000 to 5000 BP ); and Neolithic (8000 to 1500 BP ). Because of these variants and the different time slots associated with them, I have decided to not use these terms in the book, in the hope that these terminological issues can be addressed in other contexts. 2. Shannon P. McPherron et al., “Evidence for Stone-Tool-Assisted Consumption of Animal Tissues Before 3.39 Million Years Ago at Dikika, Ethiopia,” Nature 466 (August 12, 2010): 857–860. 3. Anna J. Machin, R.T. Hosfield, and S.J. Mithen, “Why Are Some Handaxes Symmetrical? Testing the Influence of Handaxe Morphology on Butchery Effectiveness,” Journal of Archaeological Science 34, no. 6 (June 2007): 883–893. 4. Eileen M. O’Brien, “What Was the Acheulean Hand Axe?” The MCC Hominid Journey, (accessed July 2, 2011). See also: William H. Calvin. William H. Calvin, “The Unitary Hypothesis: A Common Neural Circuitry for Novel Manipulations, Language, Plan-ahead, and Throwing?” in Tools, Language, and Cognition in Human Evolution, eds. Kathleen R. Gibson and Tim Ingold (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993): 230–250. 5. M. D. Leakey, Olduvai Gorge Volume 3: Excavations in Beds I and 11, 1960–1963 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1971): 24, Illustration 7. For an Acheulean site in Israle, see: Nira Alperson-Afil, Gonen Sharon et al., “Spatial Organization of Hominin Activities at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, Israel,” Science, New Series, 326/5960 (December 18, 2009): 1677– 1680. 6. V. N. Misra, “Middle Pleistocene Adaptations in India,” in The Pleistocene Old World: Regional Perspectives, ed. Olga Soffer (New York: Plenum Press, 1987): 99–119. 7. Karl W. Butzer, “A Settlement Archaeology Project in the Alexandersfontein Basin, Kimberly,” Palaeoecology of Africa 9 (1976): 144–145. 8. Kathleen Kuman, Moshe Inbar, and R. J. Clarke, “Palaeoenvironments and Cultural Sequence of the Florisbad Middle Stone Age Hominid Site, South Africa,” Journal of Archaeological Science 26, no. 12 (December 1999): 1409–1425. 9. C. Garth Sampson, The Middle Stone Age Industries of the Orange River Scheme Area (Bloemfontein: National Museum, 1968): 24–27; C. Garth Sampson, Vie Stone Age Archaeology of Southern Africa (New York: Academic Press, 1974), 169. 10. See Curtis W. Marean et al., “Early Human Use of Marine Resources and Pigment in South Africa During the Middle Pleistocene,” Nature 449 (2007): 905–908. Sally McBrearty and

Alison S. Brooks, “The Revolution That Wasn’t: A New Interpretation of the Origin of Modern Human Behavior,” Journal of Human Evolution 39 (2000): 453–563. 11. Christopher S. Henshilwood et al., “Middle Stone Age Shell Beads from South Africa,” Science 304, no. 5669 (April 16, 2004): 404; F. d’Errico et al, “Nassarius Kraussianus Shell Beads from Blombos Cave: Evidence for Symbolic Behaviour in the Middle Stone Age,” Journal of Human Evolution 48, no. 1 (January 2005): 3–24. 12. P. Beaumont and A. Boshier, “Mining in Southern Africa and the Emergence of Modern Man,” Optima 4 (March 1972): 19–29. 13. Paul Pettitt, “The Living as Symbols, The Dead as Symbols, Problematising the Scale and Pace of Hominin Symbolic Evolution,” in Homo Symbolicus: The Dawn of Language, Imagination and Spirituality, eds. Christopher Stuart Henshilwood and Francesco D’Errico (Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing, 2011): 143. 14. James R. Walker, The Sun Dance and Other Ceremonies of the Oglala Division of the Teton Dakota, Anthropological Papers of the Museum of Natural History Volume 16, Part 2 (New York: 1917): 155. 15. Camilla Power, “Women in Prehistoric Rock Art,” in New Perspectives on Prehistoric Art, ed. Günter Berghaus (London: Praeger, 2004): 75–103; Hans-Joachim Heinz, “The Social Organisation of the !Kõ Bushmen” (Master’s Thesis, University of South Africa, 1966): 123. 16. Roger L. Hewitt, Structure, Meaning and Ritual in the Narratives of the Southern San (Hamburg: Buske, 1986): 281; J. David Lewis-Williams, Believing and Seeing: Symbolic Meanings in Southern San Rock Paintings (London: Academic Press, 1981): 51. 17. Ian Watts, “The Origin of Symbolic Culture,” in The Evolution of Culture, eds. Robin Dunbar, Chris Knight, and Camilla Power (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999): 133. 18. Megan Biesele, Women Like Meat (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1993): 163, 196. 19. P. B. Beaumont and E and A. Thackeray, “An Ochre-Mine Near Postmasburg,” The South African Archaeological Society Newsletter 4/1 (June 1981): 2. 20. Diego Salazar, D. Jackson, J. L. Guendon, H. Salinas, D. Morata, V. Figueroa, G. Manríquez, and V. Castro, “Early Evidence (ca. 12,000 BP) for Iron Oxide Mining on the Pacific Coast of South America.” Current Anthropology 52, no. 3 (June 2011): 463–475. 21. I would like to thank the archaeologist Sheila Dawn Coulson for discussing this site with me. See also Yngve Vogt, “World’s Oldest Ritual Discovered. Worshipped the Python 70,000 Years Ago,” Apollon Arkeologi, Trans. Alan Louis Belardinelli, published November 30,2006, www.Apollon.Uio.No/Vis/Art/2006_4/Artikler/Python_English (accessed July 2, 2011). 22. M. L. Murphy et al., “Prehistoric Mining of Mica Schist at the Tsodilo Hills, Botswana,” Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (May 1994): 87–92. 23. A. G. Sagona and J. A. Webb, “Toolumbunner in Perspective,” Bruising the Red Earth: Ochre Mining and Ritual in Aboriginal Tasmania, ed. Antonio Sagona (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1994): 139. 24. See the studies in Frank W. Marlowe, The Hadza: Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010): 225–254. 25. Iain Davidson and W. Noble, “Why the First Colonisation of the Australian Region is the Earliest Evidence of Modern Human Behavior,” Archaeology in Oceania 27 (1992): 138. 26. Richard B. Lee, Irven DeVore, and Jill Nash, Man the Hunter (Chicago: Aldine, 1968).

27. Ronald M. Berndt and Catherine H. Berndt, Man, Land & Myth in North Australia: The Gunwinggu People (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1970). 28. Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee, The Salish People and the Lewis and Cork Expedition (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005): 52. 29. Ann Fienup-Riordan, Boundaries and Passages: Rule and Ritual in Yup’ik Eskimo Oral Tradition (Tulsa: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994): 23, footnote 4. See also page 14. 30. Vishvajit Pandya, Above the Forest: A Study of Andamanese Ethnoanemology, Cosmology, and the Power of Ritual (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993): 111. 31. Wilhelm Dupré, Religion in Primitive Cultures: A Study in Ethnophilosophy (The Hague: Mouton, 1975): 153. 32. Ann Fienup-Riordan, Boundaries and Passages: Rule and Ritual in Yup’ik Eskimo Oral Tradition (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994,): 50. 33. Bruce D. Bonta, Peaceful Peoples: An Annotated Bibliography (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1993): 29–31, 42; Donald E Thomson, “The Seasonal Factor in Human Culture,” Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 5, no. 2 (1939): 209–211. 34. Ernest S. Burch, Jr., Social Life in Norwest Alaska, The Structure of Inupiaq Eskimo Nations (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2006): 29, footnote 1. 35. Michael R. Rampino and Stephen Self, “Bottleneck in the Human Evolution and the Toba Eruption,” Science 262, no. 5142 (December 24, 1993): 1955. 36. It is generally assumed that western Australia was occupied around 40,000 BP , Tasmania around 35,000 BP , and central Australia around 27,000 BP . For a general overview, see Harry Lourandos, Continent of Hunter-Gatherers: New Perspectives in Australian Prehistory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). 37. See Jim M. Bowler, “Recent Developments in Reconstructing Late Quaternary Environments in Australia,” in The Origins of the Australians, eds. R. L. Kirk and A. G. Thorne (Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 1976)L 55–80. 38. Steve Webb, The First Boat People (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 229. 39. See H. Johnston, “Pleistocene Shell Middens of the Willandra Lakes,” in Sahul in Review: Pleistocene Archaeology in Australia, New Guinea and Island Melanesia, Occasional Papers in Prehistory 24, eds. M. A. Smith, M. Spriggs, and B. Fankhauser (Canberra: 1993): 197–203; H. Johnston and P. Clark, “Willandra Lakes Archaeological Investigations 1968–98,” Archaeology in Oceania 33, no. 3 (1998): 105–119. 40. Steve Webb, Matthew L. Cupper, and Richard Robins, “Pleistocene Human Footprints from the Willandra Lakes, Southeastern Australia,” Journal of Human Evolution 50, no. 4 (2006): 405–413. 41. Paul Mellars, The Neanderthal Legacy: An Archaeological Perspective from Western Europe (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996): 287. 42. Jan Kolen, “Hominids without Homes,” in The Middle Paleolithic Occupation of Europe, eds. Wil Roebroeks and Clive Gamble (Leiden, The Netherlands: University of Leiden Press, 1999): 156. 43. Mikhail V. Anikovich, “Early Upper Paleolithic Industries of Eastern Europe,” Journal of World Prehistory 6, no. 2 (1992): 205–245; A.A. Sinitsyn, “A Palaeolithic ‘Pompeii’ at Kostenki, Russia,” Antiquity 77, no. 295 (2003): 9–14. The site as associated with the Kosteni– Willendorf Culture that spanned central Europe and the Russian plain dating to ca. 30,000– 20,000 BP . It is also often equated with the Eastern Gravettian Culture.

44. Ben J. Wallace, Village Life in Insular Southeast Asia (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1971): 86. 45. Alexander Marshack, Notation dans les Gravures du Paléolithique Supérieur (Bordeaux: Delmas, 1970). See also Alexander Marshack, “Cognitive Aspects of Upper Paleolithic Engraving,” Current Anthropology 13, no. 3–4 (1972): 445–477. 46. Alexander Marshack, The Roots of Civilization: The Cognitive Beginnings of Man’s First Art, Symbol, and Notation (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1972): 50–52. 47. Panagiōtēs Karkanas et al., “The Earliest Evidence for Clay Hearths: Aurignacian Features in Klisoura Cave 1, Southern Greece” Antiquity 78, no. 301 (2004): 513–525. 48. Steve Brill and Evelyn Dean, Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places (New York: Harper, 1994): 69–70. See also Harriet V. Kuhnlein and Nancy J. Turner, Traditional Plant Foods of Canadian Indigenous Peoples: Nutrition, Botany and Use (Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach, 1991). 49. Christopher Chippindale and Paul S. C. Taçon, The Archaeology of Rock-Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). See also David S. Whitley, ed., Handbook of Rock Art Research (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2001). 50. Vishvajit Pandya, Above the Forest: A Study of Andamanese Ethnoanemology, Cosmology, and the Power of Ritual (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993): 126. 51. Harry W. Crosby, The Cave Paintings of Baja California (San Diego, CA: Sunbelt Publications, 1997). 52. Malangine Cave in Australia Is thought to Date to 28,000 BCE. Robert G. Bednarik, “The Speleothem Medium of Finger Flutings and Its Isotopic Geochemistry,” Artefact 22 (1999): 49– 64. 53. Robert G. Bednarik et al., “Preliminary Eesults of the EIP [Early Indian Petroglyphs] Project,” Rock Art Research 22, no. 2 (2005): 147–197; James Harrod, “Comment on Early Indian Petroglyphs Project,” Rock Art Research 23, no. 1 (2006). 54. Daniel Arsenault, “Spiritual Places in the Algonkian Sacred Landscape,” in Pictures in Place: The Figured Landscapes of Rock-Art, eds. Christopher Chippindale and George Nash (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004): 30–33. 55. Charles P. Mountford, “The Artist and His Art in an Australian Aboriginal Society,” in The Artist in Tribal Society: Proceedings of a Symposium Held at the Royal Anthropological Institute, ed. Marian W. Smith (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1961): 4. 56. The long epic poem The Mahabharata, composed between the fifth century BCE and the fourth century CE, is a key source for ancient Indian festivals and celebrations. 57. Hitoshi Miyake, Shugendō: Yamabushi no rekishi to shiso (Higashimurayama: Kyōikusha, 1978): 45–52. 58. Milton M. R. Freeman, Endangered Peoples of the Arctic: Struggles to Survive and Thrive (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000): 63. 59. Laurel Kendall, Shamans, Nostalgias, and the IMF: South Korean Popular Religion in Motion (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2009): 184–186. 60. Miguel Albero Bartolomé, “Shamanism Among the Avá-Chiripá,” in Spirits, Shamans, and Stars: Perspectives from South America, eds. David L. Browman and Ronald A. Schwarz (The Hague: Mouton, 1979): 95–148. 61. A. T. Murray, Homer: The Odyssey (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975):

10.302–10.303. 62. “Lakota Words” and “Apache Words,” Frontierland, (accessed January 28, 2012). 63. See John R. Swanton, Creek Religion and Medicine (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000); Tis Mai Crow, Native Plants, Native Healing Traditional Muskogee Way (Summertown, TN: Native Voices Book Publishing Co., 2001); James H. Howard and Willie Lena, Oklahoma Seminoles: Medicine, Magic and Religion (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984); Alice Micco Snow and Susan Enns Stans, Healing Plants: Medicine of the Florida Seminole Indians (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001). 64. Ágnes Kerezsi, “Similarities and Differences in Eastern Khanty Shamanism,” in Shamanism and Northern Ecology, ed. Juha Pentikäinen (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1996): 194–195. 65. This is the argument of A. P. Elkin, Aboriginal Men of High Degree (New York: St. Martin Press, 1978). 66. Michael Harner, The Jivaro: People of the Sacred Waterfall (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1973). 67. Johannes Wilbert, “Magico-religious Use of Tobacco Among South American Indians,” in Spirits, Shamans, and Stars: Perspectives from South America, eds. David L. Browman and Ronald A. Schwarz (The Hague: Mouton, 1979): 13–38. 68. Alfred L. Kroeber, The Religion of the Indians of California (Berkeley: University Press, 1907). See also Jean Blodgett, The Coming and Going of the Shaman: Eskimo Shamanism and Art (Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1979). 69. See Richard B. Lee, The Dobe !Kung (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984): 104– 118. 70. Walther Heissig, The Religions of Mongolia, trans. Geoffrey Samuel (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980): 6–23. 71. Nicholas J. Saunders, “Stealers of Light, Traders in Brilliance: Amerindian Metaphysics in the Mirror of Conquest,” Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 33 (Spring 1998): 225–252. 72. For an excellent overview see Carmen Blacker, The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan (London: Allen & Unwin, 1975). 73. Sonoda Minoru, “The State Cult of the Nara and Early Heian Periods,” in Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami, eds. John Breen and Mark Teeuwen (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000): 47–67. 74. Nelly Naumann, “Whale and Fish Cult in Japan: A Basic Feature of Ebisu Worship,” Asian Folklore Studies 33 (1974): 1–15. 75. See “Core Shamanism and Neo-Shamanism,” in Shamanism: An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture, Volume 1, eds. Mariko Namba Walter, Eva Jane, and Neumann Fridman (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004): 49–57. 76. Susan Starr Sered, Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999): 3. 77. Frank W. Marlowe, The Hadza: Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010): 59–60. 78. Robert H. Lowie, “Ceremonialism in North America,” American Anthropologist 16, no. 4 (Oct. -Dec, 1914): 602–631; 612 and 616. 79. Edmund Wilson, Red, Black, Blond, and Olive: Studies in Four Civilizations: Zuñi, Haiti,

Soviet Russia, Israel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956): 33. 80. Edgar E. Siskin, Washo Shamans and Peyotists: Religious Conflict in an American Indian Tribe (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1983): 40–42. 81. C. Hart Merrian, Studies of California Indians (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955): 30–32. 82. Miguel Albero Bartolomé, “Shamanism Among the Avá-Chiripá,” in Spirits, Shamans, and Stars: Perspectives from South America, ed. David L. Browman and Ronald A. Schwarz (The Hague: Mouton, 1979): 136–137. 83. Colin M. Turnbull, The Forest People (New York: Doubleday, 1962): 285.

CHAPTER 2 Late Pleistocene—Early Holocene Societies Around 23,000 BCE, temperatures began to drop, producing what scientists call the Last Glacial Maximum. The great northern ice sheets that had been dormant for thousands of years began to grow. The ice that covered Canada was over a kilometer thick! Tibet, the Andean Mountains, and southern Argentina were soon covered with ice sheets of their own. The rainforests in south Asia and South America diminished and the deserts in central Australia, Sahara, and Arabia expanded. Europe would have been completely unrecognizable to the modern person. A broad polar desert developed along the southern margins of the ice. Further south, there was a continuous zone of permafrost. Forests were to be found only in the more temperate Mediterranean zones and around parts of the Black Sea, then an inland lake. This cooling took place at the end of the Pleistocene, the geological epoch that lasted from about 2.5 million years ago to about 10,000 BCE. Though it had several periods of cold, the Last Glacial Maximum was not only particularly severe, but also the first one that tested the mettle of the now expanded human world. The most extreme situations were to be found in Europe, where the estimated winter temperatures in the East European plains were minus 30 degrees Celsius. So why did the humans who lived in Europe not retreat to warmer climates? The answer is simple. Europe had become a hunter’s paradise. The massive expanse of grasslands, tundra, and savannas reaching for thousands of kilometers from France to Russia benefited mammoth, bison, reindeer, and horses, whose numbers radically expanded. If one calls to mind contemporary scenes of flying over Africa and looking down at the swarms of animals, such would have been the case in Europe twenty thousand years ago. The Aurignacians were clearly not equipped to deal with these changes and their archaeological record fades away, to be replaced by the Gravettians (26,000–20,000 BCE), who in France and northern Spain are also known as the Solutreans (20,000–15,000 BCE). They were the world’s first great hunting culture, but did they come in from the east or were they a regional development?1 The debate rages on, but what is clear is that unlike the Aurignacians, who showed only limited evidence of organized hunting, the Gravettians consciously exploited the movements of the animals who migrated from grasslands to watering holes, and from summer pastures to winter refuges. As steppe, cold-weather hunters, the Gravettians differentiated themselves from the rest of humanity at that time (Figure 2.1). Figure 2.1: Gravettians. Source: Florence Guiraud

Gravettian equipment consisted of a still rather limited assortment of clubs, stones, sticks, and spears, which were all short-distance weapons so that encounters with the prey had to take place at close quarters. But with their excellent spear points and their tight social structure, they learned to chase game into V-shaped ravines where an ambush could be set up, or along flat river shores near animal migration routes. For small game, they used nets, driving animals with noises and shouts. Underneath a rock outcrop at SolutrÊ in France, one group specialized in hunting horses (Figure 2.2). It is likely that the hunters chased migrating herds into the valley that separates the outcrop from Mont Pouilly just to the west and then up against the cliff face. That this place was used to intercept and dispatch large amounts of game animals is proven by the dense bone-beds, some 9 meters thick in some places.2 Hundreds of people would have had to participate in such an organized event. But since horses were probably slaughtered during their summer migration, there was also a lot of waste given the impossibility of storage.3 After the feasting, skinning, and accompanying ceremonies, the group would have dispersed, each family unit going its separate way. Analysis of the site has shown that the hunters consisted of hierarchically organized, homogeneous tribes moving through the landscape along established and planned routes that linked areas used for hunting, fishing, and trapping to those where plant resources could be gathered and where lithic raw material could be mined.4 Figure 2.2: Rock of SolutrÊ, Burgundy, France. Source: Š Ballista (

The Gravettians developed not only specialized meat carving tools and flint points, but also specialized clothing, boots, caps, and footwear to protect themselves against the cold. Fox, wolf, and hare were hunted, not so much for food as for their fur. 5 Small, delicate-eyed needles were recovered in many of their sites, including some needle cases made of small bird bones (Figure 2.3). It is likely that the needlework was the labor of women, reflecting further gender differentiation (Figures 2.4 and 2.5). Figure 2.3: MagdalÊnien Culture bone sewing needle, France. Source: Š Didier Descouens (

Figure 2.4: Nenets woman sewing reindeer-skin clothing in her tent, Yamal, Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 2.5: Nadiya Asyandu (right), a Nganasan woman in traditional dress, poses with elder Saibore Momde, Northern Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

A burial in Sungir Russia contained a man who wore a cleanly cut leather cloak, ornamented with more than two thousand beads and fragments arranged in strands down its front and around the arms. His beaded cap was highlighted with fox teeth. Around his neck, he wore a small, flat stone pendant, painted red with a small black dot on one side. A grave at a site at Brßnn, Romania, held an adult male wearing a necklace made up of six hundred dentalium shells—the same type of shells that were prized by the Native Americans. Experiments revealed that each of the ivory beads took more than an hour to fabricate, meaning that the jacket took more than three thousand hours to make. That means roughly that a woman assisted by female elders and some children might need about a year to make this. The man was also wearing numerous disks of mammoth bone

and ivory that served as tokens of status. The skeleton was stained with ochre and the whole grave was ceremoniously covered with rhinoceros bones and mammoth tusks. The significance of the jacket can never be known, but hunter societies that survived into modern times still possessed a complex culture of ceremonial shirts, the main examples coming from the Native American Plains Indians (Figure 2.6). Their jackets and shirts—made of the skins of deer, antelope, elk, and buffalo—served to identify regional and tribal affiliations and were decorated with shells, beads, and tassels. They were often painted to tell stories about brave deeds, the capturing of horses, and the killing of enemies. Symbols such as eagles or lightning strikes signified protective or destructive powers. The American Blackfeet used ceremonial jackets to record the owner’s war record or to show the number of scalps its owner had captured. Among the Lakota, the sacred character of their jackets was emphasized by elaborate rituals of conferment. Most jackets had beads or shells on the shoulders and down the arms, perhaps to embody the idea of flight. Among the Oglala, the councilors were referred to as “shirt wearers” and upon investment of office they were given a special hair-fringed shirt. Among the Native Americans, these garments were not for the young warriors, however; they were for the elders. This distinction is common among animal-based societies that value both the bravery of the youth and the institutional and ceremonial wisdom of the elders. The elaborate jackets of the Gravettians were clearly a reflection of ceremonial activity and social distinction indicating the asymmetry between family patriarchs and the rest of the band. They were symbols of power and status and the embodiment of the celestial, social, and historical foundations of that society.7 Figure 2.6: Ceremonial shirt, deer skin, elk skin, porcupine quills, wool, glass beads, Nez Perce, Idaho, 1820. Source: Nez Perce National Historical Park, NEPE 8759

DOLNÍ VĚSTONICE Dolní Věstonice in Czechoslovakia (named after a modern village) was located where the great ice sheet to the north and the Alpine glaciers to the south were at their closest; bison, reindeer, and other animals passed through this area by the thousands on their yearly migrations (Figure 2.7). In

particular, they passed through the so-called Moravian Gate, a broad valley between two mountain ranges and one of the few direct links between northeastern Europe and the Danube Valley. The Gravettians spaced their camps in the gap in almost regular distances from each other. This valley was, therefore, a place not only for the slaughter of animals and the processing of meat, fat, and skin, but also for socializing and ritual events. Figure 2.7: Dolní Věstonice area. Source: Florence Guiraud

Though mammoth feeding habits are not known with certainty, it is conjectured that they would have lived in the open prairies to graze in the summer months. In winter, when the grass was covered with snow, they would head south to areas with open woodlands and streams where they could sustain themselves by nibbling on bark, twigs, and leaves. Dolní Věstonice, located at the southerly end of the Moravian Gate, was in a particularly good spot, on the slope of a conifercovered hill looking north across a marsh—now a lake—directly toward the Moravian Gate. While the marsh served in summer as a watering hole for smaller animals and as a source of food for humans, in winter when the mammoth arrived it was a killing field. From the bones found at the site, it is clear that the hunters targeted baby mammoths. But even young mammoths were sizable and could weigh 1,000 pounds or more. Foxes, wolves, hare, reindeer, and horses were also on the menu and the marsh itself supplied berries, water nuts, reeds, and grasses that could be collected and processed for consumption. The camp, dating to about 22,000 BCE, was close to a small stream and was composed of four, possibly five, ovoid huts within a compound surrounded by a low wall of brambles, stones, and sticks (Figure 2.8a, 2.8b and 2.9a, 2.9b). The huts were quasi-permanent, made of wooden posts

held in place by large rocks and angled upward toward a smoke hole. The timbers were most likely covered with hides.8 Inside the largest hut, about 15 meters long by 6 meters wide, there were, much like at Kostenki, a row of hearths, in this case five. One was equipped with two long mammoth bones stuck in the ground to support a roasting spit. The living units accommodated from twenty to twenty-five individuals each yielding a camp population of about eighty to 120 people. From the graves found in the vicinity, it is clear that men, women, and children—in other words entire families—lived in these huts.9 They probably formed what anthropologists call a patrilocal band society, where the male brings his wife to the father’s domicile. This is typical of many hunting-oriented cultures, where defense is a male prerogative. The huts thus contained the families of brothers and their relatives in the male line. Though the families in each hut would have had a degree of autonomy, it was likely that the camp had a leader who served to settle the disputes that might come up and be responsible for the planning of the hunt. Ochre was widely used in burials. Figure 2.8a, b: Dolní Věstonice, Czech Republic: (a) site plan, (b) view. Source: Daniele Cappelletti/Vasile Chirica and Bogdan Minea, “La Maison dans la Vie des Communautes Humaines Paleolithiques,” in Etablissements et Habitations Préhistoriques, Structures, Organisation, Symbole, ed. Vasile Chirica and M d lin-Cornel V leanu (laşi: Institut d’archéologie, 2008), 121

Figure 2.9a, b: Dolní Věstonice, Czech Republic, Shaman’s hut with hearth: (a) plan, (b) section. Source: Daniele Cappelletti/Vasile Chirica and Bogdan Minea, “La Maison dans la Vie des Communautes Humaines Paleolithiques,” in Etablissements et Habitations Préhistoriques, Structures, Organisation, Symbole, ed. Vasile Chirica and M d lin-Cornel V leanu (laşi: Institut d’archéologie, 2008), 121

VENUS FIGURINES Among the artifacts recovered was a small female fertility figurine, dubbed a “Venus figurine.” (Figure 2.10a, 2.10b, 2.10c, 2.10d). The one found at Dolní Věstonice was a diminutive, 10centimeter-tall figurine of baked clay depicting a woman with a faceless, helmet-like head with slit eyes and a vertical stroke for the nose. The rest of the body is more realistic, with pendulous breasts and fat tummy. Though the shoulders are articulated the arms disappear into the body. The legs are well defined and, though broken, probably ended in a rounded point. The image could not stand on its own and was either meant to be carried or placed in a hole. It is quite possible that the images were painted in reds and blacks.

Figure 2.10a, b, c, d: Venus figurines: (a) Venus of Lespugue, tusk ivory, 24,000 BCE; (b) Venus Dolní Věstonice, fired clay, 29,000–25,000 BCE; (c) Venus of Willendorf, oolitic limestone tinted with red ochre, 24,000–22,000 BCE; (d) Venus of Hohle Fels, woolly mammoth tusk (sculpted), 40,000–35,000 BCE. Source: Nancy Jarzombek

These figurines have nothing to do with Venus, the ancient goddess of love. The nickname was given to them by late nineteenth-century archaeologists. How they were used is not known, but they are clearly a testament to the broad emergence of ritual and devotional practices among hunter societies beginning around 33,000 BCE. That at least is the date of the oldest one yet recovered, the Venus of Hohle Fels found near Schelklingen, Germany. Made from a mammoth tusk, it represents a woman with large, protruding breasts and a small head. By the time of the Gravettian period such figurines were quite common. Several were found that were painted with ochre or other colors. They were probably fertility symbols, but did hunters use them as good luck charms? Were they associated with particular places? Could anyone make them, or were they made by craftsmen—or more likely craftswomen—who possessed ritual-enhanced powers? Many figurines have been found in clusters in cave sites, perhaps indicating the special significance of that particular site. At an encampment in Kostenki Russia, figurines were found throughout the hut, about 17 in all. Were they used to sanctify the interior? Why were some of the figurines buried in shallow pits near the hearths?

The Dolní Věstonice Venus is particularly unusual as it was made of fired clay. Most others were made of ivory, stone, or mammoth bone. 10 It was also, and significantly, made at Dolní Věstonice itself in a hut that had a kiln at its center. The hut, about 100 meters to the west of the settlement, was partially dug into the side of the hill. Wooden beams resting on the berm at the back were supported by a set of posts at the front. The entrance was from the eastern side.11 The hut was clearly a center for figurine production, for in addition to the figurine, archaeologists found small carvings of animals—bears, lions, mammoths, horses, foxes, rhinos, and owls—and over 2,000 balls, all of burnt clay. That the hut was set up some distance from the main camp certainly had something to do with its sacred function. Under the floor of the hut there was a tomb of a forty-year-old woman. Her body, strewn with red ochre, was covered with a mammoth bone. Why was she buried inside the hut? Was she the artisan?

THE HUNTING TRADITION: FROM INNER ASIA TO THE AMERICAS With the warming of the climate and the growing of the forest in Europe, the big animals gradually moved eastward into Inner Asia, with woolly mammoths, wooly rhinoceroses, and tigers roaming the region among herds of horse, bison, muskox, and Siberian antelope (Figure 2.11). Humans had a choice, to follow or to stay. Those who stayed are known as the Magdaléniens. They developed a complex hunting and plant-gathering, ritual-oriented society suited to forest life. Most people probably followed the game, remaining closer to their Gravettian roots. The center of gravity of this hunting culture moved rapidly to northeast Asia and then finally crossed into the Americas. Figure 2.11: Big game. Source: Florence Guiraud

Thus expanded, the big game hunting culture formed a huge arc from Russia and Finland to the Americas. In some places, the tradition survived into the nineteenth century to include the Saami in Finland, the Plains Indians in the Americas, the Inuits in northern Canada, and even the Tehuelche in southern Argentina, who until their final biological and social annihilation due to pressures exerted by the European conquest and colonization represented the far reach of the great hunting tradition. We will discuss these various people in more detail later, but for the moment one has to acknowledge the sweeping, transcontinental and trans-temporal continuity that the big-game hunting tradition constituted. With it, spread not only certain types of technologies like sewing, but an organizational focus that linked the human and the non-human world of animals, moons, stars, and landscapes into a tight ritualist and cultural package. From anthropological studies, it is clear that hunting even in archaic times was never just a question of food. The first hunt in a young man’s life was a memorable event of coming of age; it was inevitably accompanied by ceremonies and rituals. Ancestor spirits played an important part. They could take on animal forms and were summoned in trances to help guide the hunter. Lapp legends describe a golden-antlered deer that serves as a protector and guide. When the Ostyaks lured a bear out of its lair, they would say, “Don’t be angry, grandfather! Come home with us and be our guest.” When they killed the bear they would beg it not to resent their action and take revenge. Some even would try to ritualistically escape blame for having killed an animal. The Sámi would “convince” the bear that it died by its own fault, or blame it on a bad weapon. Certain animals are considered to be totems or symbolic ancestors for tribes or clans, such as the Blue Wolf and the Red Deer, the mythical ancestors of the Mongolians. The western Buryats of Siberia recognize a bull, Buh Noyan Baabai, as their ancestor. Other tribes recognize the swan, the wild boar, the burbat fish, or the eagle as their totemic ancestor, so that special care must be taken not to harm these animals.12

Hunting was inevitably connected to a host of taboos and preparations. Earth spirits exist that can function as an animal’s guardian but may also protect the hunter from danger. In some cases such spirits, if not properly respected by the execution of specific assuaging activities, can “capture” the hunter by making him loose his way. 13 The Caribou Eskimos take ritual precautions to secure the catch and to promote future hunting success by attempting to appease the souls of the killed animals. They also hold that the spirits would get angry if too many caribou were killed wantonly so that their leftovers were consumed by scavengers such as foxes and ravens. A general principle prevailing among Arctic hunters was that the animals’ spirits had to be respected. In evidence of that, hunters believe animals prefer to be caught by people whose clothes and equipment were ritualistically clean. The Iglulik Eskimos clean their hunting gear and clothes in the smoke of burning seaweed before they set out sealing.14 In some places women, during the hunt, have to stay indoors and keep their lamps extinguished. After the catch, gifts are made to appease the spirit of the hunted animals. Siberian hunters construct spirit posts made of a tree limb planted in the ground and ornamented with animal skulls and ribbons of cloth (Figure 2.12). All in all it would be wrong to assume that hunting was simply about the tracking and killing of animals for food and resources. Hunting was deeply entwined with notions of the spiritual well-being of both animals and humans; in other words, the hunter had to visibly and respectfully demonstrate his recognition of the natural continuum and interconnectedness of all natural phenomena. Figure 2.12: Reindeer herder spirit post, Siberia, from early twentieth-century photograph. Source: Mark Jarzombek

SIBERIA In Russia, evidence of the great hunting tradition comes in the form of scrapers and blades found from Uzbekistan in the west to Siberia in the east. Most of the sites are near waterways and probably close to animal migration crossings. A site in Russia, known as Mal’ta, is located on a terrace overlooking the left bank of the Belaya River, 100 kilometers northwest of Irkutsk and Lake Baika. Most of the houses were circular about 3.5 to 4 meters in diameter, and were probably built of poles covered with skins, using reindeer antlers for support, and with a central fireplace. These are probably summer homes. There were also more or less rectangular houses of with average dimensions of about 3 by 4 meters and were semi-subterranean, in that they were excavated a half a meter into the earth with the roof formed by poles and skins, and strengthened by antlers. These houses had a central fireplace formed by three stone slabs. One of these houses measured 14 by 6 meters, had several fireplaces, and was probably a winter long-house. Among the artifacts recovered were several Venus figurines as well as figures of birds, some carved from the ivory of a mammoth. At Studenoe-2 (ca. 15,000 BCE) located along the Chikoi River, archaeologists also found the remains of a 7 by 4.5 meter Gravettian communal-style oval hut that was probably built of wood and brush and covered with skins reinforced at its base with stones. The floor was paved with a layer of red ochre. At least four rock-lined hearths are aligned with the long axis of the dwelling.15 These houses served as the prototype of an architectural tradition that would last for thousands of years and span the Asian and American continents. With an abundance of mammoth bones available, people soon figured out how to build impressive, durable shelters made completely out of mammoth bones; these can be found at Molodova and Mezhirich, Ukraine, dating to about 13,000 BCE (Figure 2.13). One Molodova hut had 15 internal hearths, though they were probably not all used at the same time. The entrance, significantly enough, was to the east. Bones were used to weigh down the hides from the winds. Another hut, some 4 to 5 meters across, had walls built out of lower jaws laid in a careful herringbone pattern; another had a palisade-like ring of long bones placed on end. It has been estimated that the total number of bones incorporated into some of these structures might have required at least ninety-five animals. To preserve meat, the inhabitants dug pits into the permafrost to store their supply and thus were able to live off their reserves even when the migratory herds had long since passed. The pits were also used to store bones over the summer. As there was little wood to be found in the open steppe, bones, which become flammable when dried in the arctic weather, were used for fuel. 16 Whether the mammoth houses were used as base camps or were more permanent sites of habitation is not known. They may also have served as cult or ritual centers. Figure 2.13: Mammoth bone house, Mezhirich, Ukraine. Source: Mark Jarzombek

By the ninth millennium BCE, the large animals in Inner Asia had become extinct, forcing the hunting cultures to focus on horses and reindeer. Even until the eighteenth century, the main prey of the Yukaghir in the upper Kolyma Valley in Siberia was wild reindeer. The hunt was undertaken twice a year when the migrating reindeer crossed the large rivers and were vulnerable to hunters on boats or waiting on the shores. The Chukotka, who came to inhabit the remote northeastern peninsula of Russia, specialize to this day on reindeer hunting and herding, even though they also developed sometime later whale hunting skills and began to build semi-subterranean houses out of whale bones. Along the Pegtymel River in northern Siberia, in the heart of Chukotka territory, there are spectacular cliffs that reach to about 30 meters in height with hundreds of drawings on them clearly made over different times thousands of years ago (Figure 2.14a and 2.14b). Some were ground in or rubbed on, others pecked out or scratched. Many depict deer and several show a boat with a man on it who has thrust a spear or harpoon into a swimming deer. The boats are of various types representing a fast kayak hermetically covered with skins, as are widely used by the Eskimos and Aeuts and Chukchi even into modern times. This place was thus more than just a convenient spot for deer hunting, which took place as the deer cross the river. It was a regional sacred site. The people gathered for ritualistic hunts and celebrations, using the cliffs as a type of tribal sanctuary.17 Some men are represented with what appears to be an umbrella-shaped headdress. This could have been shaman or the spirits of a dance ritual. The image also looks a lot like the mushroom Amanita muscaria, which has a distinctive round head. The fact that it is red must also have played a role in its symbolic importance, not to mention the fact that the mushrooms have a hallucinogenic effect (Figure 2.15). They are still being used by Siberian shamen. Figure 2.14a, b: (a) map; (b) Chukotka petroglyphs at Kaikuul’ Cliff. Source: Mark Jarzombek/N.N. Pikov, Mysteries of the Rocks of Ancient Chukotka, translated by Richard L. Bland (Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior, 1999), 129, 142

Figure 2.15: Amanita muscaria (mushroom). Source: Š Dmst (

CROSSING INTO THE AMERICAS Because of the ice sheets, the jet stream brought warmer air up from the south along the Pacific coast and into the Bering Strait, making the summers cooler and the winters warmer than they are today. The result was a gap between the great ice sheets that covered Canada and northern Siberia. This gap allowed hunters to move eastward into the Americas and into Nenana Valley in Alaska, which for a long time was the last open land before one encountered the Canadian Ice Sheet. Today, of course, we define the area between the continents as a land-bridge, but the ancient hunters would hardly have seen it as a bridge. Alaska was just a further extension of what is today called Asia, and for hunters it was a paradise. Warm winds produced a corridor 1,000 kilometers long and about 300 kilometers wide through the central part of Alaska that more or less ended in Nenana Valley (Figure 2.16). Surrounded by ice, it was a micro-environment unto its own. From there, people gradually moved inland, between gaps in the ice or along the shore, emerging south below the ice sheets to form the Clovis Culture. Figure 2.16: Bering Strait, circa 30,000 BCE. Source: Florence Guiraud

But the Clovis, so it seems, were not newcomers to the land. People who derived from the Solutrean or MagdalĂŠnien Cultures of northern Spain and southern France were already in North America, having arrived on the Atlantic shore around 15,000 BCE. They used boats to follow the edge of the Atlantic ice shelf that stretched from northern Spain to the coast of Virginia, hunting seals on the way. DNA studies of the Ojibwe, who inhabit the area around the Great Lakes mainly in Canada, have shown that the Asian and European peoples intermarried around 13,000 BCE.18 Whether the Clovis (11,000 BCE) were fully Asian, or in parts a blend with Europeans, they produced a culture that was widespread and this largely because forests in North America were still relatively few. In fact, no other culture anywhere in the world before or since spread out with such singular determination. They even made it to Florida (Figure 2.17). A 5-cm-long bone fragment with a mammoth figure engraved on it was recently found at Vero Beach, Florida , meaning that it must be about 13,000 years old, in other words before the animals became extinct.19 Apart from mammoth, the Clovis hunted bison, mastodons, and sloths. Their distinctively refined, thin spear points, of chert or flint, are characterized by grooves at the base of both sides for the leather strapping that attaches the point to the spear shaft (Figure 2.18). The point was designed so that when the spear was thrust into the animal, the hunter could pull out the shaft, leaving the spear tip. This allowed him to save the spear, wood being a relatively rare commodity in the open grasslands. It was also easier to carry spare spear tips than spare spears. Figure 2.17: The Americas. Source: Michael Kubo

Figure 2.18: Typical Clovis spear tip. Source: Mark Jarzombek

We know little of the Clovis’ social organization or religious beliefs, but they could hardly have differed much from ancient traditions. They were organized into bands or perhaps even into small tribes as the mammoth and giant bison required large numbers of hunters. The many hundreds of sites that have been found are not as one might expect settlement sites, but locations where game was killed and processed. We know that they mined for red ochre for their rituals at a site in southeastern Wyoming.20 The absence of burials might be explained by the fact that placing people in a pit and covering it with earth became common only with the agriculturalists. Before then, death was associated with ancestral presences that might live in the sky or water. Tibetans, for example, differentiate between sky burial and water burial. In a sky burial, the body is left exposed to be consumed by vultures, whereas in a water burial, the body is placed directly into the river or sacred lake. A place called Warm Mineral Springs in Florida , today the site of a spa, might have been just such a place. Bones from 10,000 BCE have been found in its depth, suggesting that it was used as a water burial site.21 The Plains Indians generally, however, had sky burials, placing the dead on elevated platforms to be consumed by vultures. The view that the Clovis were completely migratory is now increasingly disputed. The Gault site in Texas , for example, was clearly a base camp that was used off and on for maybe thousands of years. It is located in a small valley at the point where a number of springs come together. This valley is one of many that cut through the eastern flank of the vast limestone Edwards Plateau that stretches to the south and west, but the deep, well-watered soils of the valley provided habitat for hardwood trees, such as burr oaks, walnuts, pecans, ash, and elm, including willow and cottonwood. In a word, it was an oasis only a three-hour walk down river to the Black Prairie, so named because of the soil. The grass once grew so tall here that when Spanish explorers in the early seventeenth century rode their horses through it they noted that only the mounted riders could see where they were going. They found plenty of buffalo and antelope to hunt.22 Among the finds at Gault are incised stones that have various patterns and designs on them.

Of the various large animals that were hunted in the ancient times, none survived into the modern era except for the bison and caribou, which, due to the demise of other animals, expanded uncontested throughout the vast stretches of North American grasslands. The species of bison from that earlier time, Bison antiquus, was, however, larger than the modern animal and had longer horns. Nonetheless, the bison remained a formidable creature. The bison-oriented culture that emerged from the Clovis culture is known as the Folsom Tradition (19,000–8000). As with the Clovis, very little is known about the Folsom except that they in turn became the ancestors of the Plains Indians. Chispa Creek in Texas would have been a typical site. Though today the area is dry, back then it would have been a broad grassy valley with water available in the numerous creeks. But most importantly it was near several high-quality stone sources, such as red felsite and chert in various colors, from butterscotch and white to purple.23 The Jones-Miller Site in northeastern Colorado (from about 8000 BCE) shows that these hunters ensnared and butchered large amounts of animals in the deep snow of the gullies, a technique that continued to be used by the Plains Indians. A large hole that once contained a pole was discovered in the center of a bison bone bed. Its meaning remains uncertain, but associated with it were an antler flute, a projectile point, and butchered dog remains. These artifacts all indicate the presence of a spirit post.24

MAGDALÉNIEN CULTURES Back in Europe, with the warming of the climate, a new ecological world began to take shape. Forests now provided cover for the expansion and diversification of smaller animals and plant foods. The larger animals were still present but only in the residual pockets of northern steppe. The human diet thus came to included birds and small game in combination with plant-derived food. Rivers provided a constant fish supply. With this change we see the emergence in France and Spain of a new tradition that though built on Gravettian-era principles came to have its own distinctive set of characteristics. It is known as the Magdalénien Culture (16,000–8000 BCE) (Figure 2.19). The Magdaléniens produced excellently crafted flint tools, elaborately worked bone implements, elegant Venus figurines, and numerous items of personal adornment ( Figure 2.20). A comparison of artifacts found in Gravettian and Magdalénien sites, such as Abri de la Madeleine, France, shows that whereas almost nothing from a Gravettian site came from more than 200 kilometers away, a small but significant percentage of material found at the Magdalénien sites came from much farther away thus indicating the presence of a burgeoning trade economy. 25 Mediterranean shells, for example, which were used for status or barter, appear for the first time in far-off central Germany. Figure 2.19: Magdalénien and Ibero-Maurusian cultures (15,000 to 9000 BCE). Source: Florence Guiraud

Figure 2.20: Magdalénien culture ivory horse sculpture, France. Source: © Guérin Nicolas (http.//

Settlements were composed of sturdy cone-shaped structures, about 3 meters in diameter, consisting of poles tied at the top with leather cords and anchored at their base by rocks. A fire pit was located sometimes in the center and sometimes outside near the entrance. One tent, about 30 meters long, contained three living units each with its own hearth. Small heaps of ochre were found around the hearths. Most of the other tents are circular or oval, about 3 meters in diameter. 26 Similarities to the Gravettians are obvious. But whereas Gravettians built camps, the Magdalénien because of their affluence, could create large settlements. In the Paris Basin, 80 kilometers

upstream from Paris along the Seine River remains have been uncovered at Pincevent of a 3500square-meter settlement of over one hundred huts (Figure 2.21a and 2.21b). It was close to a flat shore section of the stream that served as a reindeer crossing and that was thus a good hunting spot during the migrations from late summer to the end of autumn. Figure 2.21a, b: MagdalĂŠnien hut near Paris: (a) view, (b) plan. Source: Ella Peinovich

Portable Venus figurines continue to be important, but the MagdalĂŠnien Culture provides the first clear evidence that spiritual practices were becoming spatialized and intensified. It was in their caves that they truly excelled, developing them into regional cult centers. The caves had, of course, begun to be painted already during the Gravettian period, but with the MagdalĂŠniens their significance was much enhanced. They were designed as places of mystery and initiation (Figure 2.22). Even today, these caves evoke the feeling of otherworldliness. 27 The grottos of Gargas, Chavet, Cussac Cave, Pech Merle, and Bedeilhac have within them springs that drip from the ceilings, odd-shaped stalactites and stalagmites, as well as columns, cavities, rooms, domes, vaults, passages, fissures, and dripholes, often glistening, shimmering, and sparkling in the light of oil lamps (Figure 2.23). Several caves have rivers running through them. The overall impression is

of places that are dynamic and animated. The drawings of animals, lines, dots, rectangles, and checkerboard patterns on the walls of these caves only elevate that feeling. Figure 2.22: MagdalĂŠnien era caves in southern France and northern Spain. Source: Florence Guiraud

Figure 2.23: Chauvet Cave, France. Source: Jean Clottes

One of the most important of the cave complexes was at Lascaux, France, from about 15,000 BCE, where along its 140 meter length we see hundreds of drawings of animals, including a bull with sharp, curving horns and a powerful rump, a group of restless horses, and a charging bison. The Altamira Cave in northern Spain shows a herd of bison in different poses. In some places along the cave wall, the painter even exploited the natural contours of the rock to create threedimensional effects. Even though some of the drawings were done by individuals, others obviously required the labor of several people, especially the drawings that were made on a gigantic scale or at heights many meters above the cave floor, requiring scaffolding. At Labastide in the Pyrenees, an immense horse is depicted 5 meters above the floor level. At Bernifal in the Dordogne in France, mammoths are painted 7 meters up. In all these places, skilled craftsmen were at work, people who learned the art and who must certainly have passed it on from generation to generation. We know to some degree how the paints were made, because at Lascaux pestles and mortars were found in which colors were mixed with no fewer than 158 different mineral fragments from which the mixtures were made. Cave water, rich in calcium, was used as the mixers; vegetable and animal oils served as binders. These caves should not be seen out of context. The area in front of the caves served as a communal site for people to assemble for feasting, gift-giving, and vision-making. Interior spaces were sacred and almost certainly of limited access. Offerings may have been made and gifts exchanged. These were not caves as we might understand the word today, but ceremonial landscapes located in the “within” of the earth. The appropriate term would be chthonic, a Greek word that means “in or beneath the earth.” In Greek religion chthonic deities were often associated with fertility, and were with rituals that usually took place at night. In the Lascaux Cave, under the drawing of a rhinoceros, archaeologists found a 21-centimeterlong, spoon-shaped object that they labeled a lamp dating to about 15,000 BCE. Meticulously made of polished red sandstone, the upper surface of the handle was decorated with grooves. The lamp is just as beautiful on the back as the front. Because of the perfect symmetrical nature of the cup, the craftsperson must have used some sort of measuring device. Dozens of such cups have been found, but not all in caves, leading archaeologists to speculate that these were not lamps, but incense burners, used in rituals to produce smoke. When the cup was discovered, it still contained a sooty substance in the bottom, which was determined to be the remains of juniper. Juniper gives off little light, but is highly aromatic. Among the Celts, the smoke was said to aid clairvoyance, and was burned to stimulate contact with the Otherworld during their autumn festival at the beginning of the Celtic year. In central Europe, juniper was burnt as part of a spring-time cleansing of the house. Juniper was used in practically all rituals in Mongolia and by many of the tribes of Siberia, so much so that the air of a hut will often be thick with smoke during a ritual. The smoke is believed to raise the wind-horse that allows the shaman to visit the world of the spirits. For Native Americans, tobacco was smoked not only to produce a calming effect, but more importantly to produce a sacred smoke that speaks to the ancestors. Smoke could also be produced by small amounts of sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) burned in the tepee on the ritualistic western side, next to the fire. Sweetgrass was used in peace and healing rituals. All in all, the tradition of sacred smoke was so widespread among First Society people that its origins were certainly ancient. And it still persists today. All we have to do is go to a Hindu temple, which is permeated by incense smoke. If this applies to these caves, we have to separate the question of how light was produced to paint the images from the question of how these interiors were experienced. Focused as we are on the image of these animals, photographed now with digital clarity, we forget that the drawings,

seen flickering in torch-light, would have been ineffective in terms of their magical potency without the smoke and accompanying rituals. Chauvet Cave, located in a 10-kilometer-long gorge that must itself have been seen as sacred, overlooks a dramatic spot where the river makes a sharp hairpin turn (Figures 2.24 and 2.25a, 2.25b). A natural ledge once led up to the cave entrance, but because of a rock slide, the modern entrance is elsewhere (Figures 2.26 and 2.27). There are many chambers to the cave, with hundreds of animal paintings lining the walls, including those which have rarely been depicted in other Ice Age paintings, such as horses, cattle, and reindeer, as well as predatory animals such lions, panthers, bears, and hyenas. Ochre handprints were painted on the walls of the cave, made by spitting pigment over a hand pressed against the wall. Figure 2.24: Chauvet Cave and the painted caves of the Ardèche River. Source: Sasa Zivkovic/Jean Clottes, Chauvet Cave: The Art of Earliest Times, translated by Paul G. Bahn (Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2003), 13

Figure 2.25a, b: Chauvet Cave site: (a) section, (b) site plan. Source: Sasa Zivkovic/Jean Clottes, Chauvet Cave: The Art of Earliest Times, translated by Paul G. Bahn (Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2003), 13

Figure 2.26: Pont-d’Arc, France. Source: Š Paste (

Figure 2.27: Access path of Chauvet Cave, France. Source: Daniel Sauer

At one place, the artists painted a set of horses (Figure 2.28). Mouths open and breathing heavily, they seem to be running effortlessly behind a herd of bulls and other animals. The whole panel is about 15 meters long and moves its way in and out of the curves of the cave wall. To produce the drawing, the artist first scraped away the surface of the rock to reveal the white stone (Figure

2.30). This allowed for greater contrast with the black charcoal and for a rich pallet of grays. The vigor of the lines and the absence of superfluous details clearly indicate an accomplished artist. Though it was once thought that the artists painted from dead animals, it is clear that this is not the case. How artists perfected their craft is not known. The artist who painted these horses must have painted many horses, before he or she attempted these. Did the artists paint on wooden boards in the field? It almost seems so.28 Figure 2.28: Paintings, Chauvet Cave, France. Source: Jean Clottes

Figure 2.29: Chauvet Cave plan and art. Source: Sasa Zivkovic/Jean Clottes, Chauvet Cave: The Art of Earliest Times, translated by Paul G. Bahn (Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2003), 117

Figure 2.30: Chauvet Cave, France; timeline of the Panel of the Horses. Source: Jean Clottes

How these paintings functioned is not known, but it is likely that the Chavet was at least partially dedicated to a bear cult. A bear skull has a prominent location in one of the more remote chambers. It was placed on an altar-like stone in the center of a chamber at the rear of the cave (Figure 2.31). Figure 2.31: Chauvet Cave, France. Source: Jean Clottes

Most of the caves were situated below the elevation of the ice that still covered the Massif Central, a large, mountainous region in southern France, and thus were probably used in the spring after the first thaw and in context of the bear awakening from hibernation and leaving the cave.

Though we can make no direct assumption about the rituals that took place here, animals and the inner mystery of the earth were clearly fused into a potent combination. This is made obvious at the cave El Juyo in the mountains of northern Spain, some 5 kilometers south of the seacoast, where there was a walled-in sanctuary that went through two building phases. It consisted of a hearth and a huge horizontal stone slab resting on smaller upright stones, and nearby a series of pits and mounds. Presiding over it was a face adapted from a stone and modified so that it was half human and half feline. Everything was constructed to exacting specifications. The pits, for example, had white coloring matter in the bottom of the trench, with shells of limpets and periwinkles and a shallow layer of clean sand scattered over it. The three clay mounds, about a meter high, were plastered over with clays of different colors; red ochre was sprinkled over the area at different stages of construction. Near the center of the mound, the tip of an antler, some 15 centimeters long, was stuck vertically, point down, into the ochre. A channel uniting the two mounds indicates that something greasy, probably animal fat, was poured onto one mound to flow to the other one. The main elements of the composition—added in the second phase—was a oneton, horizontally placed limestone slab supported on smaller stones. The head was placed nearby on the top of an adjacent mound. This was clearly a sanctuary or shrine of major significance.29 This space—even though its use is impossible to determine—is clearly a constructed sacred space. Offerings were prepared on the hearths and fat was poured on the slabs, all under the gaze of the deity. It is safe to assume that this type of sanctuary-oriented practice was not completely unique; there were probably others. Even so, it represents a significant expansion of architectural practices. Up until now, space was a question of postholes, partitions, protective perimeters, hides, and thatch. Religiosity was transportable or partially ready-made in the form of caves. Here in El Juyo we have a purely symbolic architecture, planned and adjusted over time around a complex set of meanings and associations.

THE HOLOCENE Ten thousand years ago there were, roughly speaking, three main cultural formations, savanna/shore-based societies in Africa, India, China, and Australia; cold weather, hunterspecialist societies in the Russian steppe who were expanding into the steppe of the Americas to form the Clovis; and the forest- and river-based Magdaléniens in western Europe. The latter, with their elaborate cave ritual centers, was the first culture distinctly tied to the warming of the climate. Scientists call the change the Holocene, a geological epoch that began approximately 12,000 years ago and continues to the present day. The word derives from the Greek holos (whole or entire) and kainos (new) and means “recent whole.” The term was first proposed in 1885 when it was observed that the fluctuations in global temperature from 10,000 BCE to today were relatively small in comparison to previous epochs. And with some exceptions, the temperature was now warmer. The consequences were important to the history of human society. First of all, the rising of the oceans obliterated populated shore plains. The northern Adriatic Sea filled up, for example, driving people northwards. The same is true for the expansion of the waters in the Persian Gulf that previously would have been largely dry. The land bridge that connected England and Ireland to Europe disappeared. Dramatic changes occurred in the West Pacific where the rising waters separated Australia, the Polynesian Islands, Japan, and Korea from one another (Figure 2.32). Figure 2.32: East Asia Early Holocene advancing shores. Source: Florence Guiraud

On the positive side, increasingly large stretches of territory in the Russian Arctic became accessible to human habitation. In the Canadian Arctic, the only area in the world not yet previously inhabited, footprints appeared along the shores as hunters followed the great herds of

migrating caribou. In fact, though mammoths had become extinct, the reindeer in Scandinavia and in northern Asia, the caribou and musk ox in Canada, and the bison in the great plains of the Americas thrived, as did the respective hunting societies associated with these animals. Forests grew at a rapid pace in Europe, Africa, America, and South Asia. The emergence of vast oak and walnut forests in North America made these nuts into a staple of the regional diet. The rainforests, of course, that expanded in the Americas, south Asia, and Africa teamed with a vast variety of life and would soon become home to a cultural pattern just as widespread as the great hunting tradition of the north. And then there were the rivers, giant rivers in fact, many fed by the melting glaciers of the Himalayas. Others, like the Amazon and Congo, were fed by the now vigorous monsoon rains that blanketed the earth.

LEPENSKI VIR: FOREST/RIVERINE PROTOTYPE The rise of the seawater created a new global geography of estuaries and tidal flats and of the intermingling of freshwater and salt water. It was the perfect habitat for mussels and clams, which proliferated in these places. The European shores were now the home of a new cultural horizon as were shores in Japan, Africa, and the Americas. In Europe, evidence is along the river estuaries of the Tagus River in Portugal. Instead of hunting, people there turned toward the shore, where waterfowl, fish, and shellfish and various grasses were abundant. Dozens of sites, such as Cabeço da Amoreira, have been identified by their shell middens (Figure 2.33). Dating to about 5400 BCE onward, Cabeço da Amoreira is 60 meters in diameter and was occupied continuously for long periods of time.30 Similar settlement was up and down the river’s marshy edge. Figure 2.33: Global map of shore cultures, post-Holocene. Source: Florence Guiraud

But the more fundamental change was along the rivers. It was not agriculture that got humans to settle into villages, but rivers; and not plants, but fish. In the Americas, for example, water run-off from the Canadian and Rocky Mountains toward the Pacific set the stage for an extensive coastal fishing cultures based on the salmon runs starting from about 5000 BCE onward. In Europe, the transition began with the Sauveterrian people (7900–5300 BCE) in northeastern Italy and elsewhere who built base camps in the lowlands and along river shores, and hunting camps at higher altitudes —primarily to hunt deer. In northern Europe, people specialized in wetland environments with their fishing tools made from wood, bone, and flint. One site was in eastern England on the shores of a large former lake. Wooden walkways led to the lake’s edge, presumably as a type of dock. A nearby house, 3.5 meters wide, held up by a circle of wooden posts and covered with thatch—the remains of which were recently uncovered south of Scarborough, England—proves that architectural inventiveness had not diminished.31 Of all of the sites in Europe, most of which had rather ephemeral architectural presences, the most astonishing is Lepenski Vir (5800 BCE) along the Danube River (Figure 2.34). The area was home to a wide variety of animals and ecosystems; the nearby Carpathian Mountains were rich in flint, which was needed, of course, for stone axes and blades. A short period of global warming— it was a few degrees warmer than today—in the centuries around 6000 BCE may have contributed to the rise of these cultures. Whereas the environment of Spain and southern France became increasingly arid, the Danube area with its numerous rivers was becoming an important attractor. Fish, of course, had been caught for millennia, but the giant, 6-meter-long Beluga sturgeon—a shorter version of which can still be found—that migrated up the Danube as far as Germany was a particularly desirable food source (Figure 2.35). Figure 2.34: Danube culture. Source: Florence Guiraud

Figure 2.35: Fisherman with Danube sturgeon, Romania. Source: Š Constant ( deed.en)

Lepenski Vir (5800 BCE) named after a nearby modern village, was located on the sunny, southern shores of the Danube at a place where the river cuts through the Transylvanian Alps 32 (Figure 2.36). It was positioned on a shelf, a few meters above the river that was about 170 meters long and 50 meters at its widest (Figure 2.37a and 2.37b). From this spot, one can see the course of the Danube with its rocky banks rising precipitously on both sides. As the river bends out of view, one has the impression of being in a huge amphitheater. And indeed, this area, protected

from strong winds and extreme temperature variations, has a micro-climate distinctly more temperate than what one finds elsewhere in the region. The settlement seems to have been particularly important as it is sited directly across the river from an unusually shaped rocky outcrop that probably had sacred meanings. There are no natural paths along the rivers edge and overland paths would have been arduous. Lepenski Vir was, therefore, almost purely a boat culture settlement, linked to other settlements lining the river some 30 or so kilometers in both directions. Because humans moving from the Black Sea to Europe had to travel through this narrow area, these settlements were located not only advantageously for fishing, but also for incipient trade. Humans no longer had to move; movement came to them, whether in the form of fish for food or of humans for bartering. Though the first inhabitants lived almost only on fish, as time progressed they hunted deer and fox. And in the forest they would have also found hazelnuts, juniper, and wild plum, not to mention various tubers and herbaceous plants. Figure 2.36: Iron Gate, Danube River, Romania. Source: Š Cornelius Bechtler (

Figure 2.37a, b, c: Lepenski Vir, Serbia: (a) map, (b) plan (c) view Source: Mark Jarzombek/Dragoslav Srejović, Europe’s First Monumental Sculpture: New Discoveries at Lepenski Vir (New York: Stein and Day, 1972), 52

The settlement went through about six different iterations between 5800 BCE and 4950 BCE. But it was clearly well organized from the start and consisted at its peak of about 130 houses separated by a central space that probably served as a ritual area. Pathways led to the edge of the river. The houses, trapezoidal in shape and facing east, downhill toward the river, were built according to a

basic pattern, the only difference being in size. This indicates the presence of strong leadership. Almost all of the houses were rebuilt at some time or other, but the astonishing coherency of the design over time can only imply that the design was imbued with shamanistic meaning. A miniature house only a meter across and not used as a habitation was built near the center of the settlement and might have served as a type of sacred model. Because the terrain is sloped, the majority of houses were partly dug in toward their rear. The houses are designed around an isosceles triangle of about 60 degrees truncated at the rear at a point three-quarters of the length of the two sides of the triangle (Figure 2.38a, 2.38b, 2.38c). Two posts were placed halfway down the sides and three posts were placed equidistantly along the front of the dwelling. A center post was placed just inside the entrance on the axis. The roof in the shape of an upside-down V rested on a pole that reached from the back to the front and supported on the sides. The builders placed stones at the edge in order to prevent the roof timbers from slipping. Though it is uncertain how high the house frontage was it seems likely that the ridgepole inclined upward toward the front. Figure 2.38a, b, c: Lepenski Vir, Serbia: (a) possible geometrical organization, (b) plan of house 37, (c) view inside typical house. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Dragoslav Srejović, Europe’s First Monumental Sculpture: New Discoveries at Lepenski Vir (New York: Stein and Day, 1972), 55.

The front is curved and forms a sector of a circle drawn from the apex of the triangle. This fan shape is not geometrically rigid and appears to have been somewhat variable. Some houses are wider or narrower, but the basic principle is never altered. The interior of each house was also laid out including a fireplace in that was an elongated rectangle built from large rectangular stone blocks placed on the long axis of the floor plan. Before the roof was put on, the floor was covered with a reddish mortar made of limestone that was extracted from the slopes of the nearby mountains; it was ground into powder and baked and then mixed with water, sand, and fine pebbles. The mass was then poured over the stones that constituted the foundation of the house. The making of the mortar was no insignificant technological accomplishment. This may be one of the worlds first, verifiable uses of lime mortar.

How it was made is not fully understood. Lime mortar is very slow drying and usually needs something added to it to hasten hardening. In some places in southeast Asia, rice husk ash is used, but here, where there was no rice, some other type of material was used, but what? At any rate, these concrete floors are so hard that they survive even today! Each house had a shallow circular depression in the ground placed in the exact middle that represented some kind of an altar and sacred fire. Behind the hearth there was a small shrine that was decorated with sculptures carved from round river stones that represent perhaps river gods or ancestor figures. The sculptures are all of heads, which seems to have had a special place in the cult of these people. The faces are expressive and all quite different. Some have large open mouths. Some are more realistic, others almost abstract. Their expressive beauty is undeniable, but their meaning is unknown. But what is so remarkable here is that all houses were in essence shrines (Figure 2.39). Figure 2.39: Lepenski Vir, Serbia, section through firepit showing placement of stone faces. Source: Mark Jarzombek

A house shrine culture is far different from the rock-art/Venus figurine culture of an earlier age. For the Gravettians what was “permanentâ€? was, in a sense, the landscape with its sacred indicators. At Lepenski Vir, sacredness belonged to each house and resided permanently within it. Needless to say, the house shrine was to become a shared cultural feature practically the world over, and even though it was probably not initiated here, this is one of its earliest examples. From the different phases we can see the slightly changing nature of the community. In the first grouping, the houses are more or less the same apart from one central one. This maintains itself through the different centuries until the last phase where one distinctly larger house built to the rear of the settlement and at its highest elevation dominates the scene.33 Their mortuary practices were quite unusual. No full burials were found. Instead in the houses, one saw small shrines with a persons lower jaw, leg bone, or part of a cranium, indicating the tradition of secondary burial. We do not know if the other settlements nearby were similar to Lepenski Vir or even what its legacy was. Certainly after the town faded from view, new settlers happened to arrive at the spot to set up a village. They were part of the StarÄ?evo Culture and their houses were standard structures of circular and elliptical shapes. Who then, by contrast, were the Lepenski Vir people? It is hard to imagine that they were unique, but it does at least prove that in some places there was

a clear adherence to a design culture at a very early age.

EARLY HOLOCENE AMERICA It was once thought that the Americas were originally populated by a single migratory wave of hunters crossing the land bridge between eastern Asia and Alaska during the Ice Age. Now it is known that there were several such waves some of which had occurred before and others after the existence of that land bridge. Furthermore, linguistic analysis points not only to north Asian influence, but also to south Asia, insofar as east Pacific boat people also settled in the Americas. Another stream may have come across the southern Pacific and landed in Chile, perhaps as early as 30,000 BCE. The fundamental fact, however, is that the Americas were settled by more diverse population groups than had formerly been realized, a circumstance that is proven by the extraordinary linguistic diversity of the Americas. 34 Of all the root languages in the world, about one-half can be found among the native Americas. Along the Pacific Coast, sites of early habitation from the period 10,000 to 6000 BCE are not very numerous for the simple reason that most of the camps set up along the shore were covered by water during the slow postglacial rise in sea level. But it is clear that people moved along the southern edge of Alaska into Canada living from fishing and heading into the foothills to refresh their stone tool kits and to hunt. Though a thin fabric of people inhabited the shores all the way down to Peru and northern Chile, the extreme desert conditions along the coast of Mexico and down to Peru made the initial development of more complex societies in these regions impossible. This was not the case as one moves into southern Chile, where the desert gave way to a temperate climate that became increasingly humid and cool. Pockets of people spread out along the rivers fed by the retreating glaciers in the mountains to the east (Figure 2.40). One such site is Monte Verde along the northern bank of a creek in southern Chile. Though mastodon had not yet been hunted to extinction here, these people were largely not big game hunters, but river-oriented people who lived in a camp that was home to about thirty people.35 Although the site was not far from the ocean, there is little evidence that the sea figured in its economic orientation. Nonetheless, there is strong evidence of trade since some of the plant seeds found at the site by archaeologists are not local; some came from sites several hundred miles away. The communal nature of the social group is clearly legible from the architectural traces. The core of the settlement consisted of at least twelve rectangular-shaped structures. Logs formed a foundation for the walls that were made of branches draped with hides probably from mastodons. Each hut had a fire pit. Grinding stones found near the hearths suggest the preparation of plant food. There were also a few communal hearths around which archaeologists found stone tools and remnants of seeds, nuts, and berries, including a specimen of the wild potato, suggesting that southern Chile was one of the two main locations from where potatoes originated. Figure 2.40: Holocene monsoons in the Americas. Source: Michael Kubo

A bit to the west there is a roughly circular structure open to the east and with a special foundation consisting of compacted sand and gravel. Upright posts along the foundations indicate that it was enclosed and probably covered, much as the other structures, with animal hides. A semicircular concentration of hearths is found around the structure. We can only speculate as to the

purpose of the hut; it was certainly not a residence but most likely some sort of ceremonial structure. It can be no accident that the site aligns perfectly with the rising of the sun in winter solstice behind the 2600-meter-high conical volcanic mountain, the Osorno, clearly visible on the distant horizon. The Monte Verde culture and the contemporaneous hunting cultures derive from two different prototypes. In North America, the hunters clearly had the edge until about 8000 BCE when, with the advent of the Holocene, monsoon winds brought moisture to the eastern part of the United States, leaving the area between the Atlantic and the Mississippi River increasingly covered with a deciduous forest of pine, oak, hickory, chestnut, and walnut. This set the stage for the emergence of diiferentiated forest/riverine societies along the thousands of tributary rivers and streams that fed the Mississippi, the Tennessee, and the Chattahoochee rivers. The extensive flooding caused by these rivers in the plains made the lower reaches of the rivers less attractive for settlement than the hilly highlands. Communities lived sometimes in caves and bluffs and sometimes in open-air shelters. Movement from location to location was motivated less by a search for food than a search for the right stones for tools and spear tips. People now also followed the seasonal movement of the deer up and down the river valleys. Groups would have trekked up into the hills for the summer and fall hunts, wintering in the mid-ranges harvesting the nut trees.36 Spring camp would have been in the lowlands and marshes near the river’s delta where fishing would have been the primary activity. Life was divided between long-term settlements where “maintenance� tasks were carried out and short-term occupation sites where a more narrow range of activities were conducted, such as hunting, butchering, plant collecting, and wood working. In South America, the growth of the rainforest with its rich and diverse assortment of plants and animals led to a rapid expansion of population. At one place in Brazil, about 450 kilometers from the Atlantic, a rocky outcrop on the north bank of the lower Amazon near Monte Alegre served as a hub beginning around 8000 BCE. Instead of making sharp spear points, people made nets, hooks, baskets, and digging sticks. Remains found in the course of excavations in one of the Monte Alegre caves, Caverna da Pedra Pintada (Cave of the Painted Rock), showed that the occupants sustained themselves by the consumption of fish, mussels, and Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa). The cave was visited at different times of the year seemingly during the rainy season when the nuts were in season37 (Figures 2.41 and 2.42). For fishing, the hunters seemed to have developed a technique involving a poison made by grinding the root of a local tree into a juice that was then swished into the water, driving the fish downstream, where men in boats awaited them with nets and baskets.38 Figure 2.41: Pedra Pintada, Monte Alegre, Brazil. Source: Maureen Moore

Figure 2.42: Caverna da Pedra Pintada, Monte Alegre, Brazil. Source: Taylor Nunes

The rock art on the cave walls consists of a variety of designs rendered boldly in shades of red and yellow paint, and occasionally brownish and white. One sees large aquatic mammals, fish, and rabbit-like creatures. One panel has a large red bird surrounded by red handprints and red blobs with tails. Another panel has a human stick figure with raised hands and a small figure emerging from between its legs. The warming conditions also changed the Peruvian coast. Mountain streams now coursed their way to the Pacific, providing fresh water to the coast and strips of marshlands. Several settlements sprung up, including Paloma, about 15 kilometers north of the Chilca Valley on Peru’s central coast. At first it was a seasonal camp, but after 5000 until 2000 BCE it was a fully sedentary settlement whose occupants lived in a hundred or so small hemispherical houses built around a framework made of reed covered with bundles of grass or rushes and which had a slightly

hollowed inner floor. They ate fish, anchovies, sardines, and a variety of shellfish. In the extreme south of Peru there is a shell mound of El Anillio (or Ring Site) that perhaps was occupied around 5000 BCE if not earlier. Not all coastal fisher-people made shell mounds, a feature that was to become highly significant in North America along the Gulf of Mexico and around Florida along the Atlantic shore from about 4000 BCE onward. Were these the same people who parted ways?39

ENDNOTES 1. The culture is named after the La Gravette rockshelter, located in the Dordogne region of southwest France. Gravettian remains are widespread in Europe. One of the most significant sites (Hohle Fels, the “cave rock,” near Ulm) is located only 140 kilometers (87 miles) east of Köndringen. 2. Gary R. Lock and Brian Leigh Molyneaux, Confronting Scale in Archaeology: Issues of Theory and Practice (New York: Springer, 2006): 93, 108. 3. Sarunas Milisauskas, European Prehistory: A Survey (New York: Plenum Publishers, 2002): 86. Later emphasis shifted to reindeer, which was hunted in winter. 4. Jean Combier and Anta Montet-White, eds., Solutré, 1968–1998 (Paris: Société Préhistorique Française, 2002). 5. John F. Hoffecker, Desolate Landscapes: Ice-Age Settlement in Eastern Europe (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002): 225. 6. The Gravettian Culture was not uniformly distributed across Europe. Italy, for example, has very few sites, a fact that has been attributed to several volcanic eruptions in Naples between 38,000–28,000 BCE. It is not until the onset of the Aurignacian period (36,000–28,000 BCE) that we see signs of widespread occupation. 7. Colin F. Taylor, The Plains Indians: A Cultural and Historical View of the North American Plains Tribes of the Pre-Reservation Period (New York: Crescent Books, 1994): 195–197. 8. Bohuslav Klima, “Palaeolithic Huts at Dolni Vestonice, Czechoslovakia,” Antiquity 28, no. 109 (1954): 4–14. See also Walter A. Fairservis, Jr., The Threshold of Civilization: An Experiment in Prehistory (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975): 74–118. 9. For the discussion of the burials, see Erik Trinkaus and Jiří Svoboda, Early Modern Human Evolution in Central Europe: The People of Dolní Věstonice and Pavlov (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). 10. The earliest of these that has survived is the 6 cm Venus of Tan-Tan from Morocco. It dates to an astonishing 200,000–500,000 BCE. This means that it was made not by Homo sapiens neanderthalensis but by the more primitive Homo erectus. 11. P. B. Vandiver et al., “The Origins of Ceramic Technology at Dolni Vestonice, Czechoslovakia,” Science 246, no. 4933 (1989): 1002–1008. 12. Morten A. Pederson, “Totemism, Animism and North Asian Indigenous Ontologies,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 7, no. 3 (2001): 411–427. 13. Ernst R. Wendland and Salimo Hachibamba, Galu Wamkota: Missiological Reflections from South-Central Africa (Zomba, Malawi: Kachere Series, 2007): 164. 14. Inge Kleivan and Birgitte Sonne, Eskimos, Greenland and Canada (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1985): 20. 15. See Ted Goebel, Michael R. Waters, and Mikhail N. Meshcherin, “Masterov Kliuch and the Early Upper Paleolithic of the Transbaikal, Siberia,” Asian Perspectives 39, no. 1–2 (2000):

47–70. 16. Megan Glazewski, “Experiments in Bone Burning,” Oshkosh Scholar I (April 2006): 17–25. 17. N. N. Dikov, Mysteries in the Rocks of Ancient Chukotka (Petroglyphs of Pegtymel), trans. Richard L. Bland (Eugene: Heritage Research Associates, 1997). The original was published in Moscow in 1971. 18. Based on the research of Douglas Wallace. See (accessed January 28, 2012). 19. 20. Michael D. Stafford et al., “Digging for the Color of Life: Paleoindian Red Ochre Mining at the Po-wars II Site, Platte County, Wyoming, U.S.A.” Geoarchaeology 18, no. 1 (December 23, 2002): 71–90. 21. Carl J. Clausen, H. K. Brooks, and Al B. Wesolowsky, “The Early Man Site at Warm Mineral Springs, Florida,” Journal of Field Archaeology 2, no. 3 (1975): 191–213. 22. “The Gault Site,” Texas Beyond History, (accessed November 20, 2011). 23. Daniel S. Amick and Jack L. Hofman, “Joe Ben Wheat’s Investigations at Chispa Creek in Trans-Pecos, Texas,” Current Research in the Pleistocene 16 (1999): 3–5. 24. George C. Frinson, “The Foothills-Mountains and the Open Plains: The Dichotomy in Paleoindian Subsistence Strategies Between Two Ecosystems,” in Ice Age Hunters of the Rockies, eds. Dennis J. Stanford and Jane S. Jay (Denver: University of Colorado, 1992): 331. 25. Cerd-C. Weniger, “Germany at 18,000 BP ,” in The World at 18,000 BP. Volume 1: High Latitudes, eds. Olga Soffer and Clive Gamble (London: Unwin Hyman, 1990): 182. 26. Vasile Chirica and Bogdan Minea, “La Maison dans la Vie des Communautes Humaines Paleolithiques,” in Etablissements et Habitations Préhistoriques, Structures, Organisation, Symbole, eds. Vasile Chirica and Mădălin-Cornel Văleanu (Iaşi, Romania: Institut d’archéologie, 2008): 99–131. 27. J. Clottes and D. Lewis-Williams, The Shamans of Prehistory (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998): 81. 28. Jean Clottes, Chauvet Cave: The Art of Earliest Times, translated by Paul G. Bahn (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2003). 29. Leslie Gordon Freeman and J. González Echegaray, “El Juyo: A 14,000-Year-Old Sanctuary from Northern Spain,” History of Religion 21, no. 1 (August 1981): 1–19. 30. Nuno Bicho et al., “The 2008–2010 Excavations of Cabeço da Amoreira, Muge, Portugal,” Mesolithic Miscellany 21, no. 2 (May 2011): 3–13. 31. Grahame Clark, Excavations at Star Carr: An Early Mesolithic Site at Seamer near Scarborough, Yorkshire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954): 2–24. 32. Sarunas Milisauskas, European Prehistory: A Survey (New York: Kluwer Academic, 2002): 130–133. See also Dragoslav Srejović, Europe’s First Monumental Sculpture: New Discoveries at Lepenski Vir (New York: Stein and Day, 1972). 33. Dragoslav Srejović, Europe’s First Monumental Sculpture: New Discoveries at Lepenski Vir (London: Thames and Hudson, 1972). Ljubinka Babović, Sanctuaries of Lepenski Vir: Location, Position and Function (Belgrade: Narodni Muzej, 2006.) 34. For discussion, see Joseph F. Powell, The First Americans: Race, Evolution, and the Origin of Native Americans (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

35. The information in this paragraph comes largely from Tom D. Dillehay and Monte Verde, A Late Pleistocene Settlement in Chile. Volume 1 (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989): 4–26. 36. David Anderson and Glen Hanson, “Early Archaic Settlement in the Southeastern United States: A Case Study for the Savannah River Valley,” American Antiquity 53, no. 262 (1988): 262–286. Bruce D. Smith, “The Archaeology of the Southeastern United States: From Dalton to de Soto, 10,500–500 BP ,” in Advances in World Archaeology. Volume 5, eds. Fred Wendorf and Angela E. Close (London: Academic Press, 1986): 8–9. 37. Anna C. Roosevelt, “Ancient and Modern Hunter-Gatherers of Lowland South America, An Evolutionary Problem,” in Advances in Historical Ecology, ed. William L. Balée (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998): 195. 38. Steven Mithen, After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000–5000 BC (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003): 263–264. 39. Danèle Lavellée, The First South Americans. The Peopling of a Continent from the Earliest Evidence to High Culture, translated by Paul G. Bahn (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995): 99.

CHAPTER 3 Savanna and Forest Peoples Today Of the earliest social organizations that developed in the three ecological zones—the savanna, the steppe, and the forest/river—the steppe hunting societies left the strongest architectural traces, largely because of their need for sturdier habitations and also because the residues of their camps in the form of bones and tools are easier to locate archaeologically than sites in jungles or grasslands, where traces of human existence quickly disappear. Steppe society also left stronger evidence for burials. Among forest cultures, death was usually seen more informally, making it more difficult for archaeologists to access the inner workings of these early cultures. For that reason, anthropology, which studies living societies, can assist us just as much as archaeology in coming to terms with early human history. The First Societies that still exist today—some of which have already been mentioned—are, of course, only the leftovers. First Societies disappeared in Mesopotamia around 5000 BCE, in Europe around 3000 BCE, in China and India, maybe around 1000 BCE. In the Americas, 90 percent of the population was wiped out by diseases in the sixteenth century,. First Societies that made it into today’s world are thus a rare breed. But they are not all gone, at least not yet. This means that just as the archaeological record has to be understood as incomplete at best, so too should the anthropological gaze be taken somewhat cautiously. 1 It is a fallacy to think that current cultural formations are identical with historical ones. For example, even in places where First Societies did survive, the supposition of continuity between the present and the past is often just a working hypothesis. Furthermore, those societies that survived into the present rarely arrived on the doorstep of modernity unchanged. Contact with agriculturalists, traders, armies, colonizers, missionaries, and even twentieth-century anthropologists must be factored in. Yet, surprisingly, a number of pre-agricultural societies have survived into modern times, giving us a partial picture of their life, culture, and architecture. The names of these groups are significant, since, as we shall see, many mean the same thing: people. They see themselves not as “hunter-gatherers” and certainly not as “foragers”—an even more disparaging term often encountered in the literature—but as having a social cohesion that emanates from their tribe outward into the world. The indigenous name for a member of the Chukchi, who live in the far northeast of Russia, is, for example, Luoravetlan, which means “true person.” This is also the case with the Paiwan, the indigenous people of Taiwan. The Pacific Eskimos are actually called Sugpiaq, which means “real person.” In Paraguay the Avá-Chiripá call themselves Avá-Katú-Eté, meaning “the true men.”2 And the list goes on. As the foregoing chapter hoped to show, we can differentiate types of pre-agricultural societies based on different ecological circumstances. In some places by 8000 BCE, these various cultures might be living in proximity to each other, creating blendings and overlappings. One should, however, not assume that one type of society was more “advanced” than the other. 1. Savanna and scrubland societies: Examples of residual populations today are the !Kung in southern Africa and the Australian aboriginal peoples; the Klamath, Shasta, and Modoc in North America belonged to this group until the nineteenth century.

2. Steppe and cold-weather hunting societies: Examples of residual populations today are the Sami in Sweden and Norway; the Kets and Nenets in Russia; the Inuits in Alaska; and the Tehuelche in Argentina (now extinct). The Plains Indians in the United States belonged to this group until the end of the nineteenth century. 3. Forest and river societies: Examples of residual populations today are the Bambuti in central Africa, the Andaman Islanders of India, the Batek in the Philippines, and the Nanai in Siberia. The Yu’pik in Alaska, the Nlaka’pamux of British Columbia, and the Northwest Indians in Canada belonged to this group until the nineteenth century.

!KUNG The image of civilization as river-based is so ingrained in our modern self-definition that it is difficult for some to imagine how people managed to survive in savannas and scrublands, but these were the typical conditions of Africa and India so many thousands of years ago before the Holocene. Few such conditions exist anymore for First Societies, one of the exceptions being the desert of the Kalahari, the homeland of the !Kung (also known as the San).3 They would not have lived there for hundreds of thousands of years had their social world not been finely tuned.4 But the !Kung of today are only the desert-specialist remnants of a culture that was originally a savanna culture that was widespread throughout the southern half of Africa. 5 The Kalahari people are also not a single entity, but a loose network of clans that include the !Kung, the Dobe, !Xo, the Eastern =Ho and the /Xam, among others, each with slightly different emphasis in their religious and cultural practices.6 Their widespread culture changed considerably when the Bantu arrived around the second century BCE from their original homeland areas in Nigeria and Cameroon.7 The Bantu brought with them large herds of cattle, colonizing practically the entire landmass of Sub-Saharan Africa. The large grasslands were perfect for their herds. As they spread, the Bantu developed local variants of their culture, pushing the existent peoples back into the desert or deeper into the forests where grazing was impossible. The newcomers also brought agriculture and iron making. A smelting furnace dating from around 190 CE was found in the Tswapong Hills near Palapye in eastern Botswana. The Bantu were less interested in the native animals—except as food—than in their cattle. The Kalahari Desert, unsuited to cattle raising, provided a refuge for the remnants of the First Society people with the Dobe, Eastern =Hoa and !Xo in particular, living now in the more remote parts of the desert. The cattle-breeding cultures had a worldview far different from the Kalahari people. Nonetheless, those !Kung who lived in the contact zone, such as the Ts’ixa in eastern Botswana, traded with the Bantu and intermarried, producing, for example, a tribe that came to be known as the Khoikhoi (also Khoekoe). Their Bantu-derived idea of individual ownership stood in marked contrast to old traditions. The situation became even more stressful when the Khoikhoi around 1000 CE cohered into large chiefdoms that ate away at the independence of the desert people. Soon the !Kung and the Khoikhoi were locked in a series of conflicts so that even today the two groups remain culturally distinct. The !Kung were not always the victims in their relationship with other people. Some joined the Khoikhoi society as hunters and herders; some even acquired their own stock and married Khoikhoi women to form yet another community called the Khoisa.8 The !Kung are animistic. The Khoikhoi, on the other hand, had a Bantu-derived moon god,

Tsui//goab, who was considered masculine. Similarities with Hathor, one of the principal goddesses of the ancient Egyptians, are unmistakable. Hathor was often represented with a headsymbol resembling a pair of horns with the moon-disk between them. Her origin is not known archaeologically, but is clearly related to a shift toward animal herding around 8000 BCE, a transformation that marked the beginning of settlement culture in Africa. Hathor—like Tsui//goab —is directly tied to this ancient transformation that took place long before agriculture was introduced from the Near East. This means that when the Bantu arrived in southern Africa they brought with them a religion that, though it had elements of animism, was from the perspective of the !Kung both modern and alien.9 Some !Kung, of course, chose to remain close to traditional ways, even if it meant retreating ever farther into the desert. By the time of the arrival of the white man in the nineteenth century they were already a type of outcast. The creation of the modern nation of Botswana in 1961 did not help. The area in which they lived was demarcated as the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, but rather than protect the ancient tribes that had lived there for so long, the reserve was set up to protect the animals. Many of the !Kung were forcibly evicted, perceived by the government as a potential embarrassment. For those !Kung who have held out, it is not surprising that their culture has not changed over thousands of years as it is perfectly tuned to arid conditions. The women have detailed knowledge of the desert environment and they use special sticks to unearth the bulbs and tubers that serve as a source of both food and water. One food needs no implements at all. It is the nut of the mongongo tree. This tree exists in large linear groves taking root in ancient sand dunes, clearly visible in Google Earth, that are about a hundred meters wide and hundreds of kilometers long and that stretch intermittently virtually coast to coast between the latitudes 15-21 degrees. The trees produce a huge number of nuts. In a good year, they can be knee deep. The nuts are an excellent nutritional source, and can be eaten raw, but are even more delicious when roasted. They store well, and remain edible for much of the year. In April and May, the different tribes will make treks to their ancestral mongongo groves. In the areas between the sand dunes, there are intermittent dried-out streams and watering holes that are the fixed points in the !Kung’s mental map (Figure 3.1a, 3.1b, 3.1c). Figure 3.1a, b, c: Kalahari Desert peoples: (a) map, (b) tribal areas, (c) gathering routes for mongongo nuts. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Richard B. Lee and Irven DeVore, Kalahari HunterGatherers: Studies of the !Kung San and Their Neighbors (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976).

The !Kung are not in want of meat. In fact, they are perfectly positioned in the overlap of areas where the kudu, wildebeest, giraffe, and antelope migrate (Figure 3.2). Since these herds need water just as much as humans, their movements are predictable. There are, after all, only so many

water holes and springs. The bows and arrows of the hunters may not be big, but the poisoned tips are lethal. Once dazed by the poison, the animals are swiftly dispatched with spears and axes. The meat, including liver and heart, is roasted immediately with parts of the animal brought back to the camp, including the head, which is cooked communally (Figure 3.3). Figure 3.2: !Kung in the South African context. Source: Florence Guiraud

Figure 3.3: !Kung men on the hunt, Botswana. Source: Harri Jarvelainen

One might expect that camps would be empty during the day, with people dispersed into the bush in search of food and water. In fact, the organization of work and leisure is such that during an average day about 65 percent of the camp residents are at home in the settlement. Only a small part of a persons time is spent in gathering food. The rest is dedicated to socializing. Children spend most of their time within the circle of huts, supervised by elders. When a young man has hunted and killed one animal, the male and female of each the main species—kuduk, eland, and wildebeest— there is a ceremony and celebration that involves tattooing the man’s face so that anyone who glances at him knows that he is now a hunter. It is only then that he is eligible for marriage. 10 During the dry season (May to October), the !Kung congregate about water sources and from these bases, they range out on daily gathering trips. Over the course of the dry season, they gradually deplete available resources and have to turn to less desirable kinds of food. When the rains come, the groups break down into smaller bands, which disperse into the hinterland to utilize the comparatively abundant resources there. Though the !Kung have no named, structured patrilineages, they do have a patrilineal emphasis that allows each band to “own” its water resources. The senior figures of the band will help plan the band’s movements, but this is done very informally.11 For a settlement, a suitable area is found with shade that is carefully denuded of grass, bushes, saplings, or anything that might provide privacy or screen one part of the village from another. 12 The huts—about 1.5 meters high and 1.8 meters in diameter—are made by the women using saplings stuck into the ground in a circle and bound together at the top. During the dry season, the top is left open to catch the breeze. During the rainy season, the hut is thickly thatched with bundles of grass. Modern !Kung now also build huts of sticks and cow-dung-plastered walls, which they likely learned from their cattle-raising South African neighbors.13 The dry season villages can contain up to fifteen huts accommodating about fifty people. When the settlement is founded, a central fire is lit by the senior man and is kept going at all times. If it were to go out, only the headman can relight it. It is from this fire that the other fires are lit. The

huts are placed in a ring around the central area with each hut having a fireplace in front of it, which is where the food is cooked and people socialize. Each hut, with its own hearth, is a marker signifying the residence of one nuclear family. Typically huts are close enough so that people sitting at different hearths can hand items back and forth without getting up. The most senior households will position themselves on the side closest to where their ancestors are said to have come, with married children’s huts strung out to the right and left. Other households make up the rest of the circle. The huts have no sacred zones inside or outside the house. People, in fact, do not live in the huts. Instead they will sleep around the fire. The huts are mainly used to store hunting gear, personal items, and for an occasional nap. Despite this, the huts are an important symbolic purpose identifying the locus of a family in the group (Figure 3.4). Figure 3.4: !Kung village diagram, Kalahar. Source: Timothy Cooke/Richard B. Lee, The Dobe !Kung (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984), 3

The word “village” might be too strong a word, but the common word “camp” can also be misleading. The !Kung word is chu/o, which means literally “the face of the huts,” thus emphasizing the orientation of the hut toward the central, communal space. Immediately behind the zone of the huts is where ash from the fire is heaped along with spent nutshells. Behind that is a ring where the fire pits are made and butchery of animals is undertaken. This is surrounded by an empty area and beyond that, about 200 or so meters away, the zone for defecation. The abundant

Kalahari dung beetles keep the area relatively free of odor. Past that there is the t’si, which means bush or wilderness. The !Kung do not deify or particularly revere the semiarid savanna that surrounds them or attribute supernatural powers to it. With the beginning of the rainy summer season in October, the group splits apart and moves to exploit the local resources.14 The settlement is abandoned but the saplings will be saved and reused. In the course of a year a group might make three to six settlements. A group will also pack up and move if someone has died or if there has been a serious misfortune associated with a particular place. When the group returns to its summertime watering spot, it will not reinhabit the old huts, which are left where they were built to eventually disintegrate. Although there is a good deal of variety when it comes to the cosmological views of the different groups, it can be summarized by a diagram of a horizontal line with “camp” at one end and “hunting ground” at the other with “water” in between. A vertical line connects the “underground” to the “sky,” crossing the horizontal at “water.” Humans live on the horizontal axis and move between the positive, regenerative social context of the camp and the uncertain and dangerous zone of the hunting ground. The water hole between these two zones is ambivalent since it provides social contact between different bands and is also a place where animals congregate. The vertical axis is the domain of the spirit world and is the axis along which the shamans travel, moving between the sky and the underground. For them, the water hole is the gateway into that supernatural world. This explains the significance of turtles, whose shells are often used to dig the shallow graves in which the deceased are placed. Turtles, of course, float on the surface of the water, sun on rocks, and retreat rapidly below the surface when disturbed. The turtle was thus, for many First Society peoples, a symbol for the movement between contrasting worlds, and we will encounter it in many places in this book.15 The most important ritual of the !Kung and related people is the medicine dance (Figures 3.5). The dance focuses on n/um, which has been variously translated as medicine, energy, or power and can be anything from an herbal medicine to menstrual blood to a vapor trail of a jet plane. In the context of the medicine dance, n/um is harnessed within the stomach of a medicine man or woman and made to “boil.” This induces a trance through which the person can use the n/um to cure the sick. Learning to use this power requires years of training and practice. The ritual involves a period of singing and dancing in which the dancers concentrate on achieving the trance state. Once achieved the dancers collapse in a state of high physical and mental strain and may begin to hallucinate. Not all participants achieve this state. Afterward the person places his hands on the sick and even the not sick, binding the group as a whole and making participants of everyone. The whole event can last through the night and into the next day as various people cycle through the ritual.16 Figure 3.5: !Kung man performing ritual dance in front of his hut, Botswana. Source: © Rob Bradford (

THE PEOPLES OF AUSTRALIA Evidence suggests that, with the arrival of the Holocene, the strengthening of the equatorial monsoonal patterns did not translate to more rains in Australia; just the opposite. Grasslands turned into desert and the lakes dried up. The result was that the inhabitants of Australia had to learn to specialize in living in increasingly arid conditions.17 Furthermore, the population, in expanding into the different ecological zones, developed a range of architectural responses. Nonetheless, Australian native culture maintained its uniqueness until the modern times largely because it never developed into or lived in the direct shadow of urban civilizations (Figure 3.6). Figure 3.6: First Society groups, Australia. Source: Florence Guiraud

At the time of the landing of the Europeans, it is thought that there were some 300,000 people on the continent, but there were probably more. Warfare did exist on occasion, but it was rarely an organized operation and usually a consequence of stresses in the environment.18 Although there are

numerous different tribes and groupings, the basic family unit is always a man, his wife or wives, and their children. Strong bonds also exist, however, between its members and members of the local group. Although much of life is spent in the context of family units, occasionally people gather in larger groups of dozens or perhaps even hundreds of people for special purposes. Foodgathering techniques vary depending on the local ecology. In the arid interior of the continent, hunters use little in the way of equipment so as not to be burdened in their search. Near the sea and along the big inland rivers where it is possible to lead a much more settled existence, people use nets, fishing lines, and canoes. Food ranges from bird eggs, small mammals, lizards, edible grubs, palm nuts, honey, and, when possible, fish. The hunt has important cultural significance for the men, but women are often the chief food suppliers. Most north Australian tribes have traditions that relate to two great ancestors, one a woman named Imberombera, the other a man named Wuraka. Wuraka came from the west, walking through the sea. His feet were on the bottom but he was so tall that his head was well above the surface of the water. He landed at a place called Allukaladi, between what are now known as Mts. Bidwell and Roe, both of which he made. Imberombera also walked through the sea and landed at what is now known as Malay Bay, the native name being Wungaran. Imberombera had a huge stomach in which she carried many children, and on her head she wore a bamboo ring from which hung down numbers of dilly bags full of yams. She also carried a very large stick or wairbi. As she walked over the country, she made the creeks, hills, animals, and plants. At a later period, others among the early ancestors took part in the production and distribution of people and the different objects associated with them.19 Despite the relative uniformity regarding the origin myth, death is dealt with in remarkably different ways across the continent. In some cases the deceased, wrapped in a bark shroud, is placed on an elevated platform, the bones collected later, and in some cases burned, in other cases buried. On Melville Island, the deceased is buried in a clearing; then about a month later, the family returns and constructs wooden posts that are staked into the ground. The posts are designed as cylinders with a rectangular opening in the center and surmounted by a knob. The carving of the posts and their insertion into the ground is accompanied by dances and song. The occasion is not one of sadness, but rather focuses on the spirit of the deceased and the need that it be appeased. Three or four or even more of these posts can be erected during the ceremony. There are also one or two taller posts. If it was a woman who died, their water basket is placed on the top but inverted. The graves are not maintained and so disappear over time. In one tribe, the deceased is actually cooked and consumed. When a person dies, the camp is usually moved to avoid lingering evil spirits.20 The construction of spirit posts for the dead can be found among the people of the Indonesian islands to the north of Australia. During the Manene Solemn ceremony of Tana Toaja in south Sulawesi, for example, people build wooden statues called tau-tau that are regarded as concrete manifestations of ancestral spirits. At auspicious times these statues are dressed and offered sacrifices.21 Though often described as nomads, in actuality, Australian people move between a number of contiguous ecological systems to exploit seasonal foods and resources; furthermore, the geographical range of the various groups is in most areas restricted by territorial rules. People are conscious of their place within their local territory, intimate with its geography and spiritually attached to its sacred sites and histories. People often prefer to live and sleep in the open when possible, but are very adept at making shelters in places where there are abundant food resources. There is a strong tendency toward permanent settlements. This has led to a great deal of

differentiation. The native Australians speak over two hundred different languages and hundreds of associated dialects. Their architecture too is quite diverse, especially because of the wide range of ecological systems that stretch over the continent, from the very arid to the dense rainforest. In the north it is wet in the summer and dry in the winter. Here people build vaulted forms out of twigs for the summer and open windbreakers for winter. In the south, it is wet in the winter and dry in the summer. Here, where one has to fight both wet and cold simultaneously, one finds semi- and fully enclosed structures with several layers of cladding for insulation and weather-proofing. Between the two zones there is a strip that gets a fairly even mixture of summer and winter rains. Here, people make extensive use of earth-coated dwellings (Figures 3.7, 3.8, 3.9). Figure 3.7: Hut decked with porcupine grass, Eastern Arrernte people, Arltunga district, Northern Territory, Australia. Photographed in 1920. Source: Herbert Basedow Collection, National Museum of Australia, No. 1985.0060.1053.001

Figure 3.8: Wet-weather huts, Liverpool River, Australia. Photographed in 1928. Source: Herbert Basedow Collection, National Museum of Australia, No. 1985.0060.1834.002

Figure 3.9: Aboriginal hut, Western Australia. Source: State Library of Victoria, No. 49197184

Just as with the !Kung, settlements are designed around a structured understanding of time. But the differences with the !Kung are profound. For the !Kung, a hut was a relatively generic device, each relatively similar in size. For the Aborigines, the windbreaker, as informal as it might seem, denned a piece of social geography designed around a specific set of people. It could be bigger or smaller depending on the number of occupants. A fire was set up in front of the windbreaker, but there was often a common fire used for roasting at the conceptual center of the group. Separate shelters are commonly used for diurnal and nocturnal activities. During the day, men and women congregate apart, while the families reside together at night protected by huts or windbreakers. During the dry season, people sleep on the ground in a row between small fires. The windbreakers are designed close enough for visual and aural communication, but far enough to allow for personal and social activities around each area. Camps are often sited near a source of water and firewood. A site is also chosen on a clear area where there is good visibility to guard against intruders. Warm and sandy ground is preferred. There are also different types of camps, serving

various economic, social, or ceremonial functions (Figures 3.10 and 3.11). Figure 3.10: A framework of heavy timbers for a shelter at Cooper Creek in southwest Queensland, Australia. Source: Ella Peinovich/Paul Memmott, Gunyah, Goondie, and Wurley: The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2007), 138

Figure 3.11: Layout of a Pitjantjatjara camp at Konapandi in the Musgrave Ranges, Australia, June 1933, showing domiciliary groups. Source: Ella Peinovich/Paul Memmott, Gunyah, Goondie, and Wurley. The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2007), 31

In the western desert a camp consists of a curved windbreaker against the prevailing east winds. The layout of a Pitjantjatjara camp at Konapandi shows a loose arrangement of huts facing in a roughly southerly direction (Figure 3.12). A common practice on the east coast where bark and wood are plentiful was to arrange a number of straight inward-leaning poles to enclose a roughly circular space tied at the apex and clad with bark sheets. In some cases a thin pole was bent to produce an upside-down V supported at the apex by a pole. Poles could then be leaned against this structure. In the northeast, people build a variety of dome-shaped houses made of pliable tree saplings. A small fire at the entrance supplies warmth and deters mosquitoes, while the dark interior discourages flies. Figure 3.12: Layout of a semi-sedentary camp of Antakarinja people in August 1939 near Ooldea

Soak, about 6 kilometers north of Ooldea Siding, Australia. Source: Ella Peinovich/Paul Memmott, Gunyah, Goondie, and Wurley: The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2007), 117

In the north, the Lardil construct a cubic-shaped, wet-weather shelter made of four forked posts, horizontal side rails, roof beams and a cladding usually of bark, covered with leaves and grass and weighed down by sand. They are constructed in December when the northwest monsoon begins. The domed houses are built of lengths of the tough stems of the climbing palms of Calamus. The structure needs to have sufficient strength to carry the cladding materials and to withstand inclement weather. They would also have to support the weight of a man, since repairing the roof was important to its maintenance. It is often the woman’s task to level the ground, while the men obtain and assemble the framing material. The women collect and construct the cladding. A shallow drain is dug around the perimeter of the base to protect against internal flooding during heavy downpours. There are different types of lattice frames depending on region. Horizontal members are sometimes used as tension rings to add to the rigor of the dome and as places to attach the cladding. Cladding material comes from the various palm trees, banana trees, and grasses. The choice would be dependent on local availability and seasonality of the material. Thick layers of grass thatch are particularly effective against rain (Figure 3.13). Figure 3.13: Layout of a western desert camp made up of three domiciliary groups, Australia. Source: Ella Peinovich/Paul Memmott, Gunyah, Goondie, and Wurley: The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2007), 32

The arched entrance can be quite small, which facilitates closure during inclement weather and prevents entry of unwanted nocturnal spirits. For the most part the domes are independent structures, but in some communities, domes are linked to create complex forms with several rooms. The Yankuntjatjara people at Mimili in the Everard Ranges have a more “village� style arrangement where the shelters are arranged around a large oval common area. In one such camp, most of the houses were for couples with or without children, while some were for segregated, unwed males. Another, with a population of about eighty-four persons, had special houses for widows. Each house sat in a wedge-shaped area that gave it access to the common area at its core and to the perimeter. As was common, ochre played a vital ingredient in art and religious practices. Quarries were established early on in northwestern South Australia and in the Flinders Ranges. Groups are known to have traveled from Cloncurry in Queensland to the Yarrakina ochre mine at Parachilna in the Flinders Ranges to exchange shields for the special iridescent ochre mined there. Ochre from nearby Mount Rowland in Tasmania was mined by women using stone hammers and wooden chisels. The ochre was then packed into kangaroo-skin bags for transport. In other places, the ore was mined by men. Other types of rock mined included amphibolite, andesine, basalt, blue metal, chalcedony, cherty, diabase, granite, greenstone, greywacke, ironstone, limestone, mudstone,

obsidian, porphyry, quartz, quartzite, sandstone, silcrete, silicified stone, siltstone, and trachyte. The stone most frequently quarried in New South Wales was silcrete, with quartz and quartzite extraction also being relatively common; all these were used for the manufacture of stone tools and axes that were widely traded. Ownership of mines rested with the clan on whose land they occurred and access to them was allowed only with the permission of these custodians. Within a clan, the actual mining was often undertaken by a smaller group who had special knowledge of how to correctly extract the resource. Mines were generally open cut, although some mines did extend underground. At Koonalda Cave in South Australia there is evidence that flint mining extended about 75 meters below the surface and up to 300 meters from the entrance of the cave. There are about five hundred recorded native Australian mine sites in Australia and new sites are being identified all the time.22 Whereas modern visitors might see a vast, featureless landscape the Australian native people see something different. Every feature of the landscape is known and has meaning. A tree and even a fissure on the tree can have a meaning, as can rocks and bushes. Tribal lands are not owned, but different groups do have rights over them. More important is the understanding that people are owned by the landscape. It knows them and gives them sustenance and life. In some tribes, each male has a personal stone or wood churinga kept in a secret place like a hollow tree, a cleft in a rock, or a shed of branches. In any case it is concealed from view and the whole area around it is forbidden to women, children, and the uninitiated on pain of death. The clan area is linked by different totemic sites joined by paths forming an interconnected whole. A tribe will consist of several such clan areas. For ceremonial purposes relating to initiation, these paths are followed in a prescribed order. Dreaming stories pervade and inform all spiritual and physical aspects of an indigenous Australians life, with variations on the same theme across the continent. It is not dreaming in the modern sense of having a dream while asleep, but rather a metaphor for the interface with the spiritual world. Dreamtime stories cover many themes and topics, making the unseen world visible. Novices are taught the routes of the Dreamtime beings, which are thought to move through the landscape. A central aspect of Dreamtime are the ceremonies relating to the mother goddess, who is variously called Kunapipi or Gunabibi. These ceremonies are held in the dry season to call on her fertilizing powers. The ritual can take weeks and even months to complete. The ceremonies also involve a python deity, who “swallows” initiates into the womb of the earth, represented by a sacred well in which the initiates are placed. One or two 4- to 7-meter-high jelmalandji poles with a python drawn in blood on each are erected at the edge of the sacred well, representing the mother goddess. They are given voice by bullroarers as men dance in front of them wearing conical hats covered like the poles with white feather-down snake designs. In different parts of Australia different types of poles are erected. In some places rock piles are used.23 These events are known generically as a corroboree, a word created by Australia’s European settlers after the Aboriginal word caribberie.24 In northern Arnhem Land the Yolngu construct “Morning Star poles.” The Yolngu believe that their bifurcated cosmos was given form as the result of the passage of two ancestral beings: the Djang’kawu sisters, who traveled from the seacoast, moving east to west. The Venus star, Banumbirr, rose in the east and lit the way for the two sisters on their journey from the island of the spirits of the dead known as Baralku. In the process of her navigations, Banumbirr named and created animals and lands as she crossed the shoreline, and continued traveling westward across

the country. Each evening, the spirits of the dead hold a ceremony, and their dancing disturbs the beach sands of their remote home, creating the thick twilight of the north. In daytime, though, the morning star is concealed in a woven bag until just before daybreak, when the star is set loose on a long feathered string and rises, reaching the top of a pandanus tree, from where it surveys its course before flying over each of the Dhuwa clan areas, announcing the coming of the dawn. String, feathers, light shadows, dust—all are central to the ceremony, which charts for eternity the appearance and the fading of the star. Unlike the jelmalandji poles, which are planted in the ground as markers, the Morning Star pole is used by the shaman in the dance is an important aspect of his movement. When a person dies, Barnumbirr is thought to send down a feathered string to catch the person’s spirit, taking it back to his or her spiritual home. The dance, performed during a funeral, guarantees that the spirit makes it safely to the ancestral realm.25

EL MOLO The El Molo are a fishing-oriented people who live on the southeastern shore of Lake Turkana in Kenya (Figure 3.14a, 3.14b). Though they themselves are not as ancient as the !Kung, they perpetuate an ancient fish-based lifestyle in the context of an extraordinarily harsh environment. The landscape is covered almost entirely of sand, rocks, and pebbles. The few trees are scrawny and far apart. And as to the lake, with its salt and alkaline makeup, it is certainly not suited for drinking. Crocodiles lurk in its depth. To the east of the lake there are the unforgiving fields of lava and desert and to the south the even more unforgiving expanse of the Rift Valley. And yet, even here, humans have found a home. Their main dietary staple is the giant Nile perch, caught with harpoons of acacia roots and fishing nets made from doum palm fiber while floating on rafts of doum palm logs. Fish is augmented by the date of the doum palm and wild cherries, which grow twice a year in the bush. Figure 3.14a, b: El Molo: (a) maps, (b) settlement plan. Source: Mark Jarzombek

The hippo is hunted in organized groups, but is also revered as the god of the lake and every two or three years a special ceremony is organized that honors the hippo as well as the ancestors. The songs are accompanied by the shaking of two sticks and never by hand clapping. Then the hunting of the hippo is organized. The hunt involves a man swimming in the water with a harpoon and spearing the beast while others follow on the line in a support boat. Needless to say it is an extremely hazardous activity. The killer of the hippo becomes a “taboo person� for a certain period and will not be allowed to eat of the hippo’s meat. He will, however, be the hero of the feast and for all his life he will wear a special ornament, made out of the animals bones, in the form of an earring. The history of the El Molo is not well known, but there is some connection to the nearby Rendille, who are nomadic camel herders to the east. It is impossible to tell who came first. In

fact, over the thousands of years, there was a fluid relationship between shore- and animal-based societies for exchange. The neighboring Samburu, who are cattle raisers, and who most certainly came later, trade their sheep and goats for El Molo-made mats, ropes, and hippopotamus leather. The animals that El Molo get from them are their only source of meat. The relationship between these groups changes with changing ecological circumstances, privileging one group over the other, creating expansions and contractions. With that in mind, a branch of the same people who became camel breeders could develop a sedentary specialization in fishing. The great famine of the last decades of the nineteenth century that killed of much of the cattle and camels forced animal breeders to adopt fishing traditions. In the late nineteenth century the entire eastern shore was dotted with communities. The Samburu brought with them their own language and, for over a generation, the El Molo grew up speaking Samburu, leaving even today few traces of their original tongue. The name El Molo comes, in fact, from the Samburu, who, similar to the Maasai, disparage non-cattle-raising people. Their phrase “loo molo onsikirri” means “the people who eat fish.” With the improvement of weather, the Samburu rebounded and returned to their original customs, leaving the El Molo as a Samburu-speaking minority.26 The El Molo huts are made from doum palm fronds and are supported using wood from the acacia tree (Figures 3.15 and 3.16). The support structure is made as a typical lattice. The palm fronds are then made into tube-like bundles that are tightly stitched around the frame. Roofing is similarly attached. The weight of the roof gives the walls their characteristic bulge. Doors are created by an opening in the structure or by means of a curved projection. Settlements are generally linear beginning with five or six in a row set back some 8 to 10 meters from the shore. As the settlement grows, new clusters are added nearby and new rows begun, ultimately producing a loose network of huts. Figure 3.15: El Molo settlement, Lake Turkana, Kenya. Source: Guido Aldi

Figure 3.16: El Molo settlement, Lake Turkana, Kenya. Source: Šárka Hastrmanová

BAMBUTI Centuries of indoctrination about the difference between cultivated land and forest wilderness have to be put aside to properly understand the richness of the forest for human society. The African rainforest, for example, grew toward its current extent beginning around 9,000 years ago and came to offer a vast diversity of food, from small animals and fish to mushrooms, insect larvae, honey, cola nuts, root tubers, and wild fruits. For the Okiek, who live in the Mau rainforest of Kenya, meat from the forest animals comprises 75 percent of their diet, but, socially, it is honey that determines their territorial understanding. The main lineage territory, the konoito, is used to demarcate honey, not game, rights. The territory is subdivided into two dozen or more sections of from 1 to 10 square miles, each assigned to individual families. These konoito extend up the mountain, giving lineages equal access to the differing forest environments. As the bees follow the flowers up the mountain, the Okiek follow the bees.27 Another forest-based society, the so-called “Pygmies,” are part of a set of tribes called the Bambuti, the Batwa, the Bayaka, and the Bagyeli (“Ba-” means “people”), who live scattered over a large area in central and western Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda (Figure 3.17). When they developed is not known. Some anthropologists suggest that cultures only gradually acclimatized themselves to the forest, having preferred to live at the perimeter closer to the savanna where there was a greater variety of available food. But it is most likely that as the forests began to grow in the early Holocene, so too did these forest societies. Figure 3.17: African rainforest societies. Source: Florence Guiraud

Today the various cultures of the African forest survive only in relatively isolated pockets and speak different languages, mostly related to those of neighboring peoples with whom they have interacted. There are, however, concepts that are shared between even widely separated tribes. One of these is that of the forest spirit—Jengi, Mugu, Nejunzi, Djengi, and other names—whose power is thought to emanate through the world. Jengi is seen as a parental figure and guardian. He has no consort or family except for the humans, who are defined as his children. Though a positive force, he can fall asleep, providing an opening for bad things to happen. On such occasions, the men of the Bambuti perform a ritual in which they sing through the night until dawn in order to “awaken the forest.”28 The ceremony, known as the Molimo, can last up to four nights. It begins with food and firewood gathered from every hut in the camp to signify the unity and cooperation in invoking the Molimo, which is a ritual wooden trumpet hidden in the forest. The men then light and gather at the “hearth of the Molimo”—called “Kumamolimo”—at the center of the camp and begin to sing. Meanwhile, the young men of the camp leave the fire and go to retrieve the trumpet from the forest. It is not considered a particularly sacred object, but is, nonetheless, kept in a secret place hidden from the women. The young men carry it back to the settlement, stopping along the way to immerse it in water so that the trumpet can drink and rubbing it with leaves and dirt as a symbol of water, earth, and air. When the youths arrive at the camp, they circle its periphery. Dressed with branches, they rush about in the darkness to the sound of the blaring trumpet and, armed with twigs, whack at the huts to express the animation of the forest. Women and children must stay in their huts with the door closed. When the singing is most intense, the youths enter the fire area with the trumpet, adding its sound to that of the others. Depending on how well everyone

dances and sings, the trumpet might stay only a few minutes or all night. After leaving, the Molimo is again stored in a tree until its next use.29 The ceremony includes parts that involve the women, but ends with the women retreating to the huts and men finishing the song. The music is very complex and includes continuous improvisations and polyphonic expressions (Figure 3.18). Figure 3.18: Tribal dance of forest spirits, Republic of Congo. Source: Michael Nicholas/National Geographic Stock

Even though the Bambuti believe in a range of all-encompassing forest deities and magical spirits, they do not worship particular rocks or trees. Individual tribes do, however, have animal totems and thus “see� themselves through the eyes of certain animals. Society is organized around individual households (endu) consisting of a husband, a wife, and their children. Families are patrilineal, meaning they trace their lineage through the male line to a common male ancestor. But Bambuti society has no ruling group or lineage. Settlements can number to about fifty residents. Bambuti camps usually have two to three times as many people because the net hunting that they do requires communal participation. According to their ethics, it is prohibited to kill more animals than is absolutely necessary for the provision of food. If a man kills an animal for mere pleasure or in order to lift his status in the community, this act will be considered a crime. Normally the men hunt alone, frequently now accompanied by their hounds. Their dress is composed of a belt wound around the waist, with a piece of bark cloth attached to the belt in the middle of the back, brought down between the legs and fixed against the belt in front. Usually, however, they go naked, some of them wearing a brass-wire bangle. The family unit makes no claim to territory, but each band as a unit has an understanding of its appropriate territorial range. An individual may, however, stake his claim to a tree that he believes will yield honey but even that does not give that individual exclusive ownership. It simply conveys the right for that individual to have the first opportunity for collecting honey. Once the honey is collected it is done collectively and the claimant is subject to all the usual rules governing the sharing of forest produce. His share might be larger, assuming he is there to claim it. Women are responsible for providing food, getting water, and constructing the huts. When they establish a settlement, they clear a piece of land near a stream of undergrowth, small trees, and saplings, leaving the canopy-forming trees intact. This protects the settlement from the powerful tropical sun. Furthermore, when the group leaves at the end of the season, the area can quickly

return to semi-primary forest. For their houses, the women first stake a pair of saplings for the diameter of the house and tie them together at the center (Figure 3.19a, 3.19b). Ninety degrees to this she produces another arch, these forming the frame on which the other arches are tied to produce the circular hut. Vines are wrapped around horizontally that serve to hold the leaves. The opening can be small or large. The heart-shaped mongono leaves that were collected by the men are slit so that they can be hooked together and hung from the framework. Large unbreakable leaves of Sarcophrynium and Megaphrynium are also used.30 Several women sometimes do the thatching. Some hang the leaves from the outside, working upward, while others on the inside push the leaves through the lattice frame to fasten them. With time the leaves flatten out and become quite watertight. Eventually, however, the leaves dry out and curl and the hut will have to be repaired. One of the daily activities, in fact, is the replacement of the leaves. The size of the house depends on how many are in the family. Smaller huts are round, but those for bigger families tend to be oblong (Figures 3.20 and 3.21). People sleep on a layer of dry leaves and sticks placed on the ground. A family’s possessions—bowls, baskets, carrying belts, cooking utensils, and so on— are placed at the perimeter of the hut or hung from the structure. Usually the fire is outside the entrance, although in the rainy season it is put on the inside. Very little is eaten raw, even the vegetables.31 Figure 3.19a, b: Bambuti (or Mbuti), Ituri Forest, Congo: (a) site map, (b) village plan. Source: Andrew Ferentinos/Colin M. Turnbull, The Forest People (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962)

Figure 3.20: Bambuti (or Mbuti), Ituri Forest, Congo, hut construction. Source: Andrew Ferentinos/Pygmies of the Rain Forest. DVD. Directed by Kevin Duffy. 1975; Santa Monica, CA: Pyramid Media, 2000

Figure 3.21: Bambuti (or Mbuti), Ituri Forest, Congo, hut construction and plan. Source: Illustrator: Andrew Ferentinos/Pygmies of the Rain Forest. DVD. Directed by Kevin Duffy. 1975; Santa Monica, CA: Pyramid Media, 2000

Camps are hardly always peaceful. Feelings of being ignored, memories of good or bad events, new friendships, and problems with relatives all play themselves out in the arrangement of the huts, which, as a result, are often in a state of flux.32 The location of entrances will get changed, for example, depending on friendships. Women who are friendly with one another will have facing entrances. If there is a disagreement, an entrance will be reoriented away from the offending person, which can create a complex ripple effect through the settlement. Every camp has a designated play area (bopi) for children. It is next to a stream and off-limits to adults. Here children play games and develop group dynamics. An important event is the honey festival. Women form an inner ring and circle around a bonfire, while men form an outer ring and circle in the opposite direction. The men pretend to seek honey and come near the women. The women play the role of bees, humming and droning. They pick up burning branches from the fire, with which they threaten the men to remind them of the dangers of bee stings. In death, the practice is to scratch a shallow hole in the floor of the hut and bury the deceased person there on the same day as he or she died, pulling down the hut over the grave. The camp is then abandoned with nothing left behind to indicate the grave site. Nothing is buried with the body except perhaps a few personal belongings such as a bracelet or necklace. All the other property is

divided before the camp is abandoned. Though this might sound informal, the association of the deceased with the hut in which he or she lived, plus the dismantling of the camp, are clear indicators of the intimate relationship between death and space33 (Figures 3.22, 3.23, and 3.24). Figure 3.22: A Bambuti village, Democratic Republic of Congo. Source: Bruno Zanzottera

Figure 3.23: Baka woman using Ngongo leaves to make her hut, Cameroon. Source: Minden Pictures/SuperStock

Figure 3.24: A Bambuti family in front of their hut, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Source: Matthew Allison

Hunting rituals are quite elaborate. Some rites are made to locate and to attract game; others designate the hunters who will make the kill, others facilitate tracking. For divination, an initiated female collects ritual substances such as bark and leaves and rubs them in her palms until they stick together. The direction in which the hand points indicates where game is to be found, but there are other systems as well. Special songs are sung that will attract the beast, and special liquids applied ceremoniously to the body of the hunter to make him invisible to the animal. Appeals are made to ancestor spirits who are thought to now govern animal populations. Drinks are prepared that give him visionary powers. After the hunt the master-hunter makes an offering to the protective spirits.34 Around 1000 BCE, the forest saw the arrival from the north of a host of Bantu newcomers, who brought with them their unique mixture of agriculture and livestock. They were village people. Over the millennia, their ancestors gradually expanded into the forest and today many Bambuti live in a give-and-take relationship with these villagers, providing services in exchange for various food items. The Bambuti have maintained their traditions, but the cultural differences are pronounced and illuminating. For the villagers, the rite to manhood is integrated into the connection to the dead, as only the initiated will join the ancestors when they die. For the Bambuti being a man is more dependent on practical concerns. A boy makes the transition when he proves himself capable of killing his first real game, for this demonstrates that he can sustain a family. For the villagers, the woman’s first menstrual blood is seen as an evil omen that places the girl and her relatives in danger. For the Bambuti, blood means life and announces the fact that the girl is now a potential mother. The event is marked by special songs and seen as a happy occasion for all. For the Bambuti, death is an important but not a mysterious event. The villagers see death as unnatural and see its cause in the sorcery of a persons enemies. The economic, kinship, and political relationships that bind the Bambuti together as a society in the forest do not apply in the village. For the Bambuti, fetching wood, making buildings, and working in the fields for the villagers are seen by the Bambuti as how they trick the villagers—who are viewed by the Bambuti as animals— to feed them. The villagers for their part see the Bambuti as primitives and as a convenient source of labor. The villagers also see the forest as a dangerous and wild place and attempt to exert control over the Bambuti through their traditions of sorcery. As far as the Bambuti are concerned, it is the villagers who are inferior since they are not of the forest. The relationship between the Bambuti and their Bantu neighbors gives a clear picture of the cultural divide between First Society people and agriculturalists. There are clear parallels with

the !Kung in their encounter with the Bantu. Here, however, the interaction, up until recently, was relatively more balanced, since not only were the Bambuti backed up by the dense forest, but each side, despite its dismissive attitude to the other, developed a culture of negotiation. While this is partially true among the !Kung, there the gradual assimilation into the Bantu world reduced the numbers of those who held on to the old ways.

JARAWA The Jarawa live on the North Sentinel Island of the Andaman island group, which lies 1,200 kilometers off India’s east coast, close to Myanmar (Figure 3.25). Unlike the !Kung and Bambuti, they are still quite isolated. Anthropologists argue that they are possibly the last remnant of the oldest human population of Asia and likely to be among the earliest ancestors of many Asians and Australians. Some anthropological DNA studies indicate the generations may go back 70,000 years.35 They were perhaps the first humans to return to the area following the Toba eruption. A sign of their antiquity is their language which, like the !Kung click languages, is unlike any other known languages. They hunt with bows, arrows, and spears, and navigate the waters in canoes of hollowed out trees. Originally, Andaman islanders constituted numerous separate tribes, but as the northern and eastern part of the island became settled in modern times, several tribes died out, leaving the Jarawa on the west coast. North Sentinel Island, 20 kilometers west, and Little Andaman, 40 kilometers south, also host some of the original islanders, all of whom now number only a few hundred. Figure 3.25: Andaman Islands: left, ca. 1800; right, today. Source: Florence Guiraud

The arrival of the British in 1789, who established a naval base and penal colony on the island, brought diseases that wiped out many of the original inhabitants. “Swamp reclamation� was begun, along with extensive forest clearance. When the islands became part of India, settlers arrived,

along with roads and other aspects of modern life. The intrusion of modern settlers and of roads into their ancestral territory has been met predictably by some resistance on the part of the islanders, whom government officials consider to be “unfriendly�36 (Figure 3.26). Figure 3.26: Sign warning visitors on the Andaman Islands, India. Source: Vishvajit Pandya

Some of the Andaman islanders are forest dwellers, while others live along the coast. The coast dwellers have canoes with which to move from place to place.37 The forest dwellers, by contrast, will usually remain at one settlement with a communal hut, during the rainy season, which lasts from the middle of May to the end of September. During the cool and hot seasons, they leave the camp for a few months to live in temporary hunting camps. Though few of the communal huts are extant today, it is clear that they were major undertakings. They were roughly circular in plan, about 20 meters in diameter and about 10 meters high. They were constructed out of two concentric circles, one of tall posts near the center and the other of shorter posts near the circumference, connected by horizontal and sloping roof timbers and covered with mats of palm leaves. A small doorway gives access to the interior. These buildings can last for several years with proper upkeep. In the center of the hut, there is an open space corresponding to the dancing ground of the village. Around this space are arranged the different families, their area marked off by means of short lengths of wood laid on the floor. Although the hut is communal, each family is regarded as owning a certain portion of the hut and is responsible for its upkeep. During the hunting season, when the men are away from the camp during the day, the women are responsible for collecting firewood, making baskets or nets, and foraging for roots and vegetables. If a wild pig is caught, it is cooked on the communal fire pit and its meat is distributed to all and supplemented by individual meals cooked separately. After the meal is over and darkness descends, men may spend an hour or so storytelling and dancing to the accompaniment of a song by one of them with the help of a chorus of women. The shore villages, constructed in a clearing near the beach, are usually composed of about eight to fourteen huts around a central open space, all facing toward the central space used for communal and ritual activities. The simpler huts consist of four posts and a sloping roof. A small platform just outside the hut is used to store food. If more covering is needed for a hut a second or third roof can be added. The roof is made of palm leaves woven into a mat. Hunting camps are more informal since they are occupied for only a week or so. A family consists of a man and his

wife and children. Besides the families, each group contains a small number of unmarried men and widowers and some unmarried girls and widows. The bachelors occupy a special hut, as do the unmarried women and widows. At some convenient spot on one side of the dancing ground is to be found the communal cooking place of the village. Usually it is close to the bachelors’ hut, since the bachelors attend to the cooking. For the construction, the selection of the posts, cane, and binding material is a man’s task, whereas everything that has to be done to make and maintain the “floor space” is a woman’s task. There are, however, no restrictions on women contributing to the construction. Women are particularly active in making the sections of thatching that cover the large circular roofs (Figures 3.27 and 3.28). Figure 3.27: A Jarawa hut, Andaman Islands, India. Source: Olivier Blaise

Figure 3.28: A Jarawa hut, Andaman Islands, India. Source: Olivier Blaise

Gift giving is an important custom and since possessions are relatively few almost every object that the Andamanes possess is thus constantly changing hands. Food is considered private property to those who obtained it, but everyone who has food is expected to share it with those who have none. The best food is usually given to the older men, the result being a fairly equitable

distribution of food in the village. Each village has a head, but his authority is limited and he is not what one might call a chief. His main job is to organize meetings and settle disputes. When he dies, a successor is chosen, usually based on his skill as a hunter and reputation for generosity. But since there is no forced authority, anyone can shift allegiance to another head in another camp. Certain territories were identified as belonging to a specific clan. If a person has to transverse the territory of another band, he is obliged to behave as a guest and in return the owners of a territory are obliged to behave as cordial hosts. Traditionally, the forest dwellers (known as pig hunters) traded with the shore people (turtle hunters) for clay, paint, honey, wood for bows and arrows, tree trunks for canoes, and betel nuts. The shore dwellers traded their shells for ornaments and ropes, and string made from plant fibers. After death, on the night of the full moon following the burial, the son or son-in-law of the dead person digs up the site and removes the lower jawbone. This is done to ensure that the dead person is transformed into a good and benevolent spirit. The spirits without the lower jawbones are considered to be less hungry and more sympathetic about sharing food with the living humans. Once the jawbone has been removed the spirits can take away the remaining body. In cases of accidental death or when a jawbone cannot be reclaimed, the spirit remains a potential danger to the humans. The Ongee believe that the death of human beings, loss of weight, and the dispersal of smell are all ways in which humans are transformed into spirits. Death occurs when the spirit fully absorbs the smell of the human, thus extinguishing human life, even though it is the moment of birth of the spirit. They also believe that the spirit returns to the living after skipping a generation. Thus the word for grandparent and grandchild are the same. In the process of dying and being reborn, the human has to go through the huge tree (tutwengalako) that connects all the horizontal places of the humans with the vertical places of the spirits. According to the Ongee the trunk of the tree passes through the island they reside on. Hunting is referred to as gitekwatebe, which means “releasing smell.” Smell is meant not as just a literal sensation, but as an almost philosophical concept, for it is the medium by which all life forces, even those of the sun and moon, engage each other in nature’s great continuum. For the hunter, it is only in “releasing the smell” of the animal that death becomes possible. Smells are directly related to the three seasons. October to January is the period of the northeast winds. February to May is the period of no rains or winds, and June to September is the period of southwest winds and rains. The middle season is not technically a season for the Ongee, since they see this period as a man-made season that they produce by scaring away the wind spirits by means of a set of rituals. During this period they can gather honey, the food of the spirits, and, just as importantly, hunt pigs with little danger to themselves, since there is no wind and thus the spirits are inactive. Pig hunting is also associated with a maturity ceremony in which a man makes the transition into full humanhood at the beginning of the wet season when the winds return. He must hunt the pig, drink its blood, and perform other prescribed sets of actions, including a dangerous sleep-induced “visit” to the spirit world, from which, hopefully, he returns alive. The skull of the pig that was killed for the ceremony is bound by string so as to control its smell, and placed in a rack inside the house as a testament to this transition. The ceremony takes place at the start of the wet season and with the appearance on the horizon of waterspouts, a sign of the return of the winds who are angry because of their absence. The return of the spirits has positive and negative implications since humans and spirits share the same habitat. For the Ongees, all living things— and that includes the spirits as well as the moon and sun—are capable of smell. Since the spirits hunt not only animals but also humans, contact with the spirits is thus to be avoided, though it is always a possibility since humans and spirits inhabit the same world. To

protect themselves, they use magically potent substances, such as clay paints, fire, and preserved bones to restrict or release smell, which, when carried by the winds, has the effect on the spirits of being attracted or warded off from the source of the smell. Those people who forgo these protections and manage to come close to the spirits and are still capable of returning to human society acquire power that is intrinsic to the spirits and becomes the recognized navigator through space. Because space is, therefore, not neutral, but inhabited by spirits who move on the wind from place to place, the navigator is needed to guide the humans safely from place to place. Ancestral spirits can assist in this process. At certain spots in the forest, a log is kept lit at all times, often at boundary points. It is not just the fire that is important, but the smoke that emanates from it, the smoke being the protective layer between the spirits and men. When moving about, it is essential that the group walks in single file behind the man who carries a special torch leaving behind a rising trail of smoke. Fire thus has a particularly important symbolic role and must be constantly guarded. Each family will keep its fireplace in the hut alight at all times. The Andamanes’ few items of clothing reflect a mix of religious, ceremonial, practical, and social functions. Body painting is regarded as a gift of the god Puluga. One of the most important colors is ochre, prepared from clay, mixed with pig fat or turtle oil and then applied either with a finger or smearing whole areas by hand. Apart from the ochre, there is also whitish-gray clay as well as a pink and a rare white clay. The whitish-gray clay is spread all over the body of mourners and is also used at certain initiation ceremonies. Applying body paint is a privilege of the women who not only paint each other but the men as well. The patterns are geometrical, zigzag, or wavy lines and dots and never in any way representational. The painting of animal or human forms is unknown. Styling the hair is another way for decorating oneself and is used by both males and females. Haircutting and partial shaving of the head was originally done with splinters of quartz, one of the few stone tools used in traditional Andamanese society. From the nineteenth century onward it was increasingly done with shards of glass.38 The designs on the face are based on clan lineages; each woman has the right to use the design of her matrilineal group, which marks the incorporation of the male body into its group, relating to four different types of birds. The four divisions of the island are also associated with the four birds. The birds stole the fire from the deities and taught the humans how to use it, as well as how to catch fish. The bird responsible for this theft was the Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus) which as its Latin name suggests is bright red. It has a black head, which the Ongee interpret as scorch marks.

WOMEN:—THE FIRST ARCHITECTS For the making of a hut, materials needed to be gathered and prepared, the frame constructed and latched, and finally the leaves or thatch applied. Construction takes place as a group activity with women playing a key if not a determining role in these efforts. In many of the places discussed in this chapter and in some of the subsequent ones women are responsible for the entire construction. Whether it be the !Kung in South Africa or the Sioux on the American Plains, women build and often in a sense “own” the hut. This is even true for nomadic tribes in Asia and Africa, the Rendille, for example, and even for the Maasai in Kenya, as will be discussed later. For huts that require processing larger structural elements, this part of the work is often done by the men. The men of the Andamen Island cultures will assemble the larger poles for their communal houses. In riverine cultures that developed timber buildings, men usually chop down the trees and prepare the

poles, whereas the women dig the ground and do most of the finishing work. The large structures of the Yanomami in South America are, for example, built by both men and women, with the men doing most of the structural work, and the women preparing the thatch. Whether heavy labor like this in combination with carpentry led to a transition in some places toward male-oriented architectural crafts is hard to say. In Mesopotamia, it was probably the shift to mud bricks that led to the masculinization of the construction site. Even so women still probably applied the stucco. The shift to agriculture also played a role. Among the Batammaliba in Togo, for example, the houses, built of mud walls and timber roofs, are designed by men who lay out the structure according to prescribed cosmological patterns having to do with the significance of the sun deity. Here, architecture is placed in the purview of the male priest, who is responsible for the plan of the house. That tradition, though old, contrasts significantly with the ancient building practices of the First Society (Figures 3.29, 3.30, and 3.31). Figure 3.29: Danakil woman building her hut, Ethiopia. Source: Victor Englebert

Figure 3.30: Danakil women building their house, Ethiopia. Source: Eric Lafforgue

Figure 3.31: A Maasai woman building her hut, Kenya. Source: Victor Englebert

ENDNOTES 1. One of the questions anthropologists face is whether these modern “hunter-gatherer� societies

are similar enough to the ancient ones to draw conclusions about ancient history. Edwin Wilmsen believes that the difference is too great. See Edwin N. Wilmsen, Land Filled with Flies: A Political Economy of the Kalahari (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989): 8–12. Most specialists who study hunter-gatherer ecology disagree with this conclusion. See for example Richard B. Lee and M. Guenther, “Errors Corrected or Compounded? A Reply to Wilmsen,” Current Anthropology 36, no. 2 (1995): 298; Richard B. Lee, “Art, Science, or Politics? The Crisis in Hunter-Gatherer Studies,” American Anthropologist 94, no. 1 (1992): 31–54. 2. Miguel Albero Bartolomé, “Shamanism among the Avá-Chiripá,” in Spirits, Shamans, and Stars: Perspectives from South America, eds. David L. Browman and Ronald A. Schwarz (The Hague: Mouton, 1979): 96. 3. The terms “San,” “Khwe,” “Sho,” “Bushmen,” and “Basarwa” have all been used to refer to hunter-gatherer peoples of southern Africa. Each of these terms is somewhat problematic because they have historically been used by outsiders to refer to the !Kung, typically with pejorative connotations. 4. They refer to themselves in the aggregate as “Saasi,” and their language as “!Kabee.” The main groups of Kalahari Bushmen who still live in the Kalahari region and on its borders are: the !Kung, the Khomani San, the Vasekela, the Mbarakwena, the /Gwi, //Ganaa, Kua and !Xo. See Richard Katz, Boiling Energy: Community Healing Among the Kalahari Kung (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982); Richard B. Lee, The !Kung San: Men, Women, and Work in a Foraging Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979); Marjorie Shostak and Nisa, Nisa, the Life and Words of a !Kung Woman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981). 5. Alan Barnard, Hunter and Herders of Southern Africa: A Comparative Ethnography of the Khoisan Peoples (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992): 28–29. 6. The information in this paragraph is condensed from Christopher Ehret, The Civilizations of Africa (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2002): 26–58. 7. Jacqueline S. Solway and Richard B. Lee, “Foragers, Genuine or Spurious? Situating the Kalahari San in History,” in Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History, and Representation, eds. Christopher B. Steiner and Roy Richard Grinker (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996): 269–292. 8. See Eleanor Burke Leacock and Richard B. Lee, Politics and History in Band Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 1–20; Edwin Wilmsen, “The Ecology of Illusion: Anthropological Foraging in the Kalahari,” Reviews in Anthropology 10 (1983): 9–20; Richard Elphick, Kraal and Castle: Khoikhoi and the Founding of White South Africa (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1977). 9. Religion among the Bantu speakers is quite diverse, but generally speaking there is a primary deity—usually the sun—that is held responsible for the creation of the world. This deity is remote and abstract and not worshiped by intermediaries or priests. Different groups call the god by different names. There is also a wide range of nature spirits, some benevolent, some dangerous. Beyond that there is a form of ancestor worship. 10. Much of the information in this section comes from Richard B. Lee, The Dobe !Kung (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984). 11. John E. Yellen, “Long Term Hunter-Gatherer Adaptation to Desert Environments: A Biogeographical Perspective,” World Archaeology 8, no. 3 (February 1977): 267–268. 12. Patricia Draper, “Social and Economic Constraints on Child Life among the !Kung,” in

Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers: Studies of the !Kung San and Their Neighbors, eds. Richard B. Lee and Irven DeVore (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976): 199–217. 13. According to the researcher Ed Wilmsen in a discussion he had with me, ethnographers have assumed that this type of house has only recently been adopted by !Kung and other Khoisanspeaking peoples, but historical records show that they have at least sometimes used it since the early nineteenth century and probably long before that. Both types are found at some archaeological sites. 14. Bernard Grant Campbell, Human Ecology: The Story of Our Place in Nature from Prehistory to the Present (New York: Aldine de Gruyer, 1995), 131–132; Pablo Arias, “Rites in the Dark? An Evaluation of the Current Evidence for Ritual Areas at Magdalenian Cave Sites,” World Archaeology 41, no. 2 (2009): 262–294. 15. Simon Hall, Burial and Sequence in the Later Stone Age of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa,” The South African Archaeological Bulletin 55, no. 172 (December 2000): 137–146; D. Lewis-Williams, “A Visit to the Lion’s House: The Structure, Metaphors and Sociopolitical Significance of a Nineteenth-century Bushmen Myth,” Voices from the Past: !Xam Bushmen and the Bleek and Lloyd Collection, edited by Janette Deacon and Thomas A. Dowson (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1996): 122–141. 16. Alan Barnard, Hunter and Herders of Southern Africa: A Comparative Ethnography of the Khoisan Peoples (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992): 57–58. 17. The word “Aboriginal” has been used ever since the arrival of the white man to describe the people of Australia (from ab: from, and origo: origin, beginning). The term is intended as etymologically neutral, but is now seen as having negative connotations. The more acceptable and correct expression is “Aboriginal Australians” or “Aboriginal people.” In recent years “Indigenous Australians” has found increasing acceptance. 18. The book used for this discussion—and a model for excellent research—was Paul Memmott, Gunyah, Goondie + Wurley: The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia (Queensland: University of Queensland Press, 2007). 19. Sir Baldwin Spencer, Native Tribes of the Northern Territory of Australia (Adelaide: E.S. Wigg, 1879): 276–279. 20. Ibid., 251–256. 21. Ltfi Yondri, “A Short Review of the Megalithic Function in Indonesia,” in Archaeology: Indonesian Perspective: R.P. Soejono’s festschrift, ed. Truman Simanjuntak (Menteng, Jakarta: International Center for Prehistoric and Austronesian Studies, 2006): 289. 22. P. Hiscock and S. Mitchell, “Stone Artifact Quarries and Reduction Sites in Australia: Towards a Type Profile,” Australian Heritage Commission Technical Publication Series 4 (1993); Donald F. Thomson, Economic Structure and the Ceremonial Exchange Cycle in Arnhem Land (Melbourne: Macmillan, 1949). 23. See the entry “Kunapipi (Australia),” in Christian Roy, Traditional Festivals: A Multicultural Encyclopedia. Volume 2 (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2005): 234. 24. In the Pilbara, corroborees are known as yanda or jalarra. Across the Kimberley the word junba is often used to refer to a range of traditional performances and ceremonies. 25. “The Aboriginal Memorial: Malarra and Wolkpuy-Murrungun People,” National Gallery of Australia [website], (accessed July 8, 2011). 26. See Neal Sobania, “Fishermen Herders in Northern Kenya,” Journal of African History 29 (1988): 41–56.

27. Blackburn, “The Okiek and Their Neighbors: The Ecological Distinction.” Paper presented at the African Studies Association Conference (Baltimore, MD, 1978): 4. See also Roderic H. Blackburn, “The Okiek and Their History,” Azania 9 (1974): 139–157. 28. Colin M. Turnbull, “The Lesson of the Pygmies,” in Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History and Representation, eds. Roy Richard Grinker, Christopher B. Steiner, and Stephen C. Lubkemann (New York: Blackwell, 2010), 179. 29. For a description of the ceremony, see Colin M. Turnbull, The Forest People (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1968): 73–93. 30. Shiho Hattori, “Utilization of Marantaceae Plants by the Baka Hunter-Gatherers in Southeastern Cameroon,” African Study Monographs, Suppl. 33 (May 2006): 29–48. 31. Paul Schebesta, Die Bambuti-Pygmäen von Ituri, Volume 1 (Brussels: Marcel Hayez, 1938): 142–155. 32. Norbert Schoenauer, 6,000 Years of Housing (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000): 18–19. 33. Colin M. Turnbull, Wayward Servants: The Two Worlds of the African Pygmies (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1976): 143. 34. Daou V. Joiris, “A Comparative Approach to Hunting Rituals among the Baka Pygmies (southeastern Cameroon),” in Cultural Diversity Among Twentieth-Century Foragers: An African Perspective, ed. Susan Kent (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): 269–272. 35. Nicholas Wade, Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors (New York: Penguin Press, 2006): 87. 36. Much of the information in this section comes from Vishvajit Pandya, Above the Forest: a Study of Andamanese Ethnoanemology, Cosmology, and the Power of Ritual (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993. I would also like to thank Professor Vishvajit Pandya for sharing his insights on the Andamanese. 37. A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, The Andaman Islanders (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1964). 38. George Weber, “The Andamanese: Clothes, Clay and Beautycare,” George Weber’s Lonely Islands, (accessed July 11, 2011).


The Great Northern Continuum, Part I Prior to modern times, the people from Finland to Arizona constituted a vast cultural continuum, the largest and most durable in the history of mankind. It was, of course, not a single culture that made up this continuum and not even a single genetic strand. Nonetheless, a Navajo woman living in the deserts of Arizona around 1600 CE, would have had no difficulty understanding the way of life of the Sami of Finland, some 13,000 kilometers away, had she been somehow transported there, and this despite differences in language and ritual practice. Even their pit houses were similarly constructed. Had this person also been transported back in time to 7000 BCE northern China, she also would have fit in quite easily. Within this continuum there are a number of subcontinuities such as those between arctic seafaring peoples, between big game hunters, and between riverine cultures. But even across these important divides, there were unmistakable connections (Figure 4.1). Figure 4.1: Areas where pit houses were built around the world. Source: Florence Guiraud

What made this continuity prosper over such vast stretches of time, geography, and genetics was a relatively common ecology of taiga and conifer forests, bounded by steppes, plains, and shores, and cut through by rivers and lakes. Although it included the deciduous forest in the eastern United States and Canada, there were no rainforests and no large deserts to significantly alter traditional habits. These people all specialized in dealing with the complex, interlocking rhythms of animal and bird migrations, and offish spawning, whale movements, and plant ripenings; they lived for the most part in relation to dark winters, wet springs, and dry falls. All of these societies had a culture of clothing that was not just for practical purposes. These societies also had strong relationships to animals that could define a persons core being. The concept of describing bears, eagles, or

mountain lions as “wild” would be incomprehensible in these cultures. Animals gave shape to a cosmological energy that pervaded everything. Taboos governed how they had to be hunted and even consumed. This continuum did not come to a halt at the great rainforests of the Americas. On the contrary, it continued, and indeed the shaman cultures of the Amazon have certain undeniable similarities with Siberian shaman cultures and are an extension of this phenomenon. Contributing to the continuity was the absence of any prolonged interaction with agriculturalists. The great agricultural revolution that began around 6000 BCE in Eurasia remained relatively separated from the northern world. Deserts and mountains formed a barrier against agriculture in some places even until modern times. In the Americas, agriculture did not make its way north until about 800 CE and even then only barely penetrated into Canada. Another factor that preserved this continuity was the absence of metal. Copper was mined in Alaska and Michigan and made into prestige objects that filtered their way into the regional exchange networks, but this did not alter political structures in any appreciable way, nor did it undermine the central role that the shaman played in all these cultures.1 By way of comparison, the use of metal and agriculture in central and northwest South America and in Mesopotamia and Europe fundamentally changed the historical trajectory of those places. A social structure with no agriculture and no metal was perfectly suited to replicate its core cosmological system over thousands of years and yet in each case develop unique, regional responses to resources, ecology, and trade. Property among these peoples does come to play a role, but remained very different from the modern concept where property is often associated with the private domain. Among First Societies, property was associated with rights to control certain things, such as hunting and fishing grounds, but it also extended to the usage of symbols and stories. Furthermore, wealth was not to be stored away in a vault, but was shared and distributed to members of the family and, during yearly festivals, given away. Bit by bit, in different places and in different times, countries, empires, and finally the modern nation states of the world chopped this continuum up into fragmented bits. Repression was the norm, whether it be Russia, and later the Soviet Union, Canada, the United States, or Brazil. In the Americas, disease wiped out millions. All that is left today are a few remnant examples of “living traditions,” illuminated—still inconsistently—by a growing body of archaeological and anthropological studies.

THE POLE AND PIT HOUSE TRADITION: THE SACRED PLAN Although I will discuss individual cultures and their architecture in more detail below, I pause here to take a larger view of architectural production and to differentiate the cultures that thrived in arid and rainforest environments, as discussed in Chapter 3, from the northern tradition. The former inevitably made buildings with a domed frame that was covered with leaves, grass, or reeds. Ropes made of vines and the fibers of roots served to tie elements together. These structures were made almost exclusively by women. Such structures were not unknown to the people of the northern continuum, but since most of the northern regions abounded with coniferous forests there was always a plentiful supply of straightgrowing pines and evergreens that resulted in the emergence of two very different types of architecture, both based on ancient prototypes: on the one hand, shaped structures out of poles, and

on the other hand, earthen lodges with sunken cores and roofs made of logs and planks and covered with dirt. The latter are generally called pit houses, which is unfortunate since it seems to evoke a sense of primitivism that should not be ascribed to them. Some societies built exclusively with cone houses, others primarily with pit houses. Some had a combination of both. The pole structure could be designed to serve either winter or summer. The pit house, however, was usually a winter residence. In fact, among the Thompson Indians, a tribe in southwest Canada, the word for their lodges derives from the word “winter.”2 These houses took on a special ritual character because it was in winter that the sacred stories were recited and passed down. Winter ceremonies ensured that the harshness of the season would yield the bounties of spring, and the world would be renewed. Man’s role in the process was essential and involved long periods of drumming, singing, and storytelling. Children were told the genesis story of how their people were created only during the winter (Figure 4.2). It was during these ceremonies that much of the art was created. This means that an anthropologist who visited one of these cultures only during the summer would get what Native Americans called throw-away stories.3 The pit house and cone house tradition—lasting over 30,000 years—are the most fundamentally successful examples of architecture in human history. The reason for this is that regardless of the specifics of design, the most important element of their construction was the insistence that the plan serve as a model of the universe. This contrasts with the huts built by people in savanna and rainforest climes. There, the hut was used primarily for sleeping during the night or resting during the rainy season. Most ritual activity took place outdoors around the open fire. The !Kung do not view their huts as particularly sacred. But in the north, with long cold winters and long stretches of seasonal darkness, the interior of the hut had to accommodate large groups of people for long stretches of time. The powerful bonding that took place was unmistakable. The interior thus became a microcosm of a community, with men, women, children, relatives, and even visitors all slotted into particular zones. Figure 4.2: Koryak shaman woman, Eastern Siberia, Russia. Photographed 1908. Source: Vladimir Jochelson, The Koryaks, The Jesup North Pacific Expedition, Vol. VI, edited by Franz Boas (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1908), Plate III

Fire played an important role in these structures for obvious reasons, but just as it had to be maintained so that it did not go out, fire in such close quarters was not without risks, and perhaps for that very reason, among Siberian peoples, fire deities appear who live in the hearth and sometimes rule the underworld, sometimes the sky. The Tungus personified fire and gave its spirit food and drinks.4 The implements for fire making, which comprise a fire board, a bow, a wooden drill, and a headpiece of stone or bone, were inevitably sacred. When the Yakut hunter is getting ready to hunt, he pours some oil on the fire, gets down on his knees, puts his hand over his heart, bows toward the fire, and says a prayer asking for blessings from the fire deity. Having started out he is not allowed to look back. The taboos connected with fire are designed to guarantee that nothing hurts or pollutes it. People, for example, are forbidden to pour water on it hastily, to throw any unclean sweepings into it, or to spit into it. Women and girls are forbidden to step over it, since they are considered unclean and may pollute the fire.5 The Samoyeds and other Siberians believed that fire was an old woman, and the licking flames of the fire are her movements. As the guardian of the tent, she would get angry if mistreated or disrespected. When children lost their teeth, their parents would tell them to throw the teeth into the fire, so that “Old Grandmother Fire” could give them new ones. People commonly swore by the fire, saying, “May I be devoured by Old Grandmother Fire if I am guilty!”6 Young children were not allowed to run up to the fire, lest they startle her, and men were expected to be courteous in her presence. When inside a tipi, one always moves behind a person, so as to not break the bond between a person and the fire. Nor need fire be associated just with the house. The Northern kayak-men believe themselves to be surrounded by ingerssuit (which means “great fire”), a benevolent sea god inclined to help men find safe passage.7 If fire was at the cosmological center of the architecture, producing a vertical axis, the horizontal axis connected the entrance and the fire with the rear of the house. The ancestor spirits inevitably “inhabited” the far rear of the structure, which in turn usually faced east. This is where the elder male or head of the household sat, which is just as true for the Mongolians and the Plains Indians as for the Sami in Finland. The prototype of this was already in place at Lepenski Vir where the

axiality of the east-facing hut with the altar at the back makes it clear that each hut was a ritual space. This fundamental fact belies the tendency to see these timber and earthen structures through modern eyes as utilitarian shelters. They were from the outset in ancient history built around a unitary model that linked person, family, community, and cosmos. The conical hut can be particularly deceiving from the modern perspective, and has been associated for centuries with words like “primitive,” “rustic,” or “barbaric.” But a conical hut has strict rules about how its space is divided and conceptualized and not only for purposes of function, but also in its relationship to the world at large. It is relatively easy to erect and can be— as in the case of the reindeer herders in Siberia and the Prairie Indians—even packaged and made mobile. Not all pole structures, however, are alike, even though the main problem was how to maintain the integrity of the building in windy conditions. To accomplish this, horizontal bands were sometimes used, each one becoming a type of platform where the builders could reach up to make the next higher band. In other cases, saplings were bent around like an arch and tied to the rising poles where they intersected. The Plains Indians had the most ingenious system of all. There were no horizontal bands; instead, the structure was held together in compression by a tightly jacketed hide covering. Earth lodges, by way of comparison, were substantial structures usually designed to last several years. Rarely meant to be lived in year around, they served primarily as winter residences. They had an internal structure of posts and beams on which logs rested that in turn supported the weight of the earth. Their size conforms to the number of people it is designed to hold, which can range from fifteen to thirty. Unlike the pole structure, which is usually built by a group of women, this building was the product of communal activity. Depending on the number of available workers, construction usually takes four or five days to complete. The women would usually dig the ground with slicks and scrapers while the men cut down the trees and debarked them. The digging was accomplished with whale ribs, walrus tusks, or antlers. The pit is usually dug to about one meter with the soil deposited around the perimeter. The posts are planted into the sunken area already notched at the top so as to receive the beams. Roof poles are then added along with the rafters, which are then covered with pine needles and dry grass or a layer of earth, which is beaten down and stamped. Entrances can be formed on the top or from the side. The support structures are arranged according to various patterns. In some cases, they are in a square layout, while in others, two poles supported a ridge beam. As to the rafters, some are laid in a square fashion, some in a radial way. Some structures had vertical or nearly vertical walls, while others emerged at an angle from the ground. Though the procuring and construction of the timbers was usually done by the men, the sod was cut from areas outside of the village, usually by the women. It is no slight task. For a standard-sized lodge, eight women might typically be needed to cut the sod into squares, twenty or so girls or young women would then carry the blocks to the construction site, and six women would lay it on the roof. Sometimes these structures were arranged facing the river, sometimes around a common central space. The floor was covered with reed mats or furs. Lit by seal oil, the interiors were luminous and warm. The main problem was the rotting of the base of the posts from ground moisture. Once the rot was too far gone, the lodge had to be abandoned and was usually destroyed. Since the lodge is a sacred space, its destruction is not without risk. The Hidatsa of North Dakota would only destroy a lodge on a calm day, since the act of destruction was surely to upset the spirits, who will cause the wind to blow. The women were the chief workers of this task with the men assisting them. The grass and earth were carried away first, exposing the rafters, which are divided among the women for firewood. If any of the larger beams were still in good shape, they were salvaged

for the new lodge. As for the posts, their rotten ends were chopped down to be reused in places closer to the perimeter where shorter posts were needed, or turned into firewood.8 Not all such lodges were covered by earth. Lodges in Canada and the United States, where lumber is readily available, might be covered with planks and reed mats. The pit house tradition was brought to the Americas by ocean and riverine specialists. Typical in this respect is the Yup’ik in Alaska and the Nlaka’pamux (“People of the Canyon”) in southern British Columbia.9 From there, the tradition moved southward into the United States. Around 100 CE or earlier it appears in the Southwest with the Hohokam; then around 600 CE it was used by people living along the Missouri River and its tributaries. Around 1000 CE, the Navajo, who derived from northwest Canada, brought the same package to far away southwest United States where by that time its local variant had died out. In the context of the United States, the pit houses were produced not only by riverine peoples, but also by agriculturalists who, after about 700 CE, began to grow corn, squash, beans, watermelons, and tobacco. The cross-continental and transtemporal nature of this house form, adapted to cold climates as well as to desert, and adapted to riverine as well as agricultural communities, is a testament to its astonishing versatility.

THE SAMI AND NENETS The Sami People (also spelled Sámi, or Saami), who live in the arctic region of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, are reindeer herders who are descendants of the first people who followed the retreating glaciers northward (Figure 4.3). The Sea Sami who settled along Norway’s fjords and inland waterways now pursue a combination of farming, cattle raising, trapping, and fishing, whereas the smaller minority of Mountain Sami, who are nomadic, continue to hunt wild reindeer. A Sami group that works and lives together is called a siida. During the winter, a siida sets up residence at the head of a fjord, but during the summer it breaks apart with households moving freely for fishing and hunting. One of the most widespread and successful methods of trapping reindeer was a system of pitfalls or stone or wooden corrals situated in strategic locations where reindeer were likely to travel. The fishing along the north Norwegian coast, especially in the Lofoten and Vesterålen islands, is quite productive with a variety offish, and during medieval times was, in fact, a major source of income for both the fisherman and the Norwegian monarchy. 10 Salmon are particularly significant as they spawn along the Norwegian coast and are easy to catch. The reindeer was the other primary resource to Sami life. Figure 4.3: Arctic peoples. Source: Florence Guiraud

For the Sami, the world is full of spirits, sieidis, that are found near camps, sacred sites, or fishing and hunting areas. Most often they are natural rock formations with unusual shapes, but they can even be mountains. The Sami have several sacred mountains including Mount Áhkká and Atoklimpen, so sacred, in fact, that the Sami have not given it a name. Ato-, in Atoklimpen, means “that there” (Figure 4.4). Sieidis can also be trees with the lowest branch removed or even old stumps. The sieidis is not just a place where a spirit resides, but also a place where humans give back to the spirit evidence of the bounties they have received. A shaman is consulted to decide the most propitious gift, which he does by beating his drum and singing. These gifts are not technically sacrifices. Nothing is killed or ritually slaughtered. Instead, bones are given back to the spirits and guardians of hunting, the catch is shared with those of fishing, and reindeer bones are given to those of the reindeer. It is an expression of gratitude for the spirit’s good will and a means of ensuring future abundance. In this sense giving to the sieidis is involuntary since it is done in order to protect the individual and the community. 11 If not enough attention is given to the sieidis, the consequences can be drastic: a loss of luck, an illness, or even death. Figure 4.4: Áhkká, Sweden. Source: © SiriusA (

The Sami build several types of summer and winter houses, the most basic being the goahti (also: goahte, gohati, lรกvvu) and in winter a gamtne (plural gammer, but also lavdnjgoahti) that come in a domed or conical form (Figure 4.5a, 4.5b). The goahti is supported by three or more evenly spaced forked or notched poles that are placed as a tripod. A dozen or so poles arranged in a circle are then positioned against the top of the tripod to form a cone (Figure 4.6). The structure is relatively low compared to the tipis of the American Plains and sometimes reinforced by curved birch rods to protect against the lateral thrust of the wind. The curved rods also allow a more open arrangement of the poles. In other instances, when the poles are placed in a more orderly fashion, horizontal strips are used to tie the poles together. In either case the apex is left open as a smoke hole (Figure 4.7). The entrance consists of a flap or an attachable door positioned to face away from the prevailing winds. In summer, the structures were traditionally covered with sheets of birch bark and in winter with reindeer skins. The bark layers are sewn together with reindeer sinews. In more modern times, canvas is used. In some instances, poles are added to the outside to keep the bark strips from being blown away. Figure 4.5a, b: Typical goahti, Finland: (a) plan, (b) elevation. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Figure 4.6: Sami reindeer herder, Aslak, building his goahti, Norway. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 4.7: Sami reindeer herder Nils Peder Gaup hangs reindeer and moose meat above a fire in his goahti to smoke it, Norway. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

On the interior, there is a central hearth boxed in with logs and usually with a structure over it to support a kettle. The “dirty� area between the hearth and the door is used for dogs, cooking, and

various household activities. The middle zone, near the hearth, serves for sleeping. The space farthest from the entrance is considered sacred and “cleanâ€? and is where images of ancestors are kept, as well as valuables. It is also the place for honored guests. From the doorway there are two thick wooden logs oriented toward the fireplace, which are used to sit on. Because the SĂĄmi tend to travel in small single family groups that each own their own reindeer herd, the goahti is designed to be erected by even just one person with relatively little effort.12 Although goahtis can be used in the winter, the Sami also build earth huts, or gamme (Figure 4.8a, 4.8b). Originally it was a one-room dwelling, but after the nineteenth century, partitions were added to separate people from livestock. A family can have one at each of the various, seasonal locations. They are made out of large curved poles joined in the form of two parallel ribs. Horizontal elements are placed about three meters up from the ground to hold them together. Against this, the builders lean poles of about 3 meters high to form the walls, with horizontal logs and poles placed on the top. Birch bark is sometimes also added. An opening is left for the door. The covering can be made of hides, but often slabs of clay are packed around the structure and then to this is added a thick layer of sod. Grass eventually grows up along the sides holding the sod into place. To protect against a collapse of the earth during a rain, before the grass has grown, the builders will lean sticks and branches against the structure. The hearth is in the middle with a smoke vent in the dome; in front of it is a storage space for wood; on the opposite side is the cooking area with pots and utensils. On both sides are areas for sitting and sleeping that are covered with birch twigs and reindeer skins. A well-built gamme can last up to two decades. Figure 4.8a and 4.8b: Typical Sami gamme dwelling: (a) view, (b) cutaway. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Nenets, who follow the routes of the reindeer, build a tent similar to the Sami that is known as a chum (or samodiiskiy) (Figures 4.9 and 4.10). With its opening on the east side, it is built of six or seven poles planted in the earth and fastened together on the top, covered with hides and strips of boiled birch bark. The head of the family sleeps to the left of the entrance. The beds are made of boards covered with reeds and reindeer skins. One of the poles supporting the structure is called the simzy and is thought to embody the spirit of the hearth. It also organizes the space conceptually. For a man the worst place to sleep is farthest from the simzy and for a woman the worst place is by the entrance. All components of the chum are transported from camp to camp using special sledges (Figures 4.11, 4.12, and 4.13). Figure 4.9: Aerial view of Nenets herders’ camp in the winter, Yamal, Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 4.10: Nenets winter camp, Yamal, Siberia. Source: B&C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 4.11: A Nenets reindeer herders’ summer camp, Yamal, western Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 4.12: An elderly Nenets woman drives a train of reindeer sleds across the summer tundra, Yamal, Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 4.13: Nenets women sewing a reindeer-skin tent at a summer camp, Yamal, western Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

THE BEAR CULT Throughout the Siberian north and into the plains of the Americas, animals like bears and lions but also ravens and whales became important figures in the celestial structures of the various peoples. Social units would adopt an animal as sacred to that group and place a taboo on the killing of that particular animal. Nanai religion had a particularly great reverence for the tiger. In fact, some of the first representations of tigers historically come from stone carvings along the banks of the Amur River, dating from 4000–3000 BCE. The tiger is seen as a sacred ancestor and as guardian of the forest. A tiger would, therefore, never be killed except in self-defense. The word “totemism” is usually used to describe this. Given the fierce and majestic nature of the bear, its cult was particularly important and widespread, stretching from Finland to the Hudson Bay area in Canada to the Navajo in Texas. 13 As any modern bear hunter can confirm, a bear appears quite human-like once it is skinned (Figure 4.14). They have a soft white skin and arms and legs. This and the fact that the bear shared with early humans the same habitat and hunting ranges made the bear a critical element in mankind’s mythological understanding of the world. Like the Sami in Norway, the Utes, who live in Nevada, hold the bear sacred, and will kill one as an offering to the springtime bear ceremony. They do not actually “kill” the bear. Instead the bear offers himself to the people for the benefit of the ceremony. 14 Among the Sami, the bear served as mediator between the gods and the people in that his spirit was believed to be able to move freely between the natural world and the otherworld. The Sami, in fact, call the bear ìsaivoî, meaning “sacred.” The Ainu people, who live on northern islands in the Japanese archipelago, call the bear kamui, which means “god.” Figure 4.14: Bear after it has been skinned, Virginia [TK]. Source: Fran Ritchie

The Sami bear ritual can be divided into various components.15 Departure for the forest . Bear hunting usually takes place during the hibernation season, late winter or early spring. Once a den has been located the hunters are assembled, the shaman and his drum are consulted, and they then depart for the forest. The hunt. The one who located the bear is sent into the den to awaken it. The animal is not attacked while asleep. Once it awakens it is attacked in such a way that it impales itself on the spears. In that sense the bear was not “hunted,” but gave himself to the men. After the bear is killed the men drag it out from the lair and wrap it with soft twigs or birch branches while singing a song in which the hunter announces that he has become the master of the bear. A switch is twisted into the form of a ring, which is fastened to the lower jaw of the bear and tied to the belt of the principal bear killer. When the hunters return to the sijdda their wives greet them by spitting elder bark juice in their faces. The feast. It was customary for the men to prepare and cook the bear meat in a specially erected lavvu that no woman could enter. Women must cover their heads and during the next five days and only can look at the bear killer through a brass ring. After a period of three days, the bear’s skin is stretched out in the center of the banquet area where various libations and foodstuffs are offered to its spirit. After an apologetic speech is given, the feast of bear meat begins. Ringing him in. After the feast the ring is removed from the bear and the women and children attach pieces of a brass chain to it, which is then tied to the bear’s tail. Next, the ring is given to the men who bury it with the bones. Great care is taken to ensure that the bones are arranged in their original form. Immunizing the women. Finally, the skin is laid out on a stump and the blindfolded wives of the bear slayers take turns shooting at it with arrows.


The Siberian hunter cultures view death as a process of transformation and passage in space and time and often linked to the idea of a journey. Death is not a finality, but a continuation of this world in another far-off land, the land of the spirits and ancestors. Death releases the soul from the body with potential destructive consequences for the living. Shamans have the special power to enact this hazardous journey. By mounting a horse in a trance or by taking on the body of an animal double, the shaman can accompany the souls of the dead to make certain that they do not return. Some tribes have more than one type of shaman; among some groups they are ranked by their power, or they will be differentiated as white or black depending on what spirits they use and where they travel to. Among the Siberian peoples there are often a range of shamans. There are shaman bone-setters, women shamans with midwife duties, shaman smiths who make and put power into metal objects and branding irons for the animals. There are also shaman assistants who warm the drums by the fire and prepare the ceremonies (Figures 4.15 and 4.16). Figure 4.15: A shaman dances in a ger, or yurt, before migration, Mongolia. Source: Gordon Wiltsie/National Geographic Stock

Figure 4.16: Shaman drums, Siberia. Source: Mark Jarzombek

A shaman’s work may vary from simple fortune telling to grand rituals lasting several days and nights. The shaman signals the beginning of his journey through dancing and beating on a onesided, hand-held drum (tuur), usually 60 cm or more in diameter. Whereas we tend to see the drum as a musical instrument that provides the rhythmical backdrop to the song, the drum for the shaman is much more. Among some North Asian people, such as the Bön in Tibet, the drum is considered a type of vehicle that conveys the shaman through the air. It often has an image on it that serves as a type of map of the journey. In the upper part of the drum one might find suns or moons to indicate the heavens while the lower parts reaffirm the earth and its animals. Trees sometimes connect the two parts with antler-like branches or birds. Sami and Tartar drums tend to be more complex. The drums among the Northwest Indians of Canada might have birds painted on them. For the Northwest Coast people, the drum can represent the mythic cedar tree that is the cosmic axis.16 The shamanistic world presumes that the universe was produced as a system of layers ranged around a central pole, or World Tree. In poetic formations, that arrangement might be articulated in terms of the flow of rivers from south to north or from above to below or in terms of the cardinal directions, each of which is associated with forces of good or evil, life or death. The central element in this is the Blue Mighty Eternal Heaven—“Blue Sky” (known variously as Köke Tengri, Erketü Tengri , and Möngke Tengri ). For the Mongolians, there are a total of 99 Tengris or skyspirits in the lower and upper world, in which Köke Möngke Tengri (Eternal Blue Heaven) is the supreme. He is the creator of the visible and invisible world and envisioned as a white goose that flies over an endless expanse of water, which represents time. Another force is Köke Möngke Tengri who has a special relation with fire. When a shaman dies, he or she is placed on wooden structures on the ground, or on raised platforms. The drum and headdress are placed with the body or hung on a nearby tree. The shaman may be more powerful than the chief and family heads. Shamanistic cults thus reflect a society that has accepted the location of unusual power within the hands of a single individual. Their position

is dependent on their perceived skill and they are forced to defend their territory against other shamans, figuratively, if not literally.17 In 1931, a Russian ethnographer, Andreĭ Aleksandrovich Popov, was allowed to witness a shamanistic ritual organized by the Nganasans, who live on the Taymyr Peninsula in northern Siberia. A special tent was pitched for the rite. New tent poles were made, seven ones for each day of the rite. Three reindeer were sacrificed; their heads, legs, and hides were hung round the top of the tent. Tent covers were smeared with the blood. On the first day, the shaman, whose name was Dyukhade, had to go from his tent to the clean tent blindfolded. He began to shamanize in his own tent, singing the incantation addressed to the lord of the hearth. Then he was blindfolded and guided out of the tent where he was turned round several times. Despite this and the other attempts to impede him, he managed to arrive at the new tent. The tie was removed from shamans eyes. The first day of the rite was the stepping to the clean ground. On that day, the shaman did not ascend to the sky, but traveled only in the middle world. The day ended with a wordless song and a dance, with the participants all standing in a circle, holding hands and stamping. While dancing, the women imitated sounds of she-reindeer in heat. On the next day Dyukhade ascended to the second level of the heaven where a deity named Luonkari Barba was living. From it, Dyukhade asked for good fortune for everybody and for painless childbirth for all women. The deity bade him to show his capability. This was done by the spectators concealing the drum and Dyukhade having to find it, which he did. On the third day, Dyukhade ascended to a deity and asked for a year without diseases. The shaman had to perform another test. Similar encounters, requests, and tests took place over the next days until, on the seventh day, Dyukhade reached the highest level of the sky. For this stage a long pole was erected in the middle of the tent. The shaman climbed up and poked his head out of the smoke vent. The pole symbolized the world-tree rising in the center of the highest sky level. On the top of the tree, the shaman encountered a deity and asked about the prospect for the future. The deity said, “Look round. If a bad year is coming, you can’t see the horizon in thick mist. But if a good year is coming, the horizon is perfectly visible and shines in the sunlight.” Dyukhade climbed down and said that he had seen the shining horizon. Dyukhade then began to swim across the Sea of the Dead. For this a pole was held horizontally by two assistants draped with the hide of a bear. The shaman, leaning against the pole with his arms in front of it, could then move his arms like he was swimming, and imitating sounds of the bear. All present in the tent stood in silence. They knew that with the shaman were the souls of the spectators themselves. They also knew that the souls of the people doomed to die during the next year would not be able to complete the swim to the shore with the shaman. After swimming for an hour, Dyukhade arrived at the shore and said that three souls had left him, and all expressed their sorrow. He then said, “Bad things I had not seen during my successful journey. You have now to strip off the covers of this tent.”18

KETS AND NANI The remnants of the Kets, a hunting and fishing culture, live today in the middle and lower basin of the Yenisei River to the east of the Nenets and are generally thought to be descendants of ancient Tibetan tribes who migrated northward into the Yenisey Basin, while various groups branched off and assimilated into other neighboring cultures.19 DNA testing shows that these people indeed came from the south. Their shamanistic practices share certain similarities with those of the Turks and the Mongols to the southeast. Comparative linguistic studies show connections between them

and certain Native American tribes in northwest Canada, proving the link between Asia and America. In summer, the Kets live in villages that will usually encompass two to seven chums. They construct a more substantial structure, a bangus, or pit house, built especially for families incapable of hunting such as those in which the male had died; these squarish structures are located near the rivers where there is a steady supply offish. The skeleton of the house is based on two parallel trabeated structures supported by smaller logs anchored into the soil. It is built in the form of a truncated pyramid for stability. The floor is sunk a few feet into the ground. There is sometimes a type of lobby, created by two rafters leaning against the beam above the doorway. The whole is usually covered with sod as a type of weather-proofing. The inside subdivision of a bangus is identical to that of a chum with the fireplace at the center. The Kets also use houseboats that enable them to navigate the bays and shorelines, moving their camps to follow the seals or to explore new hunting grounds. In summer they take the houseboats beyond the range of insects that infest the water’s edge. The boats are certainly a later addition to their culture, but at what time they became integrated into their lives is unknown. They are not deep-water fishers, but rather hunters. Fall and winter are the hunting seasons, with groups sailing up the Yenisei’s tributaries to their various hunting grounds. During this period, because of lack of sunlight, groups live in more hastily made structures (glomo) half-buried in the ground with the upper part framed of wood and covered with earth. They eat provisions brought with them until the days begin to lengthen and hunting can resume. The Nani (“People”) are a Tungusic people who have traditionally lived along the Heilongjiang (Amur), Songhuajiang (Sunggari), and Ussuri rivers on the Middle Amur Basin. They catch Siberian salmon and sturgeon in the rivers from late August through September with the entire population engaged in netting, preserving, and storing the catch. Hunting of elk and deer is done in winter, when groups of men venture out on long treks. Nanai summer dwellings are of various types, including the conical pole tent as well as a spherical bark hut. Each settlement consists of a more or less autonomous group along the Amur River. At some time, square log houses with a gabled roof (khurbu) came into being that could hold about forty people. They were built around perimeter columns, with posts along the sides entwined with willow sticks and plastered with clay mixed with grass. The center posts were about 2 meters high. Gabled roofing was usually multilayered: the bottom layer of poles over which lay two or three layers of birch or fir bark, then clay, then tufts of grass or straw. The number of windows varied from three to eleven depending on the size of the house, but was always an odd number. Windows were covered with fish skins of bladders or later with oiled paper. The use of glass began only after the arrival of Russian colonists. The perimeter log benches (khan) were hollow underneath and could thus be heated from below similar to a Chinese system called fanza. Smoke was diverted through a pipe placed outside the house. One slept with one’s head pointed toward the center. Older structures were covered by earth and had winter access through the smoke hole in the roof and summer access through a side entrance. A large notched log placed in the interior and projected out through a hole at the top served as a ladder. As far as orientation, if the nearby river flowed from north to south the door would be placed on the east. If the river flowed from east to west, the door would look to the south. The interior of the house was regulated by a system of social practices and rituals. The door—which was considered sacred—divided the house into masculine (right) and feminine (left), with the superior part belonging to the man. The central columns of the house are considered the habitat of the Nanai

ancestral spirits, an aspect that was reinforced by a ritual sculpture placed near the pillar and the central fire. Every spring the shaman purifies the house by walking three times around the columns. Beds were placed along the walls.20 The Nanai were very skilled at building sleds and plank boats. They also wove baskets and mats and made birch-bark vessels. The traditional clothing was made out of fish skins. These skins were left to dry. Once dry, they were struck repeatedly with a mallet to leave them completely smooth. Finally they were sewn together.

YAKUT, CHUKCHI, AND KORYAK Other Siberian cultures include the Yakut (“horse people”), the Evenk, who are known by several names, such as Orochen (“an inhabitant of the River Oro”), and farther to the east, the Chukchi and the Koryak. For the Yakut, winter homes hold about four to seven people and are rectangular in plan, measure from 5 to 10 meters on a side with a pounded earth floor excavated to a depth of about half a meter. At each corner there are thick vertical timbers, set into the earth and connected at their tops by horizontal crossbeams. Medial posts add more strength. The walls consist of poles or boards set into the ground and resting at the top against the crossbeams. The walls slant inward. A single, thick ridge-beam—doubled if sufficiently strong timber could not be found—runs from one side of the hut to the other. Upon this beam there rest poles or boards, and birch bark. The roof and walls are covered with a layer of earth mixed with clay and cow dung. When completed the structure takes on the shape of a truncated four-sided pyramid and in winter resembled a bump in the snow. A cowshed of similar design typically abuts the north side of the house, often separated from the living quarters by a board of skin partition. A door made of a single wooden plank covered with cowhide opens to the east, obeying a Yakut geomacy. There are small windows in the southern and western walls, covered with a fish bladder in the summer and a sheet of ice in the winter.21 In summer, the Evenk and their Chukchi neighbors build chums, but with a different design than usual. A circular fence is constructed with stantions set firmly in the ground. Against this rise a dozen or more slender poles that are bundled near the top. One or two horizontal rings serve to keep the bundle tight. The whole is covered with bark and in winter with deer furs. The dwellings are usually about 6 meters in diameter and 5 meters in height. There is a fire at the center. 22 This unusual structure, which requires a great deal of care in the binding, has some formal similarities with the Mongolian ger, or yurt which was a later development. But how these connections developed over the stretches of time and space is unknowable (Figures 4.17, 4.18, 4.19, and 4.20). Figure 4.17: Framework of Chukchi tent, Chukotskiy Peninsula, Chukotka, Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 4.18: Chukchi reindeer herders putting the cover on their tent, Chukotskiy Peninsula, Chukotka, Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 4.19: Natasha Nomro, a Chukchi woman, scraping snow from the top of her Yaranga, Chukotskiy Peninsula, Chukotka, Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 4.20: Natasha Nomro, a Chukchi woman, removing frost from the inside of her Yaranga,

Chukotskiy Peninsula, Chukotka, Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

The Koryak of northeastern Siberia are also reindeer hunters and breeders.23 They are probably a mixture of several populations that moved into the area already in the early Holocene. Traditionally, they lived on the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk mostly as hunters of sea mammals and are thought to be related to the Haida along the Canadian northwest coast. Koryak mythology centers around the supernatural shaman Quikil (Big-Raven), who was the first man and protector of the Koryak. Raven myths are also found among the Northwest Coast Amerindians. 24 Before the relatively recent disappearance of their native culture, the Koryak lived in portable conical tents (yaranga), which are their version of the chum. Large yaragas could be 10 meters in diameter and could accommodate 25 people. Other Koryak groups lead more sedentary lives and build elaborate structures called li’g-e-yan (“genuine house”) of poplar or aspen, which grow to considerable height along the rivers (Figures 4.21a, 4.21b, 4.21c, and 4.22). The dwellings vary in size according to the number of inhabitants. A small house would accommodate perhaps five to eight people, a large one (15 × 12 m) might house up to twenty-five. First a circular hole is dug about 20 centimeters deep. In this posts are erected in the form of an elongated octagon emphasizing the axial arrangement of entrance, fire pit, ladder, and sleeping platform. The tops of the poles are notched to receive the beams. In the center, four poles are driven in the ground and connected by cross beams that support the roof. The roof is in the shape of an upside-down funnel or umbrella and serves the purpose of protecting the house from the weight of the snow that can pile up during the winter storms. The wind striking the lower part of the funnel keeps the snow from accumulating on the roof. The winter entrance is on the roof itself, with the inhabitants descending along a tree with notches and holes through the smoke hole. In summer there is a ground entrance—which also serves as cold storage space—with the ground sloping down to the

level of the room. In summer the ladder is removed. When it is replaced in winter it is rubbed with fat and given a charm so that it may not admit any evil spirits into the house. The ladder is seen as a type of family guardian. The hearth is not in the center but between the ladder and the entrance. The smoke rising strikes first the roof and though it preserves some of the heat, and in this way also traps some of the smoke. The side opposite the entrance serves as a seat and sleeping platform for visitors. Household articles line the walls. On the right side sleeps the master, on the left his brothers and relatives, all on plank sleeping platforms. Partitions of reindeer skins can be dropped down for privacy. The corners of the house are used to store items such as nets, dogs’ harnesses, hunting implements, snowshoes, and tools. Figure 4.21a, b, c: Koryak dwelling: (a) section, (b) roof plan, (c) plan. Source: Ella Peinovich/Alfred Louis Kroeber & Thomas Talbot Waterman, Source Book in Anthropology (Berkley: University of California Press, 1920), 280–281

Figure 4.22: Koryak woman inside her tent preparing a meal, Kamchatka, Russia. Source: Morten Heiselberg

THE TRIBES OF THE GREAT PLAINS The history through space and time of advanced big game hunting starts with the Gravettians of 25,000 BCE and ends with the Plains Indians in the Americas in the nineteenth century CE. It is not a direct lineage, but does constitute the longest set of catenated continuities in the history of mankind. How the Plains Indians came into existence is known only in general terms. The hunting tradition came to Alaska around 12,000 BCE with some of the oldest camps found in the Tanana River valley between the Alaska Range and the Tanana-Yukon Upland. People hunted wapiti, bison, and mammoth. Some hunters made it to North America, which was largely steppe and grassland with the first bison-centric culture taking shape around 9000 BCE. By 5000 BCE the Plains Indians had probably developed their cultural uniqueness, which remained more or less continuous until the introduction of corn into the region around 1000 CE and horses around 1600.25 In some places, tribes became semi-sedentary around corn-growing areas. Other tribes remained largely migratory. Some of their names are Blackfoot, Arapaho, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Comanche, Crow, Gros Ventre, Lakota, Plains Apache (or Kiowa Apache), Plains Cree, Plains Ojibwe, and Sarsi. Whereas many were native to the plains, in particular those known collectively as Sioux, not all lived with the bison since ancient times. The Cheyenne, for example, were newcomers into the region. The word “Cheyenne” is a Sioux name meaning “people speaking language not understood.”26 The reason they were not understood was they had migrated into Sioux area from the Ohio Valley far to the east. They had originally been sedentary, planting corn, squash, and beans, and harvesting wild rice. But ecological changes expanded the grasslands of the prairie in the seventeenth century, forcing the Cheyenne to adopt the Plains Indian lifestyle. With the introduction of horses in the seventeenth century, the Cheyenne abandoned their farming lifestyle altogether and became a full-fledged Plains horse culture. The Sioux are considered among the most typical of the Plains Indians. Their society, prior to the advent of the horse, consisted of small, close-knit family hunting groups with a patriarch at its head. The primary type of residence was the tipi.27 The Crow call the tipi ashe (home) or ashtáale

(real home), but the word tipi comes from the Lakota word tipestola. Though clearly derived from prototypes developed thousands of miles away before humans even set foot on the Americas, it is a local development that probably took its shape around 2000 BCE if not earlier. Although superficially similar to the Siberian conical residence, the tipi is on closer inspection quite different. The most ingenious aspect of the tipi is how the open fire in the center of the tipi is dealt with. If the tipi were a true cone, the smoke hole would be at the center around the poles meaning that the structure could never be closed in wet weather. In Siberian structures this is simply accepted. But the Plains Indians solved the problem by tilting the cone of the tipi so that it has a long side, which is the front, and a short side, which is die back. This then shifts the location of the smoke hole to the long side of the tent, just below the apex. It is thus possible to close the top as tight as possible, while also allowing for flaps to open or close the smoke hole. Some tribes tilted their cones more than others. This explains why the plan of the tipi is not circular but oval. A second innovation was in the construction method. Siberian cone structures are formed by leaning poles against each other and then tying them together with leather straps or horizontal bands. The tipi, by way of contrast, has no horizontal elements whatsoever. So what gives it structural integrity? The answer is the skin. Each tipi is custom-designed with a skin that fits like a tight jacket over the poles. In that sense it is fundamentally different in conception from the Siberian prototype where the skins are draped over the frame and then tightened to it. The skin of the tipi is akin to a piece of clothing. Another innovation was at the beginning of construction. For a chum, erecting the three poles will usually need at least two people. The tipi can be erected by one person. The three poles, lying on the ground, are joined at the apex by a cord, which is then pulled up to make the frame. There is a four-pole type and a three-pole type of tipi, the latter used by Sioux, Cheyennes, Omahas, and others. A tipi can be 6 or 7 meters in diameter, but some can be as large as 10 meters in diameter (Figure 4.23). Figure 4.23: Tipi construction sequence. Source: Andrew Ferentinos, Paul Goble, Tipi: Home of the Nomadic Buffalo Hunters, World Wisdom, 2007, pp. 28–29

Once the poles are elevated into position, the other poles are added to complete the circle; the builder then grabs the rope, dangling in the center, brings it to the outside and winds it around the bundle of pole at the apex by walking around the tipi, tightening the rope as she goes. She then brings the rope over the north tripod pole and brings it back into the center, where it is pegged into the ground to serve as a brace against the wind. Ropes were made from buffalo hair and strips of hide. For the poles, usually pine was used or, where available, cedar, which is quite light and strong. The tribes of the southern Plains preferred poles of red cedar, which were weather resistant and lighter than pine. Fir, if it could be found, was even lighter. Since such wood was not found on the open prairie, it was often acquired in trade with people to the east or west. Cedars require a great deal of trimming at the butt end to make them a useful size. The poles, usually gathered in the early spring, must be stripped of bark and smoothed of imperfections. Fifteen poles are needed for the

frame and two for the smoke flaps. The poles as they are dragged from camp to camp become shorter and shorter until unusable. For that reason, the poles are cut with length to spare and thus new ones will project 2 to 3 meters beyond the top of the tipi. The cover is created in the shape of a semi-circle with flaps and attachments already in place. It is woven from different cow hides and in essence preassembled with all the appropriate holes and stitchings. Among some tribes, only a woman with special privileges could cut and size the covering, but once it was laid out as many women as possible were invited to assist in the sewing, for which they received a feast. The covering was not just the shield against weather. It was a sacred surface, with the smoke flaps called arms. When completed, the cover was soft and white, but after a year or two of exposure to the elements and smoke it became discolored. It was commonly cut up for moccasins.28 Men would sometimes paint the covers with war records and other insignia identifying their clan and its history. For construction, the cover is bundled up around a pole and leveraged into place along one side of the structure, unwound around the tipi, stretched over the framework and then “buttoned� down the front. The base is anchored by stones. In warm weather, the base can be left open for a breeze to come in. When properly built and secured, a tipi is remarkably wind-resistant. During the winter, the insides are lined with a skirt of furs and hides that also helps with ventilation. The warm air rising in the center draws in cold air from under the tent. The airspace behind the lining serves as insulation. The lining also serves to help in privacy and security. Under attack, an enemy would not know who was in a tent or whether it was occupied at all (Figures 4.24, and 4.25a, 4.25b). Figure 4.24: Tipi parts and skin. Source: Andrew Ferentinos, Paul Goble, Tipi: Home of the Nomadic Buffalo Hunters, World Wisdom, 2007, p. 13

Figure 4.25a, b: Tipi: (a) plan, (b) section. Source: Andrew Ferentinos

When taken apart for transport, the whole package can weigh 400 pounds, so before the use of horses the effort of erecting the tipi paled in comparison to the labor of moving camp. There were no pack animals, so dogs were often used to help move the bundles.29 Early Spaniards tell of five hundred dogs in a train.30 Once horses were plentiful on the Plains and could be used for transport, the tipi spread to the Dakotas east of the Missouri River and west to the Utes and others. The tipi was meant to last as long as possible. The reason is quite clear. Forests were rare on the open plains, meaning that habitation had to be not only transportable, but also durable. The Plains Indians, one can say, had a lifestyle that was migratory, but an architecture that was both transportable and relatively permanent. It is the woman who owns the tipi, with the exception of the tipi of the medicine men. The woman is also responsible for its construction, which she can do in about twenty minutes. Crooked or poorly trimmed poles gave the woman a bad name. It would have been beneath the dignity of a warrior to take part in the erecting of a tipi (Figures 4.26, 4.27, 4.28, and 4.29). Figure 4.26: Atsina (Arapaho) camp scene, Montana, USA. Photographed in 1908. Source: Edward Curtis Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ6266669

Figure 4.27: Women in a tipi, South Dakota, USA. Photographed in 1891. Source: Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-749

Figure 4.28: Lodge of the Horn Society, Alberta, Canada. Photographed in 1927. Source: Edward Curtis Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-101190

Figure 4.29: Tipi ring, Saskatchewan, Canada. Source: Gord Hunter

The tipis are, of course, cosmological plans, usually arranged facing east. The interior, in the Siberian hunter tradition, is centered on a fire and behind it an altar. The altar is not an architectural object, but a demarcated spot in which sacred grass is piled and lit, filling the tipi with its sweet scent. When moving inside the tipi, one never moves between a person and the fire, at least without asking permission. One moves behind a person, with the person leaning in a bit. Rules about entering vary from tribe to tribe. In some places, everyone moves in a clockwise direction to their spot. In other places, women move to the left and men to the right. Sleeping and sitting arrangements also sometimes vary, but usually men are to the right of the entrance, the most important spot being next to the north pole of the tripod. The oldest male usually slept to the north, women on the south.

THE BISON HUNT The Gravettian and MagdalĂŠnien were big game hunters, who perfected mass killings of mammoth, horse, and deer. But apart from the piles of bones at the kill sites there is no way we can reconstruct their hunting techniques and ritual practices. For that reason, the survival of the Plains Indians into the nineteenth century, in combination with ethnographic and archaeological evidence, gives us at least a partial insight into ancient times. One way of hunting was during the winter. Small hunting bands of Shoshone, using snowshoes, are known to have chased bison into deep snow, where they could be easily killed with bow and arrow.31 But on the open plains the story is different. The bison are large and fiercely protective (Figure 4.30). They move in tight-knit herds, making it difficult to separate calves or females. Not only are the massive animals surprisingly agile, they also have amazing endurance when chased. To get them to run off a cliff was, therefore, a complex affair that required a carefully orchestrated plan to lure the animals calmly into gathering basins and then when the moment was right to raise a shout and drive them into lanes. Weeks of preparation were needed. Once the animals were correctly positioned, runners would charge along with them into the lanes toward the cliff. It was dangerous for the runners as well as for the team lining the lanes and trying to direct the traffic. If there was a mistake and the herd stampeded in the wrong direction, it could take days to calm the animals and begin the process again. A successful cliff stampede required hundreds of people brought together from a vast region. Figure 4.30: Buffalo, Wyoming, USA. Photographed in 1905. Source: Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-136258

Among the numerous cliff jumps there is Bonfire Shelter in Texas , which was used for an extended period of time beginning around 8000 BCE.32 Another was the Madison Jump in Montana, and to the north, in southwest Alberta, Canada, there is the Head-Smashed-In Cliff, which has at its base a 10-meter-deep pile of animal bones33 (Figures 4.31 and 4.32). With its rolling hills and open prairie, the area was ideal for both the bison and their hunters. The rivers and grass provided food for the animals, but the hills allowed humans to spy on their prey without being noticed. Just

to the west of the cliffs there were several natural mounds that served as excellent places to hide. The buffalo were chased between the mounds and as they accelerated through they would not have had time to react before stumbling over the cliff edge. The men made rows of rocks to define their positions during this hectic event. Figure 4.31: Head-Smashed-In, Canada, site plan. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Jack W. Brink, Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains (Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, 2008), 80

Figure 4.32: Head-Smashed-In, Buffalo Jump, Alberta, Canada. Source: Ken Thompson

Processing the animals was time-consuming. Hides were made into clothing, blankets, and tipi covers. Intestines were dried and then stuffed with meat and roasted over coals. But what made the bison so important was body fat. Fat, not meat, was the primary food source most sought after by the Plains Indians. Other animals like the moose were easier to catch, but were leaner and thus less valued. The pieces of fat were removed and rendered into lard. Drying fat and meat not only reduced their weight, but added to their longevity. Meat spoils because of bacteria taking hold in the moisture. Without moisture, beef and fat can last a considerable time. Dried meat, however, is not particularly tasty and without fat has actually little nutritional value. To compensate, the cooks made something called pemmican. The word comes from the Cree and is derived from the word pimĂŽ, meaning “fat, grease.â€? It is prepared by taking the dried meat and pounding it a powder-like consistency that is then mixed with fat and dried fruits such as saskatoon berries, cranberries, blueberries, or choke cherries. The result is then placed in rawhide pouches and is an ideal nutritional package for long hunting trips.34 Pemmican was an important staple in the Indian diet and was made for thousands of years on the plains. Given their centrality to the Plains Indians, it stands to reason that bison were associated with ritual celebrations, dances and feasts, and ceremonial events, the most important of which was the Sun Dance. Though it was practiced differently by several North American Indians, it had the intention of proving the continuity between life and death and between human and animal. Usually held once a year at the time of the summer solstice, the dance could last from four to eight days. The events were run by a priest who instructed the participants in building a preparatory tipi.35 Although the practice was banned by the United States government in the 1880s, photographs and ethnographic evidence give us a good picture of the event. It takes place inside a special circular structure made by men known for their eminence in the tribe (Figure 4.33). They identify a tree with a fork in the top that will become the center pole of the lodge. The notch represents the eagles nest. The eagle flying close to the sun is the link between men and the spirit world. Before raising the sun-pole, a fresh buffalo head with a broad center strip of the back of the hide and tail was fastened with throngs to the notch. The tree with the buffalo head facing the setting sun represents the center of the world, connecting the heavens to the earth. A medicine man may use the pole as a source of energy, touching his eagle feather to it and then touching the patient. The pole is

festooned with sweetgrass that represents communication with the spirit world. Poles are placed against the top of the pole in a radiating fashion. Its east edge is considered the entrance and there is a fireplace between the entrance and the sacred pole, with the chief’s position being to the west of the pole facing the entrance. Figure 4.33: Shoshone Sun Dance, Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho, 1925. Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, No. 298649

The dance is a type of contest between man and animal. The warriors must show courage and stand up to the buffalo before the buffalo finds him worthy. The dancer has to learn to see through the buffalo’s eyes and become one with it. Making the buffalo sacred, symbolically giving new life to it, and treating it with respect and reverence acts as a sort of reconciliation. Without the buffalo there would be death, and the Plains Indians saw that the buffalo not only provided them with physical well-being, but kept their souls alive, too. They believed that the buffaloes gave themselves to the humans for food. The sacrifice of the dancers through fasting, thirst, and selfinflicted pain reflects the desire to return something of themselves to nature. At the end of the ceremony, the dancers are laid on beds of sage to continue fasting and to recite their visions to the priest. These visions may hold new songs, new dance steps, or even prophecies of the future.

SWEAT LODGES In the Sioux tradition, Wakan Tanka is “The Great Spirit” that resides in every thing. Every creature and object has a wakan, such as wakan tanka kin, the wakan of the sun. The connection between the spirit world and the human took place in the context of large ceremonial dances staged during various parts of the year. The spirit-walkers (or powwaw [“spiritual leader”] in the Narragansett language) helped guide the process. This takes its most architectural form with the sweat bath, a ritual that extends across numerous cultures from the Saami in Finland to the Alaskan

Eskimo all the way to the land of the Mayans.36 Its roots are ancient. Herodotus, the Greek historian living the fifth century BCE, describes Scythian funeral rites in which tribe members set up a cone-shaped structure, cover it tightly with felt, and throw hemp seed on the fire within to produce a vapor bath.37 He notes that during the process, “they howl with pleasure,” no doubt because hemp is related to cannabis. The purpose of the ritual went far beyond getting the body clean. It lay at the core of clan and tribal identity. Archeological evidence is difficult to come by since sweat lodges can be easily mistaken for huts. Furthermore, since all huts had ritualistic components, any hut could potentially have been used for such ritual purposes. The most important source of information about sweat lodges comes from the Native Americans, for whom in some parts it is still a living tradition. For the Nez Perce in Idaho, the sweat bath could be simply an outdoor, natural pool next to a stream with a fire nearby to heat the rocks. But mostly, lodges were constructed as a hut, between 7 and 8 feet in diameter. A hole about 2 feet in diameter and approximately 1 foot deep was dug out of the soil just inside and to one side of the door. This served as a container for the heated stones. The fireplace was usually on a slight elevation within 10 to 15 feet of the sweat house and to its east. This elevation facilitated the rolling of the hot stones from the fireplace into the sweat house. Once the stones were inside and arranged in the pit, water was put on them to create steam. Between the entrance to the lodge and the sacred fire there was usually a conceptual barrier beyond which none might pass except the fire keepers. Traditionally this sacred barrier consisted of a buffalo skull atop a post. The participants placed items sacred to their clan or group—such as sage, sweetgrass, or feathers—at the base of the altar. Most lodges were built as a frame of bent poles covered with hides or bark shingles, but the shape varied depending on materials and local traditions (Figures 4.34 and 4.35). Some were circular or oblong, whereas others consisted of a pit or trench dug into the ground and covered with planks, furs, sod, or tree trunks. The building of the lodge was, however, always a sacred act. Some were made in complete silence, while others involved singing, chanting, or drumming. Figure 4.34: Hupa Sweat House, California, USA, 1923. Source: Edward Curtis Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-120023

Figure 4.35: Sweet lodge frames, North Dakota, USA. Source: Rachel Schmitz

Once the lodge was activated, the stones were no longer material objects, but the embodiment of the Stone People spirits awakened by the heat; the steam rising from the stones became their voices and embodiment. During the ceremony, which is guided by the sweat lodge leader, the stones might be moved to different locations, accompanied by songs and chants. A ceremony was typically four sessions, each lasting about thirty to forty minutes. In some cultures a sweat lodge ceremony was part of other, longer ceremonies, such as a Sun Dance. In almost all cases, the ceremony was done in complete darkness. Various types of plant medicines were often used to tender prayers, give thanks, or make other offerings. In many traditions, one or more persons will remain outside the lodge to protect the ceremony, and assist the participants and tend the fire. Although they served a variety of purposes, the lodges were particularly important to the social identity of the group. For example, whenever a visitor came to a village, he always sought out the sweat bath and made his contacts there under the obligatory friendly conditions. It was considered an insult to refuse an invitation to a sweat house ceremony. The sweat house was also used after periods of physical exertion, such as after a hunt or a war, and was believed to produce sound bodies and steady nerves. Occasionally the women used the same sweat bath as the men, merely at a different time of day, but the perceived danger of menstrual pollution often meant separate structures.38

THE MEDICINE WHEEL In the open plains of northern United States and southern Canada, specifically South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, one finds the remnants of what archaeologists call medicine wheels, which were constructed by laying stones in a particular pattern on the ground. Their purpose is uncertain. Most of these wheels follow the basic pattern in which the center consists of a stone pile, and is surrounded by an outer ring of stones with “spokes� or lines of rocks radiating from the center. Each is quite unique in the specifics of its design and there is no set number of spokes. Circles have diameters varying from 9 to 29 meters. Some are flat; others enclose a cairn or rock pile at the center. Spokes may terminate at the outer circle, but some extend beyond. In some cases there is no perimeter circle, just radiating spokes (Figure 4.36). Figure 4.36: Medicine wheels in the prairie. Source: Florence Guiraud

It is generally thought that this practice began around 3000 BCE with the Oxbow Culture and may represent the development to some degree of complexity in social and religion organization of the bison hunters. Whether the practice originated within the culture or was introduced from outside is unknown. The tradition seems to have been maintained until about 1000 BCE. But whether the use dropped off because of changing migration patterns of the bison or because of changing ceremonial practices is also not known. There seems to be a revival of these practices around 200 CE, perhaps relating to the increased population and expansion of hunting cultures. Though some wheels contained human bones indicating token burial rituals, they do not seem to be associated with burials per se. From folklore, it seems the circles are repetitive of a “sun lodge� and were the sites of a sun dance. The association with the heavens is quite plausible since the Plains Indians showed great interest in the heavens and had some considerable knowledge of astronomy, but whether it applied to all is not known. 39 It has been suggested that the medicine wheels seem to fall in an area that over the millennia was frequented by eclipses and that the wheels are thus some type of cosmological indicators.40 The wheels have also been associated with the sacred hoop of the Plains Indians, which symbolizes the cycles of life. One of the prototypical medicine wheels is in Big Horn County, Wyoming (Figures 4.37a, 4.37b, and 4.38). It has a 23-meter-diameter wheel with twenty-eight spokes and is located dramatically on a ridge that is part of Wyoming’s Big Horn Range. To the east it overlooks a lush, high alpine valley, narrowing as it goes southward, which must have served as a refuge during the winter. There are numerous wheels in Alberta Canada. Majorville Wheel, Alberta, is one of the oldest found so far and dates to some 2,500 years BCE (Figure 4.39a and 4.39b). Not too far away is Sundial Butte, which is arranged as a sacred path around a stone cairn (Figure 4.40). Successive

groups of people added new layers of rock, and some of their arrowheads, from that time until the coming of Europeans to Alberta. Curiously, the site does not seem to have been used between about 3,000 and 2,000 years ago. Archaeologists do not know when the spokes and surrounding circle were constructed, or even if they were constructed at the same time. The long period of use and construction of the central cairn at the Majorville Wheel suggests that such sites may have served different functions over the years.41 Some wheels have to be seen in the context of both buffalo jump sites and rock art sites. Sundial Butte is only 70 kilometers from Head-Smashed-In Cliff. Figure 4.37a, b: Big Horn Medicine Wheel, USA: (a) plan, (b) view. Source: Mark Jarzombek & Timothy Cooke/George Bird Grinnell, “The Medicine Wheel,� American Anthropologist 24 (1922): 302

Figure 4.38: Big Horn Medicine Wheel, Wyoming, USA. Source: Michael Sutphin

Figure 4.39a, b: Majorville Medicine Wheel, Canada: (a) site; (b) plan. Source: Timothy Cooke/J. Rod Vickers, “Medicine Wheels: A Mystery in Stone” from Alberta Pasta 8 (Winter 1992–93): 7

Figure 4.40: Medicine wheels in Alberta. Source: Timothy Cooke/J. Rod Vickers, “Medicine Wheels: A Mystery in Stone” from Alberta Pasta 8 (Winter 1992–93): 6

ENDNOTES 1. Harold Kory Cooper, The Anthropology of Native Copper Technology and Social Complexity in Alaska and the Yukon Territory: An Analysis Using Archaeology, Archaeometry, and Ethnohistory (PhD dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta, 2007): 100.

2. Andrea Laforet, “Notes on the Thompson Winter Dwelling,” The World Is as Sharp as a Knife: An Anthology in Honour of Wilson Duff, ed. Donald N. Abbott (Victoria: British Columbia Provincial Museum, 1981): 116. 3. James A. Goss, “Traditional Cosmology, Ecology and Language of the Ute Indians,” Ute Indian Arts and Culture: From Prehistory to the New Millennium, ed. William Wroth (Colorado Springs: Taylor Museum of the Colorado Fine Arts Center, 2000): 37. 4. V. A. Tugolukov, “Some Aspects of the Beliefs of the Tungus (Evenki and Evens),” in Shamanism in Siberia, eds. V. Diószegi and M. Hoppal (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1978): 425. 5. M. Ya Barmich, “Nenets Customs, Connected with Animistic Conceptions,” paper presented at IAHR Regional Conference on Circumpolar and Northern Religion (Helsinki: 1990): 1–2. 6. T. Lehtisalo, Ajurakszamojed mitologia vazlata (Helsinki: Entwurf, 1924): 103. 7. Fridtjof Nansen, Eskimo Life (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 2005 [1893]): 259. 8. Gilbert L. Wilson, “The Hidatsa Earthlodge,” Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History Vol. 33 Part 5 (1934): 366, 372. 9. James Teit, “The Semi-Subterranean House of the Thompson Indians of British Columbia,” in Selected Readings in Anthropology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1919): 120–123. 10. Przemyslaw Urbanczyk, Medieval Arctic Norway (Warszawa: Semper, 1992): 29–34. 11. Rauna Johanna Kuokkanen, Reshaping the University: Responsibility, Indigenous Epistemes, and the Logic of the Gift (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2007): 35. 12. Ingrid Bergman, “Spatial Structures in Saami Cultural Landscapes,” in Readings in Saami History, Culture, and Language II, ed. Roger Kvist (Umeå, Sweden: Center for Arctic Cultural Research, 1991): 59–68. 13. Irving Hallowell, “Bear Ceremonialism in the Northern Hemisphere” (PhD dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1926): 7. 14. James A. Goss, “Traditional Cosmology, Ecology and Language of the Ute Indians,” Ute Indian Arts and Culture: From Prehistory to the New Millennium, ed. William Wroth (Colorado Springs: Taylor Museum of the Colorado Fine Arts Center, 2000): 46. 15. Rafael Karsten, The Religion of the Samek (Munich: Leiden, 1955): 116; Heonik Kwon, “Play of the Bear: Myth and Ritual in East Siberia,” History of Religions 38, no. 4 (May 1999): 373; Steve Pavlik, “The Role of Bears and Bear Ceremonialism in Navajo Orthodox Traditional Lifeway,” Social Science Journal 34, no. 4 (1997): 475–484. 16. Gary Edson, Shamanism: A Cross Cultural Study of Beliefs and Practices (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009): 111–112. 17. Esther Jacobson, The Deer Goddess of Ancient Siberia (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1993): 208–210. 18. Andreĭ Aleksandrovich Popov, Tavgitsy: materialy po tnografii avamskikh i vedeevskikh tavgiĭtsev (Moscow: Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR, 1936): 63–79. Shortened from the English translation: (accessed December 10, 2011). 19. Edward J. Vajda, Yeniseian Peoples and Languages: A History of Yeniseian Studies: with an Annotated Bibliography and a Source Guide (Richmond: Curzon, 2001): xiv–xv. See page 85 for a description of Ket dwellings. 20. I.S. Ivashchenko, “Semiotics of the Space Structure of the Traditional Nani Dwelling,” Vestnik DVO RAN/Bulletin of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences 3

(2006). 21. Bella Bychkova Jordan and Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov, Siberian Village: Land and Life in the Sakha Republic (Minneapolis: University Minnesota Press, 2001): 42–44. 22. G. M. Vasilevich and A. V. Smolyak, “Evenki,” in The Peoples of Siberia, ed. Stephen Dunn (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1964): 620–654; Piers Vitebsky, Reindeer People: Living with Animals and Spirits in Siberia (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005). 23. Waldemar Jochelson, “The Semi-Subterranean House of the Koryak of Northeastern Siberia,” in Selected Readings in Anthropology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1919): 108–119. 24. Valerie Chaussonnet, Native Cultures of Alaska and Siberia (Washington, D.C.: Arctic Studies Center, 1995): 112. 25. Henry Epp, Long Ago Today: The Story of Saskatchewan’s Earliest People (Saskatoon: Saskatchewan Archeological Society): 58. 26. George Bird Grinnell, The Fighting Cheyennes (New York: Charles Scribner’s and Sons, 1915): 1–2. 27. Paul Goble, Tipi: Home of the Nomadic Buffalo Hunters (Bloomington, Ind.: World Wisdom Books, 2007): 42; Reginald Laubin, Gladys Laubin, and Stanley Vestal, The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977). 28. Gilbert L. Wilson, “The Hidatsa Earthlodge,” Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History Vol. 33 Part 5 (1934): 418. 29. Reginald Laubin, Gladys Laubin, and Stanley Vestal, The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977): 16–20. 30. Reginald Laubin, Gladys Laubin, The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957): 7. 31. B.R. Butler, “Bison Hunting in the Desert West Before 1800: The Paleo-Ecological Potential and the Archeological Reality,” Bison Procurement and Utilization: A Symposium, eds. L. B. Davis and M. Wilson, Plains Anthropologist, Memoir 14, 23; 82, Part 2 (1978): 106–112. 32. F. J. Pearson, Jr. et al., “University of Texas Radiocarbon Dates,” Radiocarbon 7 (1965): 304. 33. See Jack W. Brink, Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains (Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, 2008). 34. Beverly Hungry Wolf, The Ways of My Grandmother (New York: Morrow, 1980): 183– 189. 35. Katherine Pettipas, Severing the Ties that Bind (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1994): 185. 36. The word “medicine man” is sometimes criticized since it originally had a dismissive connotation. Furthermore, the translation of the Indian word for “medicine,” would include a sense of supernatural in a way it does not in English. With these provisos, we will here use the word “shaman,” given the undeniable continuity of religious practices between Asia and the Americas. Many Native Americans find the terms “shaman” and “shamanism” offensive. 37. The History of Herodotus, IV: 73–75, translated by G. C. Macaulay (New York: MacMillan, 1890). (accessed June 20, 2012). 38. Deward E. Walker, Jr. “The Nez Perce Sweat Bath Complex: An Acculturational Analysis,”

Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 22, no. 2 (Summer 1966): 133–171. 39. James M. Calder, The Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel Site, Alberta (Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1977): 200–208. 40. “Was Canada’s Stonehenge aka the Majorville Medicine Wheel an Ancient Religious Response to Total Solar Eclipses by Plains Indians?” Eclipsology, Blog Post, August 31 2009, (accessed February 3, 2012). 41. J. Rod Vickers, “Medicine Wheels: A Mystery in Stone,” Alberta Past 8, no. 3 (Winter 1992–1993): 6–7.


The Great Northern Continuum, Part II What the mammoth was to the ancient hunters and the bison to the Plains Indians, the salmon was to the Pacific Rim cultures. The range of Pacific salmon stretches around the entire northern Pacific Rim (Figure 5.1). It was, therefore, salmon including a dozen other fish species that to a major degree attracted people northward from Japan along the shores of Russia, with a major expansion around 5000 BCE to the west coast of Canada (Figure 5.2). Figure 5.1: The Pacific Ocean Salmon Culture Crescent. Source: Florence Guiraud

Figure 5.2: Fish racks, Alaska. Source: lain Foulds

In winter, salmon travel great distances in schools down the coast to warmer waters, only to swim northward during summer. At the end of their life cycle, the salmon return to their spawning grounds to fertilize and lay the eggs of the next generation. To do this, the salmon swim upstream, many dying before accomplishing their goal. It is in these areas where much of the fishing was done. Although catching salmon in the streams did not necessarily require large organization, processing and preservation was relatively labor intensive. The oily fish could not be simply dried, but had to be cut into strips and smoked on large outdoor hearths, and this more than fishing might have been the motivation for multifamily household formation.1 When Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, explored the Americas west of the Mississippi, they described the Columbia River in 1805 this way: The number of dead salmon on the shores & floating in the river is incredible to say—and at this season they have only to collect the fish, split them open and dry them on their scaffolds on which they have great numbers;… Opposite of this…is a fishing place [with] 3 mat lodges, and great quantities of salmon on scaffolds drying. Saw great numbers of dead salmon on the shores and floating in the water, great number of Indians on the banks viewing me and 18 canoes accompanied me from the point. The waters of this river is clear, and a salmon may be seen at the depth of 15 or 20 feet.2 Almost all of the coastal people from Japan to the California coast performed a First Salmon ceremony, the essential part of which was the special preparation of the first fish that was caught at the beginning of the salmon season. A communal meal was prepared, and afterward the bones were gathered and thrown back into the water, sometimes with the entrails. The meaning of this action is clear: It was believed that the salmon would come to life again if the entrails or the bones were thrown into the water, thus providing a link to successful future catches. In these rituals the welfare of the animal is most important and taboos regulate human conduct so that the fish’s spirit may not be offended. The ritual reaffirms the bridge between the animal soul and guardian-spirit of the tribe’s collective. The Kwakiutl, who lived on the west coast of Vancouver Island, had a prayer to the salmon that he would recite when he saw a salmon swimming near his canoe.

“Welcome supernatural one/Long-Life-Maker, for you come to set me right again as is always done by you./Now pray take out my sickness and take it back to your rich country at the outer side of our world,/Supernatural One.” Then the man himself answers his speech and says, “Hâ [yes], I will do so.”3

THE JOMON AND THE SANNIMARUYAMA SITE Archaeologically, the oldest, salmon-oriented culture can be found in Japan. Known as the Jomon, it began around 14,000 BCE, before the Holocene, when people arrived from China across the landbridge that existed before the oceans rose. The earliest sites are in the south, such as Uenohara, with its fifty-two pit houses, sited spectacularly on a high plateau overlooking Kinko Bay. The Jomon had a distinctive style of pottery with a bullet-shaped bottom. The surface was decorated by rolling a strand of cord on the wet surface of a vessel. This process, known today as Jomon, came to be used by archaeologists to describe the entire culture.4 One Jomon village, known as Minamibori, was located on a hilltop and had forty-eight dwellings, ending a semicircle around the edge of the hill. The total number of houses can be deceiving, since not all of the houses were inhabited at the same time. What we see today is the palimpsest of different times. The village probably consisted of between six and ten pit houses at any one time. Generally larger sites were found near the coast and were associated with shell middens, whereas inland the sites were smaller. Equally old is a site near Ushki Lake in interior Kamchatka (Vasil’evskii). The twenty houses at Ushki Lake, dated to 11,000–10,000 BCE, were probably a winter village, with its residents moving during the other seasons to various hunting, fishing or collecting sites, as would have been typical of many First Societies.5 Unlike the cone houses, which were also built by the Jomon and which rise directly from the edge of the pit, the larger pit houses here have walls that form a ring on which the cone-shaped roof rests. The Jomon hunted animals such as deer, bear, rabbit, and duck, and gathered nuts, berries, mushrooms, and parsley. But it was salmon that was at the center of Jomon society. Figure 5.3a, b: (a) Map of Sanni-Maruyama and Komakino, Japan; (b) Site map of SanniMaruyama. Source: Timothy Cook/The Sannai Maruyama Site: An Extraordinarily Large Settlement in Prehistoric Japan (Sannai Maruyama Site Preservation Office, 2004) [] [Accessed January 10, 2012]

If the period from 10,000 to 5000 BCE was one of expansion around the Pacific Rim, the period from 5000 to 3000 was one of entrenchment and affluence. This is noticeable almost everywhere. In Japan, the massive eruption of the Akahoya Volcano around 4400 BCE, however, drove many people to the north, where the effects were less pronounced, leading to the emergence of large centers such as Sanni-Maruyama in northern Honsh큰 (Figures 5.3a, 5.3b, 5.4a, 5.4b, 5.5, 5.6a, 5.6b, 5.6c, 5.7, and 5.8). It was located on a terrace overlooking, just to its north, a narrow lake fed by a mountain stream that opened out into marshy, flat lands that once extended around the southern shores of Aomori Bay. The marshes below, the forests above, and a protected site near a river made for an ideal location. The settlement lasted for thousands of years. It was first inhabited around 4000 BCE, reached its most extensive around 3000 BCE, and was abandoned around 2000 BCE. Oak, beech, walnut, and chestnut abounded, the latter providing a major food source, along with meat of rabbit, squirrels, deer, boar, whales, and sea lions, not to mention the variety offish that were harvested in the bay. Elderberries were also picked and were probably made into an alcoholic drink. The first houses were conventional thatch-covered pit houses, about 4 meters in

diameter, with internal posts holding up the roof structure. Over five hundred have been found, although they were not all inhabited at the same time. Archaeologists have also uncovered a treasure trove of pottery, stone tools, and ritual objects, as well as fishhooks, hair pins, and needles. It also seems that lacquer was extensively used, and perhaps for several thousand years already. The lacquer trees were cultivated and tapped for their toxic sap, which was then filtered, heat-treated, and applied in a mixture with rice flour to an object that was then dried in a warm chamber until it had a clear, hard surface. The process was repeated and the object polished, all of which took considerable time. Iron oxide and mercurial vermilion, most from the banks of the Himekawa River, were used as pigments to make red lacquer, the red being, of course, the sacred color. Nephrite was also processed. Figure 5.4a, b: Sanni-Maruyama: (a) settlement site plan, (b) six pillared buildings. Source: Timothy Cook/The Sannai Maruyama Site: An Extraordinarily Large Settlement in Prehistoric Japan (Sannai Maruyama Site Preservation Office, 2004) [] [Accessed: January 10, 2012]

Figure 5.5: Jomon stone circles, Japan. Source: Timothy Cook/Daisei Kodama, “Komakino stone circle and its significance for the study of Jomon social structure,� Senri Ethnological Studies 63 (1974): 239

Figure 5.6a, b, c: Komakino stone circle, Japan: (a) plan, (b) ring section, (c) site plan. Source: Timothy Cook/Daisei Kodama, “Komakino stone circle and its significance for the study of Jomon social structure,� Senri Ethnological Studies 63 (1974): 241

Figure 5.7: Reconstructed longhouses at Sanni Maruyama, Amori, Japan. Source: Š Perezoso (

Figure 5.8: Reconstructed pit house at Sanni Maruyama, Amori, Japan. Source: J. D. Gibbard

As the settlement expanded to the south, several longhouses appeared, some 30 meters in length, that might have served as ritual lodges. Later, houses were elevated on stilts, indicating a change of some sort, probably influenced from China. Also appearing were several six-pillared structures. The purpose and design of these buildings, resting on massive, 1-meter-thick chestnut pillars, is not certain. Some have suggested that they were lookout towers, and that is how the site has been reconstructed, now an open-air archaeological museum. Others suggest that they were ritual poles, because they were placed at the ends of the roads leading into the settlement. Some argue that they were calendric devices, since they line up with the winter solstice. These roads that lead into the site connected it to other shore communities, and to the west up into the hills. The roads were also lined with burials zones.6

ALASKA: YUP’IK, KOYUKUK, IÑUPAIT Post-Holocene Alaska possessed one of the most ideal riverine conditions in the world, given the ease with which food could be acquired and the variety of food that could be gathered. Caribou, bear, moose, and fox could be hunted during various times of the year. There are four different species of geese and thirteen species of ducks that migrate there by the millions and that could be caught with nets and traps. And then there were the rivers filled with salmon, trout, whitefish, northern pike, sucker, and burbot. Fishing took place through several means. In smaller or more shallow streams, people constructed weirs, which are basically barriers placed in the stream that force the fish to congregate. It is built of stakes placed in the river holding a horizontal pole against which the sticks that make up the fence can be secured. When a gap is opened, men can harvest the fish that flow through with nets or baskets. In larger streams, fishing was done by means of seines, which are large nets outfitted with floats along one edge and weights along the other so that it hangs in the water. Some of these were as large as 100 feet long and 3 feet deep. One end was attached to the shore, while the other was taken out into the stream and then hauled back with handlines until the whole net, with its flopping burden, was on shore. Once the fish were caught the real work began, namely cutting and cleaning the fish and placing them on drying racks.7 As any fisherman knows, a good spot is much valued and this was just as true in ancient times. In most of the Alaskan societies, villages or bands had rights to certain locations that were passed down the generations. But because these rivers can change course, territory was never absolutely fixed, and with each season negotiations might be called for. In some cases, a tribes fishing territory was a good distance from the winter camp. Although fishing is often seen as woman’s work, the activity was often done by both women and men (Figures 5.9a, 5.9b, 5.9c, 5.10, and 5.11). Figure 5.9a, b, c: Different techniques of salmon fishing: (a) fish trap, (b) weir, (c) seine. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Figure 5.10: Boris Piak, a Forest Nenets man, checking a fish trap on the Ivoseda River, Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 5.11: Bidarka and kayak on beach on the Ugashik River, Bristol Bay district, Alaska, 1900. Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Photo Library, NOAA’s Historic Fisheries Collection, fish 7600

Almost all Alaskan peoples lived in a yearly cycle timed around animal migrations and the fishing seasons. Fishing lasted from early June to August. Plants also played a part. Women harvested marsh marigold, wild celery, wild parsnips, willow leaves, eggs from nearby nests, and

clams and mussels from the tidal flats. In early August, families dispersed over the tundra to harvest salmonberries and blueberries as well as wormwood and other medicinal plants. Then came seal hunting season before the waters froze, followed by bird hunting. And when the grounds froze, men hunted for fox and mink.8 The Koyukuk, who lived inland, followed a typical cyclical life (Figure 5.12a, 5.12b). During the winter they lived in pit houses and took trips from one settlement area to the other to trade and reinforce ceremonial relationships. Through spring, summer, and fall, they moved in mobile camps to fish and hunt, returning to the pit-house base camp in November in time for caribou hunting. Their proximity to a rare obsidian source made their position in the cultural landscape particularly important. Winter base camps consisted of groups of up to about 300 people. The men lived in communal houses whereas women and children lived in groups of from four to twelve in smaller houses (enet). The communal house, or qasgiq, was also used for food distribution during the various intervillage ceremonies, such as the Bladder Festival.9 Cooking was done in the entryway. Every man’s place in the qasgiq reflected his social position, such as between young and old, married and unmarried, and host and guest. The qasgiq could also serve as the site of a ceremonial sweat bath, when occupants closed the central smoke hole and fed the fire to an intense degree.10 Figure 5.12a, b: Koyukuk calendar: (a) diagram, (b) SIX map. Source: Mark Jarzombek & Anne Callahan/McFadyen Clark, Who Lived in This House?: A Study of Koyukuk River Semisubterranean Houses (Hull: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1996), 34–43

For those who lived on the coast, boats radically expanded the territory available for resource gathering. They also improved contact with other people, for better and worse. The boats were lightweight and maneuverable with an internal frame. Walrus hide was used as covering because

of its toughness. But the skin required reoiling after about four days of use, which means for long journeys, teams would have to take extra skins and parts. The boats had a variety of names. Umiaks are flat-bottomed boats used mainly to transport freight or people. As long as 12 meters, they could carry up to forty people. Kayaks were smaller and sleeker. Designed for hunting, they had a oneor two-man crew (Figures 5.13 and 5.14). Figure 5.13: Fisherman, Nunivak Island, Alaska. Photographed by Edward S. Curtis, 1929. Source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Edward Curtis Collection, LCUSZ62-13912

Figure 5.14: Yupik boat builder works on a beach, constructing a boat frame, Alaska, USA, 1910. Source: Dana Estes and Co.

The Yup’ik hunted seals and occasionally walruses in open water. These sea mammals, they

believed, live in huge underwater qasgit (plural), where they arranged themselves around a central fire pit comparable to that displayed by their human counterparts. From these underwater homes, they could view their treatment by people and, based on what they observed, could choose or refuse to give themselves to human hunters. Those humans who were best in tune with the animal spirits were rewarded, and since gift giving endows prestige, that person thus became the focus of the clans political and economic integration (Figure 5.15). Figure 5.15: Yup’ik qargish, Richardson, Alaska. Source: lain Foulds

The Yup’ik also believe that no one ever truly dies, but that the soul is part of a cycle in which the person is reborn in another generation. This cycle extends to animals in the sense that the souls of seals killed by hunters must be properly cared for so that they, too, can be reborn. They believe that a seal recognizes the merits of a hunter and allows itself to be killed; when this happens, the seal’s soul retracts to its bladder, where it resides until it is returned to the sea. The Bladder Festival celebrates this cycle of life. During the festival, held in the winter, all of the bladders caught by hunters are inflated and hung together in the qasgiq, where they are celebrated for five days. On the fifth day, families take the bladders and push them through a hole in the ice, allowing the souls of the seals to be reborn. Because here the ground is semi-frozen, the permafrost must be thawed before excavation of a communal house was possible.11 To do this a fire was built on the ground and sustained until the frost was gone. The structure had to be large enough to hold everyone in the village. Some villages might have more than one. Sometimes they would be constructed for special events or festivals. In summer a qasgiq was not usually a building but an outdoor area protected from the winds by boats turned on their sides. Villages were located along beaches with houses in a row and sometimes connected by underground passages, permitting easy visiting back and forth during winter storms.

Garbage and human waste were dumped in nearby designated areas. Most houses were about 4.5 by 5 meters with slightly rounded corners and a floor depth of about 40 centimeters, almost exactly what one would have found in northern China around 4000 BCE. The four posts were about a meter from the wall and sunk about 30 centimeters into the ground. The house appears to have had nearly vertical walls about 75 centimeters high. The roof sloped up from the top of these walls to a height where a smoke hole was framed midway between the corner posts.12 Buildings of similar design are still made by the Selkup in Siberia as winter hunting camps in the forests in Western Siberia , some five thousand kilometers to the east of Alaska (Figures 5.16 and 5.17). Figure 5.16: A snow-covered Poymot at a Selkup winter hunting camp, Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Figure 5.17: Yevgenia Irkova, a Selkup woman, with her daughter Albina inside a Poymot, Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

THE NORTHWEST COAST PEOPLES Around the same time as the Alaskan culture was developing, a maritime culture was also developing on the eastern side of the American continent along the Atlantic seaboard of Labrador and Newfoundland and down into Maine. Here walruses and seals were hunted with sophisticated harpoons, while more inland, reindeer and beaver were targeted. People built longhouses 90 to 100 meters long, attesting to the productivity of the coastal marine-mammal hunting cultures. Burials were quite elaborate and involved red ochre, from which the Red Paint People derived their archaeological nomenclature. But whereas the Atlantic sea fishing societies disappeared around 1500 BCE, probably because of resource depletion, though no one knows for sure, the Pacific Coast cultures survived more or less intact from the early Holocene until the arrival of the white man in the nineteenth century. In fact, the 2,000-kilometer shore from southern Alaska to northern California developed into a large-scale social coherence. It was the longest-lasting continuum of First Society people in the Americas. In other words, for nine thousand years, while in Central America the Olmecs, Zapotecs, Mayans, and Incas were rising and falling, the Northwest Coast Indians proved their adaptability. The area was particularly attractive for human habitation since warm currents flowing northward along the coast kept the area temperate despite its northerly latitude. The oceans teamed with fish and whales and the abundance of timber facilitated the development of tools, buildings, and boats. The Northwest Coast cultures consisted of a number of related groups: the Bella Coola (Nuxalk), Haida, Kwakiuts (Kwakwaka’wakw or Kwak’wala-speaking-peoples), Makah (Kwi-hdich-chuh-ahtx: “The People Who Live by the Rocks and Seagulls”), Nez Perce (Nimíipuu, “The People”), Nisqualli (“People of the Grass Lands”), Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth, “Along the Mountains”), Quinault (“Wide Place in the River”), Puyallup (S’Puyalupubsh, “Generous and Welcoming”), and Salish, to name but a few. Each had its unique set of mythological stories that defined their identities. Warfare and skirmishes were not uncommon. The earliest known archaeological sites date to 7000 BCE, but most are dated to about 3000 BCE, when a rapid escalation of the culture took place. New tribes probably continued to enter the region long after that, moving into the open gaps or further up into the mountains (Figure 5.18). Figure 5.18: Northwest coast Indians. Source: Florence Guiraud

The common denominator was, of course the boat, of which various types existed. Most were fashioned from hollowed-out logs of cedar, a sacred tree among the Northwest Coast people. Some of these boats are a substantial 20 meters long. Shipwrights widened the trunk by softening it with boiling water so that they could stretch it out to make the canoe about 3 meters across. Smaller boats were made from a single log; longer ones, as made by the Haida, had graceful oblique sterns and keels that were decorated with carvings and that were made separately and dowelled to the hull with great precision The larger boats could have up to fourteen paddlers, seven on a side. The inside of the canoe was colored with a paint made offish oil and ochre. Some tribes used blue ochre or charcoal. There are different types of canoes, some for fishing, others for whaling or for moving freight, and then there were war canoes (Figure 5.21). The Makah, who lived farther south and were whale-hunting specialists, added to this basic repertoire of boats a sail made of cedar bark matting.14 The complexity and use of canoes diminishes as one travels southward. This is clearly related to the nature of offshore fishing, which drops off rapidly off the seas of California, where the primary source offish is not from the sea, but from inland rivers. Figure 5:19: Paul Mason Site (ca. 2000 BCE), Canada. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Gary Coupland, “Early Prehistoric Occupation of Kitselas Canyon,� in Early Human Occupation in British Columbia, eds. Roy L. Carlson and Luke Dalla Bona (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1996), 160

Figure 5.20: Katz Site. ca. 1000 BCE, Canada. Mark Jarzombek/Gary Coupland, “Early Prehistoric Occupation of Kitselas Canyon,” in Early Human Occupation in British Columbia, eds. Roy L. Carlson and Luke Dalla Bona (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1996), 125

Figure 5.21: Haida Dugout Canoes, 1909. Source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Edward Curtis Collection, LC-USZ62-13631

Boats are not simply utilitarian objects, but spiritual entities. The carvers must prepare themselves with fasting, prayers, and the sweat lodge. Once the log is chosen, a prayer is said for the cedar and an offering is given to thank it for its sacrifice. The log is then left to season over the winter. This step ensures that the canoe will not crack too badly in later stages of carving. Once the log is seasoned, the exterior lines of the canoe are established and the inside hollowed out with controlled burning and adzing. This involves the use of hot rocks and water to steam-bend the sides outward. This steaming also draws the bow and stern upward as well as adding strength to the vessel. Finally, the prow and stern pieces are added, the seats installed, and the exterior finished. It is not uncommon for the entire process to take two years.

THE POTLATCH Yearly meets between peoples, usually during late fall and winter, are common among the peoples of the Great Continuum since they reaffirm the network of social relations that bond people and clans together. In Alaska and among Northwest Coast people, these meets developed into a complex culture of gift giving, known collectively as the potlatch, usually held in December and January after the seasonal stores were established. There are different names for these events, but in the late nineteenth century they became known collectively as potlatches, a word derived from Chinook trade jargon and brought north by prospectors. During a potlatch neighbors and nearby villagers would be invited for days or even weeks of feasting, gambling, and dancing. People congregated in a large house or village kazhium (ceremonial house, or qasxiq) to tell of their ancestors and of hunting expeditions (Figure 5.22). Women often spent months making headdresses or clothing to be worn during these festivals. At the end of the potlatch these adornments were destroyed as a means of thanking the guests for the honor of their presence. The garments would be cut up and the pieces distributed to the guests. Sometimes even the ceremonial houses were destroyed if they were built for the occasion. Figure 5.22: Guests arriving for a potlatch at Opitsat, Chilkat River, Alaska, 1895. Source:

Courtesy of Royal BC Museum, BC Archives

The following is adapted from a description of 1916: A line of 26 dog teams stretched across the Tanana River, advanced a few hundred feet, stopped and advanced again. The hosts lined the bank over-looking the river. The red and blue sashes of the men and feathered headdresses of the women, decked with ribbons of all colors, flashed against the backdrop of snow. Now and then a volley of rifle shots was fired and answered by a return fusillade from the travelers. When not firing their rifles those on the bank sang songs accompanied by the beat of a drum. Now the teams have all reached the Nenana side of the river, some two hundred yards from where the songs of welcome are being sung. Chief Evan of Coschaket and Chief Alexander of Tanana gather their men and women in a group and advance in close formation. With the long line of women and children left on the bank, still singing, the Nenana men march down to the river. They too form a group and when then near they rushed toward each other, cheering as they come. But they did not rush up to one another and shake hands. They passed by each other, turn and pass again. Finally, the visitors rushed up on the bank and danced about among the crowd gathered there. Then there was a brief pause. The visitors drew up in a line, and were given a short address of welcome by Chief Thomas of Nenana. This was responded to by Chiefs Evan and Alexander. This over, the guests went to the “big house,” and after a dance came out and then began to shake hands. Each night a lavish feast was served to the guests, who were seated on the floor in long lines. They drank sweetened tea, and ate boiled meat, sweetened biscuits, and rice boiled with dried apples and raisins. While they ate people sang continually. After the feast one of the potlatch hosts gathered about him a group of the people and began a dirge for the departed. After the singing of several of these dirges over and over again, the mourning dance would begin. These were organized with the men standing together in one part of the hall and die women lined up against the wall swayed their bodies from side to side to the rhythm of the song. People sang about a moose hunt and a squirrel jumping from tree to tree. On the last night the potlatch hosts brought blankets, clothing, guns and other useful gifts to the “big house” and made of it a big pile in the center of the room. Seated about on the floor, people waited patiently for something to be thrown

to them by the potlatch man or his helper.15 Early descriptions tend to emphasize the free-spirited nature of these events and can miss the point that individuals were supposed to guard themselves during a potlatch by following certain precautions and acting in a restrained manner. The host should be careful how he boasts of his wealth, and the guests careful they do not covet that wealth. If people act greedy, or in an egocentric manner, or are careless, they become vulnerable to supernatural forces that could harm or even kill them. If, on the other hand, they refrain from excess, they will live a long life. Potlatches came in different sizes. Whereas large ones brought together entire communities, small ones commemorated a young persons first harvest, a young woman’s first menses, or the death of an infant. Larger ones were held at the death of an older person, or to commemorate a person’s recovery from a severe illness or accident, all involving the distribution of food and gifts. The size of a potlatch also depended on the age and social status of the individual for whom the potlatch was given. Community or clan leaders received big potlatches.

THE HAIDA The Haida (“The People”) lived on the island Haida Gwaii, also known as Queen Charlotte Island, along the Canadian Pacific shore. It was an ideal location for the gathering of salmon, seals, sea otters, whales, and shellfish. The salmon caught in the big salmon runs were dried and stored for consumption in the winter. The rhizomes of eel-grass, which grows in the shallows, were harvested, as was the tart highbush cranberry, believed to be the food of supernatural beings.16 There were complex rituals and ceremonies around the themes of food and weather, but generally, in typical animistic fashion, all aspects of the environment (rocks, trees, animals, and men) were believe to contain a sort of spiritual energy or power. Potlatches were controlled by the successor to the chief, but there were also important ceremonies related to changes in the seasons. During the summer fishing season, people moved along the inland shores and lived in informal structures, but during the fall and winter life focused on the shore villages. The heavy rainfall and mild weather along the Pacific coast supported luxuriant vegetation evident in thick forests of gigantic trees and cedar in particular. Cedar splits quite easily, even with bone and stone adzes and chisels. Once the tree was felled and planks made, the lumber was floated down the river. Its inner bark was woven into mats, cloth, and ropes; its outer bark served as shingles for the roofs of the houses, and its massive logs served as roof beams. Cedar was not just “wood.” It was the tree version of ochre, its red color and sweet smell indicators of its connection to the world of spirits. The Kwakiutl—who live a bit farther south from the Haida— call the tree nawalak, or “supernatural force.”17 Haida villages once dotted the inlets and islands of Haida Gwaii by the dozens (Figure 5.23). Although none exist anymore, old descriptions and archaeology can give us a good sense of at least some, such as Ninstints to the far south (Figure 5.24). It was located on a bay that was protected from the winds and waves of the open Pacific by the whole breadth of the island, and from easterly winds and swells by a small rocky islet that sits just off the bay, sheltering it almost completely. At low tide the bay goes completely dry. At high tide, no matter what the weather, it is a smooth pond several feet deep, entered through a narrow passage around the south end of the islet. The houses stood around the rim of the bay on a terrace, about 8 to 10 meters above high tide. Behind the settlement, the ground ascends to a north-south wall of rock faces, which in some places form cliffs indented at intervals by fissures and caves. Just to its north, there was a spring and a small

stream. The village grew from south to north. The caves behind the village and the island across the bay were used as burial sites (Figure 5.25). Figure 5.23: Haida village. Source: Courtesy of Royal BC Museum, BC Archives

Figure 5.24: Ninstints, Canada, site plan. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Source: Wilson Duff and Michael Kew, Repeat of the Year 1957, Provincial Museum of Natural History and Anthropology, 45

Figure 5.25: Clan poles at Ninstints, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada. Source: Š Neil Banas (

The settlements were almost always arranged linearly along the beach and consisted of individual square houses. These were technically pit houses since they were designed around a pit dug into the earth. But these houses are the most elaborate type of pit house ever made. What the tipi was to the pole house tradition, namely its most refined and elaborated form, the Haida house was to the pit house tradition. As can be expected, it was designed and built in direct relation to the cosmos, which for the Haida is divided into three shamanistic zones: the sky world, the earth, and the oceanic underworld. The Earth is conceived of as a flat circle, over which hangs a solid firmament, like a bowl inverted over a plate (Figures 5.26 and 5.27). Stars are explained as light of the sun coming through holes in the roof of the celestial house. The Earth consists of two islands, Haida Land (the Queen Charlotte Islands) and Seaward Country (the mainland). The former is supported by a supernatural being called Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving, who rests on a copper box. On his breast is a pole or pillar that supports Haida Land and extends through a hole in the top of the firmament into the sky above. This pole unites the three zones of the cosmos. Power flows through the world pole and attached to the top are cosmological strings that reach to every village in Haida Land. Pulling these strings results in rain, snow, or sleet, depending on the season. During a potlatch, a cord is stretched from the frontal pole to the beach to symbolize the shining string of heaven and no one is allowed to cross over this string. The imaginary world pole is symbolized by the house pole, which is also thought to be a ceremonial conduit of power. The lower world is symbolized by the pit in the center of the house. The world of the here-and-now is defined by the house itself and the area above the smoke hole is seen as belonging to the celestial part. The fire at the center of the pit is the main conduit between the various worlds. Offerings are put into the fire with the hissing being interpreted as a sign of its reception by the ghosts who communicate with the living.18 Figure 5.26: Diagram of Haida cosmos. Source: Andrew Ferentinos/George F. MacDonald, Haida Monumental Art: Villages of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1983), 7

Figure 5.27: Typical Haida house. Source: Mark Jarzombek/George F. MacDonald, Haida Monumental Art: Villages of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Vancouver-University of British Columbia Press, 1983), 19

The line transecting the sea and the forest constitutes a horizontal world axis unto its own that runs from the beach through the center of the house out the back to the forest. On it are arranged the

house frontal pole, the fireplace, the back wall screen which separates off the chief’s apartment, and the interior house pole. The area behind the house was a more forbidding zone leading to the family mortuary house. Another axis runs along the beach and on it are located all of the hearths of the various houses in the village. The body of a dead person cannot be taken across the central axis of the house, but must be removed through an opening made in the nearest wall, for they are considered to have already “crossed over the line.” Dancers circle the fire clockwise, imitating the sun, four times in reference to the four directions of the world. They turn 90 degrees each time they cross the horizontal axis. Symbolically the zones in front and behind the house merge at the transverse axis of the house, where the chief sits. Before him lies the sea, the creatures of the underworld, and the realm of the whales; behind him are the forests and the upper world, the realm of the bear and thunderbird. As a result, the houses were themselves considered almost living entities19 (Figure 5.28). Figure 5.28: A Haida village as drawn by Rudolf Cronau, 1899. Source: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations

Noble families usually owned the houses and their facades boasted their wealth and totem insignia. Generally a house would contain a single lineage and within the household there would be approximately ten interrelated families. The house was also in real terms a center of activity. Tending to children, weaving mats, joining and sewing furs, and smoking fish all took place along with eating and sleeping. Children slept in hammocks hung from rafters. The house was divided by rank. The chief’s family used the back of the house, opposite the front door. This area was separated from the rest of the structure by a large wooden screen. Other families were arranged from the back of the house to the front in descending order of rank along both sidewalls. If there were any slaves living in the house, they occupied the area closest to the front, near the door. Moveable furniture was rare, except the chief’s seat, which was a legless bench that on ceremonial

occasions was set in the place of honor at the center of the house. Fishing lines, hooks, clubs, bows and arrows, and any other items associated with hunting were kept outside the house and concealed from the view of females. Menstruating women in particular were believed to have supernatural visual powers capable of causing considerable damage to the effectiveness of these implements.20 Various parts of the house were decorated and carved, such elaborations being strictly controlled by the status of the house chief. Each embellishment was considered a prerogative of rank. With each successive generation, ceremonial names and design motifs or crests representing supernatural beings also became the property of these lineages. Because of the symbolic correspondence with the cosmological world, the house functioned as a ceremonial center by means of which one could enter into contact with the tribes’ protective spirits, the ancestors. One reenacted this correspondence by entering the body of the ancestor through the oval door, which then symbolized the ancestral mouth. This symbolic “entering” marks the clear transition from the profane world to the spiritual world. In midwinter the house interior was converted into a sacred space for religious festivals. These buildings also housed the potlatch celebrations. The alignment of the houses in the village was strictly based on social rank, in deference to the more prestigious houses of the chiefs, arrayed on either side of the house of the main village chief; the latter occupied the central location in the house row. Nonetheless, each house was a symbolic center in its own right. The transverse axis, presenting the middle world dominated by mankind, was connected from house to house, throughout the whole length of the village. This line marked the intersection between the underworld or the sea that the house faced, and the upper world, approachable from the forested hillside behind the village. The two axes meet at the house fire pit, the absolute center of each lineage’s world and the focus of ceremonies held in the house.21 Houses consisted of two basic types, which differed mainly in the approach to construction rather than in the character of the finished house. The first type is a simple support structure of two parallel round beams set on pairs of uprights. To this structure is added a framework of light rafters and gables, which are covered with planks. The second type employs more elaborate joinery, including mortise and tenon joints and interlocking features. This, of course, adds structural stability and provides more interior space. The second type was developed with the advent of iron axes in the eighteenth century CE. Timber for the house was cut from an area belonging to the family and usually near the water. Special care was taken in selecting the tree for the frontal pole and roof beams. When planning a house, the chief called upon a distinguished person from the opposite moiety who was assigned the task of supervision. The relatives were divided into work teams, but the carved and painted parts were usually done by special artists. The work required the coordination of thirty to forty people. The corner posts were notched at ground level to receive the horizontal plates that held the wallboards. These plates were then grooved to receive the wallboards. The ridgepole was interrupted in the center to leave space for a rectangular smoke hole in the roof. The roof was constructed of cedar planks and bark laid on a system of rafters and purlins. The floor was covered with planks as well, except for the area around the fireplace. In essence the house is a two-story structure, though only one is visible to the outside.22 Unique to the Canadian Northwest was the construction of so-called totem poles, used to show the ancestry and the social rank of a family. The poles could be about 80 feet tall, depicting both humans and animals. The word “totem” is derived from the Ojibwe, who live in the Great Lakes region; in their language odoodem refers to “kinship group.” They were the first tribe the European

explorers encountered using this device and so the word stuck. It would be better to consider the poles as heraldic in nature rather than totemic, like shields or flags in Europe that represent clan insignia. Although the source of this tradition is not known with certainty, archaeologists surmise that it began with the Haida; from there it spread southward down the coast to the tribes of British Columbia.23 Since shamanism came to the Americas from Asia, it is more than likely that the tradition came from that source as well. For example, the Nani—who call themselves “Hezhen” and who have traditionally lived as salmon fishing experts along the Amur River in Russia, north of present-day Korea—erect poles along the edge of the river where they live, carved with various animals in low relief. They were once called “idol poles” but this is a mistake, since the poles are not worshiped. Much as in North America, the poles represent clan identities. Among the Haida, the poles are sometimes erected in front of the house and other times incorporated into the design of the facade. The carving of the totem poles was a masculine craft, since they held the right to proclaim their crests and lineage identities. Numerous petroglyph boulders near the entrance of salmon rivers are visible not from land but from sea. It is likely that the images served as representations of “chiefs” who each spring dispatch their people, namely the fish, to the rivers, where they become food for man. When eaten by man the fish come back to life in their own country. The petroglyphs thus ensure the return of the fish. They are drawn in a unique curving line with no angular forms that is typical of the aesthetic of the entire region, even in its woodcarving (Figure 5.29). It seems that the fish are also influenced by a range of deities and sub-deities, such as Raven, Killer Whale, and certain types of sea monsters, whose images also grace boulders at the stream entrances.24 The aesthetic also applies to the small tomb figures that are placed in the graves of shaman and that are seen as “bread of ghosts.” These figurines are carved from the body of a fungus called Fomitopsis officinalis that can grow to several feet tall on the sides of cedar trees and that takes on mysterious anthropomorphic shapes.25 The medicinal value of these fungi might also have been known. Figure 5.29: Haida petroglyphs, Canada. Source: Mark Jarzombek/E. L. Keithahn, “The Petroglyphs of Southeastern Alaska,” American Antiquity 6 (Oct., 1940): 128, 131

THE NUU-CHAH-NULTH WHALE SHRINE The Nuu-chah-nulth people, who lived farther south on the western shore of Vancouver Island, built houses with four posts and removable wall planks that could be brought to seasonal occupational sites. House posts and ridge beams were carved and painted with hereditary designs as the framework of a Nuu-chah-nulth house held great symbolic importance. No matter what other parts of the house were replaced or fixed, the frame would remain the same, symbolizing the house that the ancestors had originally built. The interiors of the structures were divided by the placement of boards and fire pits, which partitioned the house into areas that belongs to individual families or social groups. The houses were rectangular with low flat roofs and did not face the beach. They hunted the California gray whale, which is particularly abundant in the summer, spending the season in the numerous bays and inlets of Vancouver Island. The Nuu-chah-nulth and the nearby Mowachaht were probably the first to master the technique of hunting these massive creatures, which reach a length of about 16 meters (52 feet) and a weight of 36 tons. Getting close to them, though dangerous, was not the problem, but rather harpooning them effectively through their thick blubber. The harpoon head was a sharp blade made of a large mussel shell held in place with spruce gum between a pair of antler bones and attached to sinew line, which in turn was attached to a rope of cedar or split spruce root. Apart from this and other equipment, including blades and floats, the canoe had to carry a crew of eight. It could take a long time to get close to a whale, since they are not always resting. But once in position, the harpooner aimed for a spot behind the fore flipper, the wounded whale would descend. An inflated seal bladder served as a float marking the location of the whale. When it resurfaced for air, another boat had to catch up to it and harpoon it again, continuing the process until the wounded whale died. The tendons of the flukes were cut, floats were attached, and it was pulled to the shore at high tide. The animals was carved according to set rituals where the chief in charge of the hunt got the prize piece, the saddle and skin of the dorsal fin behind the head. It was taken to his house in a procession led by the wife, and hung on a pole. Eagle feathers were stuck in a row on top. At the ends of the pole were hung the harpoon lines. The whale was appeased for being taken by ceremonies performed around this pole that involved singing and chanting for a period of days, after which a feast was held.26 Rituals were designed to implore the supernaturals for assistance in these hunts. They consisted of nightly bathing for eight waxing moons accompanied by sexual abstinence. Prayers were recited to encourage the whale to submit itself to the harpooner’s will. The chief prayed to four great chiefs who rule the animals and the fishes and all the people of the whole world, asking the great chief of the sky to supply the food he and his family need, provide luck and power to get whales, protect his crew, and give him strength to abstain from sex. To the great chief of the sea he prayed for help in harpooning the whale. The supplicant also took a ritual bath in the sea as part of the purification. These baths in the freezing cold water certainly toughened the body against exposure. They also determined the success or failure of the whaling expedition. Success provided meat and blubber with which to give a large feast, thus consolidating and augmenting chiefly power. Success was also a sign of the chief’s legitimacy, as it indicated moral and ritual purity. The whaler’s wife had a certain role in this as well. During the hunt while she was back in the house, if she remained still, the whale would be still as well, and therefore easy to harpoon. Whales were also found that

had died from natural causes. The carcass would belong to the chief who owned the sea or beach area where the whale was found, but because property lines were often ambiguous, such a find was often prone to rival claims. At stake was not just the prize, but the belief that whales did not die by chance, but because a chief had done a magic ritual that had drawn the whale to him. The sites where the chief’s purification rituals were performed were closely guarded secrets known only to family members. Each family had its own area located in a clearing hidden in the forest. The shrines were also ancestor burial sites. After being buried, the bones of a chief would be dug up and the head removed, to be placed in a specific area in the shrine or on the back of a wooden effigy of a whale. Some of the skulls were placed on poles in front of the shrine. Wooden effigies of the chiefs were also placed around the circumference of the shrine. One such shrine, on the southern tip of Nootka Island and researched by the anthropologist Franz Boas, was rectangular with no walls. It had a plank roof, 2 meters high, supported by a single ridge beam (Figures 5.30a, 5.30b, and 5.31). The shrine, located on an island, also contained images of supernatural beings made of brush. The structure dates back to about 1700 and is now in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.27 Figure 5.30a, b: Nuu-chah-nulth whale shrine, Canada: (a) map, (b) plan. Source: Andrew Ferentinos/Franz Boas, The Religion of the Kwakiutl Indians (New York: Columbia University Press, 1930), 265

Figure 5.31: Yuquot whaler’s shrine, Canada. Source: American Museum of Natural History

THE YOKUTS The Yokuts (“People�) thrived in the upland river areas of central California and can be considered a southern variant to the great coastal civilization. They were less oriented to the ocean, which here was significantly less rich than farther north, and more focused on salmon and acorns, both of which were in plentiful supply. Using harpoons and dragnets, they caught, of course, spawning salmon in the fall and spring, but here the cedar forest gives way to an oak forest that stretches north-south on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains from Seattle to northern California. From these extensive groves, they gathered great quantities of acorns that were ground into meal and cooked as a thick soup or gruel. Most species of oak were used, but they varied in nutritional value, moisture content, and texture. Tan oak and black oak both have large acorns, with significant tannins (insect repellent), low moisture, good nutrition, and good-quality flour when pounded. Valley oak is lowest in nutrition and highest in moisture of the commonly eaten acorns, and required the most effort to dry. Gold cup oak was avoided, as it produced poor-quality flour. In the southern deserts, pine nuts took the place of acorns. Because acorns ripen but once a year, in spring, and then in abundance, special provisions had to be made to store them. Once harvested, they were dried by spreading them out in the sun on a rock. While being stored, the nuts had to be protected against moisture, rodents, and birds. Strategies varied according to climate, with rodents being more of a threat in the desert, while moisture was the principal threat in the rainy north. To solve the problem, the granaries were lined with plants, which either masked the smell of the food or made it hard for pests to burrow through. To deal with the moisture, granaries were elevated. Families in the Sierra Nevada foothills are thought to

have eaten around 500 pounds of acorns per family member per year. That means a family of five would need over a ton. To build the granary, straight willow shoots about 1 inch in diameter were stuck into the ground in a circle and twined together at the bottom to about one-third of the way up. Rocks weighed the structure down and protected the contents from moisture. When filled, the shoots were tied together at the top to make a pointed cone that was sealed with thatch or deer hide. Throughout the desert areas to the south, the typical storage structure was a platform or large boulder with a coiled globular basket made with very thick side walls of tough or bitter material such as willow, known to repel insects. Some were more conical, others more open and fitted with a lid. In other places, baskets were hung from a tree or from a structure of poles.28 The acorns were first milled in areas close to the village on rocky outcrops, where today telltale traces of this activity are found in the form of dozens of concavities about 40 centimeters across, where the millstone rubbed against the rock. Next the bitter tannin had to be removed by soaking the nuts in a leaf-lined depression or basin in sand. Since frequent doses of water were needed, these basins were located near streams, and were about 2 or 3 feet in diameter. They were deep enough for about 2 or 3 inches of warm water to be poured over the meal and allowed to percolate through it, thus drawing off the tannic acid. The resultant meal was left to harden, creating a cake that was broken up and eaten without further processing as “acorn bread.� The cake could be repulverized and roasted, but the preferred method of cooking seems to have been by boiling it to mush in water-tight baskets.29 The Yokuts lived in conical houses of vertical branches bound together horizontally with hoops at regular intervals. The frame was thatched or covered with mats of river reeds. The fire at the center was fed by a log pushed in from the doorway as needed. The doorway was sometimes protected by a rain shed with hanging mats. The northern Yokuts built villages with loose arrangements of dwellings, whereas the southern Yokuts built their houses in a single, regular row. The floor might be excavated 20 centimeters or so in pit-style tradition. Besides dwellings, there appear to have been ceremonial assembly houses, similarly built but larger. Most settlements, at least the principal ones, sat perched on top of low mounds, on or near the banks of large watercourses (Figure 5.32). Figure 5.32: Yokut hut and acorn basket, California, U.S.A. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Not much is known about the specifics of their religious practices. They had, for example, a ceremony centering around the drinking of a decoction prepared from the roots of the datura plant, which contain an alkaloid that produces stupor and visions. Young adults drank the mixture in order to gain supernatural visions. Different subgroups with different totemic allegiances served different purposes in the community. At the time of acorn harvesting, for example, members of the Bear lineage performed a dance and a feast was provided by all the Bear people.30

THE KLAMATH AND SHASTA The Pacific Coast of Canada and the United States was occupied by a continuous fabric of affluent, fishing-oriented cultures. Farther inland on the prairie, one found the bison hunting tribes. In between—in other words, between the coast and the prairie—lived people who specialized in the mountain and desert ecologies that stretched from the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges in the north to the Mojave Desert in present-day Nevada. The three parallel cultural zones were clearly all in trade contact with one another but, in battles or in other types of contestations, the mountain and desert people were on a weaker footing. In the United States, one of the more important of the desert cultures were the Paiute. The origin of the word is not known. The northern Paiute called themselves Numa, while the southern Paiute refered to themselves as Nuwuvi. Both terms mean “the people.” They constructed round brush shelters; gathered seasonal seeds, grasses, and roots; collected insects, larvae, and small reptiles; and hunted antelope, deer, rabbits, and other small mammals. Agave, a small spineless mountain cactus that grows during spring, was roasted to produce a sweet, chewy substance. The flowers, leaves, stalks, and even the sweet sap are all consumable. The leaves of several also yield enough fiber for baskets (Figure 5.33). Figure 5.33: Klamath hut, Oregon, 1923. Source: Edward Curtis Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-118931

More sedentary were the Klamath, who lived in the area of modern-day Oregon around the Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath, Williamson, and Sprague rivers. They called themselves maqlaqs, meaning “people.” They lived primarily on fish, but they also collected roots, such as those of the water lilies, and various nuts and berries. The men hunted deer, antelope, and other

small mammals in the forests. The men wore buckskin breechcloths, while the women wore aprons of buckskin along with woven, basketlike hats. The ancestors of the Klamath began to settle in the region as early as 5000 BCE. The villages were usually situated on a terrace above the river. They were also usually close to a place in the river that did not freeze during the winter season, such as near springs or at the confluence of a feeder streams. The villages were not tightly organized and perhaps were not in that sense villages, but an extended clan community. The pattern of the structure of the houses shows a generally circular floor plan slightly elongated on the north-south axis. Floors were not flat but in the shape of a shallow saucer. Most of the houses, as is typical of the pit house tradition, have a bench or shelf set a short distance up from the floor and running around the perimeter of the house. Since there seem to be few postholes, the roof was probably a conical structure of lightweight branches and grass mats.31 Several sites were located on the higher north bank of the Sprague River (Figure 5.34a, 5.34b). In spring, mountain melt expands the river to create a chain of broad marshes, to which the Klamath were perfectly adapted. Figure 5.34a, b: Sprague River site, Oregon: (a) plan, (b) site. Source: Timothy Cooke/L.S. Cressman, “Klamath Prehistory,� Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 46 (1956): 434

The Klamath also used a more traditional winter pit house with the usual four posts and a roof of grass mats laid in horizontal courses, with dirt thrown over the grass and mats to form a tight covering. Most houses opened toward the southeast and were divided according to the usual cosmological pattern.32 Mount Shasta, standing 4,200 meters above the surrounding valleys, rises just to the south of the

Klamath area. It casts a gigantic shadow at sunrise and is visible for hundreds of miles. It was a territorial boundary for four Native American peoples—the Shasta, Modoc, Ajumawi/Atsuwegi, and Wintu—all of whom revere the mountain as being at the center of creation. Each year, even today, the remnants of the Wintu tribe invoke the mountains spirit with ritual dances that ensure the continued flow of the sacred springs. The Shasta people believed that the Great Spirit first created the mountain by pushing down ice and snow through a hole from heaven, then used the mountain to step onto the earth. He created trees and called upon the sun to melt snow to provide rivers and streams. The mountain spirit breathed on the leaves of the trees and created birds to nest in their branches. He broke up small twigs and cast them into streams, where they became fish; branches cast into the forest became animals. Shamans, usually women, played an important role in coming to terms with these spirits. They acquired their powers through dream trances during which a spirit teaches the shaman its song. The song could then be intoned to remove pain from the sick, but it could also be invoked to bring about the death of an enemy.33

THE DORSET AND IPIUTAK The Canadian arctic was the last area on the planet to be colonized by humans. It was also the last great frontier of the Great Continuum. The people who initially crossed the Bering Straits had all moved southward. But with the warming climate around 3000 BCE, groups began to stay in the north, moving farther and farther eastward to produce a global cultural horizon unto its own, one that eventually stretched all the way to Greenland. The first people to achieve the widespread occupation of Alaska’s and Canada’s arctic coasts and tundra plains are known by archaeologists as Paleo-Eskimos, among which were the Saqqaq (2500–800 BCE) and the Dorset (500–1500 CE). They were not fishers, but former Siberian hunters who were adept at ice- and cold-weather hunting. Their prey was primarily caribou and seals. Unlike their fellow hunters on the Plains, who specialized in mobile tent architecture, the Dorset built winter villages and longhouses with stone foundations and floors. Nonetheless, archaeologists are baffled by the fact that though the Saqqaq and the Dorset—both named after modern towns near their respective archaeological sites—had dogs, they never hitched them to a sled. Nor did they develop the kayak or boat to fish with. They were primarily hunters, following traditions that had been established thousands of years before, following the great herds of reindeer, known in the Americas as the caribou, but above all the musk ox. The musk ox had once been hugely plentiful in Siberia, but because they are relatively easy to hunt—easier than the bison—they had been more or less hunted to extinction, with the largest populations surviving in the Canadian Arctic. It was only natural that Siberian hunters sought out their opportunity. They were of course excellent craftspeople, producing a diverse set of tools from tiny blades to delicate needles and hooks. Jade and quartz found in the nearby mountains served as trade and ritual items, allowing them to produce a cohesive and relatively uniform culture over large stretches of territory (Figure 5.35). Figure 5.35: Arctic cultures. Source: Florence Guiraud

Dorset sites were remarkably consistent: a line of four or five dwellings facing onto the shore, suggesting that people preferred to live in small communities of perhaps twenty to thirty people, all of whom were probably close kin. During the summer, they built rectangular houses about 3 to 4 meters on the side around a shallow pit. The structures did not have a fire within. The roof would have been made of skin supported by driftwood poles. For winter, the Dorset built more elaborate structures with roofs of driftwood timbers. Each was centered on a half-meter-wide passage paved with stone slabs and edged by vertical slabs (Figure 5.36). The living and sleeping areas to the sides of the passage were usually unpaved, but lined with moss and furs. Some were dug out a bit. These residences clearly had symbolic meaning, as would all hunting structures, but what the paved central area meant more specifically is not known. They usually have a north-south orientation rather than an east-west one, as is more typical among other more southerly hunting cultures. Wood is lined up by the entrance, which is the area for visitors, the head of the house sitting at the rear. An eighteenth-century drawing of a Saami (Lapp) dwelling from northern Scandinavia shows a remarkably similar layout, but whether this proves that there was a west-to-east connection, as opposed to the usual east-to-west, has not been determined. Several such houses were found lining a terrace overlooking a fjord in northern Greenland at a site known as Deltaterrasserne. Figure 5.36: Frame of Inuit dwelling, Baffin Island, Nunavut Territory, Canada. Source: Š Colin Jagoe (

The musk ox are a good source of meat, but not of fat or oil, which would have been needed for heat and to light their dwellings. This means that the sole sources of heat were driftwood, moss, and dried animal bones, thus partially explaining the small communities and their widespread locations as well as the highly protective box-shaped fires in the winter houses. Since the sun never sets for four months during the summer, extensive expeditions would have been mounted to gather flint and driftwood, and to scout and hunt for animals. It is likely, based on northern Siberian custom, that the communities would have gathered together at the beginning of summer for shared ceremonies. The weather was relatively warm and the summer diet was augmented by ducks or geese, eggs, and hares. While the men hunted, the women, apart from other chores, prepared the skins of the musk ox and caribou for tent coverings and winter clothing, a difficult and time-consuming task. When a large spruce log from a distant river was found, it would be split and carved to form tent poles, bows, harpoon shafts, and other necessary objects. Compared to the activity around the camp in the summer, the winter situation was far different. From the outside in the long periods of darkness, the camp would have been close to invisible. The structures would have been covered with heavy, black-haired musk ox hides and banked with snow. Hunting would have been difficult if not impossible. People lived off caches of frozen meat hidden near the camp. But given the scarcity of fuel, the fire was not used to cook the meat, rather to thaw it out. It would then probably have been eaten raw. The remains were then cooked in a wooden bowl to make a broth. Life in the dark interior of the hut was, however, not completely at a stand-still. It was a time of storytelling, singing, or repairing equipment. Men might also make carvings, needed for ritual events and ceremonial transactions.

THE THULE AND INUIT In the centuries after 1000 CE, the Dorset way of life was disrupted by a cooling of the climate and then by the arrival of a new culture, the Inuits, who specialized in whaling and fishing.34 The Inuits in turn descended from the Thule Culture, who, in the Americas at least, were the first to develop a

kit of specialized fishing equipment from different types of arrow tips to scoops, plugs, harpoons, and fishing and travel gear. The myriad of specialized hunting gear that they created was far more advanced than the heavy choppers and knives of the Paleo-Eskimos. Large sea-worthy whaling and traveling boats called umiaks were constructed with a frame of walrus ribs covered with walrus hide. Their technology gave them the upper hand over the Dorset. The capture of a single 55,000kilogram (about 60 ton) bowhead whale could provide a winters supply of meat, oil, and material for a larger community than could be supported by the methods of Dorset hunting bands. The Thule also had dog sleds that allowed them to move rapidly in wintertime. And finally, they had the Mongolian-type recurved bow that could be used against animals as well as against their enemies.35 Where the Thule originated is not known, possibly from western Alaska and before that from northeastern Asia, rather than from central Asia, as they were Arctic fishing specialists. There were also certain similarities between the Thule and the Chukotka in northern Siberia, who were also sea mammal hunters.36 As the Thule and then the Inuits began to move eastward into Dorset homelands the latter began to disappear, perhaps partially because they might have succumbed to diseases brought along by the newcomers to which they were not immune. Inuit legends recount their driving away the people they called Tuniit or Sivullirmiut (First Inhabitants). According to these legends, the First Inhabitants were “giants” who were taller and stronger than the Inuit, but who were easily scared off.37 This makes sense since hunters, with their protein diet, were always taller than non-hunters. The Thule had the advantage of a ready supply of oil for fuel, meaning that unlike the Dorset, they probably rarely ate their meat raw. The word “Eskimo” is an Ojibwe or Algonquian word meaning “those who eat their meat raw.” But this is a mistake, since the Eskimo, based on their Thule ancestry, dried their fish and meat so that they could be eaten through the winter.38 It was the Dorset and not the Inuit who ate their meat raw. The whale hunt also produced an excellent building material, namely whale bones, which unlike wood do not decompose. A whale mandible can be 7 meters in length and was used as the primary support structure along with the mighty maxilla (Figure 5.37). The 3-to 4-meter-long ribs served as secondary support. The vertical bones were set in place and lashed together with the ribs (Figure 5.38). Driftwood pieces might have been used as well. The whole was, of course, covered with walrus skins and in its lower parts with a layer of sod. Access was by means of a barrel-vaulted entranceway that sloped down into the living chamber, the floor of which was often paved with flat field stones. This area was used for the storage of food and clothing. The bed was at the rear of the family room and on a raised platform so as to allow warm air to circulate beneath it. These houses probably served only as winter houses.39 Figure 5.37: Bowhead whale skeleton. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Figure 5.38: Remnants of a whalebone hut at Masik, Chukotka, Siberia, Russia. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

Unlike the Saqqaq, Dorset, and Thule, which no longer exist, the word “Inuit” survived into modern times and is the actual name of the culture. Much like the other indigenous names for tribal groups, it means “people.” The arrangement of their homes is very similar to that of the Thule even though their preferred architectural material is compacted snow. The igloo is a remarkable structure, far more sophisticated than meets the eye. There are two forms, differing according to season: the rudimentary snow house used during hunting and the more substantial winter house.40 Both are variations on the pit house, except that there is obviously no pit. For their construction, blocks of compact snow are cut out of a nearby snow bank with snow knives, which are made of ivory and have a slight curve. Two men work together, one in cutting the blocks and the other in making the building. The circular plan is built up in a spiral fashion so that each block is placed on the ledge and shifted to one side until it strikes against the side of the previous block. Though leaning inward, it is thus supported on two surfaces that freeze it into place. When the structure is completed the gaps and joints are filled in with scraps of snow. A typical snow house takes about two hours to construct and, if built correctly, will support the weight of a person standing on the roof. Where possible, the structure is erected on a slight slope with the entrance facing the shore. The smoke hole in all of the structures of the Great Continuum is a central feature, but here, since the blubber lamp hardly gives out much smoke, there is no need for such a hole, and one can only

wonder how this simple fact led to the creation of the first igloo. Since the snow is semitranslucent, the igloo is rarely dark during daylight hours. Nonetheless, houses intended for more than one nights occupation nearly always had windows made of ice. These are chipped out from a lake or stream, are about 2 feet long, and are usually placed just above the door in the main chamber. In some cases, people used a piece of semi-transparent seal intestines. The vaults are lined with skins fastened to the roof by ropes to prevent the warm air on the inside from melting the snow. Beds consist of a thick layer of shrubs covered by deerskins and are placed at the rear half of the main room on raised platforms. The lamp placed in the center is fed by whale blubber. Such a snow hut is very comfortable even in mid-winter. If the temperature rises above the freezing point, the ceiling will begin to drip. This can happen when meals are prepared or when the house is filled with people. In that case, the ice is chopped away from the inside and replaced by a patch of snow. If the problem persists, a small hole is made to the outside to reduce the temperature inside. The door is closed with a block of snow, dragged inside and set in place from within with loose snow cementing the edges. The size of the hut depends on the number of inhabitants but is usually about 4 meters across. It is connected to a passage. Some houses have a small recess near the door or along the passage for storing meat or housing a litter of pups. Orientation varies depending on the direction of the wind. Though each igloo is a single-family residence, communal igloos were sometimes erected for ceremonies and dances. These had a variety of shapes, with three, four, or more chambers around a central dancing space. In spring, when the igloos begin to melt, the Inuit build a tent structure consisting of poles covered with sealskins. The structure is usually rectangular with a semicircular back constructed out often or twelve poles supporting a ridge pole. The women will lace together the tent, usually made of sealskin, while the men anchor it around the bottom with stones or blocks of snow. Another kind of tent is more conical in shape. Two such summer tents can be joined with each family in its end41 (Figures 5.39, 5.40a, 5.40b, 5.40c, and 5.41). Figure 5.39: Igloo plans, Alaska. Source: Timothy Cooke/Diamond Jenness, “The Life of the Copper Eskimos,� in Canadian Arctic Expedition 1913-18, Vol. 12 (Ottawa: F. A. Acland, 1922), 70–74

Figure 5.40a, b, c: Igloo, Alaska: (a) sectional elevation, (b) longitudinal elevation, (c) plan. Source: Timothy Cooke/Franz Boas, “The Central Eskimo” in Bureau of American Ethnology, Forty-eighth Annual Report (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1933), 541–542

Figure 5.41: Inuit hunter, Avataq Henson, outside his Igloo, Green-and. Source: B & C Alexander/ArcticPhoto

The Inuits are one of the few sets of human communities who live at high latitudes where the appearance of the celestial bodies is quite distinctive. There are periods around the summer solstice when the sun never sets and around the winter solstice when it never rises. The exceptional nature of this environment has, therefore, strongly influenced Inuit knowledge and beliefs. The sun and moon gods are prominent in their cosmology, but by far the more important of the two is the moon, which is the brother of the sun and believed to be a benevolent and approachable spirit needed for the maintenance of human life. This is scarcely surprising since the moon provides the only nocturnal illumination in the long, dark winter nights. In fact, depending on the lunar cycle, the winter moon circles above the horizon each month for several days on end.42 The winter solstice is marked by festivals, whereas the summer one is usually hardly recognized. The Earth was conceived as a flat disk with additional layers above and below. The sky itself is like a round canopy. When they died, people went to a location near the moon, but victims of drowning went to the underworld. Living somewhere between sky and sea is Sila, a spirit that can be personified as weather and appears as fog, rain, and snow. Though identified as male, he is never depicted and thought to be formless. Sila is not a deity, but is linked to the concept of anirniq (breath), which is possessed by all living things. Since these spirits were held to persist after death, killing an animal is little different from killing a person. Once the anirniq of the dead animal is liberated, it is free to take revenge. It must be placated by obedience to custom, avoiding taboos, and performing the right rituals. A run of bad luck is attributed to angry and vengeful anirniq. Though each persons anirniq was shaped by the life and body it inhabited, it belonged to the larger whole of the cosmos. This enabled the Inuit to borrow the powers or characteristics of an animal’s anirniq by taking its name. The person best equipped to control these spirits was the shaman, but anyone with the appropriate charms could exercise such control.43 The Inuit language contains no distinct first-person pronoun. It does provide a suffix to indicate the participation of the self in experience, but generally the Inuit avoid even this, and use an impersonal person: “One has driven his spear into a walrus.” This parallels the fact that most Inuit carvings won’t stand up. Each lacks a favored point of view and hence a base. They aren’t intended to be set in place and viewed, but rather to be worn and handled, turned this way and that.

The Inuit language also makes little distinction between nouns and verbs; rather, all words are forms of the verb “to be.” That is, all words proclaim in themselves their own existence. This idea is reflected in the practice of naming a child at birth: when the mother is in labor, older women stand around and say as many different eligible names as they can think of. When the child comes out of the womb it is seen as responding to that name. Thus the naming and the giving birth are inextricably bound together. Similarly, the Inuit do not regard space as static, and therefore measurable: hence they have no units of spatial measurement, just as they have no uniform divisions of time.44 The seasons are, of course, divided according to activities and ceremonies: Beginning in January, these are “Worst of the Moon,” which is a time of storytelling and the preparation for the Bladder Feast, when men build kaiaks and women do their sewing; “Mother of Rivers,” when the rivers begin to thaw and the time for the New Kaiak Ceremony and the Messenger Feast, when visitors from other villages are invited for the Full Moon Ceremony; and “When Young Seals are Born,” during which people leave the winter village and proceed to the fishing camp. Also the time of the Consecration of the New Kaiaks; “Sea-Fowl Appear,” dedicated to the hunting of sea fowl, and the holding of the Seal Ceremony; “Land-Fowl Appear” at the height of summer and as the ducks and geese arrive on their migrations. During this period, birds are caught and the seal season begins; “Young Fowl Are Hatched and Fly,” during which time eggs are gathered, seal-oil is prepared, and bird meat is dried and stored. Cod and salmon are fished; “Hawks Fly South,” during which berries are picked and wood is gathered for winter use; “Puffins Fly South,” during which grass is gathered from lakes and ponds and woven into ropes and houses are repaired; “Going toward Running-Nose Season,” when men go fishing for salmon and nets are repaired; “Ponds Are Freezing,” during which swamp moss is gathered to be used for bathing, drying babies, and padding in clothing. Seals are caught “When the Oceans Close,” during which people move back into the winter village with their provisions.45

ENDNOTES 1. Gary Coupland, “The Evolution of Multi-Family Households on the Norwest Coast of North America,” in People Who Lived in Big Houses: Archaeological Perspectives of Large Domestic Structures, eds. Gary Coupland and E. B. Banning (Madison, WI: Prehistory Press, 1996): 121–130. 2. Bernard DeVoto, The Journals of Lewis and Clark (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1953): 251–252. Text is slightly modified for clarity. 3. Franz Boas, The Religion of the Kwakiutl Indians (New York: Columbia University Press, 1930): 184–185. 4. Zhimin An, with W. Tsao (trans.), and Bryan Gordon (ed.), “Effect of Prehistoric Cultures on the Lower Yangtze River on Ancient Japan,” Kaogu 5 (1984): 439–558. English translation available at (accessed January 14, 2010). 5. Kunio Yajima, “Prehistoric Maritime Adaptations in Honshu, Japan: Creating the Jomon Adaptation,” paper presented at The Origins, Development, and Spread of North Pacific—Bering Sea Maritime Cultures (Honolulu, 1993). 6. Yasuhiro Okada, “Jomon Culture in Northeastern Japan and the Sannai Maruyana Site,” Hunter-Gatherers of the North Pacific Rim, eds. Junko Habu, J. M. Savelle, S. Koyama, and H.

Hongo (Japan: National Museum of Ethnology, 2003): 173–186. The Sannai Maruyama Site: An Extraordinarily Large Settlement in Prehistoric Japan (Sannai Maruyama Site Preservation Office, 2004),; accessed January 10, 2012. 7. Douglas B. Anderson et al., Kuuvanmiut Subsistence: Traditional Eskimo Life in the Latter Twentieth Century (Washington, DC: National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1977). 8. Ann Fienup-Riordan, Boundaries and Passages: Rule and Ritual in Yup’ik Eskimo Oral Tradition (Tulsa: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994): 16–20. 9. Elizabeth F. Andrews, “Territoriality and Land Use Among the Akulmiut of Western Alaska” in Key Issues in Hunter-Gatherer Research, eds. Ernest S. Burch and Linda J. Ellanna (Oxford: Berg, 1994): 89. 10. Ann Fienup-Riordan, Boundaries and Passages: Rule and Ritual in Yup’ik Eskimo Oral Tradition (Tulsa: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994): 48. 11. Ernest S. Burch, Jr., Social Life in Northwest Alaska: The Structure of Inupiaq Eskimo Nations (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2006): 122. 12. Richard E. Morlan, “The Siruk Site, Alatna River, Alaska: A Koyukon Winter House,” Arctic Anthropology 37, no. 1 (2000): 43–59. 13. Gary Coupland, “Early Prehistoric Occupation of Kitselas Canyon,” in Early Human Occupation in British Columbia, eds. Roy L. Carlson and Luke Dalla Bona (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1996): 159–166. 14. Thomas Talbot Waterman, The Whaling Equipment of the Makah Indians (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1920): 14–22. 15. Frederick B. Drane, “The Potlatch at Nenana,” The Alaskan Churchman 10, no. 3 (1916): 75–79, as quoted and discussed in William E. Simeone, “The Northern Athabaskan Potlatch in East-Central Alaska, 1900–1930,” Arctic Anthropology 35, no. 2 (1998): 113–125. 16. Harriet V. Kuhnlein and Nancy J. Turner, Traditional Plant Foods of Canadian Indigenous Peoples: Nutrition, Botany, and Use (Philadelphia: Gordon and Breach, 1991): 149. 17. Peter Nabokov and Robert Easton, Native American Architecture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989): 227–231, 246. 18. John Enrico, “The Fire as Conduit to the Other World: A Note on Haida Deixis and Haida Belief,” International Journal of American Linguistics 51, no. 4 (October 1985): 400–402. 19. George F. MacDonald, “Cosmic Equations in Northwest Coast Indian Art,” The World Is as Sharp as a Knife: An Anthology in Honour of Wilson Duff. Edited by Donald N. Abbott (Victoria: British Columbia Provincial Museum, 1981): 229. 20. Margaret B. Blackman, “The Changing Status of Haida Women: An Ethnohistorical and Life History Approach,” The World Is as Sharp as a Knife: An Anthology in Honour of Wilson Duff. Edited by Donald N. Abbott (Victoria: British Columbia Provincial Museum, 1981): 69. 21. The main source of information here is George F. MacDonald, Haida Monumental Art: Villages of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1983): 18–22. 22. Joan M. Vastokas, Architecture of the Northwest Coast Indians (Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University, 1966): 20–34. 23. Edward Malin, Totem Poles of the Pacific Northwest Coast (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 1986).

24. E. L. Keithahn, “The Petroglyphs of Southeastern Alaska,” American Antiquity 6, no. 2 (October 1940): 123–132. 25. Robert A. Blanchette et al., “Nineteenth Century Shaman Grave Guardians Are Carved Fomitopsis officinalis Sporophores,” Mycologia 84, no. 1 (January–February 1992): 119–120. 26. E. Y. Arima, The West Coast People: The Nootka of Vancouver Island and Cape Flattery (Victoria: British Columbia Provincial Museum, 1983): 41–44. 27. Franz Boas, The Religion of the Kwakiutl Indians (New York: Columbia University Press, 1930): 265–267. The discussion here is condensed from Aldona Jonaitis, The Yuquot Whaler’s Shrine (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999): 5–10. 28. Martin A. Baumhoff, “Ecological Determinants of Aboriginal California Populations,” University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 49, no. 2 (1963): 155–235; Frank F. Latta, Handbook of the Yokuts Indians (Bakersfield, California: Kern County Museum, 1949); Norm Kidder, “Acorn Granaries of California,” Primitive Ways 2001, (accessed July 11, 2011). 29. Lorin E. Berryman and Albert B. Elasser, “Terminus Reservoir: Geology, Paleontology, Flora & Fauna, Archeology, History,” U.S. National Parks Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1966, (accessed July 11, 2011). 30. A. H. Gayton, “Yokuts and Western Mono Social Organization,” American Anthropologist 47, no. 3 (1945): 416. 31. Luther Sheeleigh Cressman, Klamath Prehistory: The Prehistory of the Culture of the Klamath Lake Area, Oregon (Philadelphia: Philadelphia American Philosophical Society, 1956). 32. Leslie Spier, Klamath Ethnography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1930). 33. Sherburne F. Cook, “The Aboriginal Population of the North Coast of California,” Anthropological Records 16 (1956): 81–130. 34. Helge Larsen and Froelich Rainey, Ipiutak and the Arctic Whale-Hunting Culture (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1948); Douglas D. Anderson, “Prehistory of North Alaska,” in Handbook of the North American Indian. Volume 5: Arctic, eds. William C. Sturtevant and David Damas (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution 1984): 88–90. 35. N. N. Dikov, “The Stone Age of Kamchatka and the Chukchi Peninsula in the Light of New Archaeological Data,” Arctic Anthropology 3, no. 1 (1965): 12. For a general study, see Robert McGhee, Ancient People of the Arctic (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1996). 36. John F. Hoffecker, A Prehistory of the North: Human Settlement of the Higher Latitudes (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2005): 135. 37. Bruce Rigby, “Qaummaarvit Historic Park,” in Parks: The Nunavut Handbook, ed. Miriam Dewar (Iqaluit, Nunavut: Ayaya Marketing & Communications, 2004): 324. 38. “Eskimo” is still considered acceptable among Alaska Natives of Yupik and Inupiaq heritage, and is preferred over “Inuit” as a collective reference. To date, no replacement term for “Eskimo” inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people has achieved acceptance across the geographical area inhabited by the Inuit and Yupik peoples. 39. Jesse D. Jennings, Prehistory of North America (Mountain View: Mayfield Publishing, 1989), 206. See also Peter C. Dawnson and Richard M. Levy, “A Three-Dimensional Model of a Thule Inuit Whale Bone House,” Journal of Field Archaeology 30, no. 4 (Winter 2005): 443– 455.

40. Franz Boas, The Central Eskimo (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994 [1888]): 132–145. 41. Diamond Jenness, Report of the Canadian Arctic Expedition 1913–18, vol. 12: The Life of the Copper Eskimos (Ottawa: F. A. Acland, 1922): 65–82. 42. Clive Ruggles, Archaeoastronomy in the 1990s (Loughborough, UK: Group D. Publications, 1993): 59–68. 43. Bryan E. Penprase, The Power of Stars: How Celestial Observations Have Shaped Civilization (New York: Springer, 2011): 130. 44. Edmund Carpenter, Man and Art in the Arctic (Museum of the Plains Indian, Browning, MT, 1964) [published online]. 45. Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian 20 (Norwood, MA: Plimpton Press, 1930): 47–48.

CHAPTER 6 The Mound and Plaza Societies of the Americas The enormous Mississippi River basin with its hundreds of tributaries and thousands of streams is shaped like a huge tree with a crown 2,000 kilometers across that stretches from the Rockies to the Appalachians. Unlike the Nile, which traverses a desert, or the Amazon, with its extensive rainforest, the Mississippi passes through two contrasting ecological zones; in the west the river transverses mostly open prairie, while in its eastern half it travels through dense woodlands. Only in the Memphis area is the river confined by the foothills of the Ozarks and on the east side by the Memphis Bluffs. But once past this constriction, it proceeds into sandy soil and meanders through a large flood plain, the trunk of the tree, where it is joined by the Arkansas River on its western flank. This immense plain is 70 kilometers wide and 300 kilometers long. Today, modern levees and concrete banks hold the unruly river within the confines of its bed. In former days, however, during spring and summer, the trunk was less a river than a vast lake reaching down to Natchez, where the flood plain narrowed to about 30 kilometers. By fall, the receding waters would leave behind thousands of square kilometers of marshes and swamps and overlapping ox-bow lakes. Fish, especially large eighty- to ninety-pound catfish, were once common, as were shellfish of various types. Small game and deer populated nearby forests in which one could have found groves of walnut, oak, and pecan trees. Roots and edible plants were plentiful. Twice a year, ducks and geese migrated along the Mississippi corridor by the millions, feeding and resting in lakes and abandoned river loops, making easy targets for hunters (Figure 6.1). Figure 6.1: Mississippi River flood plain. Source: Florence Guiraud

This region, in all its richness, could be compared to the Pacific Coast of Canada or to the Alaskan west coast, for it was one of the great ecological melting pots, as unique and diverse in its own way as even the Amazon River basin. The first people to put roots in this area would have been downright affluent compared to their woodland neighbors to the east, who had to cope with

dense forests, and their neighbors to the west, who hunted the recalcitrant buffalo and who had to cope with fierce winter storms. The river also facilitated communication and trade between tribal groups and set the stage for a type of cultural interaction that had never before been seen in these parts. Boat parties acquired desirable materials, stone and metal for ceremonial and prestige purposes, such as Illinois chert for cutting blades, and the red-colored Georgia soapstone for ritual sculptures, while copper was brought from the distant shores of Lake Michigan. The most important element that differentiated these people from all of the other native peoples in the Americas was that they were mound builders and, as far as we know, the earliest in all of the Americas. Today, in an age of concrete and steel, we can hardly imagine earth as an architectural material. But for thousands of years, people in this part of the world laboriously carried basket loads upon basket loads of earth to designated, sacred sites to create massive landscape-altering structures designed according to specific plans. What prompted this? The hunters in Siberia had no such urge. But the fact remains that relatively quickly, around 4000 BCE, long before any such structures were being made in Mexico, mounds were here planned, organized, and designed on a monumental scale. Mounds varied in size, shape, and layout. Indeed, a remarkable diversity extends throughout the entire mound-building tradition, which spanned some six thousand years. Some mounds were round, some were cone-shaped, some had flat tops, some were long, some had embankments, and others were in the shape of loaves, with long, soft, rounded shapes. The plazas also varied in size, orientation, and design. Though this indicates the relative autonomy of local communities, we have to look less at the mounds themselves than at the underlying geometry that seems to have gone into their planning and layout.1 But how that geometry was achieved, whether by a series of triangulations or by other means, is not known. It has often been held that the mounds were platforms for temples or sacred structures on their summit and that the mound was simply a way to elevate the temple. But this was probably not the case early on when the mound itself represented “the temple.” Structures, if there were any, may have supported the activities on the mound, but were not themselves “the temple.”2 Though today we see the mound as a passive object in the landscape, most mounds were constructed in phases over the entire period of the community’s existence, growing in height and width over time. In fact, just as the mound was important to the community, so too was the act of sealing the previous mound under the mantle of the new layer. This “burial” was understood as a renewal of the world and as an act of purification. It was a deep-seated tradition that extends even to the great Mayan pyramids in Mexico, where one construction was built directly over an earlier temple, completely entombing it in the new. But in North America, neither mounds nor plazas were ever made of stone or adobe as was the case in Mesoamerica and Peru. We should not assume, however, that the jump to stone was an indication of a more advanced architectural thought. For the North American builders, mounds were not heaps of dirt, but consisted of different types of soil, and were often of different colors. Though the mounds that still exist today are covered with grass, this would not originally have been the case. Some were covered with red clay, others were white, some were striped, and some were red on the top and black on the sides. Clay is vulnerable to erosion, and regardless of how well compacted it was, the mounds began to erode over the years, especially in the rainy climate of the south. This might have been a contributing factor in the call for renewal. But what do the colors mean? From ethnographic studies we know that First Society notion of color is far different from modern views. Color was intertwined with symbolic, geographic, and cosmological significances.

Whiteness was often associated with well-being, cognition, and spiritual enlightenment; blackness with death and the spirit world, and redness with the vitality of life. But color was also directly related to the horizontal and vertical dimension of shamanistic universe, where it is not the singularity of the colors that is important, but their combination and particular sequencing. For the Southeast tribes in Georgia and Mississippi, the dichotomy of red and white was particularly deeply rooted, associated with ochre and bones, as well as with various directions of the compass. For the Utes, who live in Colorado and Utah, the main colors were turquoise, red, yellow, white, and black. The sky is considered white, the mountains yellow, the basins red, the underworld black, and the mountainside turquoise. Colors were also related to the seasons: spring is red and relates to the northwest, summer is yellow and relates to the northeast, autumn is white and relates to the southeast, and winter is black and relates to the southwest. White is the most important (eagle), then yellow (mountain lion), turquoise (wolf), red (weasel), and black (rattlesnake). Colors also have powers. Since red symbolizes the weasel, Utes will paint their moccasins red since weasels can kill a rattlesnake. In this way the red paint protects its wearer from the snake3 (Figures 6.2 and 6.3). Figure 6.2: Ute color theory drawing. Source: Timothy Cooke/James A. Goss, “Traditional Cosmology, Ecology and Language of the Ute Indians,� in Ute Indian Arts and Culture: From Prehistory to the New Millennium, edited by William Wroth (Colorado Springs: Taylor Museum of the Colorado Fine Arts Center, 2000), 47–49

Figure 6.3: Ute ceremonial dance with spirit post, Colorado. Source: Suzi McGregor

The meaning of the color scheme used in any one particular mound is lost to us, but one thing is sure, mounds could never have been made in stone, for it was precisely the soil as building material and coloring agent that was significant. Even for the Olmecs, Mayans, and all the way to the Incas, color was more than just a surface treatment, but a messenger of the spirit world. The stone buildings of the Mayans have lost most of their paint and we can only guess at how vibrant they must have once appeared. In North America, we have a better sense of the color since we can see the different-colored clays. No less amazing than the mounds were the plazas in front of them. They were the sites where social, political, and economic alliances were forged, and where coming-of-age and initiation rites and dances were performed. Though they had to accommodate a large number of people, they may have been the site of special, ritual constructions. They were also ritually cleaned before major events; they were swept and smoothed out. The mound-and-plaza combination constituted the center of tribal cohesion. Each community may have had a home mound-and-plaza area, but people most certainly visited other ceremonial centers and in the process created an interconnected boat-based system in which religion, trade, and ceremony overlapped. One has to imagine a vibrant life around these places. The shaman or clan head and his retinue lived close by; in various clusters, one would have found the residential areas, traces of which have all but disappeared. Reed and thatch houses do not last more than a few years unless rebuilt. Of the many thousands of mounds and plazas that were eventually built along the waterways of the Mississippi and its numerous tributaries, few still exist today. A dozen or so are national landmarks. Even where a mound may have been preserved, the plaza has largely disappeared as a grassy field and is perhaps used as a parking lot. The decline of the river cultures in the fifteenth century meant that many of these sites were, in fact, no longer in use when the Europeans arrived and were already overgrown. It is probably safe to assume that only a fraction of 1 percent of the ancient mounds and plazas has survived into modern times. Apart from those that have been preserved, some remain as strange, ghostly shapes in the earth when viewed after a frost from an airplane. Most were plowed under or lost beneath the streets and buildings of cities, their memories lost, while others were assumed to be natural formations. The plaza-enclosure of Newark Mound in Ohio, which was once one of the greatest ritual centers in all of North America,

is now a golf course! And in this, it has, astonishingly, fared better than many. The so-called Big Mound of St. Louis was destroyed in the 1860s to make way for an expansion of the city. But there were other reasons for its destruction, for even as late as the nineteenth century, the site continued to be visited by Native Americans. On one occasion, according to a report in the mid-1820s, a chief who happened to die nearby was buried on the top of the mound and Indians would come regularly to freshen up the memorial and set up a post at the head of a grave painted red.4 Removing the mound thus removed the Indians. Today, only a strange-looking and perhaps once sacred rock is left to mark the spot of the former mound; it sits forlorn and unidentified in the middle of a traffic intersection (Figure 6.4). Fortunately, already in the nineteenth century, some intrepid observers noted the presence of these mounds, and drew and described them, and eventually a few were saved. In 1817, one observer of the Cahokia mounds wrote: Figure 6.4: Marker for Big Mound, St. Louis, Missouri. Source: Beth Wiltsch

The prospect from this mound is very beautiful; looking towards the bluffs, which are dimly seen at the distance of six or eight miles, the bottom at this place being very wide, I had a level plain before me, varied with islets of wood and a few solitary trees; to the right the prairie is bounded by the horizon, to the left, the course of the Cahokia [river] may be distinguished by the margin of wood upon its banks, and crossing the valley diagonally south-southwest. Around me I counted twenty mound or pyramids, beside a great number of small artificial elevations; these mounds form something more than a semicircle, about a mile in extent, its diameter formed by the river‌. Although it might not have been a Licopolis, Persepolis, or Thebes, it is not improbable that it contained many thousand inhabitants. This plain, now reposing in the stillness of death, was once the scene of a busy and crowded population; those temples now devoted to the idolaters of silence, once resounded with shouts of war or the songs of peace.5

CEREMONIAL EXCHANGES A critical element in the mound and plaza activity is ceremonial exchange. Meetings between

tribes had always been a rather formalized affair, but here these events are given spatial form against the monumental backdrop of the mounds. What actually transpired in ancient times is not known, but one can get a clue from living traditions among the Yanomami who live along the Brazil-Venezuela border. They and their surrounding tribes are connected through a complex system of trade and exchanges cemented by a culture of feasting. When things do not go well, the groups will engage in war, which will eventually be settled, but neutral intervillage relations do not as such exist, for either they are peaceful and involved in commercial and matrimonial exchanges or else it is war. Particularly significant are nocturnal ceremonial dialogues known as wayamou. The male visitors, when they arrive, will be first required to stay outside the village until they are summoned for the feast. As they enter, they perform an arrival dance, displaying their feather ornaments, their body-paint decorations, and their weapons. They assemble in the center of the village clearing and stand still with their heads held high and the bows and arrows held directly in front of their faces. At a signal from the headman, the hosts invite the visitors to their houses to rest in their hammocks. At nightfall, the ceremonial dialogue is initiated, beginning with highly ritualized energetic chants and body movements. The visitors in the process will request exchange items, each visitor in turn, with the various elders of the host village taking their turns. In the process, participants do more than negotiate trade. They will discuss geography, cosmology, myths, events, and distant places. They may also want to show their bravery in dance form, and arrange marriages. The dialogue is rich in metaphorical language and can last throughout the night. After a rest and a morning meal, the actual exchange takes place, just before the visitors depart. Should the trade not meet the terms agreed upon during the wayamou, the visitors depart angrily and threaten revenge. The ceremonial exchange is thus not without risk to both parties.6 In ancient times along the Mississippi, when there were fewer people, such events were probably much anticipated and would have lasted several days or more. During the off-season, groups would have had to plan for these events by creating surpluses to serve as gifts. Ritual objects, baskets, hides, and other products would have to be made. Those who lived in suitable areas would have mined the hills for ochre and chert or other important stones, for to not bring enough to these exchanges could potentially have negative consequences. The Navajo, who live in Arizona, but whose ancestry dates back to Alaskan cultures, can also add weight to the significance of ceremonial worldview. According to their mythology, creation starts far below the surface of the world. The first era unfolds with the journey of those who preceded the Navajos through a number of lower worlds and concludes with their emergence onto the present earth surface. The second era begins with the emergence at the center of the surface destined to become Navajoland. Covered with water and nearly landless, it slowly transforms into a place of incomparable beauty and order. Into this world step a group of heroes who inadvertently introduce disorder and ugliness, which can only be restored by ceremonies performed by holy people. The heroes are taught the ritual processes and how they are to be used and above all how to hand these down to subsequent generations. The main theme of the story is the need to establish dependable relations between humans and between humans and the world so as to bring about an orderly world.7 A living tradition that most certainly has its roots in such ancient events is the Stomp Dance, still occasionally performed by the Cherokee, whose traditional home territory was in the area of present-day Georgia, the Carolinas, and East Tennessee. The dance is a spiritual event that serves to unify the tribes and might originally have been a type of peace ceremony since the Peace Pipe, which is lit on the sacred fire at the center of the plaza, plays an important role in the event and is

handed around. The dance ground is a sacred space that contains an elevated square platform with the sides facing the cardinal directions. This is referred to as the Square Ground, which in turn is encircled by a ring-mound of earth, around 200 feet across. The earth in the circle will be carefully swept clean. In 1820 a British missionary described one of these in the following words: “In the center of town, we passed a large building, with a conical roof, supported by a circular wall about three feet high: close to it was a quadrangular space, enclosed by four open buildings, with rows of benches rising above one another: the whole appropriated, we were informed, to the Great Council of the town, who met, under shelter, or in the open air, according to weather. Near the spot was a high pole, like our May-pole, with a bird on top, round which the Indians celebrate their Green-Corn Dance.” Held in late summer, the Green Corn Ceremony renewed tribal and cosmic vitality. A man’s seating reflected his position and age in the community. Color played an important part in the symbolism. Red (war) signified the male axis, the white (peace) the female axis. Though different tribes will have different arrangements of the architectural elements, some more formal and others more informal, cosmic symbolism is always present, whether laid out in physical space or not (Figure 6.5).8 On the occasion of the dance, a sacred fire will be built in a pit in the middle of the grounds by the fire-keeper and his helper and this fire is kept going throughout the ceremony. Called the Grandfather Fire, it is the focus of the songs and the prayers and is considered to be a living, sacred element unto itself. Outside the circle of the fire, there are the arbors, built of poles with brush for the roofs, one for each of the clans; people can sit there while the dance is being performed. A-ne-jo-di (the Stickball game) is played in the afternoon as an introduction to the dance. A festival dinner is then prepared in the family camps grouped around the outside of the dance grounds. At sundown, the chief brings out the pipe, fills it with tobacco, and lights it from the Sacred Fire. After having taken seven puffs he hands the pipe to the medicine men, who hand it to each other after having taken seven puffs themselves. The chief, the medicine men, or one of the elders then calls for the first dance, which is led by a leader, assistants, and one or more female shell shakers who wear leg rattles traditionally made out of turtle shells filled with pebbles. The leader and the other dancers move forward throughout, circling the fire in a counter-clockwise direction, alternately walking and dancing in a stomping step while singing a call-and-response type of song. The dance, which is eventually joined by all clan members, develops into a spiraling motion, with young children trailing at the end, having to move obviously faster than the slow moving center. The dance leader can change among the headmen of the various tribes. At different times, dancers will touch a special “medicine” that had been prepared at dawn on the morning before the dance from special roots and plants. The medicine serves the physical and spiritual well-being of the dance participants. Figure 6.5: Diagram of Creek stomp ground symbolism). Source: Mark Jarzombek/Robert Easton and Peter Nabokov, Native American Architecture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 110

The participants health can depend on whether the activities on the stomp ground are conducted without hostility. The stomp dance’s medicine will be beneficial only if there is cooperation. If any animosity exists, the negative medicine that this creates could cause sickness and even death. The dance cannot be held, therefore, until all difficulties are resolved to the satisfaction of the chief and the medicine man. The dance itself is designed around the principle of cooperation. Someone has to be chosen to lead the dance. Different men are suggested and they do a dance, with each inviting another, until the leader emerges and other people begin to join, including the women who generally do not sing, but wear turtle shell rattles around their ankles. Though men are expected to lead animated dances, individual dance leaders are careful to minimize their abilities for fear that other men will become jealous and put negative medicine on them causing them to lose their voice and stamina. At the end of each dance, the men yell “mat� (thanks) indicating their appreciation of the communal effort.9

The term “Stomp Dance” is an English term that obviously refers to the movements of the dance. In Native American languages it is usually called the “crazy” or “inspirited” dance. But this should not be taken literally, since it refers to the meditative effect the dance and the medicine have on the participants. The Stomp Dance, though it can take place through the entire night, is not a particularly grueling or physically challenging event. The largest motions are turns of the torso and head, with very few twists of the dancer’s body. It is also a communal dance. Other dances can be much more arduous and are only for special performers. These can be hunting and war dances that aim to test the stamina and artistry of its participants.

WATSON BRAKE AND POVERTY POINT One of the earliest mound-and-plaza complexes in all of the Americas, North, Central and, South, is at Watson Brake, overlooking the flood plain of the Ouachita River, in northern Louisiana (Figure 6.6a. 6.6b, 6.6c). It consists of eleven mounds ranging from 1 to 8 meters high, connected by ridges to form an oval nearly 300 meters across. The construction of this earthwork, the truly gigantic size of the plaza, and the confident authority of its design indicate that there must have been more modest forerunners that have been lost to history. Construction began around 4000 BCE and was continually modified over the next five hundred years. The mounds were not used for burial purposes as there are no human remains, nor is there evidence of permanent occupation on their slopes. Rather, they lay out an ideal landscape, “duplicating” a sacred otherworldly realm. How this landscape was integrated in the image world of the tribe is not known. It is quite possible that it developed as the result of an alliance in which the tribes used the artificial plain for their communal dance celebrations. The north mound had a series of hearths on it. Nearby, archaeologists found an assortment of spear points along with dozens of mysterious, small, fired earthen objects. Some were cubical, measuring about 4 × 4 × 3.5 centimeters. Others were rounded cubes, cylinders, or spheres.10 Watson Brake might seem like an unusual place for such a significant piece of architecture, but it was not only connected to the emerging wetland communities along the Gulf Coast, but also to the forest people to the northeast and the prairie cultures to the north and west. In other words, it was at the intersection of three distinct groups who traded with each other for material. And trade was never just an economic activity. It was associated with and intimately connected to rituals and sacred landscapes. Watson Brake might well have been the first experiment of a regionally scaled, man-made sacred landscape. Figure 6.6a, b, c, d: Watson Brake, Louisiana: (a) map; (b) view; (c) site plan; (d) details. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Around 2800 BCE, and then for about a thousand years, mound building seems to have ceased, but the memory was certainly not lost. The practice resumed at Poverty Point, which lies some 70 kilometers to the southeast of Watson Brake on a pronounced 4- to 5-meter-high rise known as Maรงon Ridge that runs some 60 kilometers in a north-south direction. About 5 kilometers wide, it divides the Mississippi flood plain into halves. Poverty Point lies at the northern end of the Ridge

and thus in the very heart of what used to be the great Mississippi flood lake. For a long time, the semi-elliptical ridges of Poverty Point were thought to be natural formations. It was only in the 1950s, when the site was viewed from the air, that archaeologists realized it was man-made and began to study it more intensely (Figure 6.7a, 6.7b). Figure 6.7a, b: (a) Southeastern United States, 4000–2000 BCE, showing archaeological sites; (b) Early Mississippi mound sites. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Michael Russo, Archaic Shell Rings of the Southeast U.S. Historic Context (Washington: United States Department of the Interior, 2002), 9

The mounds were built around 1800 BCE, but we do not know for sure whether the site was a permanent village or, more probably, a regional ceremonial center used for seasonal meetings of

the tribes. Unfortunately, the people who built and used the mounds are typically referred to in the literature as “hunter-gatherers,” as if such people would not have the mental wherewithal to produce such a major architectural work. In reality, like the generations of mound builders before them, they were the originators of a riverine culture with far-flung connections. The material that has been found at the site—including argillite, banded slate, copper, feldspar, galena, hematite, jasper, limonite, magnetite, and quartz—were all imports brought downstream from hundreds of miles away. 11 Perhaps these northern peoples brought these sacred materials to the site on their ceremonial visits (Figure 6.8a, 6.8b, 6.8c). Figure 6.8a, b, c: Poverty Point, Louisiana: (a) view, (b) site plan, (c) trading sources for ritual objects. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Though mounds had not been built for a thousand years, the builders were certainly well aware of the sites ancient history, and in fact incorporated preexisting mounds into their efforts. One such mound was directly on the shore of the river and was where boats docked. Another old mound, located to the south, was complemented by a new one placed in a perfect north-south alignment

with that preexisting mound. In other words, we might see Poverty Point as old—“archaic” is often the term used in the archaeological discourse—but its later inhabitants must have seen themselves as reactivating a sacred landscape and thus as restoring the memory and potency of the ancients who had peopled their lore and who had left their memorials. The site is configured as a series of six concentric semi-circular ridges, variable in dimension, about 3 meters high and set 35 to 50 meters apart. The total length of the ridges, if laid end to end, would be about 20 kilometers. Since these ridges are capped with midden deposits, it is generally assumed that the ridges served as foundations for huts. We could imagine rows and rows of thatched dwellings perched on these ridges. The ridges are divided by radiating aisles that gradually slope down to a vast plaza, 250 meters in diameter, which faces east across the flood plain. A person looking along the aisles from the center outward would see the winter solstice in one direction and the summer solstice in the other. Behind the rings, to the west, and overlooking the entire site, stands a tall, flat-topped mound— known archaeologically as Mound A—that in plan seems to have the shape of a sacred bird. It is huge, the second-largest earthen mound in North America. One might assume that during its construction, heavy spring rains could have washed away part of the earth, but since there is no evidence of such erosion, the mound must have been made quite quickly in the late summer and early fall during the dry season; if construction did take place over a period of years, a great effort must have been made to protect the site from erosion. At completion, the mound consisted of a 22meter-high cone with an addition on its east side of a 10-meter-high platform with a ramp-like element leading up the face of the cone. The whole stretches out for nearly 210 meters. The mound was carefully made. Its builders first chose a marshy swale or depression, burnt the vegetation in it, and presumably performed some sort of purification ceremony. In the swale, they then placed a thin layer of white, sandy silt taken from areas to the north. As soon as this roughly 200-meter-diameter circular “foundation” was completed, the rest of the mound was erected using multicolored soils. The light-colored layer of silt was clearly meant to contrast with the dark, almost black, soil of the earth under the mound, in essence separating the mound from its base and indicating its singularity. Though the meaning of all this mystifies us, it certainly implies that earth had ritual and aesthetic qualities perhaps associated with different clans or totems, or with different tribes and their localities. It is quite likely that the dark soil on which the mound rests was associated with the underworld and with death. If the mound then represented “the earth” floating on top of the underworld, the various color soils might represent multiple zones or states of being. This would conform to Native American oral lore. The eighteenth-century Muskogee-language term for the large mounds scattered through the Creek country of Alabama and Georgia was ekvnlike, which translates literally as “earth-placed” or “earth sitting.” A Yuchi term has parallel associations meaning “land (or mountain) sitting.” For the Kasihtas in Georgia, mounds were built to invite supernatural protection and to provide a locus for the purification ritual before battle. A black drink, a concoction of ritual emetic teas, was taken on the summit. The Choctow in Alabama and Florida hold that at the center of the mound the Great Spirit created the first Choctows and through a cave or hole, they crawled forth into the light of day. The Cherokee, in Georgia and the Carolinas, also envisioned the mound as having a central chamber inhabited by powerful spirits.12 Regardless of the specific interpretation, there is no doubt that the mound was a cosmological structure, burying the marsh beneath and replacing it with an earth island. The shaman, with this structure under him, would have a perfect cosmological platform from which to visit the different

zones of reality. The act of construction was probably just as important as the finished object, being passed down in regional lore.

ATLANTIC SHELL MOUND PEOPLE While the Mississippi culture was spreading along the bluffs of that great river, another and perhaps not unrelated culture was developing along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, around the Florida panhandle and up the Atlantic coast all the way to South Carolina. Like the Mississippi River communities, these were also wetland people, specializing in estuary conditions where rivers and streams flatten out as they approach the sea into a zone of tidal marshes with rich beds of clams and oysters that even today make many beaches in this area famous. Such areas had developed around the world after the Holocene, on the shores of Portugal, Peru, Brazil, Africa, Japan, and Korea. But here we find not the usual shell middens, but a people who used shells to build mounds. The rising oceans around 5000 BCE have left many of their earliest sites below the ocean level; what we know about these people dates from around 4000 BCE when the ocean levels stabilized. The shell mound people did not seem to trade for stone artifacts as the people of the Mississippi culture did. Their symbolic expressions and their prestige displays were executed on wood or other materials that were more ephemeral than stone and thus have not survived.13 Although the name “shell ring� that is used to describe these constructions implies a certain symmetrical circularity, the rings vary greatly in shape. They can be C-shaped, U-shaped, oval, or circular. Common to all, however, is a curvilinear ridge of shells that encompasses a plaza area with few or no shells. At Sapelo, one of the oldest of the ring mound settlements, tons of oyster shells built up over decades and were used in the construction of three, giant doughnut-shaped mounds (Figure 6.9a, 6.9b, 6.9c, 6.9d). Whether the three mounds at Sapelo were part of a single complex or were formed one after the other is not known. The largest is a hundred meters across. There are other shell rings and mounds in the area that were part of a larger community. Figure 6.9a, b, c, d: Sapelo, Georgia, USA; (a) diagram showing shell mound developments over time, (b) comparison of shell mounds, (c) map, (d) view. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Victor Dominic Thompson, Questioning Complexity: The Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of Sapelo Island, Georgia (PhD Dissertation, University of Kentucky 2006), 273

At over 7 meters in height with steep slopes, the largest would have provided a nice defensive structure to the inhabitants who lived inside the ring. Yet archaeologists do not believe it was constructed with defense in mind. Evidence suggests that the first mounds were middens associated with individual huts. Over time, the middens grew and were unified, requiring removal and relocation of the huts. In this phase the midden began to serve as a symbolic space with a plaza in the center. In the third phase, the huts in the center were removed and the plaza was dedicated only

to ceremonial activity. Huts were now on the rings themselves providing excellent observation of the ceremonies in the central plaza14 (Figures 6.10 and 6.11). Figure 6.10: Shell Mound, Edisto Island, South Carolina. Source: Michael Lucero

Figure 6.11: Shell Mound, Pinellas Point, St. Petersburg, Florida. Source: Bob Horn

A traveler moving down the coast from South Carolina would not have had to go far to encounter a whole chain of communities. But of the many hundreds of mounds that once existed, only a few remain. The Guana Shell Ring is located along the coast of Florida and, though it was begun as early as 4000 BCE, was mainly developed between 2000 BCE and 100 CE. In the shape of a south-

facing U, it sits on a narrow ridge between a coastal saltwater marsh to the east and the marshy headland of a river to the west. Ideally situated to provide bountiful marine and estuary resources, the ring was built out of coquina, along with clam, oyster, and conch shells.15 We have firsthand descriptions of a shell ring community from various Spanish explorers, such as Ponce de Leon (1513), Miruelo (1516), and Cordova (1517). The Spaniards described the Calusa as tall and handsome, which is a testament to the superior nutritional base of the Americas compared to the Europeans of that time. The most important site of the Calusa, on Pine Island just off the coast of Fort Myers, Florida, was organized as a chiefdom. Composed of many small villages, it was located along the islands that make up this part of the coast. Fish, such as mullet, kingfish, and mackerel were caught, as well as deer, turkey, opossum, and rattlesnake. Other sources of food included sea grapes, papaya, prickly pears, hearts of palm, and coconut, all of which thrive on the island even today. Tools such as hammers, picks, and scrapers were made from shells. Holes were drilled into them so a stick could be inserted to form a handle. Fish bones and shark teeth were also adapted to create tools. The dead were buried in special mounds made of sand. Elaborate masks were an important part of Calusa religious ritual. The Calusa canals, lined with sea-shells, linked important waterways to facilitate travel and trade, while boats were made from the resin-impregnated wood of yellow pine. It is likely that the Calusa traded with Caribs, Arawaks, and other Indians of the Caribbean Islands and perhaps even with Central America.16 Ponce de Leon, on a later expedition in 1521, witnessed a Calusa alliance ceremony between four thousand members of that tribe. When Pedro Menéndez de Avilés visited in 1566, he described the chief’s house, which apparently also served as a council house, as large enough to hold two thousand men without crowding. When the chief formally received Menéndez, he sat on a raised seat surrounded by five hundred of his principal men, while his sister and wife sat on another raised seat surrounded by an equal number of women. The chief’s house was described as having two big windows, suggesting that it had walls. In a report from 1697, the Spanish noted the presence of sixteen houses in the Calusa capital of Calos and a population of a thousand. It is believed that Calos, located in the center of an extensive estuary lagoon, is Mound Key at Estero Bay (Figure 6.12). The site was first settled around 100 CE. AS best as one can reconstruct, the island had several “platforms” at different heights probably reflecting the different status of the inhabitants. The ceremonial entrance to the island was from the ocean side via a canal that bisected the island and that was aligned with an opening of the lagoon into the Gulf of Mexico some 3 kilometers to the southwest. The kings residence was placed on the southern side of the canal at its highest level, on a 10-meter-high shell mound. On the other side was an extensive flat area with thirty-six houses that must have accommodated the king’s court. Further to the east was a burial mound. The island had several harbors. With the demise of the Calusa, places like Calos became quickly overgrown, obliterating the man-made nature of the island.17 Figure 6.12: Mound key, Estero Bay, Florida. Source: Andrew Ferentinos/William N. Morgan, Precolumbian Architecture in Eastern North America (Gainesville- University of Florida Press, 1999), 213

ADENA CULTURE Around 2000 BCE, a new cultural horizon opened in the area of southern Ohio and West Virginia; called by archaeologists the Adena Culture (1000–100 BCE), they were woodland and river specialists as well as plant tenders whose crops included squash, sunflowers, tobacco, and various grasses. They lived in dispersed habitations, each of which was surrounded by foraging and hunting zones. Their heartland had certain advantages insofar as it had a rich ecological diversity beneficial for cultural development. There were willows in the riverine forest, cedars in the swamp forest, and oak and maple in the hills, and where the forests turned into prairie there were thousands of different plant and animal species. But what gave the Adena their advantage over other cultures was the regions multi-faceted geology. The area was rich in ochre, flint, salt,

and pipestone, and attracted people from far away who would arrive to replenish their stocks (Figure 6.13). Figure 6.13: Adena. Source: Florence Guiraud

Red ochre was found along numerous outcroppings, one fittingly called still today by the translation of its Indian name: Paint Creek. As to flint, it was quarried on Flint Ridge where the ancient quarry basins are still visible. It produced a much-admired waxy stone when treated with heat. A nearby Adena settlement would have been any visitor’s first stop. Another commodity was salt, which came from a place that was once called Old Scioto Salt Licks. Salt in this region is not easy to come by and so would have been a particularly significant commodity, if not a luxury. From notes taken by American settlers, people representing all the Ohio tribes came here during the summer by the thousands to make salt, boiling it in pots and earthen pits. Here too there was an Adena settlement. Salt, flint, and ochre were traditional commodities, important for sure, but not necessarily unique. This was not the case with pipestone, which, as the name suggests, was used to make exquisitely carved smoking pipes. Pipestone, known scientifically as catlinite, is a mud that became lithified under geological pressure. It is soft and polishes to a smooth gloss with a yellowish or reddish tint, which augmented its appeal since it is seen as having the potency of red ochre. For Native Americans, the pipe was a sacred possession that was often placed next to its deceased owner at the time of his burial. One such Adena pipe represented a man with a headdress and ear rings. Others represent small animals and birds. Pipestone quarries were considered especially holy. Henry Schoolcraft, a major historian of Native Americans in the nineteenth century, recounted the narrative that was woven around pipestone quarries:

[According to the Indians] many years ago the Great Spirit called all his people together, and, standing on the precipice of the Red Pipe-stone Rock, he broke a piece from the wall, and, kneading it in his hands, made a huge pipe, which he smoked over them, and to the north, south, east, and west. He told them that this stone was red, that it was their flesh, that of it they might make their pipes of peace; but it belonged equally to all; and the war club and the scalping-knife must not be raised on this ground. And he smoked his pipe and talked to them till the last whiff, and then his head disappeared in a cloud; and immediately the whole surface of the rock for several miles was melted and glazed. Two great ovens were opened beneath, and two women (guardian spirits of the place) entered them in a blaze of fire; and they are heard there yet, and answer to the invocation of the priests, or medicinemen, who consult them on their visits to this sacred place‌. [William] Clarke [sic], the great American traveller, relates that in his intercourse with many tribes who as yet had had but little intercourse with the whites he learned that almost every adult had made the pilgrimage to the sacred rock and drawn from thence his pipe-stone.18 Schoolcraft is referring to a site in Minnesota that was significant enough to be captured in a painting by George Catlin (1796–1872), a noted painter who accompanied General William Clark (of the fabled Lewis and Clark) on several diplomatic missions up into Native American territory. At the time of the painting, it was still being visited by Native Americans. It was a striking place, a perpendicular 2-kilometer wall of compact quartz about 10 meters in height running nearly northsouth and bisected by a river. The stone was dug from the ground in front of the base of this cliff (Figure 6.14). Figure 6.14: Pipestone Quarry on the Coteau des Prairies, George Catlin, 1836. Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC/Art Resource, NY

There are several outcroppings of pipestone in the Adena homeland, but one, Feurt Hill, where the Ohio and Scioto rivers intersect, is close to several Adena settlements. Just like the site in Minnesota, this hill would have been considered a holy place visited by thousands of pilgrims. The Adena, then, were the overlords of this vast sacred landscape that attracted many pilgrims

from many directions. Everyone had to be on their best behavior, visitors and guests alike. The consequence of this was the emergence of an increased emphasis on ceremony. Ceremony had always been a significant element in First Society protocol, but with the Adena, ceremony became elevated to the level of a spiritual economy in that the Adena profited from this “pilgrimage tourism” in terms of wealth and prestige. They also gained legitimacy in respect to their ancestral claims on the land. The tobacco ceremony played a key role. Tobacco had been used for millennia, certainly since about 6000 BCE, when different strains began to spread across the continent. Originally, it was just burned on the open fire, sometimes with sweet grass, as part of shamanistic rituals. Though its seeds were ground and boiled to make a potent brew, the key element was the scented smoke, calling forth the “dream soul” or “free soul” of the shaman that would guide him to the spirit world. With the Adena, this ritual seems to have become a particularly important component of communal gatherings and was certainly invoked when receiving guests; the calming effects of the smoke would have had a beneficial impact on all (Figure 6.15). Figure 6.15: Pipe, Adena Culture. Source: Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

Adena mounds differed in at least one important aspect from earlier mounds, insofar as they were burial mounds, which to us latter-day interpreters might indicate a different historical tribal trajectory.19 First a wooden structure was built, a platform, or even sometimes an entire house.

The body was placed inside and the structure set ablaze. Once the fire had died down, the whole was mounded over. As new generations came and went, additional elders were buried on top of their predecessors and a new layer of earth was added to the mound. The mounds thus grew over time; they were works-in-progress, defining a multi-generational lineage. A clan’s history is therewith not only reaffirmed, but also projected into the future. Though the mounds were now part of an ancestor cult, they were no less cosmological entities embedded in shamanistic practices. In the shadow of these mounds, people would have held their negotiations, met any visitors, and made their alliances for trade or marriages.20 As obvious as the building of ancestor mounds might be, they were in the context of the Mississippi world a novel practice. Much more conventional would have been communal, second burial customs. In this scheme, bodies are placed on wooden scaffolds or sometimes in the ground where they decompose. At an appointed time, the bones of those who had died during a certain interval are gathered, scraped clean and buried together in one place in the midst of a great ceremony. Relatives place the bones in bundles on poles surrounding a large pit. After a time, all the bone bundles, along with grave offerings and red ochre, are placed in the pit so that the spirits of the friends and relatives could be together. The grave is then covered over. Feasts and other social events accompany the reburial and neighboring villagers are invited to participate in the festivities. The Adena mounds were built on this principle with the added component that the mounds were reused over time. Cresap Mound (2450–1950 BCE) in West Virginia is considered a prototype. It was built over a circular house floor 13 meters in diameter, with a large central hearth inside. A shallow ditch surrounded the structure. Graves and crematories were placed on the prepared clay floor and shallow subfloor tombs. The whole was then built up into a sort of memorial mound, for after another episode of burial, the mound was raised a few meters. In this way, new burials were added until the mound was about 4 meters high. Some centuries later, in the final act of mortuary drama, a central fire with eight surrounding burials was added and a cap of gravelly soil brought up to the crest, which now reached some 5 meters high and 21 meters in diameter (Figure 6.16). Figure 6.16: Seip Mound Excavation, Hopewell Culture. Source: Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

Mounds rarely stood alone. Analysis of mound locations suggests, in fact, that each mound was visible from at least one other mound throughout the area.21 In this way the mounds transformed the river into an “avenue” of power and wealth. Anyone entering this landscape, especially by boat, would quickly realize that this was a special place. Criel Mound, though today solitary, was originally part of a concentration of mounds that extended for 13 kilometers along the upper terraces of the Kanawha River flood plain in the vicinity of present-day Charleston, South Carolina. A traveler in 1894 reported fifty mounds dotting the bluffs ranging from 1 to 12 meters in height. He also reported finding eight to ten circular earthworks, enclosing areas that ranged from as small as 1 acre to as large as 30 acres (120,000 m2). Biggs Site, located prominently on a bend in the Ohio River and which was also part of a larger complex that has since been lost, had the added feature of rings defined by low berms and a causeway. The Wolf Plains Group in southeast Ohio overlooking the Hocking River is one of the few where at least some of the mounds have been preserved, although here too one has to rely on nineteenth-century drawings to get the full extent of these landscape interventions.22 Early visitors were also impressed, though many thought they were natural formations: “The voyager on the Upper Missouri, above Sioux City, will see hundreds of such conical and oblong elevations, studding the bluffs and bottom lands like hay-stacks and walled battlements, all of which are unquestionable natural formations.” [H. M. Brackenridge, 1837]23 But other observers provide us vivid descriptions of mound ceremonies. For example, John Haywood (1754–1827), a politician from North Carolina, who authored a book on the history of Tennessee, made the following observation, from which we learn about the sacred fire associated with mound construction, women carrying the baskets of earth, and the use of sacred color beads, that seems to coincide with the sacred colors of the earth.24 When they were ready to build the mound they began by laying a circle of stones on the surface of the ground. Next they made a fire in the center of the circle and put near it the

body of some prominent chief or priest who had lately died—some say seven chief men from the different clans—together with an Ulûñsû’tï stone, an uktena scale or horn, a feather from the right wing of an eagle or great tlä’nuwä, which lived in those days, and beads of seven colors, red, white, black, blue, purple, yellow, and gray-blue. The priest then conjured all these with disease, so that, if ever an enemy invaded the country, even though he should burn and destroy the town and the townhouse [i.e., burial house], he would never live to return home. The mound was then built up with earth, which the women brought in baskets, and as they piled it above the stones, the bodies of their great men, and the sacred things, they left an open place at the fire in the center and let down a hollow cedar trunk, with the bark on, which fitted around the fire and protected it from the earth. This cedar log was cut long enough to reach nearly to the surface inside the townhouse when everything was done. The earth was piled up around it, and the whole mound was finished off smoothly, and then the townhouse was built upon it. One man, called the fire keeper, stayed always in the townhouse to feed and tend the fire. When there was to be a dance or a council he pushed long stalks of the ihyâ’ga weed, which some call atsil’-sûn’tï, “the fire maker” (Erigeron canadense, or fleabane), down through the opening in the cedar log to the fire at the bottom…, after which he prayed, and as he prayed the fire climbed up along the stalks…. Then he put on wood, and by the time the dancers were ready there was a large fire blazing in the townhouse. After the dance he covered the hole over again with ashes, but the fire was always smoldering below… The fire burns yet at the bottom of these great mounds, and when the Cherokee soldiers were camped near Kïtu’hwa during the civil war they saw smoke still rising from the mound.25

HOPEWELL EARTHWORKS The Adena culture developed into several regional sub-cultures that are known collectively as the Hopewell Tradition (200 BCE–500 CE). Like the Adena before them, they had ancestor and shaman cults. And like the Adena, they were a widespread but tightly knit network of clans. But their differences with the Adena are noticeable. The Hopewell, the inheritors of the commodity wealth of the region, became, one could say, almost pure ceremonialists, guarding over and giving drama to one of the prime sacred landscapes in all of North America. 26 They were no longer just riverine specialists, but ceremony specialists. Their mortuary complexes were larger and better organized than the Adena and their shamanistic practices were more powerfully expressed. The Hopewell also excelled in producing ritual paraphernalia, especially when it came to the working of copper. Brought down from the area around Lake Michigan, copper was hammered into thin sheets that in turn were fashioned into breastplates, ear decorations, and shamanistic objects. Some had the shape of a hand, others represented birds or abstract figures with patterns on them made by the careful application of salts and acids. In some cases the drawing involved an intricate play of positive and negative shapes. Stone and turtle shells were also crafted into exquisite objects, all of which would have been just as amazing and magical to visitors back then as they are to museumgoers today (Figures 6.17, 6.18, 6.19, and 6.20). Figure 6.17: White-Fronted Goose effigy and pipe, Hopewell culture. Source: Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

Figure 6.18: Effigy human hand, Hopewell culture. Source: Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

Figure 6.19: Copper cut out, Hopewell culture. Source: Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

Figure 6.20: Vessel, Hopewell culture. Source: Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

Although the specific role of these objects in the ceremonies cannot be re-created, it is clear that earthworks were a central element. They consisted of mounds, as well as of huge enclosures in the shape of squares, circles, and octagons. Members of different residential groups, separated by varying geographic and social distances, would establish or renew essential relationships with one another by building these earthworks, performing rites within them, negotiating marriages, and forming ritual exchange partnerships and trade. Hopewell earthworks are often composed of a square and a circle in some combination, defined by earthen berms ranging from 1 to 4 meters high and having sides measuring 200 or even up to 300 meters! The walls have breaks in them at the corner and at the middle of each side. A “marker” mound sits just interior to each of the breaks. An old photograph of Newark shows the enclosure wall to the left and to the right, a mound (Figure 6.21). The marker mounds have no burials associated with them, and must have been used as “protector” mounds guarding the sanctity of the plaza. Some of the mounds, however, are ancestor mounds, with some inside the squares and others nearby. Seip had a total of fourteen known burial mounds within and immediately outside of the square.

Figure 6.21: Newark Mound Group, Newark, Ohio, USA. Source: Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

Though Hopewell sites extended beyond southern Ohio, the Scioto River, between Chillicothe and the river’s intersection with the Ohio River, was certainly its heartland (Figures 6.22 and 6.23a, 6.23b, 6.23c, 6.23d). Within 9 kilometers of Chillicothe there are at least thirteen large sites. In fact, moving up the Scioto River from the Ohio, a visitor would have seen a continuous rhythm of ritual complexes up on the bluffs. Once past Chillicothe the visitor would move northeast to Newark Mounds. A ceremonial road led to Newark, running perfectly straight for kilometers through the tall grass of the rolling Ohio prairie. Visitors were expected to approach settlements by these roads, but how? And how do these roads relate to the ceremonial gathering? Figure 6.22: Hopewell sites in the Scioto River area, Ohio. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Figure 6.23a, b, c, d: Ohio mounds: (a) Frankfurt Mound, (b) Mound City, (c) Liberty, (d) Hopeton. Source: Mark Jarzombek/E. G. Squire and E. H. Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley: Comprising the Results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations (Edward 0. Jenkins: New York, 1847), 72

Unlike most of the earthwork settlements, which are in woodlands, the Newark earthwork was on the open prairie, on a bluff at a bend in the river, and thus was a site with great visibility. Its extraordinary collection of mounds, enclosures, earthworks, and ceremonial roads must have been

highly significant, particularly one formation, which was a circle plus octagon. From its shape and from other images made by the Hopewell, scholars feel confident it represents Grandmother Spider, who is thought to have lived on the plains, and who was broadly venerated as the shamanistic divinity who brought wisdom to the people. She enables people to “see� the light of night and day, and guide them up from the underworld, helping their eyes to become gradually accustomed to light. No two earthworks are identical. But that does not mean that there were no common elements. Clearly, geometry was a shared factor, as it had been for thousands of years. But the Hopewell people wanted much more from their mound constructions than had ever been attempted before, as indicated by their intrinsic layouts. At one site, for example, the circumference of the circle matches the length of the perimeter of the square. At another, the diagonal of the square matches the diameter of the circle. At another, the side of an equilateral triangle inscribed in the circle matches the side of the square. Some of the larger circles have radii that conform to the diagonal of a square drawn over smaller circles from other places, perhaps indicating dominant and subservient circles. In all cases the geometrical elements are aimed at communicating to the world beyond, establishing peaceful contact with these higher forces (Figure 6.24a, 6.24b). Figure 6.24a, b, c: Marietta Works, Ohio: (a) map; (b) reconstructed landscape; (c) site plan. Source: Mark Jarzombek/E.G. Squire and E.H. Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley: Comprising the Results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations (Edward 0. Jenkins: New York, 1847), 72

The earthworks might also have been associated with lunar or solar events. In mythological terms, Grandmother Spider, for example, was responsible for the stars in the sky. She took a web she had spun, laced it with dew, and threw it into the sky, upon which the dew-drops became stars. Possibly, Newark tracked the movements of the moon27 (Figure 6.25). Figure 6.25a, b, c: Octagon at Newark Earthworks, Newark, Ohio: (a) map; (b) site plan; (c)

octagon. Source: Mark Jarzombek/E. G. Squire and E.H. Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley: Comprising the Results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations (Edward 0. Jenkins: New York, 1847), 66

Much like the mounds of old, the mounds here, too, were composed of layers of different colored sand and earth. One mound in Seip, in particular, was made completely out of red ochre, while the Mound House on the Missouri flood plain was built over a layer of yellow sand that had been

imported to the site. Other mounds show that the builders brought yellow clay, light purplish topsoil, brown clay, and gravel by the basketload to assure that a large number of soils of contrasting color and texture were juxtaposed with one another. The dead were often buried in a particularly black peat or marsh earth. Baehr Mound 2 contains extensive deposits of over five thousand hornstone implements placed in four layers with a stratum of yellow sand between each layer.28 The charnel houses that were built to house the dead and in which they were cremated give us further information on the tribal architecture, for one can assume that they were modeled on the houses of the living. These houses are rarely square. Instead they tend to be elongated along the diagonal. One researcher, William Romain, thinks that this was because the primary axis of the house was the diagonal and its alignment to the phases of the moon. Once that had been set, the rest of the house was angled together, its overall geometry being not the main spatial consideration. The houses were, nonetheless, meticulously built with staked posts defining their perimeter. They probably had conical thatch roofs. Though the significance of the moon might seem obvious, the Ohio people apparently held that the otherworldly realm was the inverse of the living world. If the sun provided life during the day, the moon was the life-giving force at night. It is likely, therefore, that the squares represent the sky, whereas the circles represent the earth, which according to legend is conceived as a great flat island resting on the water’s surface or suspended from the sky by four cords attached at each of the cardinal directions.29 Romain suggests that these structures are more than just burial and ceremonial sites. They are cosmological diagrams, three-dimensional frameworks if you will, for shamanistic communication between the upper and lower worlds. Passing to the “other world” was symbolically facilitated by the birds. In the Scioto Hopewell practices, for example, vultures may have been employed to deflesh corpses prior to cremation or bundling for burial. The significance of the vulture is obvious at the North Benton Mound in Ohio, which is a mound 25 meters in diameter. Just inside the outer limits of the earth mound was a wall of stones, enclosing the whole structure. For the most part, boulders of sandstone were used, set on edge and joined end to end. Within this encircling wall were post holes suggesting that a wooden structure or fence had been built. The two lines of post holes running from the opening in the encircling stone wall toward the center appear to be an approach corridor. At the east end of this passage, and approximately in the center of the mound, was a square area, about 4 meters across, that was a hearth. Past the hearth lay the effigy of a vulture with wings spread wide and reaching 10 meters across. It was molded from clay and mounded to a height of about 20 centimeters above the floor. The surface of the vulture was made of slabs of white sandstone. When the structure was finished, it was used for numerous burials, with special burials over each wing of the bird. The southern wing burial was of an extremely large male, lying on his back, with arms and legs extended and head oriented to the west. The burial was completely enclosed in a thick envelope of fine, clean, river sand.30 Eventually the whole thing was mounded over (Figure 6.26a, 6.26b). Figure 6.26a, b, c: North Benton Mound, North Benton, Ohio: (a) map; (b) plan; (c) section. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Willis H. Magrath, “The North Benton Mound: A Hopewell Site in Ohio,” American Antiquity 11 (July 1945): 41

THE HORIZON OF CEREMONIALISM It might have been Hopewell, or it might have been a larger regional phenomenon, but one cannot

escape the fact that the Native American population from southern Canada to Florida began to display a Hopewell-styled culture of grand ceremonialism in which large earthwork projects were made, all of which formed an astonishingly complex and widespread social and religious continuum. This occurred before the arrival of corn around 800 CE.31 Ceremonialism even went as far as South Dakota, where between 500 and 800 CE a mound-building culture set up its ancestor mounds around the watershed of the Big Sioux River and Big Stone Lake, although other sites have also been excavated throughout eastern South Dakota. The most impressive sites are in the south. A site in Tennessee, for example, Pinson Mounds, rose to the level of a ceremonial center, perhaps because of its proximity to a mining site for mica in North Carolina. Mica, because of its shiny surface, was sacred to shamanistic rituals and was used, where found, in many parts of the Americas, even among the Olmecs in Mexico. Pinson Mounds, located about 16 kilometers south of today’s city of Jackson, overlooked the south bank of the Forked Deer River. It had at least twelve mounds, several earthworks, and a large circular enclosure that was built up from 200 BCE to 475 CE. Among its larger mounds is one that is 22 meters in height and rectangular in plan with the rounded corners aligned toward the cardinal directions. The mounds were originally surfaced with yellow sand. Similarly impressive was the site known as Marksville in Louisiana. It consisted of at least two earthen embankments enclosing seven mounds, all built between 1 and 400 CE. The huge 40-acre site was defined by a 3-meter-high, 1-kilometer-long, C-shaped embankment that opens onto a large flood marsh on the western side of the Mississippi River. The northernmost mound was 100 meters in diameter and 4 meters high. Built in a single act of construction, it served as a staging area for events. Nearby was an ancestor mound where at least thirty-six men, women, and children were buried. At its core was a large square burial platform. The other mounds have unknown purposes. It is clear that Marksville was a ceremonial center where people from nearby villages gathered for important social and religious events. Dozens of small enclosures and mounds dot the area around the enclosure. And if we go even farther south to southern Florida, we see ancestor mounds there as well. Leslie Mound in the Suwannee Valley was built and used in the following manner. First a circular area of ground, 26 meters in diameter, was cleaned of grass and a 10-centimeter-high layer of clean soil was laid down. On top of that a low 10-meter-long platform mound was constructed. Bundled bones and crania removed from a charnel house where the body had decomposed were then placed on the mound surface, where they were then covered with a second mound about a meter high.32 Ceremonial roads were also built. One such road connected the St. Johns River to the Keys and was described and drawn in 1853.33 The author noted that the roads, in typical fashion, tended to connect a mound with a body of water like a lake or lagoon. The Calusa made them in the form of canals, 10 meters in width and in some cases more than 10 kilometers long.34 There are—or were —so many impressive sites in Florida that it must have constituted a regional phenomenon on par with the Hopewell, even though it came about much later, beginning around 200 CE and reaching its height around 1400. Particularly enigmatic is Fort Center in the savanna west of Lake Okeechobee. It had a large circular mound directly tangent on Fisheating Creek. To the east of that was a mortuary complex with what seems to have been a burial pond, and farther east were three ceremonial roads ending in mounds. A large wooden ceremonial bird was found intact in the pond. Except for Florida, the Hopewell ceremonial culture, along with the social, economic, and religious relationships it embodied, came to a gradual end about 400 CE. The elaborate trade

network dissipated and was replaced by more regionally focused and for a time much simpler social arrangements. The reasons for this are much debated, but there is no indication of largescale warfare. Though mound construction waned, the associated rituals and their tribal and clan meanings did not perish. They would soon be revived, in fact, and reach even greater heights, but under different auspices that can be summarized in the word “agriculture� (Figure 6.27). Figure 6.27: The Americas. Source: Michael Kubo


1. See Kenneth E. Sassaman, “Poverty Point as Structure, Event, Process,” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 12, no. 4 (December 2005): 335–364. 2. Vernon James Knight, Jr., “Symbolism of Mississippian Mounds,” in Powhatan’s Mantle, Indians in the Colonial Southeast, eds. Gregory A. Waselkov, Peter H. Wood, and Tom Hatley (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006): 421–434. 3. James A. Goss, “Traditional Cosmology, Ecology and Language of the Ute Indians,” Ute Indian Arts and Culture: From Prehistory to the New Millennium, Edited by William Wroth (Colorado Springs: Taylor Museum of the Colorado Fine Arts Center, 2000): 47–49. 4. John Thomas Scharf, History of Saint Louis City and County: From the Earliest Periods to the Present. Volume 1. (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1883): 98. 5. Henry M. Brackenridge, Views of Louisiana (Baltimore: Schaffer and Maund, 1817): 172– 174. Brackenridge (1786-1871) was a writer, lawyer, judge, and Congressman from Pennsylvania. 6. Elsa M. Redmon, “In War and Peace, Alternative Paths to Centralized Leadership,” Chiefdoms and Chieftancy in the Americas. Edited by Elsa M. Redmond (Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida Press, 1998): 83–84. 7. Sam D. Gill, Songs of Life: An Introduction to Navajo Religious Culture (Leiden: Brill, 1979): 3. 8. Quoted in Peter Nabokov and Robert Easton, Native American Architecture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989): 109. 9. Amelia Bell Walker, “Tribal Towns, Stomp Grounds and Land: Oklahoma Creeks After Removal,” Chicago Anthropological Exchange 14 (1981): 50–69. 10. Joe W. Saunders et al., “Watson Brake, A Middle Archaic Mound Complex in Northeast Louisiana,” American Antiquity 70, no. 4 (October 2005): 631–668. 11. Bruce D. Smith, “The Archaeology of the Southeastern United States: From Dalton to de Soto, 10,500-500 BR” in Advances in World Archaeology. Volume 5, eds. Fred Wendorf and Angela E. Close (London: Academic Press, 1986): 32. 16. Vernon James Knight, Jr., “Symbolism of Mississippian Mounds,” in Powhatan’s Mantle: Indians in the Colonial Southeast, eds. Gregory A. Waselkov, Peter H. Wood, and Tom Hatley (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006): 421–434. 12. Vernon James Knight, Jr., “Symbolism of Mississippian Mounds,” in Powhatan’s Mantle: Indians in the Colonial Southeast, eds. Gregory A. Waselkov, Peter H. Wood, and Tom Hatley (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006): 421–434. 13. Rebecca Saunders and Michael Russ, “The Fig Island Ring Complex (38CH42): Coastal Adaptation and the Question of Ring Function in the Late Archaic” (Report prepared for the South Carolina Department of Archives and History under grant #45-01-16441, August 5, 2002). Available online at (accessed August 19, 2011). 14. Victor D. Thompson, “Questioning Complexity: The Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of Sapelo Island, Georgia” (PhD Dissertation, University of Kentucky, 2006). V. D. Thompson and C. F. T. Andrus, “Evaluating Mobility, Monumentality, and Feasting at the Sapelo Island Shell Ring Complex,” American Antiquity 76, no. 2 (April 1, 2011): 315–344. 15. Michael Russo, Gregory Heide, and Vicki Rolland, “The Guana Shell Ring,” (Report submitted to The Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, July 2002): 1– 22. Available online at (accessed August 19, 2011).

16. Robin C. Brown, Florida’s First People, 12,000 Years of Human History (Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 1994): 115. 17. W. John and H. Hann, Indians of Central and South Florida: 1513–1763 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003): 35–36. 18. Henry R. Schoolcraft, Sacred Origin of Tobacco (Philadelphia: 1851). See also Arthur P. Rose, An Illustrated History of the Counties of Rock and Pipestone, Minnesota (Luverne, MN: Northern History Publishing Co., 1911): 248. 19. Jimmy Railey, “Woodland Settlement Trends and Symbolic Architecture in the Kentucky Bluegrass,” in The Human Landscape in Kentucky’s Past, eds. Charles Stout and Christine Hensley (Frankfort: Kentucky Heritage Council, 1991): 30–39. 20. Don W. Dragoo, Mounds for the Dead: An Analysis of the Adena Culture (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 1989); Michael Striker, “Ancestor Veneration as a Component of House Identity Formation in the Early Woodland Period,” paper presented at the 6th World Archaeological Congress, Dublin, June 2008. Available online at (accessed August 17, 2011). 21. Nicole I. Stump et al., “A Preliminary GIS Analysis of Hocking Valley Archaic and Woodland Settlement Trends,” in The Emergence of the Moundbuilders: The Archaeology of Tribal Societies in Southeastern Ohio, eds. Elliot M. Abrams and AnnCorinne Freter (Athens, OH: University of Ohio Press, 2005): 125–138. 22. William S. Webb and Charles E. Snow, The Adena People (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1974). William A. Ritchie and Don W. Dragoo, “The Eastern Dispersal of Adena,” American Antiquity 25, no. 1 (July 1959): 43–50. 23. A quote from H. M. Brackenridge cited in John Thomas Scharf, History of Saint Louis City and County: From the Earliest Periods to the Present. Volume 1. (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1883): 98. 24. John Haywood, The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee: Up to the First Settlements There by the White People, in the Year 1768 (Nashville: George Wilson, 1823): 397. 25. James Mooney, Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees (Kessinger Publications, 2006), 396. Originally published as Myths of the Cherokee (1900). 26. See the study by William F. Romain, Mysteries of the Hopewell: Astronomers, Geometers, and Magicians of the Eastern Woodlands (Akron: The University of Akron Press, 2000): 65– 100. 27. Jane E. Buikstra, Douglas K. Charles, and Gordon F. M. Rakita, Staging Ritual: Hopewell Ceremonialism at the Mound House Site (Kampsville, IL: Center for American Archaeology, 1998): 84–90. 28. Ake Hultzkrantz, The Religions of the American Indians, trans. Monica Setterwall (Berkeley: Berkeley University Press, 1979): 135. 29. Charles Hudson, The Southeastern Indians (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976): 122. 30. Willis H. Magrath, “The North Benton Mound: A Hopewell Site in Ohio,” American Antiquity 11, no. 1 (July 1945): 40–46. 31. The archaeological term “Mississippi Culture” usually refers to those places built after the arrival of corn around 800. This period is discussed in the literature as the “Middle Woodland Period” (1–500 CE). I would prefer to think of the period as the Ceremonialist Period, divided

into its pre-corn and post-corn phases. The term “Woodland,” coined in the 1930s, favors the arrival of corn and its associated agricultural requirements. This tendency to elevate the agricultural societies over the “hunter/gatherer” societies is in this case quite obsolete. 32. Jerald T. Milanich, The Timucua (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996): 36. 33. William Bartram, Travels and Other Writings (New York: Library of America, 1996). 34. Randolph J. Widmer, The Evolution of the Calusa: A Nonagricultural Chiefdom on the Southwest Florida Coast (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1988): 6.

CHAPTER 7 Plants, Animals, Rituals The shift from plant-tending to plant-growing was just as natural for those who made the transition, as it was eventually to be far-reaching. It began roughly ten thousand years ago as human societies began to work increasingly with, and eventually seek to better control, the wild grasses and grains of the rivers and plains. This could not have developed just anywhere, however, and in that sense some plant tenders wound up having a distinct advantage over others simply because of their location and the nature of their plants. Even though many plants had been elevated to the level of a staple, like quamash, goosefoot, mongongo nuts, and acorns, along with a host of berries and grasses, only an astonishingly small handful of these plants eventually rose to the level of transgeographical importance. These were taro (southeast Asia), millet (central Africa and northern China), sorghum (central Africa), rice (Southeast- and East Asia), oats (Turkey), wheat (Turkey), barley (West Asia), squash, potato (Peru), tomatoes, and teosinte, the progenitor of corn (Mexico/Guatemala). Unlike the hundreds and thousands of other plants that had been nurtured by humans for tens of millennia, these, one can safely say, changed human history, each in its own way. The first step in understanding the rise of agriculture is to envision the vast, globally scaled, equatorial, monsoonal system that created cool, dry winters and warm, wet summers and that expanded into its current formation during the early Holocene. In some areas it is narrow, in others broad, but it spanned the globe and differentiated the people in these areas from the people to the north and south. Just as one can see a continuum that links the great northern traditions, the monsoon areas, with their complex varieties of plants and animals, constituted a continuum—a new one—in its own right. This was not a world of dark winters, powerful animals and a frozen earth, but of rains, marshes and rivers. In their efforts to control and domesticate the plants that flourished in these climes, humans themselves changed over time. The grains could be roasted on a stone slab as had been done for millennia, but they were more flavorful and nutritious when boiled, and for this people needed cooking pots. Grains had another advantage. Compared to meat and fish, they could be easily preserved, but once again only if there were containers to keep them dry. It is, therefore, no accident that the first ceramic pots appear more or less at the same time in Africa and China. A range of ancillary tasks also came into play. Trees had to be felled for firewood. Clay had to be found and prepared, and kilns needed to be made and their use perfected. These associated technologies and their related work patterns played a huge role in differentiating advanced planttending communities from their more informal plant-tending predecessors (Figure 7.1). Figure 7.1: Plant-tending societies. Source: Florence Guiraud

One of the key places where plant-tending began to develop into an organized social behavior was in the broad horizontal band of savannas and open woodlands below the Sahara Desert. Grasses were also tended to the east of the Nile River and along the northern edge of the Ethiopian highlands. Sorghum, yams, millet, and various wild grasses were no longer just gathered, but harvested by means of organized routines (Figure 7.2). Figure 7.2: Sorghum. Source: Š cyanocorax (

The modern-day Gumuz who live along the Ethiopia-Sudan border perpetuate a life that closely resembles this early transition (Figure 7.3). They hunt wild animals, such as duikers and warthogs, and gather honey, wild fruits, roots, and seeds. But their staple is sorghum, which is used for cooking porridge and brewing beer. All the cooking and brewing is carried out in earthen pots, which are made by women. Crops are kept in granaries decorated with clay lumps imitating female breasts. Spiritual power is expressed as an animating force, called in the modern Uduk language arum. It is concentrated in the livers and is the source of life as well as of anger, fear, and affection. When people die and are properly buried their arum is reconstituted safely in underworld communities. But if a person is lost in the wild and not properly buried his arum wanders about and can be dangerous if not properly dealt with through ritual practices. It is a revealing perspective on death. Migratoriness, the very thing that had sustained humans for thousands and thousands of years, has become a conceptual—and potent—danger.1 Figure 7.3: Africa, West Asia continuum. Source: Florence Guiraud

Another new food was taro that grew in the large tracts of swamp forests, marshes, and wetlands in southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands (Figure 7.4). At some moment humans began to extend the range of the plant by burning down sections of forest to create open swamplands where taro could be grown. Evidence of this was found in Papua New Guinea in Kuk Valley in the interior of the island where there is a swamp fed by rainwater coming from nearby peaks. Around 8000 BCE parts of the swamp were burned to create large, open wetlands. The pits, stake holes, and channels that have been uncovered by archaeologists are all consistent with planting, digging, and tethering of plants. Around 5000 BCE, the inhabitants shifted to creating mounds along the margin of the swamp. Taro was placed at the base of the mounds, whereas water-intolerant plants such as bananas were grown on the top. Around 2000 BCE, a drainage system of ditches was implemented to expand cultivation even farther.2 Figure 7.4: Spread of taro. Source: Florence Guiraud

As important as monsoon areas were for the rapid expansion of certain types of plant-tending, this was not the area where agriculture as such began. Why did the transition not start where plants were most prolific? Why in Mesopotamia and northern China, and not in the places farther to the south where sorghum, rice, and taro grew wild? The answer seems to be that these places outside the monsoon zones were particularly vulnerable to a millennium-long dry and cold period known as the Younger Dryas, that lasted from around 10,000–9000 BCE. Whereas the people in the monsoon areas could rely on traditional gathering approaches, the people in these northern zones w er e less affluent and had fewer options. Perhaps it is true that necessity is the mother of invention, for instead of moving to places more convenient to gathering, these people stayed put and began to specialize in local grain production and irrigation. Without a diverse fauna, they focused on increasing the yield of local grains, wheat, and barley in West Asia, millet in northern China and rice in southern China. Some forty or so generations later, once the cold spell was over and the weather began to warm, plant-tending for these people had become no longer just one of several activities, but a core principle. In West Asia, the people who came to embody the shift from plant-tending specialization to agriculture proper are known as the Natufians (12,500–9500 BCE), who inhabited an area from Israel in the south to Lebanon and into Syria in the north. As a First Society people, they had developed a semi-sedentary life made possible by abundant resources due to a favorable climate3 (Figure 7.5). They hunted gazelles, collected wild cereals, and fished.3 Like other advanced cultures of the time, they produced small blades that were used as currency in exchange for other goods. But with the Younger Dryas, they began to develop a more coherent strategy of garden plots and plant-tending. One of their homesteads, Hayonim Cave, consisted of a set of circular, stonebuilt houses arranged at the mouth of the Hayonim Cave in northern Israel (Figure 7.6a, 7.6b).

Hearths were located inside the houses, set to one side. Graves were located in abandoned rooms or outside of occupied ones. Dozens of similar sites have been found in the region. This is clearly very much what we might expect from a proto-village society involving a network of communities with interrelated practices. Their small sculptures, animal figurines and jewelry all indicate the presence of elevated artisan production, and of status differentiation among community members. Another site, Ain Mallaha (12,000–9600 BCE) also located in northern Israel, was situated near a spring on the western marshy shores of an ancient lake in an area surrounded by hills that were once heavily forested in oak, almond, and pistachio trees (Figure 7.7a, 7.7b). The settlement consisted of about fifty circular dwellings cut into the earth with wall bases built up of stone. One of these, facing east, was semi-circular, and had a roof supported by ten to twelve posts arranged concentrically. Its careful construction indicates its probable use as a ritual center.4 Figure 7.5: West Asia early agriculture. Source: Florence Guiraud

Figure 7.6a, b: Hayonim Cave, Israel; (a) map, (b) plan. Source: (a) Timothy Cooke, (b) Mark Jarzombek/Anna Belfer-Cohen, “Art Items From Layer B, Hayonim Cave: A Cast Study of Art in a Natufian Context,” in The Natufian Culture in the Levant, edited by Ofer Bar-Yosef and Francois R. Vail (Ann Arbor: International Monograph in Prehistory, 1991), 570

Figure 7.7a, b: Ain Mallaha, Israel; (a) settlement; (b) section. Source: Mark Jarzombek/ Anna Belfer-Cohen, “Art Items from Layer B, Hayonim Cave: A Cast Study of Art in a Natufian Context,� in The Natufian Culture in the Levant, edited by Ofer Bar-Yosef and Francois R. Vail (Ann Arbor: International Monograph in Prehistory, 1991), 115

What is clear when studying the Natufians is that initially, West Asia and Central Africa belonged to a larger system of plant-tending and early animal-herding societies, but as the weather became colder, these two parts of the world began to be vastly different. Whereas in Saharan

Africa, the grasses were unpalatable except to animals, driving the plant-tenders to areas to the south of the desert, in West Asia, emmer wheat and wild barley began to spread as the forests receded. Emmer wheat had the distinct advantage that it grew in relatively poor soils, and yet was high in protein. Barley also had the advantage of growing under cool conditions. These two plants dominated the slopes of hills from the Levant up into Anatolia and in places as far as the eye could see. Eventually, this plant was not just one of many food sources in the First Society manner, but increasingly the focus of a specialized regime of harvesting. Harvesting was no easy matter. It required a specialized tool, a sickle that could cut through the tough stalks. It was the first substantial upgrade of stone tool kit in hundreds of thousands of years. Sickles were made by inserting a flint blade into one side of a bone or piece of bent wood. The reaper hooked the curved end around the stalks just below the ears, and at a flick of the wrist the blade severed the stalk. In 1967, the botanist Jack Harlan, using just such a sickle, harvested wild einkorn wheat in Turkey, collecting a kilogram of grain in an hour. At this rate, he calculated, over three weeks when the crop was ripe, a family could have harvested enough grain to meet their needs for a year. 5 Some of the Natufian sickles were beautifully made and must have had ritual significance. One, carved from a long bone that had been split in two, had a young deer carved on its handle (Figure 7.8). The mouth, muzzle, eyes, and horns are all depicted with great skill. Figure 7.8: Natufian handle with animal figure, Hanahal Cave, Mt. Carmel, Israel. Source: Mark Jarzombek

A probable shaman grave of the Natufian culture has recently been uncovered at Hilazon Tachtit (Figure 7.9a, 7.9b, 7.9c) in present-day Israel, about 40 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The grave contained the bones of a 45-year-old woman, who was buried with an assortment of animal remains—tail bones from a cow, a wing bone from a golden eagle, a foreleg of a boar, fifty tortoiseshell pieces, two marten skulls, and even a human foot. These items, her most prized possessions, are clearly ritual paraphernalia. In the years that followed the burial, people repeatedly climbed the steep, 150-meter-high escarpment to the cave, carrying up the remains of other members of the community for burial. The communal burial was placed behind the shamans grave. The cave might have had special meaning since the entrance aligns with the winter solstice that rises over a north-south ridge that closes the east-west running valley. During the morning solstice, light would have penetrated to the back of the cave. It is clear that the cave was more than just a tomb. The locals held ceremonial feasts here, eating the meat of aurochs, the wild ancestors of cattle. Two pits were dug near the grave to cook the meat. The bones were left in the pits indicating that even after being consumed, the animal was symbolically returned to the earth. Feasting as an expansion of communal ritual relates to the increased social complexity as triggered by sedentization. It allowed people from far afield to gather for particular events and to reaffirm

community relationships. Ritual feasts, though they may have existed before, were now increasingly part of an emerging tradition, with the urochs playing a significant symbolic role for the Natufians, as did turtles, the traditional animal that negotiated the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the spirits. But whereas turtles, usually associated with the moon and the underworld, are easy to harvest, urochs were large and dangerous. Hunting for them was certainly a special event and quite likely controlled by the shamans.6 Figure 7.9a, b, c: Shaman’s tomb at Hilazon Tachtit, Israel: (a) site plan, (b) tomb plan, (c) tomb. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Leore Grosman, Natalie D. Munro, and Anna Belfer-Cohen, “A 12,000-year-old Shaman burial from the southern Levant (Israel),� Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, 105 (November 18, 2008): 17, 668

In northern China the shift toward plant-specialization took place at around the same time. During the Younger Dryas, and beginning around 8500 BCE, the humid south differentiated itself from the cooler and more arid north. As the forest retreated, the locals saw the expansion of wild millet, particularly in the loess-rich areas along the Yellow River. Loess, a fertile, mineral-rich soil, is found almost exclusively in this area in China. It is ideal for agriculture. Millet also had the advantage that unlike rice, which had specialized ecological needs, millet spreads easily in land cleared of forest. Soon several millet-tending village cultures came into existence, such as

Shizitan, located along the Qingshui River, a tributary of the Yellow River. Another was farther to the northeast along the Yellow River and west of Lake Baiyangdian. 7 Here, along the lake’s swampy shores, we see a set of villages known collectively as the Nanzhuangtou culture. Stone grinding slabs, rollers, and bone artifacts indicated the extensive gathering of wild millet. Banpo, located in the Yellow River Valley (near the modern-day city of Xian, was a wellorganized settlement belonging to the Yangshao Culture (5000 to 3000 BCE), which flourished at the ecological intersection of forests to the south and steppe to the north.8 It had the benefit of the large fertile plains of the Wei, Fen, and Yellow rivers that were excellent for millet. The village was surrounded by a ditch or moat, 5 to 6 meters wide, probably for drainage and defense. The circular homes followed the conventional pit-house format. They were partially embedded in the ground with the earth taken from the excavation used to make an embankment around the hut to deflect rainwater. It also served as insulation from the cold winds. Steeply pitched thatch served as roof. Entrance ramps sloped down into the dwelling. This house form goes back thousands of years and is typical of the northern hunting cultures that lived in Siberia and that spread into the Americas. The dead were buried either in the back of nearby caves, or outside the village in simple pits in a communal burial area. Children, it seems, were interred in urns just outside their homes. Within the town, we find structures with large open plazas and storage holes, which are indicative of civic hierarchy and organization. At the center of the town was a large house, presumed to be a ritual lodge, which was built of a heavy timber construction of a type that was to become traditional in Chinese architecture. There was also a large open space, used no doubt for ritual functions. One area of the village was dedicated to the production of pottery, indicating the emergence of proto-industrial specialization. One of the oldest kilns in the world can be found here. Pottery was used not only in the daily life, but in mortuary rituals. The history of the transformation of wild rice, which grew in northern India and in the monsoon regions of Southeast Asia, into an agricultural product is somewhat obscure, but around 8000 BCE a rice-oriented economy began to work its way eastward along the Yangtze River, reaching areas between coastal Zhejiang and the Tai Lake region. The people of Hemudu (5000-4500 BCE) became perhaps the first rice-growing specialists. The reason might have something to do with plant diversity, or rather the lack of it. A site in Thailand known as Spirit Cave showed a typical, advanced First Society situation where people ate almonds, betel, broad beans, peas, bottle gourd, water chestnuts, peppers, butternuts, candle nuts, and cucumbers, augmented, of course, by animal meat.9 In the open marshes of the Yangtze, away from the enviable richness of the forest, specialization was a necessity (Figure 7.10). Figure 7.10: China’s early agriculture. Source: Florence Guiraud

Living in a marsh is also far different from living on hard land. In moist conditions, thatch would have a short lifespan and pit houses were impossible. Instead the house had to be elevated over the field. The raised structure allowed villagers to live near the fields while protecting the grain from dampness and rats. It was a system that had probably been developed long before we see it at Hemudu, where builders developed a system by which these potentially unstable structures would survive the test of time. Woodworking techniques were developed, such as mortise-and-tenon joinery that allowed posts and beams to withstand lateral forces. The open, wood structure was covered by a steeply pitched thatch roof, the overhangs of which kept the area around the structure dry. Similar longhouses are still being built by the Mentawai, a largely nonagricultural, First Society people who inhabit the coastal and rainforest environments of the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia (Figures 7.11 and 7.12). Figure 7.11: Reconstruction of Hemudu long-house, Yuyao City, China. Source: Š Jiong Sheng (

Figure 7.12: A Mentawai pile dwelling, Sumatra, Indonesia. Source: © Alex Lapuerta (

THE AGRICULTURAL WORLD Beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century, the term Neolithic (New Stone Age) started to be used by many scholars to describe the cultural formations discussed in the previous pages. Clearly though, it was not the deployment of stone tools—regardless of how “new” or advanced they were —that structured the new way of life, but a cultural package that included pottery-making, food preservation, irrigation, the making of sickles, digging sticks, hammers, mortars, axes, baskets and bowls, to which one has to add animal tending and the construction of houses and granaries. To use a term like Neolithic, as convenient as it might be, is to reduce from view the complexity of this culture and place too much emphasis on tools, when, for example, one of the principle differences

was in the changing attitudes toward work and gender. And even though the diet and work regimes of the agricultural world were new, as were changing attitudes to nature and human interactions, many First Society values persisted, in particular, the emphasis on ceremonialism. Unlike many of the foods nurtured in the context of First Society life, however, grain had special requirements.10 Reaping and threshing were probably done by both men and women, with children and even the elderly contributing (Figure 7.13). It was a joyous and optimistic event, assuming a good harvest, with the flowing fields certainly seen as a gift from the spirit world (Figure 7.14). But the work had only just begun. The kernels had to be dehusked and then ground into a powder. This was, almost universally, the work of a woman, who had already for millennia spent time grinding ochre. The grinding of grain required a special activity. The woman, on her knees and with toes bent forward, pushes the grinding stone toward the far end of the stone quern, ending the stroke with her upper body almost parallel to the ground (Figures 7.15, 7.16, and 7.17). On reaching the far end of the quern, she jerks back to her starting position. In the burials of early agriculturalists, the impact of this activity on the skeletal structure of the women is obvious.11 And it was not just the work of grinding that differentiated these early agriculturalists from the First Society world. The grain had to be protected from nibbling animals. It had to be carried, sorted, stored, and then eventually, of course, cooked. One can marvel at the transformation in the human consciousness that this entailed. Humans—and perhaps one should emphasize women—had to adopt and adapt to the ethos of work. Figure 7.13: Neolithic sickle. Source: Š Wolfgang Sauber (

Figure 7.14: Women threshing rice, India. Source: Abdelhaq Boukelkoul

Figure 7.15: Dogon woman with child grinding grain, Mopti, Mali. Source: Š Erwin Bolwit (

Figure 7.16: Woman grinding flour, Ethiopia. Source: Š Frans de Vriese (

Figure 7.17: Bedik women grinding grain, Senegal. Source:

The development of granaries is a clear testament to the new cultural formation. The granary, in fact, was the first structure in the history of architecture that was not preeminently ceremonial or domestic in nature. An early granary was found at Dhra’ in Jordan. It was roughly circular, with a floor elevated from the ground by stones that were notched to fit wooden beams. The elevated floor allowed for air to circulate under the granary to protect it from moisture and rodents. Whether the structure had a flat roof or a thatched roof with a lid at the top, as is still common in Africa, is not known, but the basic prototype of Dhra’ remains a common feature of grain-based villages in West Asia and Africa to this day12 (Figure 7.18). Figure 7.18: Granary, Tamberma Village, Togo. Source: Rebecca Wilson

While the material and economic aspects of early agriculture are relatively well understood, more difficult to fathom are the ritual activities associated with these new activities. Today, we see agriculture usually through the lens of production, but ancient agriculture was inevitably tied to rituals that not only controlled human activity in the calendar of the seasons, but that also added magical potency to the activity of farming. Among the Bamana of Mali, young men wearing traditional crests dance in the evening in the village square after their days work in the fields to glorify the spirit guardian of the harvest. The common belief of the Bamana is that just as the human reproduction is based on the union of men and women, agricultural fertility realizes the union between male principles (sun and fire) and female principles (earth and water). This union is symbolized by the act of plowing. Similarly, the Dogon in Mali have extensive layers of rituals associated with planting, such as burying small bronze statues in the fields before seeding to enhance the potency of the grain. At a 9500 BCE site, Wadi Faynan in southern Jordan, archaeologists uncovered a large ritual and community center associated with grain production (Figure 7.19a, 7.19b, 7.19c). The site is on the top of a hill overlooking what is now a desert landscape, but that was once a fertile valley to its east. The sizeable oval building (22 by 19 meters) was made of mud-brick, with a floor of hardened plaster. It had an open central area surrounded by a bench or ledge about a meter deep and half a meter high. Farther back from the center, there was a second bench that served as an additional tier of seating. Part of the structure was roofed, but the center was probably left open and there were thin partitions, probably made of reeds dividing up the space in a sort of radial manner. The building was a grain-grinding center since the building’s central area contained a series of stone mortars set into plaster platforms on the floor. The building was not just a utilitarian structure. Decorations on the edges of the lower platforms that have still survived indicate the special status. Near to the structure were numerous small round buildings that were granaries, storehouses, and workshops. One building contained green stone beads and seems to have been used for their specialized manufacture. It is clear that this site was not a village, but a communal work and ritual area where people came together to process their wild harvests and engage in ritual activities. People probably lived in small camps near the central site in huts made of thatch13 (Figures 7.20, 7.21, and 7.22). Figure 7.19a, b, c: Wadi Fayman, Jordan: (a) map; (b) plan; (c) view, (d) decorative element of

Figure 7.19a, b, c: Wadi Fayman, Jordan: (a) map; (b) plan; (c) view, (d) decorative element of step. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Bill Finlayson, Steven J. Mithen, Mohammad Najjar, et al., “Architecture, Sedentism, and Social Complexity at Pre-Pottery Neolithic A WF16, Southern Jordan,� Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108 (May 17, 2011): 8184

Figure 7.20: A woman making pottery, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Source: Martien van Asseldonk

Figure 7.21: A woman firing pottery, Swaziland. Source: & Christina Granberg (

Figure 7.22: Gabonese women weaving a mat, Fougamou, Gabon. Source: Julie Dewilde

The emergence of agriculture coincided with, and was reinforced by, another perhaps even more dramatic shift, the tending, herding, and domesticating of animals: sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, cattle, and eventually horses and camels. Integrating animals into cultural protocols had a stronger impact on the end of First Societies than early agriculture, for if plant-tending developed gradually toward more organized endeavors in places conducive to this change, this was not so clearly the case with animal-tending societies, which very quickly became radically different from First Societies. In fact, in western Asia, the focus on grain could only have come about the simultaneous development of the domestication of the goats and sheep. Grain in and of itself would hardly have produced a nutritious diet, and with the area already over-hunted, animals had to be protected rather than killed. Goats and sheep were pulled into the sway of human control as early as 9000 BCE almost simultaneous with the emergence of agriculture. By 7000 BCE goat herders had expanded into the Iranian valleys. The ram came to have a particularly important place in the emerging reevaluation of the cosmos. The Egyptian god Khnum, who had the head of a ram, was considered the source of the Nile and was believed to have created all the other hundreds of gods and goddesses. He is associated with the god Heryshaf, who was said to have been born in primeval waters, and was identified later with Ra and Osiris. Among the Sumerian deities, the most prominent were Duttur, sheep goddess and protector of flocks, and Gestinanna, an oracular goddess associated with the interpretation of dreams. Here too gender differentiation played an important role. Herding was a dynamic process, with men and boys leading the herds into the hills and mountainsides during the summer, and then back down to the valleys and settlements during the winter. These rhythms created a new understanding of society, animal, and geography. If men were the herders, the women developed the technology of weaving, producing carpets, clothes, and tent coverings. These duties and associated tasks had just as profound an imprint on the structure and organization of life as agriculture (Figures 7.23 and 7.24). Figure 7.23: Sheep-herding movements between winter valleys and summer highland areas in southern Anatolia. Source: Andrew Ferentinos

Figure 7.24: Herder, Afghanistan. Source: Š isfamedia (

In some places agriculture and herding remained distinct, but interconnected. The Dinka in southern Sudan are among the few cultures that still survive as cattle-herding purists. Though they trade with agriculturalists, and some have adopted agriculture to supplement their food resources, they generally look down upon agriculturalists. More generally, animal tending blended itself with agriculture into a unified cultural platform known conventionally as agro-pastoralism. In these situations, a struggle developed within society to balance the different elements. Fences were constructed to contain cattle, sheep, or pigs; fields were cleared for agriculture; treks were made to nearby sites for stone or other materials, and negotiations were held with other villages for material, or with hunter and herding peoples for things that settlement people did not have. These

were mainly activities of men along with tending the animals. In all of this, there was the interlocked worked rhythms of women: grinding, weaving, thatching, and cooking, not to mention tending the family.14 Despite ritual intensity, tension between the needs of the animal herders and the needs of the grain providers were not always neatly resolved. A text, known as the “Dispute Between Cattle and Grain” from Sumerian times outlines some of the problems.15 According to the text, Enlil, the leader of the gods, along with Enki, a water-and-creation god, create farms and fields for the grain goddess Ashnan and her sister the cattle goddess Lahar. One day, the sisters get drunk and begin fighting. Part of their conversation is as follows: Grain called out to Sheep: “Sister, I am your better; I take precedence over you. I am the glory of the lights of the Land. I grant my power to the sajursaj (a member of the cultic personnel of Inana)—he fills the palace with awe and people spread his fame to the borders of the Land. I am the gift of the Anuna gods. I am central to all princes. After I have conferred my power on the warrior, when he goes to war he knows no fear, he knows no faltering. I foster neighborliness and friendliness. I sort out quarrels started between neighbors. When I come upon a captive youth and give him his destiny, he forgets his despondent heart and I release his fetters and shackles. I am Ezina-Kusu (Grain); I am Enlil’s daughter. In sheep shacks and milking pens scattered on the high plain, what can you put against me? Answer me what you can reply!” Thereupon Sheep answered Grain: “My sister, whatever are you saying? An, king of the gods, made me descend from the holy place, my most precious place. All the yarns of Uttu, the splendor of kingship, belong to me. Cakkan, king of the mountain, embosses the king’s emblems and puts his implements in order. He twists a giant rope against the great peaks of the rebel land…. The watch over the elite troops is mine. Sustenance of the workers in the field is mine: the water skin of cool water and the sandals are mine. Sweet oil, the fragrance of the gods, pressed oil, aromatic oil, cedar oil for offerings are mine. In the gown, my cloth of white wool, the king rejoices on his throne. My body glistens on the flesh of the great gods. After the purification priests, the incantation priests and the bathed priests have dressed themselves in me for my holy lustration, I walk with them to my holy meal. But your harrow, ploughshare, binding and strap are tools that can be utterly destroyed. What can you put against me? Answer me what you can reply!” Again Grain addressed Sheep: “When the beer dough has been carefully prepared in the oven, and the mash tended in the oven, Ninkasi (the goddess of beer) mixes them for me while your big billy-goats and rams are dispatched for my banquets. On their thick legs they are made to stand separate from my produce.” And so it continued, without apparent resolution. Considering the importance of procreation of both animals and plants, gods eventually came to be seen as “married.” But the organization of gods into coherent pantheons, as was to first take place in Egypt and Mesopotamia, was a later phenomenon associated with the rise of the city states. In this earlier age, the goddesses and gods often had more fluid and localized identities. They could be similar in a specific region, but few were identical, for religion had not become centralized, nor did the gods live yet in their own “houses” or temples. Instead each house had its own set of deities arranged in a corner or along a wall. It is a practice that still exists today in some parts of the world. The shrine was a form of surveillance, “seeing” what transpired within the home, and protecting its contents by its magic. Though shamanism continued to be relevant, any

individual could now attempt to communicate with the gods on his or her own. And because the gods were active, omnipresent, and, ultimately, demanding—and ever more demanding as time went on—they had to be rewarded with fidelity and with sacrifices. In Mesopotamia, the grain goddess is frequently portrayed standing before a throne or sitting on heaps of grain or even on growing grain. In one image, from about 2200 BCE, which was carved on a cylinder seal from Babylon, we see the goddess with a set of horns and with stalks growing out of her shoulders sitting on a heap of grain. She holds grain stalks in both hands and is receiving a multi-horned, male deity who proffers a plow. He is probably Ninurta, god of farming. Behind him two vegetation deities carry, on a horizontal bar, a box which is possibly a depiction of a unit of grain measure. Under the bar is a scorpion, symbol of Ishara, Babylonian goddess of love and a minor grain goddess in her own right. A human worshipper stands behind them. It is impossible to be sure which grain is being depicted, but it is probably barley (Figure 7.25). Figure 7.25: Babylonian cylinder seal, ca. 2200 BCE, grain goddess. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Rainer Michael Boehmer, Die Entwicklung der Glyptik während der Akkad-Zeit (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1965)

The culmination of the grain goddess in the Eastern Mediterranean world came in the form of the Greek goddess Demeter (from the Greek de “Earth” and meter “Mother”), the goddess of fertility and of the cycle of life and death. She was the preserver of marriage and of the sacred law. She was related to the goddess Themis, who is described as “of good counsel,” and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. Themis means “that which is put in place,” from the verb títhēmi, “to put.” To the ancient Greeks she was the organizer of the “communal affairs of humans, particularly assemblies.”16 It was Demeter who taught Tritolemous to yoke oxen and to till the soil and it was Demeter who also gave him a cart powered by winged dragons so that he could fly from land to land, scattering seed for the use of men. In Egypt, Osiris, who carries both the shepherd’s crook and the agriculturalists flail, who is said to have discovered wheat and barley. In China, Shén-nung (“the Divine Farmer”), who had the body of a man but the head of an ox, is said to have taught agriculture to people. In this way, the grain societies cemented the distinction between themselves and their pre-agricultural ancestors by creating a dualism between civilization and barbarism. Almost all creation myths developed in West Asia, Egypt, and China seem to contain the same elements, firstly that through some divine instruction people learned not only how to produce food, but also to live by laws and to practice religion; and secondly, that people without

agriculture were savages who lived like animals.17

CATTLE-TENDING SOCIETIES: THE FIRST MODERNS A significant element in the transition away from the First Society world was the domestication of cattle around 7000 BCE. This was first developed in western Asia and in what is now the southern part of the Sahara Desert. The Sahara savanna belts with their numerous lakes that collected water during the rainy season were ideal landscapes for pasturing animals. To put this in context, we have to remember that around 9000 BCE the big animals had all but disappeared in Europe and were fast disappearing in Inner Asia, apart from horses and reindeer. But in Africa, vast numbers of animals roamed the grasslands, with humans following close behind and in a relatively short period of time, a cattle-specific culture emerged built exclusively around the co-existence with these animals. Warming temperature around 4000 BCE returned much of this area back to desert, but in that interim of about five thousand years the lower Sahara was one of the richest places in the world in terms of wildlife diversity, stretching from southern Egypt and Ethiopia in the east all the way to the western coast. Cattle provided a host of raw materials that could be used or traded. Dung was useful as fuel and could be mixed with mud to make bricks. Milk, used for drinking and cooking, radically enhanced the diet. But the most significant difference with First Societies was that animals were counted and, above all, owned. They were property and in the modern sense associated with individual owners. The more animals a person had, the higher was that person’s social standing. The word “capital” derives in fact from the ancient Proto-Indo-European root “kaput” or head, referring not to the human head, but to the head of cattle and thus also to a ruler. The term “pastoralism” that is frequently used today to describe the animal tending world should be used with reservation.18 The reason is that throughout most of the nineteenth century the word referred to a type of poetry that emphasized the love of fresh air and open landscapes or referred to a clergyman who tends his parishioners. But the image of a sleepy shepherd surrounded by his flock has nothing to do with the historical reality. Ancient animal-tending societies were often quite warlike and, in fact, one of the original models of power. And yet the term pastoralism persisted and by the 1960s was the common label for non-modern herders. If today we see “pastoral” societies as atavism from an earlier time, we have to remind ourselves that they were once the moderns, especially in comparison to the First Societies, which most animal-society people viewed with disdain. One can only speculate about how they developed, but ultimately, the herd needed protection and this required a society with a clear hierarchy and an effective warrior class (Figure 7.26). Tigers, bears, and other predators were no longer accorded sacred respect, but seen as enemies. And since some predators were human, we see the first instances of organized warfare and not just for defense, but as an instrument of status. Among most animal herders, being a man was often equivalent with being a warrior. The Sanskrit word gopa, which means “lord of cattle,” also means guardian or leader. In ancient Egypt, a shepherd’s crook was one of the earliest insignia of power and was associated with the word meaning “to rule.”19 The pharaoh was called “the godly herdsman, watchful over all of mankind whom their maker has placed under his supervision.”20 Among the Greeks, the name of the sun god Apollo is thought to derive from an ancient word that meant “assembly” that in turn is related to a

word for “fold,” which is why Apollo is the patron deity of flocks and herds. But it is Zeus whom the Greeks most associated with the bull. He summoned his ancient form to carry the fair Europa across the sea from Phoenicia to Crete. Significant, too was the reference in ancient Egypt to all mankind as “cattle of Ra,” and the use of the word ka to mean both “cow” and “soul.”21 Figure 7.26: Dinka cattle camp at night, Sudan. Source: Henrik Stabell

Cattle cultures often sing and dance in praise of their bulls, both communally and individually, thus changing and expanding First Society attitudes. For the Dinkam in South Sudan, the song is a direct communication to the animal itself. A young Dinka man, when he receives his first bull, will sing to it for hours, following it around in the field and compose extensive lines of poetry extolling its virtues. Perhaps the fact that these animals do not sing back explains to some degree the fact that most cattle cultures see their deities as remote and needing intermediaries in their communications. The supreme deity of the Dinka, Nhialic, speaks through spirits that take temporary possession of individuals in order to speak through them. Similarly, the Bantu deity Nzambi a Mpungu is served by a host of Nkisi, or spirits who can take various forms. Though the links with shamanism are present, the long and dangerous travels that the shaman make to the spirit world are no longer a cultural focus. Humans and spirits no longer share the same space as they do in First Society cultures. Nor is there that multitude of spirit voices coming almost literally from all directions, but rather a clear vertical alignment from the abstract to the real. This remoteness of the godhead was to become the norm for the modern age. The result was that the small-scale animal figurine cults that had sustained First Society peoples for millennia, and that were still active in the emerging agricultural worlds, were now confronted by the majesty and super-masculinity of the bull and its horns. In western Asia, the bull horns and the human female form were part of an increasingly complex and intertwined symbolic system of life and death. The female deity is, of course, the more ancient of the two, but in being linked to the bull, each in a sense enhanced and concretized the other.21

The transformation of cattle on the religious consciousness of Africa and Eurasia was, therefore, enormous—and lasting. Perhaps the earliest evidence of the change is in the Afar Depression in northern Somalia. It is now a forbidding desert, but during the early Holocene it was a vast lake surrounded by grasslands—a perfect site for cattle. There, at Laas Gaal, one finds a complex of caves and rock shelters that date back to about 9,000 BCE and that have drawings that represent cows in ceremonial robes being worshiped by humans also in ceremonial garb (Figure 7.27). The necks of the cows are embellished with red and white striped cloth.22 This means that although animals had a host of practical uses, they were early on associated with innate powers. When they were killed it was rarely an arbitrary act, but as a type of “gift” to the gods and associated with important events like birth, marriage, and death. Ritual sacrifice, unheard of in earlier band societies, would quickly saturate African and Eurasian cultural practices and is, of course, still performed in many parts of the world today (Figures 7.28 and 7.29). In Islam, the Feast of Sacrifice, or Eid al-Adha, is celebrated on the tenth day of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The animal, usually a cow or sheep, must be facing Mecca, and its throat must be cut quickly. The meat is cooked and one-third is shared by the family. The rest is shared with the poor and with others. It is a social occasion, with families exchanging gifts and sweets and inviting non-Muslims to share in the festivities. Among Hindus, the celebration of the goddess Gadhimai will see the ritual slaughter of 250,000 animals at a celebration that every five years attracts millions of followers to the village of Bariyapur, India. Figure 7.27: Petroglyphs, Laas Gaal, Somaliland. Source: © Mitya Aleshkkovsky (

Figure 7.28: Ritual feast, Morocco. Source: Victor Englebert

Figure 7.29: Wodaabe, ritual sacrifice, Niger. Source: Victor Englebert

The bull was brought to Greece around 6500 BCE and to Crete perhaps in the fourth millennium BCE. In both cases it arrived together with a mythology that by then was already well developed. The bull was immortalized in the representations of a new and strong male god, the Cretan Zeus, a fertility god who died annually and was reborn in a sacred festival. His bull form was central to a festival known as the Thiodaisia, during which the towns renewed their oaths of alliance to each other. These rites were integrated into long-standing religious traditions that focused on feasts, staged in the open landscape—and later in front of the major palaces in special theater-like settings. There was a joyful, life-enhancing quality to the festivals. The events involved a dance in which performers somersaulted over a charging bull, as represented vividly on the walls of the palace. Both men and women are portrayed as performing the jump, the man in one case in midair,

waiting to be caught in the open arms of a woman. A cattle-jumping ritual is still being performed by the Hamar people in Ethiopia, where a man must jump over four bulls before he can propose to a woman. If he were to fall, he would have to wait a full year before trying again. The bulls are placed next to each other and held by the men of the tribe to mitigate the danger. The purpose is not to risk life and limb since the ceremony is largely festive and meant to have a successful outcome. The ceremonies end with several days of feasting and dances. Similarly, the Cretan bull jumping had little to do with gymnastics, as it is sometimes explained, but with marriage or other rites of passage. The relationship with animals was not just economic and spiritual. Almost all animal-based cultures employ a detailed classification system that makes for easy identification of individual animals. Among the Zulu, each coat color has a special name. Certain colors and patterns were seen as better than others. Cattle names are often metaphors for their actions, for instance “Pawer of earth” or “Bull that breaks up the anthill.” Among the Bodi of southern Ethiopia, each clan has a specific color pattern associated with their animals and an elder who dies is buried in the skin of an animal with the clan pattern. If a man decides to make a particular animal his favorite, he will mark its ears meaning that the animal is no longer part of the animal world, but belongs to that of men. The animal will be protected as a human would.23 One early center of cattle herding was the area to the east and west of the Ahaggar Mountains that spans the Libyan and Algerian border in a canyon called the Wadi of Tashwinat (Figures 7.30, 7.31). There, among the steep cliffs, highly unusual rock formations, and numerous natural springs, one finds thousands of rock art images. It was most likely a summer watering spot used when the area around it was not the formidable desert of today, but still a vast savanna. More or less continuously eastward across what is now the Sahara and Arabian deserts one would have found cattle camps, as far east as Bir Hima in Saudi Arabia.24 Figure 7.30: Petroglyphs, Wadi Teshuinat, Libya. Source: Joe Carnegie

Figure 7.31: Petroglyphs, Wadi Teshuinat, Libya. Source: Joe Carnegie

Another cattle-breeding center was in central Jordan in a former drainage basin, some 30 kilometers across known as Qa el-Azraq, but which was once a vast marshland nourished by perennial springs fed by sub-surface aquifers. Around its northern edges, on the rocky lava outcroppings the remnants of herding camps are still clearly visible, undisturbed over the centuries. There are hundreds, if not thousands of them, most in a circular design with inner divisions for the various herds and with huts placed in a ring around the enclosures (Figure 7.32). Figure 7.32a, b, c: Remnant camps of the cattle cultures of the Qa el-Azraq Basin, c. 5000 BCE: (a) map; (b) site; (c) enclosure. Source: Andrew Ferentinos

It should not be forgotten, that animal tending was an African-Eurasian phenomenon. It was not found in the Americas, where there were no goats, sheep, cattle, nor camels. One could perhaps herd the bison or caribou a bit, but generally they went where they wanted to go. As a result, there was no such thing as fences in the Americas, or at least until the Europeans arrived. Consequently there was in the Americas no animal-tending social structure and as a result there was never that classic reciprocity and tension between agriculturalists and animal-based societies. There were no bull gods or cow goddesses, the two deities that quickly rose to prominence in the African and Eurasian pantheons. In the American pantheon the great animal deities, such as the jaguars, bears, and eagles, remained untamed and wild. But in Asia and Europe, the wild was distinguished from

the herded. If the Greek religion is any indication, Pan, the god of the streams and countryside, assumes a minor position under Apollo, the god of reason and of the herdsman. In the Americas, no such subordination took place. In Aztec mythology, the main deity was Chalchiuhtlicue, the lifegiving goddess of lakes and streams.

THE RITUAL REVOLUTION Some cattle-breeding cultures remained purely dedicated to cattle, even to this day, such as the Dinka in Sudan and the Hamer in Ethiopia. But most cultures developed a combination of animal breeding and agriculture. Just as this required a new political and religious economy, it also coincided with a generation of new ritual centers that operated at the conceptual border between the older and newer societal forms. These were places where animal herders would congregate during the dry season. Such yearly meets were important not only for ceremonial and social activities, but also for the health of the herd, which needed to be equalized in terms of bulls, cows, and calves to be sustainable. Space was needed for cattle pens where animals could be traded or acquired. A lake and supplies of salt had to be nearby. Animal herding ritual sites drew different clans together, assuring the populace that nothing had changed in the universe that would threaten the growth of plants and the multiplication of animals. These centers also all involved constructions that were sky-oriented, measuring or documenting the progress of the moon, sun, or stars. Their creators were proto-scientists, given that these structures had to be designed and built with a great deal of specialized knowledge about the skies and the seasons. Gods now lived outside the sphere of human reality to serve as regulators—and potentially even as de-regulators should certain conventions not be followed—of the universe. These new centers focused on the abstraction of the eternal return. Out of the general flow of the seasons, there was now an awareness that time could be demarcated through solstices and equinoxes. Added to this was the equally new component of site specificity. Ritual sites were not just everywhere, but built in particular spots with particular resonances. The earliest of these date to about 9000 BCE. The much heralded Stonehenge—2500 BCE—is not the first of these ritual centers, but in a sense the last. For millennia, however, the new and old often lived side by side. If the Greek Eleusian mystery cult with its nocturnal dances performed in a cave-like building and the Maltese temples remained as continuations and elaborations of the old notion of mystery and cave, these new ceremonial centers saw the universe through the eyes of increasingly singular and powerful deities. Though the history and use of these sites is far from clear, we can assume that they had a base staff of priests and attendants living at the site year-round. In Africa and Eurasia, these centers were distinctly not associated with villages, meaning that they were quasi-independent entities. Only much later would cities in essence come to define themselves on the ritual-center model. This took place in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China, where an urban culture began to take root. Ur, Uruk, and Eridu were just as much “cities” as they were “ritual centers.” In these places, the older and now remote ritual centers fell out of use, whereas in other parts of the globe—England, Scandinavia, India, and Japan, which were urbanized at a much later date—ritual centers continued to thrive. This shift did not take place in the Americas in the same way. There, ritual centers were, almost from the beginning, associated with settlements. There, however, the situation was also different because of the absence of animal herding. In the Americas, ritual centers developed on a First Society platform.

NIUHELIANG RITUAL CENTER: CHINA The Hongshan Culture of China consisted of small villages occurring about every 10 kilometers on either side of the Yingjin River and connected by a network of paths through the forests. They were probably a sheep-oriented culture, since by this time, sheep-tending had infiltrated its way eastward from Mongolia and Central Asia. Pigs had by this time also been domesticated. Pigs became to the early Chinese what the bear was to the Siberian hunters, namely a ritual animal, and this largely because of its human-like attributes. Hongshan houses were square to rectangular in shape, with sides ranging from 4 to 12 meters and were multi-family dwellings. Though the culture was organized into farmstead communities, there were no nucleated hamlets or villages, but rather dispersed aggregations of houses on slopes above the rivers. Each community had its own ceremonial facility25 (Figure 7.33a, 7.33b, 7.33c). Figure 7.33a, b, c, d: (a) general territory showing archeological sites; (b) map; (c) possible reconstruction; (d) site plan. Source: Timothy Cooke/Information from Sarah Milledge Nelson

One of these, Niuheliang, was particularly impressive, consisting of at least fourteen burial mounds, altars, and platform areas spread out over several hills.26 It dates from around 3500 BCE but could have been founded even earlier. There is no evidence of village settlements nearby, and yet its size is clearly much larger than one clan or village could support. In other words, though

rituals would have been performed here for the elites, the large area implies that this was a regional center attracting supplicants from far afield. A key building was a structure that is presumed to have been a Goddess Temple. Sited at near the top of the hill, it was about 25 meters long and about 2 meters wide. Two lobes branched off symmetrically about a third of the way from the entrance with one asymmetrical lobe at the rear. The walls, made of loam reinforced by a web of branches, lean toward each other to form a type of tunnel, maybe around 3 meters high at its apex. From its footings we know that the walls were ornamented with elaborate geometric designs made with clay in high relief and painted yellow, red, and white. Near the northern end of the tunnel, archaeologists uncovered parts of a clay figure, including a head, torso, and arms, with jade eyes as well as a shoulder and breasts. As the name of the site suggests, the statue was interpreted by the excavators as a representation of a goddess. But it would be a mistake to assume that this was a deity in the modern sense. It was most probably a guardian figure. Furthermore, the structure was most certainly not a temple since it could not hold many people. It was probably a charnel house, where the dead were stored until the time of a secondary burial, with the statue not so much a deity as a protector. To the south of this structure there was an oval building of unknown purpose, and to the north overlooking the temple a large platform where ceremonial sacrificial activities took place. Pig remains have been found throughout the site, and probably were an important element in the sacrifices.27 Many of the Niuheliang tombs are surrounded by broken pottery cylinders, thousands of them, in fact. These cylinders were open at both ends and served as drums with hide stretched over the openings. In shamanistic terms they were used to communicate with the spiritual world.28 Jade was also associated with shamanistic rituals as it facilitated the connection between the deceased. A jade bird, for example, was found under a skull in one burial. The making of jade objects was carried out on a large scale by the Hongshan. Where the jade came from has not been determined, possibly from the north Changbaishan region some 500 kilometers to the east, meaning that it was acquired through trade.29 At the entrance to the Niuheliang valley there is an artificial hill, with a ring of squared, white stones encircling its base. Another ring of white stones is embedded in the middle of the height of the mound, and a third was placed near the top. Artifacts found near the top of the mound include crude clay crucibles used for smelting copper. Since the top of a hill is a surprising place to melt copper, the structure seems to have been meant for ritual events involving smelting.30 At another site, a tomb of a shaman priest, dating from about 4000 BCE, was found in the shape of a single, squarish room with a lobed space at the rear. The mans grave was located under the pounded earth floor. His body was flanked by two animals, both painstakingly and beautifully made by means of hundreds of shells. One is of a tiger and the other is of what has been labeled a dragon (Figure 7.34). It has been suggested, however, that at this time in history, mythological figures would have been inconsistent with shaman imagery, and so what is depicted is an alligator. Such animals were known to exist in the region at that time, especially since it was both warmer and welter than today. The two animals facing away from the body and their heads pointing northward as if walking next to him represent the realms of earth and water.31 Figure 7.34: Tomb of shaman priest, Source: Timothy Cooke/Li Lui and Xingcan Chen, The Archaeology of China From the Late Paleolithic to the Early Bronze Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 197

NABTA: EGYPT It was once thought that Stonehenge, which dates to about 3000 BCE, was the oldest ritual center in the world. As it turns out, it was probably one of the last in a long line of such centers. A particular ancient one is Nabta Playa, which dates back to 7800 BCE. It is located in southern Egypt some 80 kilometes west of the Nile River in what is today a vast and inhospitable desert (Figures 7.35a, 7.35b and 7.36a, 7.36b). Originally, the area was next to a large lake—one of several— with broad, swampy shores suitable for the great herds of pasturing animals. And this area was itself just part of a vast herding zone that stretched perhaps as far north into the 25th parallel. A

settlement was located on the northern shore that consisted of a dozen or so huts, in front of which, at a site where grinding stones were found, there was a common area for the preparation of grain and ochre. Figure 7.35a, b, c: Nabta Playa, Egypt: (a) map of Kiseiba-Nabta area; (b) section through alignment stone; (c) map. Source: Timothy Cooke/Fred Wendorf and Halina Królik, “Site E-961: The Complex Structures or Shrines,” in Holocene Settlement of the Egyptian Sahara, Volume 1: The Archaeology of Nabta Playa, eds. Fred Wendorf and Romuald Schild (New York: Kluwer Academic, 2001), 503–520

Figure 7.36a, b: Nabta Playa, Egypt; (a) site plan; (b) detail of the calendar circle. Source: Timothy Cooke/Fred Wendorf and Halina Królik, “Site E-96–1: The Complex Structures or Shrines,” in Holocene Settlement of the Egyptian Sahara, Volume 1: The Archaeology of Nabta Playa, eds. Fred Wendorf and Romuald Schild (New York: Kluwer Academic. 2001), 503–520

The huts varied in size. One hut, 9 meters long and 4 wide, had five hearths across the central part of it. The floor was dug out in the sandy soil and built out of the tamarisk branches placed in the ground and covered with reed mats. The hearths were surrounded by various-sized shallow

pits that held ceramic pots for water or for cooking. Artifacts recovered from the floors showed that the occupants were not only making the usual flint tools, but were also carving bits of ostrich eggshells into necklaces. The surface of the shells was decorated with patterns and lines. The ritual significance of these necklaces is not known. A second style of hut was developed that was circular in plan with an attached entrance tunnel. The hut was partially sunken into the ground about 20 centimeters similar to the pit-house type. The Himba people who inhabit northern Namibia and who migrated there from parts unknown with their cattle culture many centuries ago still build huts of very similar dimension. Across the lake, on the western shore was an area dedicated to cattle burials. Nearby was a circle of slender upright stones, consisting of four pairs set close together. It seems to date to about 4000 BCE, about a thousand years before Stonehenge.32 The circle, situated on the crest of a ridge, near the lake shore, is small, measuring roughly 4 meters in diameter, but its purpose was similar to that of Stonehenge, namely to organize time according to the seasons. Two of the stone pairs were aligned along the true north-south axis and, with two others aligned on the northeastsouthwest axis, helped observe the motion of the sun and the Orion constellation. Establishing the solstice helped to predict the summer rains that would begin soon after. To the south of the calendar circle, there is an extensive array of stone circles including a set of alignments, pointing in the northerly and southeasterly direction. At the origin point of these alignments, archaeologists made an astonishing discovery. The origin stone was framed by an oval field of stones about 5 meters across. Beneath this was not a burial, as the archaeologists expected, but a large stone with an unusual shape. About a meter and a half around, but about 30 centimeters thick, it had one side that was flat and another that was slightly convex. It also had a projection resembling the head of a cow. And indeed the stone was buried in the sand, standing upright and facing north. As it turns out the stone was placed about 40 centimeters over the top of a table rock. The desert in this area is filled with these small rock towers, or “tables,” but this one was buried 2 meters in the sand and thus invisible from the surface. This means that the ancient builders somehow managed to locate this hidden geological event. Then they dug out a rather sizable hole to get access to it. They then smoothed the top of the table rock and even reshaped its sides using stone mallets. Then they covered it up, burying the “cow” stone just above the table rock as they filled in the hole. When this was finished, they constructed the oval mound with the projecting center stone. Needless to say this required a huge effort and the fact that the top of the table rock and even the “cow stone” were worked shows that stone carving was already a developed skill. But the question remains, why did they do this and what did it all mean?33 Although it is not clear how many people inhabited the region, there are hundreds of hearths, and excavation is far from complete. Shamans and their associated clans probably lived permanently at the site, with the population swelling periodically with the dry-season arrival of nomadic tribes and their animals. Remains of goats and sheep have also been found, indicating contact with west Asia. That cattle, however, were at the core of the rituals performed here is proven by several cattle burials. By 3500 BCE, the lake had dried up and the site abandoned to the sand dunes. It has thus been suggested that the exodus from the Nubian Desert played a large role in the development of social differentiation in the pre-dynastic cultures of the Nile Valley. At the time, the Nile was still a marshy valley, its unruly floods making it difficult to master without large populations. The arrival of refugees from the west into the Nile Valley set the stage for the rapid transformation of that region. They brought with them their cattle cult, which eventually became the Hathor cult of dynastic Egypt. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of

ancient Egypt and was depicted as “Mistress of the West” welcoming the dead into the next life. She was also the goddess of fertility who helped women in childbirth.

GÖBEKLI TEPE: TURKEY A more architecturally developed ritual site is to be found near the modern city of Urfa in southeastern Turkey on top of a hill overlooking the Euphrates Plains to the south and with the Taurus Mountains as its backdrop to the north. This now arid region was once a lush forest. The structure, known as Göbekli Tepe and dating back to around 9000 BCE, consists of several circular dry stone walls, each of which contains monolithic pillars of limestone up to 3 meters tall (Figures 7.37 and 7.38). Since there appear to be no indications of any roof covering, it seems that the circles were open-air structures. But how they were used is far from certain. Some passages seem difficult to access. The floors of the temple consisted of a concrete-like substance of burnished lime. A low bench runs around the inside of the circle walls. The pillars show detailed reliefs of foxes, lions, cattle, wild boars, herons, ducks, scorpions, ants, and snakes, all executed with great skill. Archaeologists also found male figures with erect penises, reliefs with sexualized scenes, and incised on the floor of one building, a woman who seems to be in the process of giving birth. The careful carving and placement of the pillars indicate the presence of skilled craftsmen. All of the tons of stone were hauled up the hill (Figures 7.39 and 7.40). Figure 7.37: Göbekli Tepe plan. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Deutsches Archäologisches Institut

Figure 7.38: Gรถbekli Tepe general area view looking south. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Figure 7.39: Gรถbekli Tepe stele. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Figure 7.40: Gรถbekli Tepe carved stele. Source: Mark Jarzombek

This was quite clearly a place where there were priests in charge of the design and of the events taking place there. As the site became more prominent, more structures came to be built. In that sense, it was akin to later Hindu and Buddhist sites that can have dozens of temples, with new ones reinforcing the sacredness of the site. But were these structures temples? Probably not. To date no hearths have been found. It is more likely that these were places associated with mortuary rituals. Bones were perhaps brought here, or even the dead themselves to be consumed by vultures. This explains perhaps the numerous images of vultures carved onto the stones (Figures 7.41 and 7.42). Figure 7.41: Stele, GÜbekli Tepe, Turkey. Source: Š Teomancimit (

Figure 7.42: Stele, GÜbekli Tepe, Turkey. Source: Š Teomancimit (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

The site was abandoned around 4000 BCE, but what puzzles archaeologists is that when the

structures fell into disuse they were methodically covered over with sand brought up from the rivers below. Why such care and effort was taken is not known. 34 What Nabta Playa and Göbekli Tepe prove is that we should not underestimate the transformations taking place in north Africa and West Asia some eleven thousand years ago. Both these sites are recent discoveries. There are probably more to come. Many architectural history books will begin with Stonehenge, which began to be designed around 3100 BCE, but Stonehenge, in a sense, was the last or one of the last of these great ritual sites, founded by those who brought agro-pastoralism to England, just as Nabta Playa and Göbekli Tepe were made by those who were making that transition some four to five thousand years earlier.

ENDNOTES 1. Christopher Ehret, The Civilizations of Africa (Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press, 2002): 43. 2. T. P. Denham et al., “Origins of Agriculture at Kuk Swamp in the Highlands of New Guinea,” Science 301, no. 5630 (July 2003): 189–193; Ofer Bar-Yosef, “Climatic Fluctuations and Early Farming in West and East Asia,” Current Anthropology, 52/S4 (October 2011): 175–193. 3. See Phillip C. Edwards, “A 14,000 Year-Old Hunter-Gatherer’s Toolkit,” Antiquity 81/314 (2007): 865–876. Ofer Bar-Yosef, “The Natufian Culture in the Levant, Threshold to the Origins of Agriculture,” Evolutionary Anthropology 6, no. 5 (1998): 159–177. 4. François R. Valla, “Aspects du sol de l’abri 131 de Mallaha (Eynan),” Paléorient 14 (1988): 283–296. “Les Natoufiens de Mallaha et l’espace,” The Natufian Culture in the Levant. Edited by Ofer Bar-Yosef and François R. Vall, (Ann Arbor, MI, International Monograph in Prehistory, 1991): 115. 5. Jack R. Harlan, “A Wild Wheat Harvest in Turkey,” Archaeology 20 (1967): 197–201. See also Graeme Barker, The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory: Why Did Foragers Become Farmers? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006): 29. 6. Leore Grosman, Natalie D. Munro, and Anna Belfer-Cohen, “A 12,000-year-old Shaman burial from the southern Levant (Israel),” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States 105/46 (November 18, 2008): 17,665–17,669; Natalie D. Munro and Leore Grosman, “Early evidence (ca. 12,000 B.P.) for feasting at a burial cave in Israel,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States 107/35 (August 31, 2010): 15,362– 15,366. 7. Graeme Barker, The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory: Why Did Foragers Become Farmers? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006): 187. 8. The period is often divided into four phases, the initial Neolithic (ca. 9000–7000 BCE), the Early Neolithic (ca. 7000–5000 BCE), the Middle Neolithic (ca. 5000–3000 BCE) and the Late Neolithic (ca. 3000–2000 BCE). 9. Chester Gorman, “The Hoabinhian and After: Subsistence Patterns in Southeast Asia during the Late Pleistocene and Early Recent Periods,” World Archaeology 2 (1971): 300–320. 10. The term Neolithic Revolution was first coined in the 1920s by Vere Gordon Childe, an Australian philologist and archaeologist. The use of the word “revolution” has been critiqued, since there was no literal revolution in the sense of social upheaval. It was meant to be taken metaphorically. The real issue is not the word revolution, but the word Neolithic, which is even more awkward.

11. Theya Molleson, “The Eloquent Bones of Abu Hureyra: The Daily Grind in an early Near Eastern Agricultural Community Left Revealing Marks on the Skeletons of the Inhabitants,” Scientific American 271/2 (August 1994): 70–75. 12. Ian Kuijt, Bill Finlayson, and Ofer Bar-Yosef, “Evidence for Food Storage and Predomestication Granaries 11,000 Years Ago in the Jordan Valley,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106/27 (July 7, 2009): 10,966– 10,970. 13. Bill Finlayson, Steven J. Mithen, Mohammad Najjar, et al., “Architecture, sedentism, and social complexity at Pre-Pottery Neolithic A WF16, Southern Jordan,” Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108/20 (May 17, 2011): 8183– 8188. 14. Sailendra Nath Sen, Ancient Indian History and Civilization (New Delhi: New Age International, 1988), 157. A. K. Sinha, “The Spirituality and the Development of Agriculture in the Vedic Age,” in History of Agriculture in India, up to c. 1200 A.D., eds. D. P. Chattopadhyaya, Lallanji Gopal, and Vinod Chandra Srivastava (New Delhi: Concept Publishing, 2008): 225. 15. J. A. Black, G. Cunningham, J. Ebeling, E. Flückiger-Hawker, E. Robson, J. Taylor, and G. Zólyomi, The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (Oxford University, 1998–2006) See also Samuel Noah Kramer, The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963): 220–222. 16. Barbara Swatt, compiler, “Themis, Goddess of Justice,” University of Washington School of Law, published October 31, 2007, (accessed January 10). For further readings see: T. Douglas Price, Europe’s First Farmers (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000). 17. Jack Rodney Harlan, The Living Fields: Our Agricultural Heritage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003): 2. 18. Shereen Ratnagar, “Pastorialism as an Issue in Historical Research,” Studies in History 7/2 (1991): 181–193. 19. John A. Wilson, “Egypt,” in The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, eds. Henri Frankfort et al. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1946): 79. 20. Johannes Duemichen, Historische Inschriften altägyptischer Denkmäler; nebst einigen geographischen und mythologischen Inschriften, vol. 2 [Leipzig: 1869] (Bad Honnef: LTRVerlag, 1982): 25. 21. Calvin W. Schwabe, Cattle, Priests, and Progress in Medicine (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1978): 51. 22. X. Gutherz, J. P. Cros, and J. Lesur, “The discovery of new rock paintings in the Horn of Africa: The Rockshelters of Las Geel, Republic of Somaliland,” Journal of African Archaeology 1/2 (2003): 227–236. 23. Andrew B. Smith, African Herders, Emergence of Pastoral Traditions (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2005): 14–15. 24. Ronald de Beauclair, “Funerary Rites in a Neolithic Nomad Community in Southeastern Arabia: The Case of al-Buhais 18,” Documenta Praehistorica 35 (2008): 631–634. 24. Christian E. Peterson, Xueming Lu, Robert D. Drennan, and Da Zhu, “Hongshan Chiefly Communities in Neolithic Northeastern China,” Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences of the United States of America 107/13 (March 30, 2010): 5756–5761.

26. Gina L. Barnes and Guo Dashun, “The Ritual Landscape of ‘Boar Mountain’ Basin: The Niuheliang Site Complex of North-Easter China,” World Archaeology 23, no. 2 (1996): 209– 219. 27. This is the interpretation of Sarah Milledge Nelson (University of Denver), to whom I am grateful for sharing with me her thoughts and research on the building. S. M. Nelson, “The Goddess Temple and the Status of Women at Niuheliang, China,” in The Archaeology of Gender, Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Conference of the Archaeological Association of the University of Calgary, eds. Dale Walde and Noreen D. Willows (Calgary: The Association, 1991). S. Sun and D. Guo, “Discovery and Study of the Goddess Head of the Hongshan Culture from Niuheliang,” Wenwu (1986) (8): 7–10. 28. E. Tong, “Magicians, Magic, and Shamanism in Ancient China,” Journal of East Asian Archaeology 4, 1/4 (2002): 35. 29. Heilongjiang Kaogusuo, 1988b. . The Shangzhixian Yabuli site, Heilongjiang. Beifangwenwu, 1. 30. Kwang-Chih Chang, “Neolithic Cultures of the Sungari Valley, Manchuria,” Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 17, no. 1 (1961): 56–74; Kwang-Chih Chang, The Archaeology of Ancient China (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968). 31. Jean M. James, “Is It Really a Dragon? Some Remarks on the Xishuipo Burial,” Archives of Asian Art, vol. 46, (1993): 100–101. 32. J. McKim Malville et al., “Megaliths and Neolithic Astronomy in Southern Egypt,” Nature 392/6675 (April 1998): 488–491. 33. Halina Krolik and Romauld Schild, “Site E-75-6: An El Nabta and Al Jerar Village,” Holocene Settlement of the Egyptian Sahara: Volume 1: The Archaeology of Nabta Playa, eds. Fred Wendorf and Romuald Schild (New York: Kluwer Academic, 2001): 119; Fred Wendorf and Halina Królik, “Site E-96-1: The Complex Structures or Shrines,” Ibid., 503–520; Fred Wendorf and Romuald Schild, “Conclusions,” Ibid., 671. 34. Asli and Mehmet Özdogan, “Buildings of Cult and the Cult of Buildings,” Light on Top of the Black Hill: Studies Presented to Halet çambel, eds. G. Arsevük, M. Mellink, and W Schirmer (Istanbul: Ege Yayinlari, 1998): 581–601.

CHAPTER 8 The First Agro-Pastoral Perspectives Obsidian is formed when silica-rich magma from a volcano or a volcanic vent cools quickly—as perhaps under water—so that little or no crystallization occurs. It appears as blobs of shiny, black glass. The name originates from the Greek word opsi (“appearance”), possibly because it was used in the eyes of figurines, which were viewed as symbolical mirrors of the world. Ancient sources also referred to obsidian’s medico-magical use to cure eye diseases or enable the seer to gaze into the future; others were convinced that it brought luck to sea travelers1 (Figures 8.1 and 8.2). Figure 8.1: West Asia early cities, 9000-5000 BCE. Source: Florence Guiraud

Figure 8.2: Obsidian outcrop, California, USA. Source: Beej Jorgensen

Obsidian can be compared to jade in China, since both stones were held to have magical properties, but obsidian had a secondary feature, namely that with careful preparation and chipping it produces a sharp blade, sharper even than many modern steel blades. Obsidian was well known to First Society people, who valued its shiny surfaces and used it for spear points. It was, therefore, only a matter of time, around 8000 BCE, in fact, that obsidian blades were placed in sickles, thus greatly accelerating the harvesting of grain. Some of the main sites for obsidian were in Armenia and in southern Anatolia, near Çatal Höyük at Ciftlik, and near the present town of Nigde in Turkey, and, finally, on the Mediterranean island of Lipari. Obsidian from these places had a huge impact on the nascent agro-pastoral world since it produced a clear asymmetry between the haves and the have nots. The settlement Asikli Höyük in Turkey, near an obsidian source, was a place where the material was worked into blades for trade purposes2 (Figure 8.3a, 8.3b). The layout of the village consisted of densely packed rectangular houses sited on a bluff over a bend in the Melendiz River. The mudbrick buildings had no foundations, but the floors were finely paved with pebbles. There were no doors to the houses. Entry was from the roof. The roof was an important platform for work and other social activities, including cooking, eating, and sleeping. About a third of the rooms had a hearth in one corner. The average room size was 12 square meters, with as few as two or three and as many as five or six dwellings forming a compound focused around a courtyard that served as a workspace for the processing of food and obsidian. These compounds, in turn, were part of neighborhoods divided by streets and alleys. What is also unusual is that as buildings fell into disrepair, they were rebuilt with few changes. According to archaeologists, the implication was that—as with the Dogon in Mali—a person might move from one building to the next over the

course of his or her life, depending on changing marital and family relationships, because buildings were cooperatively owned by a lineage rather than by a specific household. There were also a good number of under-the-floor burials. Since all ages and both sexes are present, this means that burials were not related to social standing, but probably clan lineage.3 Figure 8.3a, b: Asikli Höyük, Turkey: (a) plan, (b) view. Source: Timothy Cooke and Mark Jarzombek/Belda Serge Düring, Constructing Communities: Clustered Neighbourhood Settlements of the Central Anatolian Neolithic ca. 8500–5500 BCE (PhD dissertation, Leiden University, 2006), 85

To the southwest of the hamlet, prominently located at the edge of the bluff, there was a separate building that was larger than the rest with a plan that is almost a perfect square. Floors and interior walls were painted red and worked to a polish. There was a hearth against the east wall with a

canal for drainage to the exterior. Along the other walls, there were low benches. To the north of the building was a large squarish courtyard about 12 meters on the side. The thick walls indicate that it had an upper floor. This remarkable building was certainly a cult center of some sort and a clear indication of the emergence of a specialized ritual architecture.4 The communal ritual house was a key element of the northern hunting culture, and so perhaps one can see here residual connections to such traditions.

ÇATAL HÖYÜK The village of Cayönü, farther south, and located near a small lake with marshy banks, was also part of the obsidian trade network, but the most important obsidian-producing—and later metalproducing—center was Çatal Höyük in central Anatolia (near the modern city of Konya (Figure 8.4a, 8.4b). The settlement was no mere village, but neither was it a city; perhaps it can best be described as a very compact village. Dating back as far as 7400 BCE and lasting to about 5500 BCE, it had a population of about eight thousand at its peak. Here we see without a doubt the new cultural unity of animal herding, plant-tending, and obsidian. The village was located in the center of a large, well-watered valley and next to a river that fed into a nearby lake. It covered two mounds separated by the river. Numerous other communities were nearby on the Konya plain, though no one knows exactly how many. Both lake and river have long since dried up. Obsidian was harvested from the slopes of Mount Hasan (Turkish: Hasan Daği), a volcano about 180 kilometers to the northeast, the eruption of which around 7500 BCE was recorded on a mural in Çatal Höyük. Figure 8.4a, b: Çatal Höyük, Turkey: (a) view, (b) plan. Source: Nadine Volicer/Belda Serge Düring, Constructing Communities: Clustered Neighbourhood Settlements of the Central Anatolian Neolithic ca. 8500–5500 BCE (PhD dissertation, Leiden University, 2006), 85

The settlement, just as at Asikli Höyük, consisted of rectangular flat-roofed houses packed together into a single architectural mass with no streets or passageways. There was, in that sense, no “public” space. The outside of the settlement presented a solid blank wall made of mud bricks and reinforced by massive oak posts. There were, however, open areas that separated “neighborhoods,” perhaps work areas or places from which access to the roofs could be monitored. The roof was in every sense a public area, not much different from how the Hopi used

roofs in the Southwest United States. Old photos show people lining the roofs on ritual days. The roofs at Asikli Höyük were not all connected, but defined neighborhoods that were akin to clan compounds with a population of about a 150 people, similar once again to Asikli Höyük. But the individual house units were more differentiated from each other than at Asikli Höyük, where the houses were more uniform. Because the settlement is on a slope, the roof levels of the houses might have been set at different heights to create larger flat surfaces. The roofs would also have been used primarily in summer and would have been filled with life. In winter, people spent more time indoors, making clothes, repairing hunting equipment, and producing ritual items. Inhabitants descended into their homes through openings in the roofs by means of ladders. Walls between living units were not shared. Instead each house had its own set of walls. Light came from small windows high in the walls or from the opening in the roof. If a family died out, their house, so it seems, was abandoned for a period of time, leaving gaps in the village fabric. Garbage and detritus built up in these areas until eventually the space was reclaimed. The typical residence contained one large room connected to smaller areas. The main room was equipped with benches, ovens, and bins. The average size of the room was a generous 5 by 6 meters. The standardized internal configuration of the buildings acted as an important means for creating and reproducing a sense of community (Figure 8.5). Figure 8.5: Çatal Höyük, Turkey, cutaway. Source: Nadine Volicer/James Mellaart, “Excavations at Catal Hüyük, 1963: Third preliminary report,” Anatolian Studies 14 (1964), 52

Walls of some of the houses were plastered and many were decorated with spectacular hunting scenes, textile patterns, or even what appear to be landscapes. There were raised benches on three sides for sleeping and other activities. Horns of animals, especially of cattle, were mounted on the walls. One representation shows an animal surrounded by bearded men, children, women, and a dog watching the scene. Another mural shows dancing figures centered on an elaborately skirted main figure who holds one hand on his hip and waves the other. Most scenes are vigorously expressed, especially in the immediate presence of animals. Many of the men wear leopard skin costumes, possibly a clan totem. The bull cult by this time had reached far into the inner workings of the society. Many houses had their own shrines consisting of a wall decorated with bulls or horns. In some houses, pairs of horns were set in clay at the edge of platforms or embedded in benches. Horns are modeled in plaster, though some are real. In one case, seven horns were placed in a formidable row on a low bench with the neighboring walls painted in red. Figures of bulls were also painted, usually on the north walls of houses and facing toward the Taurus Mountains. In one image, a gigantic bull is

surrounded by dancing people in a sort of ritual frenzy (Figure 8.6). Figure 8.6: Çatal Höyük, Turkey, wall painting with bull and dancers. Source: Timothy Cooke/Jacques Cauvin, The Birth of the Gods and the Origins of Agriculture, Cambridge University Press, 2000, 31

Although the bull god was clearly important, so too was the mother goddess. Figurine representations of her, made of a variety of materials, were found throughout the village. One statue, remarkable for its bold three-dimensional design, is of a voluminous, seated woman giving birth. The chair on which she sits has armrests in the shape of lions. A skeleton is incised on her back. She probably represented fecundity and regeneration and was certainly part of an increasingly widespread mother-goddess cult that would be typical of early European and Mediterranean societies4 (Figure 8.7). Figure 8.7: Çatal Höyük, Turkey, mother goddess statuette. Source: Nancy Jarzombek

Although mortuary practices at Çatal Höyük are not known for sure, it is assumed that upon death, bodies were left outside in certain ritual zones where they were eaten by vultures, which explains the significance of the vulture in the images on the walls. In one mural, a huge vulture snaps at small, headless human corpses (Figure 8.8). The presence of human legs on the vultures indicates that these were probably shaman priests who adopted the vulture mask for their rituals. Another mural shows 7-meter-high timber towers accessed by ladders. On one of them, a body, drawn upside-down, has just been placed at the top and vultures are arriving with their wings spread wide. To the left of that tower there is another where the feast is concluding and all that remains is a skull. The towers are substantial constructions with cross-bracing placed in a row. They were probably located on a sacred hill somewhere near the town5 (Figure 8.9). Figure 8.8: a, b: Çatal Höyük, Turkey, (a) view of an interior, (b) detail of wall drawing. Source: Nadine Volicer/James Mellaart, “Excavations at Catal Hüyük, 1963: Third preliminary report,” Anatolian Studies 14 (1964), 65

Figure 8.9: Çatal Höyük, Turkey, sky burial as depicted on mural of house 3, level 6. Source: Nancy Jauombek

Sky burials, as they are now called, were practiced throughout central Asia and even by Native Americans. The practice was common to Zoroastrianism (founded in the sixth century BCE), which once spanned much of Central Asia and still has remnant adherents in India and Iran. At death, the body is placed in a round open structure, known as a Dakhma, or more colloquially as a Tower of Silence. They were often visible in the landscape because of the circling vultures. In ancient times, these were usually on hilltops. Several still exist as ruins in Iran, the most famous being near the town of Yazd. But the burial form that has the strongest connection to these ancient times is in Tibet, even though it has been incorporated into Buddhist practices. The body is placed in designated areas on an upper slope or mountain peak, with vultures flocking around in anticipation. Death was not seen as a finality, but a transition from the realm of the living to that of the ancestors, and the vulture was the symbol and facilitator of that transition (Figure 8.10). Figure 8.10: Sky burial, Tibet. Source: Andrew Hares

Defleshing was just part of the burial routine in ancient times. After a period, family members would gather the bones and bury them under the floor of the house. But, as in the other sites discussed, it is clear that not everyone was buried in the house. Furthermore, in some houses there are more burials than could have been accounted for by the death toll among a single household. Why then were specific buildings more appropriate than others for placing the dead? It seems that these buildings might have served as ancestor shrines. An appropriate parallel in understanding this practice would be the precolonial Roti society in Indonesia. The Roti buried the dead under the house floor, allowing the spirits to take up residence in the loft. Furthermore, a person was not necessarily buried in the house in which he or she has lived in, but in a designated clan house in which other burials have already taken place and which has therefore accumulated ritual power and is regarded as a sort of temple.6 This means, in regard to Çatal Höyük, that even though there are no public buildings as we understand today, people did not live in discrete, isolated cells, but that some units served at a larger social scale. This is reinforced by studying the site over time. Some buildings developed from an inconspicuous structure—one among many—to an elaborate one invested with symbolism through wall paintings, burials, and other features. These structures were also repaired and maintained over time, whereas other structures decayed or were rebuilt in a different form.6 This is particularly apparent in the discovery of a house where the floors and walls were completely painted red. It is roughly squarish in plan with half-round buttresses in the center of the walls, with the exception of the eastern wall, where the buttress intrudes into the space as a wall stub.7 One can get a sense of how the interiors might have looked upon entering a house of the Konso in Ethiopia, where the walls are molded in plaster and painted (Figure 8.11). Figure 8.11: Inside of Konso hut, Omo Valley, Konso, Ethiopia. Source: Eric Lafforgue

KHIROKITIA, JERICHO, AND ‘AIN GHAZAL Khirokitia, on the island of Cyprus, dating from between around 7000–6000 BCE exhibited a wellorganized architectural tradition. All the animals—goats, pigs, dogs, cats, and sheep—had been ferried to the island across the 55-kilometer stretch of water. Spread in a semi-circle on the flanks of a hill, the town, populated by about five hundred people, was protected by a massive stone wall almost 3 meters thick. As the population grew, a new wall, running roughly parallel to the old one, was added. The circular limestone houses varied in diameter from about 2 to 9 meters. The stones, bonded with mud, were covered on both the inside and the outside with a whitish earthen gypsum. Some of the houses were decorated with paintings, but not enough have been preserved to ascertain what was represented. The flat, timbered roofs were covered with reeds and mud. A family unit consisted of several circular structures grouped around a small open space. Such compounds were crowded next to each other with just enough room between them for passageways. Although the mother goddess was a preeminent religious theme, there appears to have been no central religious site. For the dead, a pit was dug within the family compound into which the bodies were laid along with various ritual objects. The entire was then covered with dirt and plaster. Since the village was some distance from the sea, the main economy was farming, animal tending, and hunting. The villagers also picked the fruit of trees growing wild in the surrounding area such as pistachio nuts, figs, and prunes. Fish were brought up from the sea or traded in exchange for agricultural or meat products. For reasons unknown, the site, and indeed all of Cyprus, was abandoned at some time and only reoccupied much later. Obsidian was traded southeastward to places like Jarmo in Iraq, but also along the Mediterranean coast to Jericho in Israel (Figure 8.12). It was excellently sited on a hill just to the west of the Central Mountains. The site benefited from the natural irrigation supplied by the Jordan River approximately 6 kilometers to the west, small streams to the north and south and, most

importantly, a spring just next to the village itself. A typical hut in this tightly compacted town was about 3 meters in diameter. Some were used for sleeping but others, linked to form compounds, served as kitchens, stables, and storage. The modularity of the hut allowed for compounds to grow or shrink over time. Most astonishingly, however, the town was protected by a massive wall. A wall had also protected Khirokitia, but the Jericho wall was significantly longer and stretched completely around the settlement. On its western edge and just inside the wall, a flat-topped conical structure rose over the height of the wall. It was made of stone and had a concealed inner stairway leading to the top. Though the top has been eroded away, there was probably a ritual structure of some sort made of wood or thatch at the peak. The purpose of this mysterious building is unknown. It is possible that it was a celestial observatory for it seems to be associated with a solstice alignment with a peak to the west of the settlement. Was it a type of proto-ziggurat where certain sacred ritual activities took place relating to the agrarian seasons? Figure 8.12a, b, c: (a) site plan; (b) plan; (c) view and section through tower Jericho, Israel, site plan, detail, and view. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Around 6800 BCE, there was a major upheaval and the town was destroyed. When it was resettled sometime later, the houses were rectangular with plastered floors following the Anatolian tradition. The change, which also coincides with the introduction of pottery, indicates the shift to an organized polity based less on clan compounds than on a chiefdom culture. Rectangular houses

imply a more determined relationship to the family unit that lived and worked in and around it. One can see the same shift at Abu Hureyra in northern Syria. The settlement had two separate periods of occupation, the first around 9500 BCE, when the village consisted of small round huts cut into the soft sandstone of the terrace. The roofs were supported with wooden posts, and roofed with brushwood and reeds. The huts were small, about 2 meters across, and were not used as work spaces, which took place mostly in the courtyards. And since they were partially sunken into the ground, they might only have been 2 or 3 meters at the peak from the outside. The settlement was abandoned for about two hundred years, probably at the advent of the Younger Dryas, when the weather turned colder and drier, but then around 7000 BCE the people returned and established a much larger settlement. Mud-brick houses were constructed of substantial size, with five rooms each about 4 by 2 meters. Secondary burials of bones were found in several rooms under the floor of the house. Many more women than men were buried in this way. The reason was the house was now their domain, where they had lived and worked. The women, it seems, had specific parts of space bounded by the limits of the house; their territory was a frame for their activities. Men, by way of contrast, were increasingly associated with the outside world, with animals and tending the fields.9 ’Ain Ghazal, Jordan, dating back to 8000 BCE, hardly evokes the once lush natural environment. Being an early farming community, the ‘Ain Ghazal people cultivated cereals (barley and wheat) and legumes (peas, beans, and lentils) in fields above the village, and herded domesticated goats. It was inhabited by about as many as three thousand people, making it a major settlement. It might have looked somewhat like the village of Dana in Jordan, except that instead of being set up on a hilltop it was placed on terraced ground overlooking a river (Figure 8.13). Figure 8.13: Dana, Jordan. Source: Š Bernard Gagnon (

The rectangular mud-brick houses accommodated a square main room and a smaller anteroom. Walls were plastered with mud on the outside, and with lime plaster inside that was renewed every few years. The floors were plastered red indicating the continuity of sacred functions. Numerous zoomorphic figurines were found, but what is remarkable is the homogeneity of die subject matter. During the 2,000 years of occupation at the site, the same animals were made again and again in the same style, namely bulls with emphasis on the animal’s foreparts. The heads, large sweeping horns, powerful necks, and shoulders contrast with the small, tapering rear ends. They are modeled in unbaked yellow-brown clay. They were found in different circumstances. Two animals that were portrayed as having being stabbed, with three miniature blades inserted in the throat, abdomen, and chest, were placed side by side in a tiny pit covered by a limestone slab beneath a floor in the corner of a room. Although the building appears to have had a domestic function, in previous phases it had also held unusual burials: five funerary pits arranged around a hearth—an infant under a doorway, a cache of three adult skulls, and a child’s skull treated with black pigment. In another case, a clay bull was found in a storage bin where it was associated with three cattle bones, one of them bearing an incised pattern. The figurines might have been used in soliciting omens, but could also have been used in agricultural rituals. Burying small figurines in freshly planted crop rows is still practiced in some villages in Africa. Also possible is that the entire village served as a regional ritual center involving the combination of scarifices and oracles.10 The development of social differentiation was clearly expressed in the human burials, of which there were three types. Special people were buried beneath the floors of houses, but since these are both males and females, the selection rules for this distinction remain unknown. Furthermore, after a suitable time for the flesh to decay, the burial pit was reopened in order to remove the head, leaving the lower jaw behind. This is an ancient First Society custom done to ensure that the dead person is transformed into a good and benevolent spirit. The spirits without the lower jawbones are considered to be less hungry and more sympathetic about sharing food with the living humans. Many people who died were not buried in this way, but what happened to them is simply not known; one might surmise a “cemetery” outside of the settlement, but so far, no such burial ground has been found anywhere in the Levant. The third type of burial was to throw individuals into the trash heaps outside of town. Whoever they were, slaves perhaps, it is clear that they lived in a low status compared to the majority of the villagers.

THE HALAF, HASSUNA, AND SAMARRA CULTURES In the period discussed so far, from around 7000–6000 BCE, we see the shift toward agriculture, but most settlements, despite trade links, had only a limited regional presence. This begins to change with the Halaf Culture (6100–5400 BCE), named after a town in northern Iraq, that was a small-scale, dry land farming society exploiting rainfall without the help of irrigation. They grew emmer, wheat, flax, and two-rowed barley, while at the same time keeping cattle, sheep, and goats. Halaf pottery like that made at Tell Arpachiyah is very beautiful and some scholars consider it the best ever made in the early Near East. The bowls were quite likely made as prestige or ritual items. They are black, brown, or orange, and decorated with depictions of bulls’ heads and double axes.11 Halaf towns were quite advanced. Streets may have been narrow, but they were often

paved. The rectangular house plans were grouped in rooms for living and for storage, as well as for stalls for animals. One structure—dating to around 5000 BCE—of mud brick with separate wings and a foundation of stone, consisted of about 22 small square rooms, most of which had no doors. This leads one to surmise that the structure was a granary. The outer wall of the building had regular, buttress-like projections that possibly functioned as supports for upper stories. The first culture that can properly be called “agricultural” is known as the Hassuna (6000–5200 BCE); it spread westward between the 38th and 35th parallels in Syria and Iraq, where there was enough rainfall to allow for “dry” agriculture augmented by irrigation. Hassuna people lived in small villages and hamlets ranging from 2 to 8 acres (32,000 m2), some of which grew over time into substantial communities. Yarim Tepe I in northern Iraq was a typical site, consisting of several villages perched on hillocks along the banks of a river. Its inhabitants imported wood, obsidian tools and blades, marble, turquoise, copper, and other stones that suggest trade, whether directly or through intermediaries, with Iran, Anatolia, south Arabia, and the Mediterranean coast as early as 6000 BCE. The main export good was grain, which was now being produced as a trade surplus.12 The houses were built on an artificially leveled platform. The walls, built up in the socalled pisé technique, which consisted of clay reinforced with straw and twigs, were substantial, having a thickness of about 30 to 35 centimeters. At first the walls were built of nonstandardized clay blocks, but soon standardization occurred, with houses eventually made of uniform blocks (35 × 25 × 6 centimeters). At Tepe II we also can see signs of an emerging trade economy. A house with a circular plan with a hearth dominates. When the house was first built, a ritual deposit was laid under the floor; it consisted of a stone pendant, a clay figurine, and a triangular copper pendant along with some animal bones. Behind the house were two outdoor ovens and immediately to the south of these a storage structure, probably a granary, while somewhat to the west was a circular potters kiln with a rectangular structure that may have served as storage. The Hassuna culture villages were small by the standards of Jericho and other towns, but eventually came to have buildings that were increasingly more formal and complex in their organization. Furthermore, unlike the undifferentiated urban plans of Khirokitia and Çatal Höyük, here we see that the important buildings were located in the southern half of the village. One is symmetrical in plan and has a hall or corridor down the center. Its purpose is unknown, but it was possibly a granary. This clearly implies some kind of organization and leadership as well as a redistributive economy involving the collecting, storing, and allocation of goods. This is reinforced by the presence of stamp seals made from clay that were used to indicate ownership and transactions. The Hassuna developed a distinctive style of pottery (Figure 8.14). Pots were elaborately painted and incised replacing earlier, coarser ware. The style quickly spread to a wide area, even as far as Samarra, a town on the Tigris (not far from Baghdad). Dancing scenes seem to be particularly dominant, a possible indicator that the containers were made for marriage ceremonies or other celebratory events. In one rendering, the dancers, moving counterclockwise, are holding hands and wearing long skirts with fringed edges; their heads are stylized with long hair. Maybe they are wearing masks with horns and long streamers. Another vessel was modeled as a woman. The stopper is missing, but would have been in the form of her head. The vessel’s content is unknown. Clearly, it held a liquid of some sort that could have been used for ritual libation or purification. The hands under her breast were painted as well as the hair of the pubic triangle. The four-petaled flower depicted within a darker square at the navel possibly represents a tattoo. The vase was found smashed in a burial site, which might indicate a ritual destruction13 (Figures 8.15

and 8.16). Figure 8.14: Hassuna pottery. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Figure 8.15: Shards from large jar showing dancers. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Figure 8.16: Yarem Tepe II, Iraq, vessel figurine. Source: Nancy Jarzombek/Diane Bolger, Gender Through Time in the Ancient Near East (New York: Rowman Altamira, 2008), 63

The agro-pastoral village culture of the Hassuna gradually moved down from the foothills of the mountains of the upper reaches of the Tigris River to create the Samarra culture, named after the town of Samarra located on the banks of the Tigris. Because little is left from Samarra itself, one has to turn to the better preserved town of Tell es-Sawwan, 10 kilometers south of Samarra and also located on a bluff on the east side of the Tigris just to the north of the great marshes (Figures 8.17a, 8.17b, and 8.18). The river then was further removed from the bluffs than it is today, leaving an extensive flood plain with a high water table, ideal for agricultural purposes. Small ditches indicate the use of irrigation in the immediate vicinity of the settlement, not unlike what one finds today in remote villages in Iraq. The inhabitants discovered that the local soil contained large quantities of lime that when burned produced calcium oxide or gypsum that was useful for the making of mortar for building purposes. Another local building material was bitumen taken from a site to the east. It served as waterproofing for roofs and walls. It was also smeared onto baskets that were used to carry water up from the river. Figure 8.17a, b: Tell es Sawwan, Iraq: (a) site plan; (b) map; (c) plan of town. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Donny George Youkana, Tell es-saw-wan: The Architecture of the Sixth Millennium (London: Nabu Publications, 1997)

Figure 8.18: Farmer with his hoe working on irrigation ditches, Iraq. Source: David Wise

The village went through several phases of enlargement. Founded around 5500 BCE, it began as a relatively loose arrangement of buildings. The pottery from that period was still fairly basic, but a noticeable jump occurred with the introduction of Samarran-style ware, which was simultaneous with improvements in architecture. Walls became regularized, floors were plastered with gypsum, and paths between buildings were paved with gypsum and pebbles. The walls of buildings were reinforced by buttresses indicative of the presence of upper stories. A rectangular defensive wall consisted of parallel rows of mud brick covered with a layer of clay. Over time the enclosure became increasingly filled with houses and animal pens, and the houses began to take on a distinctive T shape. Most likely each of these structures housed a family unit.

RELIGION AND CULT BUILDINGS The shift from the shaman to ritual specialist is difficult to detect in the archaeological record, but that it occurred in many of these villages around this time seems quite apparent. Shamans are traditionally focused on curing and prophecy. They act as intermediaries between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead. Their art lies in their knowledge of plants and animal spirits. Ritual specialists, on the other hand, probably inherit their power or derive it from the codified knowledge necessary to conduct public rites for the benefit of a community or individual. These rites are calendric, and performed in conjunction with the agricultural cycles. A ritual specialist will also be associated with a particular site and building. Historically, the transition is not necessarily where one replaces the other. Among the Navajo, shamans and priests co-exist. However, in the Anatolian/Levant area, household rituals had become quite pronounced and it was from within this context, enhanced by bull rituals, that ceremonial life in Mesopotamia slowly grew in scale. Only with the establishment of proto-urban towns in Mesopotamia do we find the unambiguous evidence for the distinctive pattern of town and temple that was to become characteristic for later Mesopotamian culture. Evidence for the transition is at Tell Gawra, which came to have a structure that can be identified as a temple around 3500 BCE. Before then, apart from the great ritual center of GÜbekli Tepe, the house shrine—and the emerging ritual centers of

the herders—remained the dominant mode of religion, even though it was only a matter of time for the house shrine to rise to the level of an autonomous institution. Throughout this period we continue, therefore, to see animal figurines and mother goddess figurines at almost every site, but some seem to be given special value (Figure 8.19a, 8.19b). One such statue, at ‘Ain Ghazal, was located on a rise at the outskirts of the village. It was placed at the end of a stone path specially made for it. The sculpture was probably displayed on a small platform of reeds or wood at the end of the path. Could the figure have evoked a primeval deity like Nammu, the later Sumerian deity who represents the creator of mankind? Could it have been part of a birth cult?14 Figure 8.19a, b: Figurines: (a) Cyprus, (b) Bouqras, Syria. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Cyprus Anthropological Museum and Ackerman

In Tell es-Sawwan, we see an example of the autonomous shrine in the houses closest to the river that had under their floors and in their vicinity up to four hundred burials, many of which were children’s burials. Graves were mostly ovals filled with yellow sand, leveled, and plastered over with a layer of gypsum or occasionally with bitumen. These graves were secondary burials into which the bones had been transferred after first having been buried elsewhere. One building seems to have been particularly important. A suite of four rooms on one of its flanks was connected by axially arranged doorways and probably served as a mother goddess shrine. Not only were numerous burials found under the floors of these rooms, but a small altar niche with a figurine was found in the last room. In the room before it, traces of burnt offerings were discovered that included gazelle, sheep, and goat bones. Since this cult center was close to the river, the location may have been viewed as a sacred threshold.15

Most villages of that time seem to have had similar cult structures with only slight variations, even though the ones at Tell es-Sawwan were the largest. The cult rooms at Yarim Tepe, however, had a hearth possibly associated with ritual practices, while a sequence of rooms at Choga Mami may have served as a cult center dedicated to a mother goddess or fertility deity. The cult center at Songor differed in so far as several rooms were connected by centrally located doorways. All of these structures are oriented toward Tell es-Sawwan, which led scholars to surmise that the cult being practiced here had a supra-regional import. In fact, the graves at Tell es-Sawwan are so numerous that it is possible that it was a regional burial ground dedicated specifically to children (Figure 8.20). Figure 8.20a, b: (a) map; (b) Tell es Sawwan, Iraq, comparison of cult buildings in the region. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Donny George Youkhanna, The Architecture of the Sixth Millennium BC in Tell es-Sawwan (London: Nabu, 1997), 21

The burials were commonly accompanied by small figurines of alabaster, the source of which was some distance to the north, indicating far-ranging commercial dealings (Figure 8.21). The gender of these figurines is ambiguous and it was thought that since many of these figurines were found in children’s graves they either represent a type of mother goddess accompanying a deceased child or perhaps their embodied spirit at an older age.16 What the accompanying figurines represented is not clear especially since they are found only in Tell es-Sawwan’s infant graves. One unusually rich grave of an adult was furnished with six such statuettes along with vessels, alabaster animal figures, and turquoise beads. Small figurines of baked and sometimes unbaked clay representing both human and animal forms also begin to be found. Their remarkable diversity precludes any single explanation of their purpose.

Figure 8.21: Alabaster figurine from Tell es Sawwan, Iraq. Source: Mark Jarzombek

The small complex at Ein-Gedi in Israel contains four primary components: a courtyard, two broad rooms, and a gatehouse situated on a promontory overlooking the Dead Sea, between two springs. In the center of the courtyard there was a sacred tree. In the main, rectilinear room there was a stone bench on the long walls. Opposite the entrance there was a white limestone drum that served probably as an altar. A ceramic bull, or perhaps a ram, carrying two churns was recovered nearby. The floor was perforated with a series of small shallow pits about 50 centimeters across that contained ash and were used for small fires lit beneath special bowls designed with legs that sat in the hearths. Given the formalized nature of the setting, this place was probably controlled by a ritual specialist. People came here to make offerings.17 Around this time, people also began to develop human-scale representations of deities, as, for example, the “Balžklžgöl statue” (Bolikli Gol) as it is called, found near Sanilurfa in central southern Turkey. It is a 2-meter-tall figure of a man carved from limestone, with eyes of obsidian. The statue is believed to represent the God of Reproduction. He is wearing a Z-shaped vest or perhaps gold chains. His penis would have been in wood (Figure 8.22). Figure 8.22: Balžklžgöl statue, Tell es Sawwan, Iraq. Source: Mark Jarzombek

There must also have been some relationship between the removal of the heads of those interred in the house floors and the discovery of a large number of plaster heads and anthropomorphic statues buried in pits in the vicinity of buildings that probably had ritual functions. A few of these astonishing sculptures, as at 窶連in Ghazal, are half-size human figures modeled in white plaster around a core of bundled twigs. Clothes, hair, and in some cases ornamental tattoos have been painted on them. The eyes are created using cowrie shells and bitumen for the pupils. Thirty-two of these figures were found at Ain Ghazal in all, fifteen full figures, fifteen busts, and two fragmentary heads. Three of the busts were two-headed (Figure 8.23). The largest collection of plastered skulls comes from Tell Ramad, Syria, where twenty-three skulls were found of men, women, and even boys. On some, the foreheads or top of the head bore a large red spot; the eyes were made of grayish plaster with the iris and pupil standing out in pure white. With others, the entire skull was painted red. They were seemingly exposed for display. One group was in a niche of the outside wall of a building. Some were placed against the stone foundation. The skulls at Beisamoun and Kfar HaHoresh were oriented east. The high density of inhumations around the plastered skulls at Ain Ghazal, Beisamoun, Kfar HaHoresh, Jericho, and Tell Ramad suggests the possibility of communal and perhaps regional mortuary centers. Archaeologists are unsure what to make of these statues. Were they ancestor cults? Then how do women and children figure in this? The same is true if they were enemy trophy heads. Were they perhaps made to protect the dead against evil? Were these people members of a particular elite? Probably, but what type of elite?18 Figure 8.23: 窶連in Ghazal, Jordan, pit with plaster statues. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Jacques Cauvin, The Birth of the Gods and the Origin of Agriculture, translated by Trevor Watkins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 111

BUILDING MATERIALS In Mesopotamia, river clay provided an excellent substitute for stone, which was in short supply and even for wood, which was a commodity that became rarer as time went on and forests were leveled to increase farmland. The first usage was in the ninth millennium BCE, when it was fashioned into bricks of various sizes at Nemrik, about 55 kilometers northwest of Mosul in today’s Iraq. By the seventh millennium, mud bricks were common through the region. Some are cigar-shaped and others loaf-shaped. Eventually the advantages of mortar as a bonding agent were discovered, which necessitated rectangular forms. The shared dimension of bricks enabled a skilled bricklayer to produce thousands of identical bricks (Figure 8.24). The preferred brick manufacturing time was between May and June, immediately after the spring rains, when water would be plentiful and the whole summer lay ahead if necessary for drying. Furthermore, chaff and straw was also still available. July to August was therefore the usual time for building when the dryness of the ground facilitated foundation laying. Eventually, in the third millennium, kiln-dried bricks were being made, but because of their high production cost and the need for a lot of timber, these bricks were used mainly for palaces and temples. Figure 8.24: Reconstruction of mud brick wall, Susa, Iran. Source: Pentocelo, Public Domain

At many sites in Mesopotamia, the interior wall surfaces were plastered with gypsum, a feature that was to remain a central element of interior finish. From the extensive outcrops of rock gypsum in northern Iraq and Syria, blocks were cut, stacked, and burnt to form an easily transportable white powder. This building material was not only used locally, but was also exported as a trade commodity. Bitumen was also used, mainly for protection against damp and as a mortar. It was also used medicinally, in rituals. Ancient textual evidence reveals the various forms in which it was available, the details of its transport in skins and pottery. In some places it appears almost as a rock, and in other places it oozes to the surface in hot springs. The ancient sources were primarily in the Kirkuk region on the middle Euphrates, where it was ideal for river distribution. Bitumen was difficult to produce and acquire and it was used mainly for more prestigious buildings. Timber was used primarily for roof beams. Astonishingly, it was not widely used for columns until the Achaemenid period, around 400 BCE. This meant that rooms were limited in their width to 5 meters and were usually 2 to 4 meters. Roofing material constituted a major expense in a building project since it had to be procured from the remote mountain forests. Places like Jarmo that were close to forests had oak beams for roofs. But as there were fewer and fewer forests over time, timber became rarer and eventually, with the Babylonians, had to be imported all the way from Lebanon.19 It has been argued that the deforestation of the Mesopotamian hillsides led to a rapid desertification by 1000 BCE. Reeds, another common material, grew in abundance along the river banks and in the marshes to the south. Assyrian and Babylonian images give us a clear indication of their use and design. The residents of the sadly depleted Iraqi marshes still today build structures that are clearly similar to these. The reeds were also used for the making of boats. Textual evidence points to the existence of bitumen-covered reed-bundle vessels. The recent recovery of twenty-two bitumen fragments on ocean-going vessels belonging to the Ubaid period at Al-Subiyah (northeast Kuwait) is a significant find as it points to maritime trade as early as the sixth millennium BCE.

THE LURI OF IRAN Despite the emphasis on the development of agriculture, this time also saw the emergence of nonagricultural herding societies, who tended flocks of sheep and goats. Although sheep and goats were already domesticated around 8000 BCE, the earliest evidence archaeologically of a sheeptending campsite in Iran dates back to around 6200 BCE.20 The scale of the rectangular shape of the foundation stones at these ancient sites is remarkably similar to the rectangular tents made of black goatskin, which are still produced today by the Luri nomads of Iran. Their tent is made of goat hair rather than goat skin. The natural oiliness of goat hair sheds rainwater and makes the tents practically waterproof. The Bedouin call the tent beit sha’r, meaning “house of hair.” The tent is stretched by means of ropes made of wool and hemp and then pitched so that the lower edge does not touch the ground. Usually strips of woven cloth are added to the middle of the tent so that the older parts are always at the bottom. In this way the tent never has to be rebuilt from scratch but is self-renewing. A new tent is only made with the start of a new family, and as long as that family inhabits it, the tent is maintained and added to (Figures 8.25, 8.26). Figure 8.25: Luri nomads, near Isfahan, Iran. Source: © Hamed Saber (

Figure 8.26: Luri nomads, near Isfahan, Iran. Source: © Hamed Saber (

The Luri, like most nomads, live not so much in the tent as in the desert. Most of the day is spent outdoors, whether herding or preparing food. Clothing is often more vital to survival than shelter. The tent is used for sleeping, receiving and entertaining guests, and by the women to cook and weave. The interior, though open, is divided into different usage zones for cooking, sleeping, and the storage of goods. During the winter, the fireplaces are built up inside and the opening is directed toward the south, while in summer the tent is directed to the north. The tents of today feature a spatial configuration that incorporates a qata or “dividing� curtain between male and female domains, as dictated by Islam. Whether these existed in ancient times is not known. Campsites can take on different constellations but often are located overlooking the pasture at the base of a hill. A common pattern is a row or a spread-out cluster of tents. As was usual in early societies and among rural areas even today, the work domains are strictly divided into male and female responsibilities. Though the tent is usually owned by the husband, it is controlled by the women, who do the physical work of pitching the tents, cooking, carrying water, spinning, and weaving. The men are responsible for the safety and security of the social units, for planning and executing raids, for protecting the herds, for providing hunted meat, and for directing the movement of the camps.21

THE INDUS CULTURES Around 7000 BCE, settlement-oriented cultures began to emerge in the eastern hills of the Baluchistan Mountains in today’s Pakistan, where we encounter the typical agro-herding environment for the age, allowing rudimentary farming in the flat lands of the river valleys and herding and hunting in the nearby hills and mountains. Over the centuries, as irrigation was developed, we see the cultivation of wheat, barley, and jujuba as well as the keeping of sheep, goats, and cattle. The area around contemporary Mehrgarh emerged as particularly important (Figure 8.27). Being strategically located overlooking the Kachi Plain southeast of modern Quetta near the Bolan Pass, it served as a gateway that connected South Asia with the rest of the continent. One can trace its 5000-year history from a village of simple mud buildings that were subdivided into four internal units to a regional trading center that covered, at the peak of its development, an area of 200

hectares. By 3500 BCE the occupants had not only mastered extensive cultivation of grain, but they had made grain the very center of their culture. There is no evidence of dominant temples. But one should not conclude that religious sentiment was in any way absent. It was, as one would expect, from First Society people making the transition into agriculture, still diffused throughout the community. Representations of mother goddesses and bulls abound. Furthermore, it is most probable that the granaries also served as ritual centers. Dominating the landscape, these square, mud-brick buildings were subdivided into multi-roomed, rectangular spaces with a long narrow corridor running down the center. The absence of doors suggests that grain was fed from the top, as into a silo. The hallway in the center would have allowed access to the grain. Were these granaries made as a consequence of drought, or because of the rise of a political elite, or both? Though we can only peer dimly back in time, it is clear that they were at the center of urban life. Outside one of the granaries, along its western wall, a large hearth has been found. Along another wall, archaeologists found the remains of the stone tools and drills of a steatite- or soapstone-cutter’s workshop. On the eastern side were heaps of animal bones mixed with ashes, indicating the presence of ritual butchering activity. The granaries were also related to specialized mortuary practices, given that human bones, presumably of priests, were found buried in their corridors and intermediary spaces.22 Figure 8.27a, b, c: Mehgarh, Indus Civilization, Pakistan: (a) granary area; (b) site; (c) map. Source: Andrew Ferentinos, ( -IndusCivilization/indus.htm)

5000 BCE By 5000 BCE the first experiments in human settlement density, agriculture and animal tending in

the Levant, West Asia, and in the Indus had proven their viability for a thousand years or more. But that era was coming to an end. Khirokitia was abandoned in 6000 BCE, Çatal Höyük in 5700 BCE, and Jarmo and Sesklo in 5000 BCE. The reasons may have been manifold and are at the moment not quite clear. A series of changes in the climate might have played a role. But with these collapses we see in Mesopotamia not a cultural reduction, but on the contrary the emergence of more organized settlement structures and of a specialization of production, all of which required more hierarchical, political configurations. First Society traditions were slowly fading in this part of the world and being replaced by a worldview more suited to larger polities. Food production was becoming an instrument of power and control. And as agriculture became more specialized, trade became all the more necessary, and with it arose a whole new set of risks. The urban revolution was about to begin in the wide-open marshlands of the Euphrates and Tigris. The cities there quickly developed into kingships controlling ever-larger swaths of territory. Writing, needed to record trade transactions, and the wheel, needed for more rapid transportation, were the immediate consequence of this shift. But places like Ur, Uruk, and Eridu were largely a single-product economy revolving around grain surplus produced as a trade commodity to exchange for metal and other materials not available in the marshes.

COPPER AND GOLD The change that begins to sweep across Mesopotamia around 5000 BCE was accelerated by the advent of copper. But since it was mined in remote mountainous areas, the agricultural zones of Mesopotamia stood in an asymmetrical relationship with metal. This means that we have to balance the story of the rise of Mesopotamian cities with that of the rise of metal cultures. The interrelationship between rivers and mountains had begun to develop in the wake of the obsidian trade, but mining, with its divisions of labor and need for territorial control, was not going to put food on the table without trade. Copper, gold, and silver were easy to transport down into the valleys (Figure 8.28). Getting food supplies back up hill was another matter. Mining ore and fabricating metal objects were, however, not always done at the same site. In the second century BCE, the Celts in Europe and England, who were metallurgical specialists, created ingots, roughed out in the shape of swords, that they used as a type of currency with the Romans in exchange for wine and other items. Similarly, the Mycenaeans at Pylos in the late second millennium BCE were known as a metallurgical center, but all the ore had to be imported. All in all, however, during the fourth millennium BCE, the almost simultaneous opening of mines in Anatolia, Armenia, Iran, the Sinai, Romania, and the Ural Mountains had an enormous impact on the economic and cultural geography of Mesopotamia and Eurasia. It was a “modernity” all unto its own, with enormous ripple effects across both space and time. One of the earliest written documentations of metal playing a role in international relations dates to around 2350 BCE when Sargon of Akkad invaded Anatolia from his lowland base to secure trade routes. In his records, he boasts that a single caravan carried about twelve tons of tin, which could make 125 tons of bronze, enough to equip a large army. Figure 8.28: Copper vein. Source: © Kirk Kittel (

Although we often think of the Tigris and Euphrates region as the birthplace of urban civilization, the truth is that civilization—if we can use that complex and awkward word, at least in this area—was the product of two separate cultures, one a “civilization” moving toward an urban culture and the other a more traditional, village-based society. The raising of grain and the production of metals were mutually reinforcing activities. However, if the production of grain eventually required a centralization of power, this was not the case with metal, which worked best in the smaller context of village life. Although copper could be made into daggers, its importance, initially at least, lay not in the realm of the military. That only happened later with the development of bronze, which was a stronger metal. The value of copper in the first millennia of its introduction was largely symbolic. It was not an indicator of wealth, which was probably measured primarily in cattle, but of status and thus came in the form of ceremonial daggers and axes, necklaces, hair ornaments, clips, and pins. And we should also remind ourselves that it was associated with magical qualities. What ochre was to First Society people, gold and copper were to the agricultural elites. It was shiny and reflective, and, just as importantly, the product of a mysterious transformation from rock to fluid to solid. This, of course, required an elaborate chain of labor from extraction and transportation to manufacture, the efforts of which were certainly much valued and protected. Furthermore, unlike ochre, which was shared by all, gold was a possession that could be lost or stolen. The safest place was on the body of its owner. If the agricultural world was drifting toward greater hierarchy in order to guarantee surpluses and trade, metal mandated this absolutely. One of the first places to develop copper production was Çatal Höyük. Metsamor in Armenia was also fast becoming an important metal-producing center. Byblos on the Mediterranean was a newly founded port with access to the emerging Dimini culture in Greece, the Trypilian culture in the Ukraine, and the vibrant Vinča culture in the Balkans, all of which were metal exporters. A slag-heap in the Sinai desert, Wadi Nasib, has been estimated to contain 100,000 tons of dross that between around 2500 and 1200 BCE could yield about 5,500 tons of copper. 23 But that is a drop in the bucket compared to mines in the Alps that might have yielded 17 tons during that same period. In Varna, on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria , a cemetery dating to about 4000 BC produced no less than 6 kilograms of gold and even larger quantities of copper, all deposited in a display of

conspicuous consumption with the elite dead.24 The Taurus Mountains in eastern Anatolia were especially important because of tin. Although there were many copper-producing areas, tin was rare and it was needed in the production of bronze. At an ancient tin mine at a site named Göltepe/Kestel, miners, using narrow shafts, brought cassiterite ore to the surface, where it was crushed, washed, and smelted with charcoal in small crucibles rather than the large furnaces characteristic of copper smelting sites. By measuring the enormous deposits of slag (600,000 tons in one pile), researchers have ascertained that this was a major site during much of the Early and Middle Bronze Age. 25 Several sites were on the Iranian Plateau. Gobin Tepe was one of these, producing pins, needles, and jewelry for the Mesopotamian city states along with Sialk and Tal-I Iblis, the latter over a thousand kilometers from Mesopotamia.26 The impact of mining on ecology was formidable. In many places, mining was responsible for the vast deforestation of Ethiopia, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia, which in turn played a part in the desertification of Western Asia.

THE VINČA AND TRYPILLIAN CULTURES AND THE PRODUCTION CRESCENT The move to cities in Mesopotamia is often treated as a singular event. It was not. For in the same period that we see the first cities in Mesopotamia, the areas of Eastern Europe and the Caucuses were rapidly turning into the largest agro-village economy in the world. The earliest examples were the Sesklo culture in Greece, the Vinča culture (5500–4500 BCE) in Romania, and the Trypillian culture (5500–2700 BCE) in northern Romania and the southern Ukraine. Together, by around 4000 BCE, these cultures constituted a thousand-kilometer-long cultural horizon around the Black Sea. It was an economic engine that played an important role and even a determining role in the rise of the Mesopotamian world and indeed, at 4000 BCE, the famous Fertile Crescent has to be seen in combination with a Production Crescent that focused on metal and salt. The Vinča were at the heart of this Production Crescent. Mine sites include Rudna Glava (Ore Head) in eastern Serbia, where archaeologists even found digging equipment.27 The Vinča also happened to be sitting on land in which there were hundreds of natural salt springs. One was Lunca-Poiana Slatinei, Romania, which was mined as far back as 6050 BCE. Salt served as a food preservative, especially for meat and fish and was much rarer than one might think, given its ubiquitousness today. Back then, the most important regional supplier of salt was Egypt, which had a convenient source in ancient lake beds with their salt deposits. In more northerly latitudes, salt was harder to come by. It had to be either mined from inside a mountain, or extracted from saltladen spring water through the process known as briquetage. First, the brackish water was boiled in large pottery vessels, producing a dense brine. The brine was then heated in a ceramic briquetage vessel until all moisture was evaporated, with the remaining crystallized salt adhering to the inside walls of the vessel. Then the briquetage vessel was broken open, and the salt was scraped from the shards. It required a lot of timber to feed the fire, which initially at least was not a problem, given the vast forests. At 4000 BCE, the Vinča, with their copper, salt, farming, and animals, were the first fully diversified and fully modernized culture outside of China. The wealth of the culture is clear, for there are over a thousand sites in this region ranging from small villages to large settlements, with hundreds of dwellings surrounded by multiple protective

ditches. Houses were rectangular and built as a wooden frame. The roof rested on logs cut so that the forked branches—forming a V at the top—could support the roof beams. The walls were built in the wattle-and-daub style, meaning that first the space between the timbers would be filled in with a “wattle” made of pliable smaller branches and vines woven together to form a thin twiggy latticed net, and then, onto this wattle framework, the “daub” would then be applied, which was made of mostly dampened clay soil, and sometimes mixed with small bits of straw and/or animal dung to help keep its structural integrity. The daub had to be applied with some force against the wattle in order for it to push through the twiggy framework. Daub was applied on both sides of the wall. It was then smoothed before drying to create an air- and water-tight barrier against the elements. After the daub was fully dried, it was then usually painted with lime to prevent infestations of pests. The roofs were made of thatch. While initially, dwellings were one-celled and sufficient for a small family, in later settlements large square buildings were discovered of about 40 to 60 square meters, with a number of rooms and built-in “furniture” (benches built onto the stove, braziers, waterwheels, tables). As at Çatal Höyük, there was no public infrastructure within these settlements, which compelled the inhabitants to include all aspects of their lives within their own domicile; ovens, kilns, working, and sleeping areas were all contained within the same space as the family’s sacred altars. But different from Çatal Höyük was the emergence of houses standing independent from one another, yet in close proximity. Since many of the houses and indeed sometimes entire villages seem to be ritually burned, archaeologists have drawn the conclusion that there might have been a type of fire cult revolving around the symbolic relationship between household rituals and the cyclical firing of houses28 (Figure 8.29). Figure 8.29: Recreation of a Cucuteni-Trypillian house burning. Source: Arheoinvest, Public Domain

The hundreds and thousands of clay statuettes and ritual vases discovered in the houses attest to the development and intensification of religious practices. Thematic variation of clay statuettes (naked or dressed figurines of women and men, standing, kneeling, or sitting; statuettes with masks on their faces; hermaphroditic statuettes) range from naturalistic to the abstract. The earliest are female deities, both standing and seated and modeled in an abstract manner. Some seem to be dressed in ritual garb, or have hip belts. The usual decorative technique was a deep incision in the clay painted with red ochre and set against the white paste made of crushed shells that was painted on the figure. Alternative dark and light bands, set either diagonally or vertically, were also added. Some seem to have necklaces. Some are masked with large, cat-like eyes. There are also figurines of turtle, toad, and bear deities, as well as bird and snake goddesses. Many of these are associated with a meander motif. The bird goddess motif was to remain strongly etched in the imagination of the region, finding its ultimate host in Athena of ancient Greece, who was still occasionally depicted as winged. One structure seems to have been most certainly a shrine. A 9-meter-long rectangular space with a stone slab floor, it had at its back a raised clay shelf with numerous figurines on it that seems to be dedicated to a snake goddess. One of the figurines holds a snake or phallus. To one side of the shelf, there was what seems to be a clay chair, in front of which was an oven. The front of the building had a low wall that supported a wattle framework structure. The walls at the rear were higher and supported larger posts.29 It is hard to reconstruct what rites of healing went on here, but the oven was probably used for the production of sacred objects (Figures 8.30a, 8.30b, and 8.31). Figure 8.30a, b: VinÄ?a shrine, Sabatynivka (Sabatinivka), Ukraine: (a) figurines, (b) view of ruin. Source: Timothy Cooke/Marija Gimbutas, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, 6500–3500 B.C.: Myths and Cult Images (Berkley: University of California Press, 1982), 72–73

Figure 8.31: Seated fired clay figurine, VinÄ?a. Source: Š Michel Wal (

Although the tendency is often to celebrate the Vinča as the first European agriculturalists, it might be valuable to draw parallels between the Vinča and the Hopewell in Ohio. Though obviously separated by time and geography, they are both societies that lived on the power of negotiation. They had materials that others wanted. And the response was not fortification and defense, but an increase in ceremonial activities. For the Hopewell, this meant elaborate open-air places to meet and dance; for the Vinča, this meant an increase in the potency of animistic world. The First Society worldviews were not replaced by a different world order. Not yet at least. They were edited and magnified.

ENDNOTES 1. Jean-Claude Decourt, “L’obsidienne dans les sources anciennes. Notes sur l’histoire du mot et l’utilisation de la roche dans l’Antiquité,” L’obsidienne au Proche et Moyen Orient: Du volcan à l’outil, eds. A. Gourgaud, B. Gratuze, J.-L. Poidevin, G. Poupeau, and M. C. Cauvin (Oxford: Archaeopress, 1998): 363–397. 2. Mihriban Özbasaran, “The Heart of a House: The Hearth,” Light on Top of the Black Hill: Studies Presented to Halet çambel, eds. Güven Arsebük, Machteld J. Mellink, and Wulf Schirmer (Istanbul: Ege Yayinlari, 1998): 556–566. 3. Bleda Serge Düring, Constructing Communities: Clustered Neighbourhood Settlements of the Central Anatolian Neolithic ca. 8500–5500 Cal. BC (Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het

Nabije Oosten, 2006): 97. 4. Sharon R. Steadman, “Heading Home: The Architecture of Family and Society in Early Sedentary Communities on the Anatolian Plateau,” Journal of Anthropological Research 60/4 (Winter 2004): 515–558. 5. James Mellaart, “Excavations at Catal Hüyük, 1963: Third preliminary report,” Anatolian Studies vol. 14 (1964): 39–119. 6. The mural is in House 3 of Level VI. Marija Gimbutus, Civilization of the Goddess, (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991): 238. 7. Roxana Waterson, The Living House: An Anthropology of Architecture in South-East Asia (North Clarendon, VT: Turtle, 2009): 221. Burçin Erdoğu, “West Trench 8,” Çatalhöyük 2007 Archive Report: 136–137. [ [accessed June 12, 2012]. 8. The general discussion here follows the argument of Bleda Serge Düring, Constructing Communities: Clustered Neighbourhood Settlements of the Central Anatolian Neolithic ca. 8500–5500 Cal. BC (Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 2006): 210-225. 9. Andrew Michael T. Moore, “The Excavation of Tell Abu Hureyra in Syria: A Preliminary Report,” Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 41 (December 1975): 50–77. 10. Gary O. Rollefson and Allan H. Simmons, “The Neolithic Village of ‘Ain Ghazal, Jordan: Preliminary Report on the 1984 Season,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research Supplement 24 (1986): 145–164; Denise Schmandt-Besserat, “Animal Symbols at ‘Ain Ghazal,” Expedition 39/1 (1977): 48–57. 11. Behin Aksoy, “A Brief Survey of the Halaf Culture,” Light on Top of the Black Hill: Studies Presented to Halet çambel, eds. Güven Arsebük, Machteld J. Mellink, and Wulf Schirmer (Istanbul: Ege Yayinlari, 1998): 15–24. 12. Nikolaĭ Iakovlevich Merpert, “The Archaic phase of Hassuna Culture,” Early Stages in the Evolution of Mesopotamian Civilization: Soviet Excavations in Northern Iraq, eds. Norman Yoffee and Jeffrey J. Clark (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1994): 115–127. 13. Stuart Campbell, “Feasting and Dancing: Gendered Representation and Pottery in Later Mesopotamian Prehistory,” Gender Through Time in the Ancient Near East, ed. Diane R. Bolger (Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2008): 57. 14. Denise Schmandt-Besserat, “A Stone Metaphor of Creation,” Near Eastern Archaeology 61/2 (June 1998): 109–117. 15. Much of the information in these paragraphs comes from Donny George Youkanna, Tell esSawwan: The Architecture of the Sixth Millennium BC (London: Nabu Publications, 1997). 16. Aurelie Daems, “Evaluating Patterns of Gender through Mesopotamian and Iranian Human Figurines: A Reassessment of Neolithic and Chalcolithic Period Industries,” Gender Through Time in the Ancient Near East, ed. Diane R. Bolger (Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2008): 88. 17. Yorke M. Rowan and David Ilan, “The Meaning of Ritual Diversity in the Chalcolithic of Southern Levant,” Cult in Context: Reconsidering Ritual in Archaeology, eds. David A. Barrowclough and Caroline Malone (Oxford: Oxbow, 2007): 251. 18. Gary Orin Rollefson, “The Uses of Plaster at Neolithic ‘Ain Ghazal, Jordan,” Archaeomaterials 41 (1990): 33–54; G. Rollefson, “Ritual and Ceremony at Neolithic ‘Ain Ghazal (Jordan),” Paléorient 912 (1983): 29–38; Florine Marchand, “The Modelling Skulls in the Ancient Near-East,” Tiempo y sociedad 6 (2011/2012): 5–41. 19. Information taken from: P.R. S. Moorey, Ancient Mesopotamian Materials and Industries:

The Archaeological Evidence (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1999): 304–356. 20. J. Wheeler Pires-Ferreira, “Tepe Tula’i: Faunal Remains from an Early Campsite in Khuzistan, Iran,” Paléorient 3/1 (1975): 275–280; Frank Hole, “Neolithic Age in Iran,” The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies, (accessed July 27, 2011). 21. Labelle Prussin, African Nomadic Architecture: Space, Place, and Gender (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995): 104; Torvald Faegre, Tents: Architecture of the Nomads (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1979); Philip Drew, Tensile Architecture (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1979). 22. Walter Ashlin Fairservis, The Roots of Ancient India: The Archaeology of Early Indian Civilization (New York: Macmillan, 1971); Walter Ashlin Fairservis, The Threshold of Civilization: An Experiment in Prehistory (New York: Scribner, 1975). 23. Report on Cultural Heritage Sites in South Sinai, Compiled by Professor Said Gohary and Dr. Jocelyn Gohary. [] (accessed January 10, 2012). 24. Barry W. Cunliffe, Facing the Ocean: The Atlantic and Its Peoples, 8000 BC-AD 1500 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001): 160. 25. K. Aslihan Yener and Pamela B. Vandiver, “Tin Processing at Göltepe: An Early Bronze Age Site in Anatolia,” American Journal of Archaeology 97/2 (April 1993): 207–238; B. Earl and H. Özbal, “Early Bronze Age Tin Processing at Kestel/Götepe, Anatolia,” Archaeometry 38/2 (August 1996): 289–303. 26. Lesley Frame, “Metallurgical Investigations at Godin Tepe, Iran, Part I: The Metal Finds,” Journal of Archaeological Science 37/7 (July 2010): 1700–1715. 27. Miljana Radivojević, Thilo Rehren, et al. “On the Origins of Extractive Metallurgy: New Evidence from Europe,” Journal of Archaeological Science, 37/11 (November 2010): 2775– 2787. 28. Dragos Gheogia, “A Fire Cult in South European Chalcolithic Traditions? On the Relationship Between Ritual Contexts and the Instrumentality of Fire,” Cult in Context, Reconsidering Ritual in Archaeology, eds. David A. Barrowclough and Caroline Malone (Oxford: Oxbow, 2007): 269–284. 29. Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess, ed. Joan Marler (New York: HarperCollins, 1991): 261; Theron Douglas Price, Europe’s First Farmers (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000): 61–64.

PART TWO Transitions

CHAPTER 9 Village and Chiefdom Worlds Agriculture is such a critical element in the rise of civilizations that one could easily forget that for more than a million years humans thrived without it. The natural environment sufficed. Around 8000 BCE, the people in the Levant and China shifted from plant-tending to plant-growing. The domestication of goats, sheep, and pig and the infiltration of cattle-herding ideologies further intensified and differentiated the inner workings of this transformation. Once mobilized, the change developed into a chain reaction that quickly led to increasingly large networks of villages and farming communities along rivers and streams. Irrigation was key. Nature was made to bend to the needs of mankind. Fields had to be weeded and protected; the predatory animals of the forest had to be driven back, and animals like the ox, horse, donkey, and eventually the camel were pressed into human service. And to compensate for the risks of the new way of life, we see new religious formations and the emergence of powerful rice and grains gods and goddesses. But to focus exclusively on the emergence of agriculture in Mesopotamia, China, and India between the seventh and fourth millennia BCE could lead to the false impression that agriculture was so natural to human life and state formation that its spread was inevitable leaving the First Society cultures to retreat to deserts and forests where they survived in a state of resolute backwardness. If we take out of the conversation those places where agriculture developed into urban civilizations, we realize that the spread of agriculture in other parts of the world was driven to a large extent by chieftan cultures. There were distinct phases. The first was its advancement into Europe in a process that was more or less complete by 3500 BCE. Stonehenge marks the end of that process. During the same time, we see the plant revolution spreading in Peru and Mexico. Galgada, beginning around 3000 BCE and the Olmec capital, La Venta, around 1500 BCE, mark the transition to monumental architectural form. Between 500 BCE and 1000 CE, we see another set of agricultural diffusions taking place in different parts of the world: South Africa, southern India, North America, and Southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific. It is quite possible that the Amazon cultures expanded at this time as well, but little is known about the history of that region (Figure 9.1). The spread of agriculture and horticulture meant that certain foods rose to the level of transregional staples: rice in Southeast Asia, millet and sorghum in South Africa, corn and potatoes in the Americas, and taro and breadfruit in the South Pacific. This was not the result of some sort of “natural� diffusion but of human intervention. The Olmecs set up camp in a formidable and for all practical purposes unpopulated rain forest specifically in order to transform it into a corn producing center. The Lapita culture (1300 BCE-750 BCE) played a key role in spreading breadfruit and taro to the South Pacific Islands, carrying the plants with them in their fragile boats. The Peruvians colonized the arid shores of the Pacific to grow cotton and gourds. In Africa, the Bantu people left their native region in the Cameroon in search for new homelands that eventually brought them thousands of kilometers away to the tip of Africa. Figure 9.1: Global map showing major agricultural expansions from between 500 BCE and 1000

CE. Source: Š Florence Guiruad

Plants were not singular items. They were all part of something that one can call a “cultural package� that included other plants and even animals. Corn, for example, was always integrated with squash and beans. And for the Polynesians, breadfruit was not just a source of food. It was needed to make their canoes. The first thing they had to do after arriving on new shores was plant groves of breadfruit trees. Animals were also part of various packages. In Europe and Africa and Asia, this included cattle, sheep, and goats whereas in Asia it was the pig. Depending on soil and climate the emphasis might be more on the animals and less on growing and vice versa. The groups of Polynesian boats setting off to find a new island would be well stocked with a host of plants, including taro and coconuts along with pigs and chickens and even Piper methysticum, a vine that was used to create a ritual drink. The boats were themselves floating villages. The settlers also carried with them in their heads architectural and settlement prototypes that were certainly adapted and changed as they moved, but that give clear evidence of planning and foresight. In Europe, the agro-pastoralists built rondels, large round areas enclosed with ditches and sometimes fences that were used for ceremonial purposes. One can follow the trail of these roundels as they get built in the loess-rich territories from the Czech Republic (4500 BCE) all the way to England (3500 BCE). It was not just plant specialists who set out across the landscape in this way. Animal tenders with their cattle expanded into areas that provided a mixture of water and pasture land, often coming into conflict with native agriculturalists over these resources. Horse herders expanded into the steppe of Inner Asia and camel tenders moved into the long stretches of deserts in Asia and Africa. What we see is a polyvalent, colonizing flow of agriculturalists and big animal societies moving

gradually but persistently across various landscapes of the globe. The agriculturalists in particular attacked the natural world with resolute determination. Forests were burned, swamplands managed, streams channeled, terraces made. They were on the look-out for advantageous soils, such as loess, for example. Loess is formed over long stretches of time by the accumulation of wind-blown silt, the silt that had been originally accumulated in rivers during the annual melting of continental ice sheets and mountain icecaps during the summer. During the fall and winter, when the melting of the ice sheets ceased, and large parts of the formerly submerged flood plains dried out, the silt was exposed to the wind that carried it off and deposited it downwind. The result is a soil that is highly nutritious for plants and easy to till. In Europe, the band of loess that stretched east to west from Poland to France attracted the first farmers into that region. It was the extensive loess belt in northern China that allowed millet to easily become the main staple of that region. Similarly, the Bantu expansion into Africa and the expansion of corn in North America were unthinkable without a deep knowledge of local soils, as was the expansion of rice, taro, and breadfruit into Southeast Asia, each requiring very different soil conditions. At some moment, however, each of these targeted expansions, despite their transformative energies, encountered certain limits in the natural world. The great deserts of Eurasia, the steppe and tundra of Central Asia and Canada, along with dense rainforests and mountain ranges became boundary conditions between the world of the agriculturalists and herders and the now reduced world of the First Society people. But the distinction between First Society people and agriculturalists, initially at least, should not be drawn as a hard line, as it often is. The view that it was only agriculture that allowed people to settle down into villages is outdated. First Society people might have had a more expansive notion of territory since hunting, fishing, and plant gathering were often conducted in different places, but few First Society people were what we would call nomadic. Furthermore, the First Society settlement had much more in common with the agricultural village than one might think. Aspects of ceremonialism and ancestor worship survived and in some cases were even enhanced. In Mesoamerica and Peru, where huge cities were eventually built, shamanism and animism remained foundational, just as they did in China, Japan, and other places in Asia. In Europe, pre-agricultural traditions remained strong, even after the Roman era. In Spain in the eleventh century, Christian bishops complained how the locals were still worshiping trees. In Japan, Shinto animist practices remained key to village life and even to official, courtly practices until the modern era. In China, the emperor gave sacrifices on a platform where the square represented the earth and the circle the sky, which was a cosmological diagram well known to First Society people in Inner Asia. Nonetheless, the agricultural world, with its particular set of deities and its particular logic of cohesion, set itself apart from First Society norms. It was only with the advent of cities that First Society norms became more fully alien and with the arrival in some places of empires and kingdoms, the victors quickly went to work to inscribe its self-proclaimed superiority into the historiography of civilization. The Sumerians of 3000 BCE differentiated themselves from the forest people and soon so too did every major civilization, whether the Chinese, Greeks, or Romans. When the Europeans began their colonialization and conquest of the globe in the sixteenth century, their attitude was no different than any self-respecting, high civilization since 3000 BCE. What was different was the scale, force, and consequences of their actions. Though history from a very early age came to be conceived and written by city dwellers and empire builders, village life still exists, of course, and when taken together constitutes, even today, some 55 percent of human existence. If we were to go back only thirty years, the number might be more like 70 percent. If we go back to 3000 BCE, cities constituted probably .001 percent of human

settlement. Everyone who was not a First Society person lived in an agrarian village, and at that time this might have included no more than 5 percent of all of humanity. And yet, in conventional histories, the city’s rise is often discussed as a natural progression. A book might go from the “hunter-gatherer� to the development of agriculture in Mesopotamia to the first cities like Ur and Uruk. A history like that obscures a basic fact. Agriculture, horticulture, and animal herding created cultures that rarely, in fact, developed into cities. Europe remained village-based until the first Celtic cities around 200 BCE, and even these could still be called dense villages and not cities with their more complex set of religious and political institutions. Cities only appeared with the Romans. Southeast Asia remains to this day largely a village-based society even though cities began to make their appearance there in various parts from 400 CE onward. The same is true for parts of India and Africa. It is important, therefore, to not blur the distinction between the rise of cities and the rise of the agricultural village and chiefdom societies. If it was the city that took the glory, it was until very recently the village that was the glue that held even some great empires together. There is, of course, a good deal of gray area between a big village and a city, but a city requires bureaucracy to deal with the coming and going of goods. It requires a complex and integrated hierarchy of power and religion. It requires a system of tax collecting and enforcement and it usually requires some tangible architecture of defense. Cities will always have in their perimeters a host of villages that supply the food, raw materials, and craft goods that the city needs. But the farther one goes from the city, the more intense the village world becomes. Property rights are not recorded on paper or parchment, but are etched in the memories of the clan elders. Defense is marshaled just as much by arming the men as it is by taboos governing access to sacred spaces. The graph, therefore, is only meant to be read as a diagram intended to impress on us the fact that five hundred years ago, which is not that long ago, the village-chief-dom world, in all its numerous variations, was globally the predominant model (Figure 9.2). Figure 9.2: Graph showing proportion of population in the categories of First Societies, Village Worlds, and Urban Worlds Source: Mark Jarzombek

Though agrarian villages have long been the mainstay of human society, their longevity is not to be interpreted through rose-colored glasses. A village knows what it must do to fill granaries, tend flocks, build houses, and fix irrigation channels. It is well aware of the slim margin of error. Cohesion is the central factor, with attitudes to gender, religion, and land built inflexibly into the equation. A village is like a machine; it has clear parameters of production and is structured around a symbolic system reproduced from generation to generation. The village is not necessarily a steady state situation. Forests removal makes them continually vulnerable to floods and the vicissitudes of weather. People have to continually branch out to find new locations to settle, usually in increasingly infertile areas. Inequities develop leading to tensions and warfare; some villages grow into regional powers, others collapse. The advent of corn in the Americas was particularly cruel in this respect. The struggle between competing Bantu-related tribes in Africa for resources and access to water are legion. The struggles between agriculturalists and cattle herders in Africa remain to this day a systemic issue. Villages, however, do not exist in isolation, but form networks across the landscape. They are connected through trade and ceremonial activities that can be weak or strong depending on conditions. When they are strong, something as large and powerful as a modern nation state can falter if the village culture is not taken into consideration. The places where this is most obvious are in Africa, and Central and Southeast Asia, where tribal, clan, or family affiliations have powerful pulls in the political world (Figures 9.3, 9.4, 9.5, and 9.6). Figure 9.3: Village near Lalibela, Ethiopia. Source: Š Marc Veraat (

Figure 9.4: Chengyangqiao Dong, a village in South Guizhou province, China. Source: Š Ariel Steiner (

Figure 9.5: Dho Village, Dolpa, Nepal. Source: Š Anguillazz (

Figure 9.6: Belau, Babeldaob Island, Republic of Palau, men’s meeting house. Source: Bernd Sauer-Diete

On Belau (Babeldaob Island), located in the western Pacific Ocean, we can see the typically strong relationship between myth, power, and territory. The creation myth holds that the solid land that emerged from the sea is called beluu and the first creatures to dwell on it are organized into politically integral units also called beluu. The word beluu is thus used to designate “land” “soil,” and “inhabited area,” as well as even “political division.” The villages are connected by paths across the landscape that resonate with historical and mythological facts. The entrance and exit of villages are marked by a spot where travelers can rest and where men can assemble in special men’s houses to protect their village from attack. Various types of sacred stones mark these spots. Movement from “outside the village” to “inside the village” must be done through these paths, with careful distinction being also made between movement within the village and movement around the village. Villages join together into districts and federations, called “tied together” with one village serving as capital. Village politics is the responsibility of between four and ten officeholders who sit together as a decision-making council, with the principle burden falling to the four “cornerposts,” a word that defines the four families of each village as well as the meeting-house (bai) that these families use to discuss business and politics. The meeting-houses, usually located in the central area of the village, are, like the men’s house, built on stone foundations supporting an elevated, roof-covered platform. These houses, however, are elaborately decorated with carvings and color and can stretch to about 15 meters in length. Lashing is the only means used to hold and support the roof and its components. The gables depict mythological stories and legends. In ancient times, there would have been more than one hundred such bai. Now there are only a few left (Figure 9.6). Each elder sits in a designated spot with the four high-ranking titleholders taking their positions at the four corners. Confined to their seats, the men transact business by using messengers who scurry back and forth communicating opinions and questions through whispering. For this reason the building is called “building of whispers.” Stone roads lead from the meeting-house to

the taro gardens and the village’s periphery.1 How did such chieftain societies expand over time? One model emphasizes colonialization where farmer cultures move into the “unclaimed” areas of the indigenous hunter societies. In another model, known as the demic model, a new population diffuses into an area, but does not necessarily displace or replace preexisting people. Yet another model claims that in some places, the elites, despite being in a minority, gain control of certain areas and bring the local population into their control. Regardless of which model was in operation where, the widespread development of chiefdom societies away from the conventions of the First Societies suggests a few basic factors were required to bring them about. Preeminent among these is the need to maintain an orderly adherence to tasks and duties in the complex world of the village. For this to happen, a chief will be part of a ranking of elders with an associated cult of masculinity and a military identity since one of their purposes is to protect and possibly enlarge the area of control. Some chiefdoms may be more compact than others, some more egalitarian than others, but most inevitably inherited certain animistic aspects from the earlier age, with a stringently applied set of taboos governing gender and power.2 Chieftain societies can still have a shaman, but in the day-to-day operations it is usually the chief, who in some cases may even be a shaman, who is in the dominant position. In most cases, the sacredness of chieftaincy derives from the conception of the sacred ancestors and the special relationship existing between the chief and the ancestors. The chief is also often expected to embody certain unstated virtues. In these societies, nobles are clearly distinct from commoners and do not usually engage in any form of agricultural production. The higher members of society consume most of the goods that are passed up the hierarchy as a tribute. Anthropologists differentiate between a simple chiefdom and a complex chiefdom that will have two or even three tiers of political hierarchy. Though a military component is often emphasized as an integral part of a chiefdom world, one must not forget the ceremonial. Exchanges of power and trading events with other villages are almost always embedded in ceremonial activities involving gift-giving, dance rituals, and marriage ceremonies.3 In the Indo-European world, language gives us a clue as to the significance. The ancient word weik-potis referred to a village chief, from which the modern word “potentate” derives; another root (reg-) referred to a kind of powerful officer. This root was later used for king in Latin (rex), Celtic (rix), and old Indic (raj), but it originally referred to an official more like a priest, literally a regulator (from the same root) “who makes things right” by establishing boundaries. In most of the world, of course, chiefdoms are relegated to history or long since forgotten. But in places in Africa, Polynesia, Brazil, and Central Asia, the chief is still a living tradition, bending here and there to the inevitable realities of tourism and politics. The duties of the chief of a Gambian village, called the Alkalo, include tax collection, liaison between the villages and local councils, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and the mediation of disputes. He has an assistant who is normally a close relation to help in these matters. The chief together with the imam of the local mosque form a Council of Elders which has the function of being the villages governing body. They meet to discuss business in a central area called a bantaba, which designates the large tree where the men sit to make important decisions. Such communal trees figure prominently in many African villages. Commonly referred to as palaver trees, they are accorded great respect (Figure 9.7). In the Pontic-Caspian area the chiefs wore multiple belts and strings of polished beads with beaver and horse teeth augmented with small pieces of crystal, porphyry, and copper rings. They jangled when they walked and carried maces with polished stone

mace-heads. Their funerals were accompanied by sacrifices of sheep, goats, catde, and horses with most of the meat distributed to the celebrants.4 Looking back in time, to the emergence of agriculturally oriented chiefdom worlds, one can identify the Zulu in Africa, the Ifugao in the Philippines, and the Cahokia in North America, to name only a small few, as cultures that had brought their respective agricultural societies to a high level by about 1000 CE. For the most part, these types of village cultures expanded and developed their various roles in the regional economies until the arrival of European colonialists beginning in the sixteenth century. In other words, after these various expansions, the period from 1000 to 1500 CE was a period of consolidation. Almost every part of the world that could have been transformed into agriculture had been reached, even Hawaii. Viewed from a distance, the fact remains that these chieftan societies had become the way of the world in several distinct regions of the globe. This is even true in the Americas where, despite the collapse of Cahokia, the arriving Europeans encountered powerful chieftain cultures from Georgia to Louisiana and northward along the Missouri River. Had the Native Americans not experienced a rapid die-off because of disease, estimated to have reduced their population by a staggering 90 percent, followed by wars and forced emigration, the political landscape today of the United States would be vastly different. It might have been more like New Zealand, where only about 40 percent of the Maori died, leaving a rather formidable presence that is still active politically. Figure 9.7: Palaver tree at Axum, Ethiopia during an Easter Celebration. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Many of the cultures that are described in the next chapters are often seen as part of the world of “tradition.” But as “traditional” as the Zulu or the Ifugao might seem in comparison to our modern

world, they were, around 1000 CE, the modern in relationship to their world, pushing First Society people to the perimeters and imposing powerful new regimes of control on the landscape. This modern world—namely the world of the chieftan-based agricultural colonizers—created a very different global picture around 1,000 CE than one would have mapped onto the world a mere thousand years earlier. With the arrival of European colonizers in the sixteenth century, the nature and extent of this earlier transformation was rendered invisible by a people who, though sometimes amazed at some of the accomplishments that they saw, would call those whom they encountered savages or pagans even into the early twentieth century. Sensibilities have changed considerably, of course. But even though the word “primitive” was used with increasing infrequency during the twentieth century to describe people, it remained as an adjective describing architecture. Primitive Architecture was the title of a book published as late as 1978 and republished in 1987. The cultures discussed in the book are “primitive,” according to the author, for two reasons. Firstly because they are “subject to symbolic and cosmic interpretation” which basically means that they are tied to the chains of myth that the West supposedly has freed itself from. Second, their world is “technologically less-advanced.”5 But why should the huge houses of the Nias, the great mounds of Cahokia, the Bantu huts of Africa, or the great rice terraces of the Ifagau be measured so insistently by a negative?

SACRED GROVES In many chiefdom societies, sacred groves were an essential aspect of village life. In some cases, these groves can encompass a large territory, in other cases they are just a few trees. It is thought that these groves originated in the time following the introduction of agriculture, for as the forests were pushed back to make way for fields, certain areas were ritualistically designed as special places, usually dedicated to a mother goddess figure and the related village deities. In a sense, the sacred grove is to the forest what domesticated cattle are to their wilder brethren. They are monitored and tended and have important roles in village rituals. Though agricultural deities might reign supreme in the fields, ancestral deities and fertility deities in a sense “needed” forests and groves. Groves are thus not just arbitrary leftovers of trees, but foundational to the identity and indeed to the survival of the village. Stated in a more rudimentary fashion, a sacred grove is not a piece of nature, but an institution that, depending on custom, controls ancestry, marriage, puberty, and even the cycles of agriculture itself. Sacred groves represent the moral authority of the elites and by extension of the entire village. How does one explain the general uniformity of understanding regarding sacred groves? As a particular chiefdom society grows in population, groups leave to colonize a new area and to bend it to the needs of their agricultural perspective. They bring with them their set of conventional deities, but in a new setting where there is an institutional vacuum, they construct a grove where these deities can reside. The grove delineates the elemental continuity with past practices while at the same time reinforcing the power of the chief’s lineage. This means that instead of seeing agriculture after the fact as a patchwork of chiefdoms as we tend to do, we should see it in more dynamic terms like expanding soap bubbles, with the size of the bubble dependent on various internal and external conditions. The Sani people who live in the Shilin region in southern China are a case in point. They came from areas near Dali some 600 kilometers to the west, but originally, they came from even farther away, namely from southeastern Tibet and belong to the Yi culture of the Sani that migrated in a

southeasterly direction into southern China in various waves through Sichuan and into the Yunnan Province. These migrations of the ninth centure CE were not completely frictionless. But nor was their southward movement an accident, for as agriculturalists they were following the trail of entisols that extends like a tongue into a zone of less productive ultisols that support forests, but are poorly suited for continuous agriculture without the use of modern fertilizers. The groves are located in the midst of amazing rock formations that themselves look like a landscape of frozen trees (Figure 9.8). The main deity of the groves is Mizhi, who is associated with community protection, prosperity, and bountiful harvests. Although variations exist between the practices of different Sani communities, the Mizhi Festival usually takes place for seven consecutive days in the middle of November. The festival starts with a one-day ritual ceremony at a village’s grove where a group of eligible male adults, headed by a shaman, conduct ritual services and offer sacrifices to Mizhi. Rituals include a hunting reenactment, the sacrifice of a goat, and a series of chants. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the sacrificial food is distributed and shared among all villagers: such sharing is a typical way to reaffirm both belonging and hierarchy. While the festival is taking place, all agricultural activities are forbidden, as it is believed that Mizhi is patrolling the cropland. An offence is likely to cause misfortune to the family and community. Only men are allowed in the grove. Women do not participate directly in the ceremonies, and must refrain from work. Figure 9.8: Shilin, China. Source: Š Sebastian Boll (

The abundant cliffs are used as ancestor memorials. Small wooden boxes are placed in nooks in

the stone, each containing a lock of an ancestor’s hair, a biography, and a small bamboo root, representing the soul of a deceased ancestor. These objects hang for years on the walls of Sani houses, increasing in number as the number of deceased increases. After several decades they are ceremonially interred in the cliffs, the final step in a lengthy burial process. Today tourists come to admire the amazing stone features of the landscape and miss the equally astonishing fact that the Sani had not only cleared the forest, but also re-engineered the landscape for rice production. The fields and the groves have to be seen as unity. The tradition of groves is hardly unique to the Sani. It can be found throughout southern China. In the region around the town of Menglunzhen, for example, the rice-growing communities there preserve sacred groves near their villages, parts of which are used for burial (Figure 9.9).6 Figure 9.9: Daka Village, Yunnan Province, China, with its rice fields and sacred grove. Source: Mark Jarzombek

In the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea, villages groves known as lugehaneta, are surrounded by a belt of colorful Cordyline plants, the redness of their flowers the traditional indicators of the life force. The plant serves as a conceptual fence through which none may pass except for senior men and women and then only at fixed periods after sacrificing a pig that was consumed during ceremonies around the enclosure. At the center of the grove, there is an area fenced in by wooden posts and in the center of that on a small mound grows a lily with a sacred stone buried under it. Only the sanctuary’s guardian is allowed to enter the interior zone. His job is to tend the plant since its well-being reflects the health of the community. For the posts only wood of a special hardwood tree will do. Furthermore, the posts are themselves believed to be charged with power and must be protected from being stolen by enemies.7 Even though Japan has a deep culture of sacred forests, these have to be differentiated from the shrines, itsu no iwasaka, set up for the village deities. Itsu no iwasaka literally means “sacred enclosure” and they often have a rock at the center. In some places, a sakaki tree, a small evergreen with shiny leaves indigenous to Japan, is planted. It acts as an invocation of the deities,

known in Japan as kami, who are thought to inhabit the natural world. Around this there is a kamigaki, which means literally “kami’s fence,” that protects the square area within which is reserved for the deities to occupy and move about in. It is also known as himorogi, which means “divine fence” and serves as a site for rites and festivals in which deities and man participate jointly (Figures 9.10 and 9.11). Figure 9.10: Himorogi erected for ground-breaking ceremony, Japan. Source: © Urashimataro (

Figure 9.11: Himorogi of Amenhoho-Hinomikoto, Japan. Source: © OpenCage (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/deed.en)

Groves are particularly important in the Niger-Congo area where agriculture and forest life exist in close proximity to each other. The Yoruba people , for example, have a sacred grove founded some four hundred years ago that is dedicated to Osun, the goddess of fertility. A century ago there were many sacred groves in Yorubaland: Every town had one. Most of these groves have now been abandoned or have shrunk to quite small areas. The Osun Grove, however, has survived and is an active religious site where daily, weekly, and monthly activities take place there. In addition, an annual summer-time processional festival reestablishes the mystic bonds between the goddess and the people of the town (Figure 9.12). Figure 9.12: A shrine in Osun-Osogbo sacred grove, Nigeria. Source: Š Alex Mazzeto (

The Luo in Kenya believe they were born in a sacred forest hill known as Got Ramogi. The Temne people, who are related to the Baga who live in small chiefdoms within Sierra Leone, are socially regulated by secret male and female societies. During initiation rites into these societies, young girls are led to a sacred grove by a river. At the head of the procession, the leader carries a female figure, which is a representation of an ideal woman. At the grove the girls learn the secrets of womanhood, and undergo a clitoridectomy. When the initiates have completed their training, they are presented to the community as fully mature women. Similarly, the elders of the Dossi (Central Burkina Faso, Mali) initiate young men and women in a sacred grove. The initiation lasts fifteen days, during which the young men and women learn the secrets of the masks. Tanoboase Sacred Grove in Ghana is thought to be the residence of Taakora, the greatest of earthly gods. Apart from the water and dark woods there is a striking outcrop of sandstone rocks. A typical case of the simultaneous creation of grove and village can be found in northern Ghana. The village known as Malshegu was founded, for example, in the eighteenth century by settlers from the north. They cleared the land for grazing and agriculture, but left a patch of forest as a sacred grove just to the south of their village. It consists of tall, predominantly deciduous trees that form a more or less complete canopy, standing relatively isolated against the open land around it. The grove and its associated deity, Kpalevorgu, play a pivotal role in the community’s life. Kpalevorgu is the supreme male god, the creator of all things and responsible for fertility, and lineage stability. The land of the grove, however, is considered female, and is represented by tindana, the woman custodian of the grove who is also the community’s most powerful religious leader. She lives in a special compound not far from the grove. All forms of farming and grazing in

the grove are, of course, prohibited and entrance is only permitted twice a year during festivals known as Kpalna that include a grand village-wide meeting and various prayer rituals in honor of Kpalevorgu. These festivals take place in May and October to mark the beginning and ending of the agricultural season. Failure to comply with the rules protecting the grove or to not participate in these festivals will offend and dishonor the Kpalevorgu and can bring misfortune to the offender, his or her family, and perhaps even the whole community. 8 Though a modern road was put through only a few meters from the edge of the grove, the villagers were able to convince the authorities to reroute the telephone poles around the grove rather than cut through it. Ancient Europe also had a long tradition of groves. Almost every tribe in Gaul seems to have possessed a sacred meeting place surrounded and protected by trees. The Romans and even the Greeks had a deep attachment to sacred groves. The one at Nemi near Rome, Italy was consecrated to the goddess Diana (Artemis in Greek), the divinity of the hunt. The shrine of Dodona, originally an oracle of the Mother Goddess, which came to be shared by Zeus, dates back to about 2000 BCE and is regarded as the oldest Hellenic oracle. Within an enclosed grove of oak trees, priestesses and priests would interpret the rustling of the leaves to determine the correct actions to be taken. The destruction of such groves was seen with the same horror that would attend the burning of a temple or church today. Julius Caesar destroyed the sacred groves of the Gauls in attempts to assert his control. The Chinese knew this technique as well. In southern China in attempts to assert their control they would sometimes ignore community attempts to defend the tradition of communal sacred groves, cutting down the groves and selling the wood.9 The purposeful destruction of groves for military and political purposes goes even further back in time. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh destroyed a tree that was in a sacred grove dedicated to the mother goddess Ishtar. Village groves are particularly numerous in India and are so sacred that they are in many places the last bastions against modern-day encroachments. The list includes Ka Khlan Kyntang and the Shillong Sacred Forest, both in the East Khasi Hills, the latter revered as nothing less than the navel of the earth. In the still largely rural area of Tamil Nadu, almost every village still has a sacred tree [sthala vriksha] or a “temple forest” [kovil kaadu] related to the Mother Goddess in one of her many guises—Kaali, Amman, or Ellai Pidaari. She is seen as the original shakti [female power] and it was from her, according to local lore, that Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahman were created. The goddess wields a great deal of power and if her groves are not properly protected, she can punish the entire community by bringing disease or crop failure. She is worshiped by means of votive offerings that are placed under the trees and are in the form of cult statues, about 20 centimeters tall and consist of a cylindrical body and a face usually with big eyes. Each of these sacred groves has associated with it a special shrine dedicated to village deities. These deities, some of which belong to particular castes or clans, are protagonists in a complex fabric of mythologies and tales that spell out the conditions of order and morality in the village. In Tamil Nadu, groves and village shrines are inevitably “protected” by a large figure of a horse, sometimes with a rider sometimes without (Figures 9.13 and 9.14). Many of the horses that one sees today are concrete and painted in bright yellows, blues, and whites. Some, however, are still being created from clay and are left natural. This is Aiyanar (also Ayyanaar), a god unique to the Tamils; though he acts as rain-maker who brings prosperity to the fields, his primary mission is to patrol village borders and protect its inhabitants from harm. Swift and fierce, and holding a sword in his hand, he makes the rounds of the village and its nearby fields at night and should one happen

to encounter him in the dark, confrontation is to be avoided if one values one’s life. Despite the need for respectful distance, villagers can communicate with him—by placing paper messages against his sword. Often the solutions are revealed in dreams. The horse figures date to around 400 CE with the introduction of horses and chieftain society into the area. The new more militaristic culture in a sense fused with the older goddess-oriented village culture.10 Figure 9.13: Aiyanar shrine in a sacred grove of a village in Tamil Nadu, India. Source: Mark Jarzombek

Figure 9.14: Aiyanar shrine in a sacred grove of a village in Tamil Nadu, India. Source: Mark Jarzombek

That the modern world has an intrinsic interest in mitigating the power of sacred groves is obvious, which is at least partially why so many have been lost in the last century and why some of the remaining ones in Africa and Asia serve now as rallying points for local communities. Groves are threatened by logging, roads, urban expansion, and development. A glaring example of this is on Chale Island, a 22-hectare island of coral rock a few hundred meters from the western shores of Kenya. It is sacred to the Digo who bring prayer offerings and put them in recesses in the coral cliffs that surround the island. Tourist development of the island began in the mid-1980s and now with the construction of hotels, these areas are off limits to all—including the Digo—except paying guests. A sign on the road says “Welcome - Benvenuti - Willkommen to Chale Paradise Island”— but a paradise for whom?11

ENDNOTES 1. Richard J. Parmentier, The Sacred Remains, Myth, History and Polity in Belau (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). 2. Theron Douglas Price, Europe’s First Farmers (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000): 61–64. 3. Robert L. Carneiro, “What Happened at the Flashpoint? Conjectures on Chiefdom Formation at the Very Moment of Conception,” Chiefdoms and Chieftaincy in the Americas, ed. Elsa M. Redmond (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998): 18–42. 4. David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007): 160.

5. Enrico Guidoni, Primitive Architecture. Translated by Robert Erich Wolf (New York: Rizzoli, 1987): 13–16. 6. Mark Bender, “Review of Lunan Yi Nationality Mizhi Festival Ceremonial Songs, Translations, Lunan Yi Ancient Texts Series,” Asian Folklore Studies, 60/1 (2001): 168–172. 7. Heinrich Aufenanger, “Notes on Animism and Magic Practices of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea,” Asian Folklore Studies 24, no. 1 (1965): 117–128. 8. Clement Dorm-Adzobu, Okyeame Ampadu-Agyei, and Peter G. Veit, “Religious Beliefs and Environmental Protection: The Malshegu Sacred Grove in Northern Ghana (Nairobi: World Resources Institute (WRI), 1991) [accessed June 10, 2012] 9. Margaret Byrne Swain, “Native Place and Ethnic Relations in Lunan Yi Autonomous County, Yunnan,” Perspectives on the Yi of Southwest China, ed. Stevan Harrell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001): 182. 10. Mark Jarzombek, “Horse Shrines in Tamil India: Reflections on Modernity” in Future Anterior, vol. 6, no. 1 (Summer 2009): 18–36. Nanditha Krishna and V. Bhavani Shankar, “Conserving the Ecological Heritage—Sacred Groves of Tamil Nadu,” Conservation of Forest Eco Systems 7: 55–59. Ülo Valk and S. Lourdusamy, “Village Deities of Tamil Nadu in Myths and Legends: The Narrated Experience,” Asian Folklore Studies 66, no. 1/2 (2007): 179-199. David Dean Shulman, “Outcaste, Guardian and Trickster: Notes on the Myth of Kãttavarãyan,” Criminal Gods and Demon Devotees: Essay on the Guardians of Popular Hinduism, ed. Alf Hiltebeietel (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989): 35–68. 11. Nyamweru Celia, “Sacred Groves Threatened by Development: The Kaya Forests of Kenya,” (March 25, 2010) [accessed September 10, 2012].

CHAPTER 10 Expansion into Europe The period from about 5000 to 3000 BCE saw several, relatively simultaneous cultural expansions around the globe. Fishing and ultimately also whaling communities were setting up settlements along the Canadian Pacific coast. The mound-builders in the lower Mississippi River were developing an increasingly complex social organization. In the upper reaches of the Amazon River, potato and manioc were being intensively harvested and were soon to become an integral part of an emergent Peruvian culture. The period also saw the expansion of the Sahara Desert and the cultural separation of Mesopotamia from the sub-Sahara world. Mesopotamia, the Indus, China and toward the end, Egypt, were blossoming into complex village cultures with increasingly dense populations. But the most dramatic change occurred in Europe, where the agro-pastoral foundations that had been set in Mesopotamia were exported by farmer communities, whose impact on the landscape reached all the way to the Orkney Islands, the far northernmost tip of England. The push into Europe was a complex affair, but it can be simplified as having three basic routes, which will be important to remember in the following discussion (Figure 10.1). Figure 10.1: Agro-pastoral expansions. Source: Florence Guiraud

1. Northward into Germany and into Scandinavia. These were cereal-farmer and miner cultures, which inhabited the Danube and Rhine basins since the late sixth millennium, using slash-and-burn techniques to replace forest with farmland pushing gradually north and west. They are the called Linear Ware or Longhouse culture after its pottery and architectural styles. 2. Westward along the Mediterranean Sea to Spain and Portugal and then along the Atlantic. Known for the megalithic stone architecture, these cultures were engaged in herding and agriculture supplemented by hunting and fishing. They constructed impressive tombs and were in hostile competition with the remnants of the First Society people as well as with the forestclearing farmer. 3. Westward from the Russian steppe. The Kurgan society, which was primarily an animal herding culture, began to push into Europe, influencing societies directly or indirectly there as far west as England. By the time of the Beaker culture (2400–1800 BCE), named after their distinctive pottery, the various cultural vectors had more or less fused, so much so, in fact, that archaeologists cannot decide if the origins of this culture, which reached from Spain and Germany to England, were in Spain or in Eastern Europe. Needless to say, by that time, any aboriginal cultures had all but disappeared. The first indicated route of expansion had its roots with the Vinča, an extraordinary culture in which aspects of herding, agriculture, salt mining, and metallurgy were all closely intertwined. It was the first such integrated economy in history. To the east, in the steppes, farming was difficult since the soil was hard to till and its aridity made plant growing difficult. But this area was hardly inactive. Its great advantage was, of course, the steppe, which could support cattle, goats, and sheep. The area quickly became a leading stock-breeding zone in the world.1 The management of a herd of cattle requires a fine-tuned mixture of bulls, steers, cows, and calves. At the least, yearly meetings among stock herders was necessary for breeders to make adjustments to their herd. Such yearly meets had been a part of the stock-herder life since the days of Nabta Paya, and are associated with ceremony, celebrations, and drinking, just as much as with haggling over animals. Farmers in Switzerland still today have such meets, bringing their animals from miles away and decorating them with flowers and bells. Metal played a significant role in the economy of the steppes, since the Ural Mountains were a major source of copper. Kargaly was mined already in the fifth millennium BCE. The two cultural vectors, one from the Balkans and the other from the Russian steppe, produced several hybrids such as the Lengyel culture (5000–3400 BCE) located in the area of modern-day southern Moravia, western Slovakia, western Hungary, parts of southern Poland, and the Rössen culture (4600–4300 BCE) that stretched into France. These people as they pushed northwestward entered an environment unlike anything they or their ancestors had previously encountered. It included vast deciduous forests, substantial mountain ranges, new species of wild plants and animals, new soil types, new climatic characteristics, and, of course, the indigenous First Society people. Avoiding the mountains and thick forests, the newcomers spread out in river valleys and along tributaries to the larger rivers, chopping down trees and clearing land for farms and pastures as they went.2 They were following the copper trail, so to speak, that connected the Carpathian Mountains in Romania with the Tatra Mountains in northern Czech Republic and southern Poland, to ore sites in southeastern Germany. Trade up and down the rivers began to flourish. Copper was exchanged for ornaments made of spondylus, a reddish, spiky mollusk that is harvested underwater in the Mediterranean. It was highly valued and fashioned into pendants and necklaces that can be

found as far as northern Germany and France in tombs probably of clan leaders.3

THE LONGHOUSE WORLD The push northward into Germany, Poland, and into Scandinavia produced a distinctive architectural form, the longhouse.4 The culture to make the move into Europe is known as the Linear Pottery culture (5500–4500 BCE), followed by the Rössen culture (4600–4300 BCE). Their settlements spread along the major river valleys. Initially, the Danube and its tributaries were the main corridors, with the farmers discovering that the upland zones were covered by loess soil, a fine wind-deposited sediment that is exceptionally fertile. Within the loess zone, farming settlement spread to the headwaters of the river systems that drain north to the Baltic and North seas: the Elbe, Rhine, Oder, and Vistula. The round hut, pit house, or various other constructions that had been made for millennia fell to the wayside. Instead, the more or less rectangular house, though sometimes with a rounded end, became the norm. The first longhouses of the Rössen culture had a unique trapezoidal shape, with the entrance at the wider end. A site in Osłonki, Poland (4300 BCE) was actually a fortified settlement with nearly thirty trapezoidal longhouses and over eighty graves (Figure 10.2). The graves of the more affluent had included copper items (some of the earliest in north-central Europe, with sources several hundred kilometers distant), shell belts and necklaces, bone armlets, antler axes, and bone points. Antler axes occur with male burials, while females have belts of shell beads; copper occurs with burials of both sexes. Though often described as agriculturalists, they were actually agro-pastoralists, since they had cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats.5 Figure 10.2: Rössen and Lengyel longhouse foundations. Source: Mark Jarzombek/

Though there are several regional variations to these longhouses, most have three or four internal divisions. Massive internal posts in the center held the ridge beam. Some have a double row of postholes along the walls, suggesting that the post held a horizontal beam between them that in turn supported the rather significant weight of the roof and its beams. Lengths of these houses range

from between 10 and 60 meters, although most are about 20.6 The part closest to the door was for work activities, the middle section for sleeping and eating, and the rear for grain storage and ritual activities. The houses had an attic that was used for storage and sleeping. Twenty to thirty people would have lived in these structures. Such a house would also have had outdoor work areas associated with it as well as animal pens, and, on the nearby slopes, its agricultural plots. Unlike the Mesopotamian houses, which were associated with neighborhoods and usually quite compact, these structures were political units in and of themselves, even though they were always tied in to other neighboring houses. A village would have consisted of five to twenty-five longhouses, with houses being rebuilt over the centuries close to where the old one was. A longhouse in Albersdorf, Germany gives us a vivid picture of domestic life. It was 13 meters long and 4.8 meters wide and was divided into various rooms by lightweight partitions. At the narrow northwest end, the posts were more closely placed next to each other. This “weather side,” which was more exposed to wind and rain, was thus better protected. The walls were filled in and sealed with clay. The inner and outer surfaces of the walls were then smoothed and covered with chalk as a sealant. A grave was found in the northernmost room, and nearby in the northeast corner were marks from a big boulder that once stood there. This room served ceremonial purposes having to do with ancestor veneration. This house was more than just a functional unit. It operated as part clan compound and part ritual center serving the immediate community. The idea was not to create a concentration of people bound by architectural form into a relatively static grouping, as at Çatal Höyük, but an architecture of modularity, namely of house units that could be multiplied within the limits of social and economic tolerances. A “house” was more than just the building and its inhabitants. It was an economic and ancestral entity, with the core members of that entity living and working in the actual house and others living nearby in more informal or smaller structures. Unlike the huts of an earlier era, which were mostly made by women, the making of these farmstead houses was a community effort. Men chopped down the trees and prepared and carved the wood, women made the daub, which was applied by the women, the elderly, and the children. Families probably helped each other during the construction, similar to a “barn raising” where neighbors work together in the context of food, drink, and merriment. Construction was done either in a single concentrated episode or by small groups incrementally. First trees needed for the construction had to be identified, maybe years in advance: oak for the structural parts, and pine, which could be split, for the wall and floor boards. The more incremental tasks could then begin. These included the weaving of the walls out of saplings and sticks, the procuring and carrying of the heavy clay to the site, its mixing with dung and plaster to form daub, and then the plastering itself. The thatching, which was probably done by the men, had to be conducted relatively rapidly, with most of the thatch bundles prepared ahead of time by the women. Roofs overhung the walls as far as possible to project the walls from rain. The communality of the effort as well as its relative flexibility of the construction process underlay the autonomy of the nuclear household as the elemental unit of society. It also meant that the house could be identified with the entire range of generations and with both sexes. The effort was substantial, but was not seen as “work.” Rather it was an integral part of a family in identifying its place in the social and physical landscape. Most activities still took place outside the house. This was, after all, a working farm with people spending their daylight hours doing chores in and around the village. Making pots was a particularly important activity because pots were required for both functional and ritual activities. It was a valued skill that was carefully learned and handed down through the generations. Much

effort was made with decorating surfaces, particularly for serving vessels. Grinding ochre, as always, remained important for burial rituals and body ornament. This emphasis on separate households, on the one hand, and on a number of households working in unison, on the other hand, was unique at that moment in history. Though villages needed a certain number of people to be fully operative, it also had an upper limit of maybe about two hundred people to balance resources and activities. When the limit was reached, groups would branch off and found a settlement elsewhere. These villages were organized, however, with limited hierarchy. Tradition and ancestry spelled out the logic of behavior. One or the other family held sway over the group, and some families would have had access to the better land and resources, but mostly the organization depended upon participation rather than on status. Many of the early villages were bounded by ditches, usually 2 or 3 meters wide and the same amount deep, but these might not have been as much defensive as symbolic, and perhaps even practical, controlling the movement of cattle. The ditches defined an area usually about 200 meters across, becoming somewhat larger over time. In some cases, as at Passo di Corvo in Italy (ca. 5500 BCE), the C-shaped ditches had a drainage function that channeled the groundwater away from the house (Figure 10.3). The ditches left circular areas of about 20 meters across, which served as a platform for the house and its surrounding work and animal space. Large, spiraling canals encircled the settlement. It and its neighboring settlements were located on a plateau, which begins to drop off on its eastern and northern sides marshes. If the plateau served as a grazing area, the marshes provided for fish, fowl, and other game and plant food. The long ditches, which loop around the settlements, apart from ritual functions, served as water retention during the summer months.7 Figure 10.3a, b, c: Passo di Corvo, Italy. (a) site plan, (b) map, (c) one of the settlements. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Santo TinĂŠ, Passo di Corvo e la civiltĂ neolitica del Tavoliere (Genova: Sagep, 1983)

As to the size of the village, that can be determined by the number of animals. Below certain herd sizes, the herd is vulnerable to disease, climate, and predation. The minimum size of a herd is about thirty, fifty preferably. A village would have had to have at least that number. To this one adds sheep and pigs to arrive at a figure of about how big a village would have to be to be sustainable over time. Most villages consisted of around ten families, but many were larger. Passo di Corvo had ninety compounds, but they were probably not all in use at the same time. The area

outside the village was defined by a range of economic realities. Pastures for the cattle were needed as well as garden areas and fields, protected from the animals by stone walls and fences. Some areas had to be left fallow. Other areas were needed for lumber and firewood. For all of this, it seems that 3 to 5 kilometers was the right amount of distance between villages. There were also hunting areas in the hills and on mountain slopes, and though fishing was not a major preoccupation, rights to the banks of rivers were certainly negotiated with the neighbors. Whether everything was peaceful is not known, but probably not. During times of stress there might have been raiding parties to steal cattle. Villages in the more populated low lands were certainly more prone to conflict. On occasion, members of several villages banded together to go on the road, so to speak, to visit the regional mines for flint and ochre or to go to places to trade for obsidian, metal, or other commodities. These paths would have been well-known, requiring certain protocols on how to move through foreign territory. Sea travel, though perilous on the early log canoes, did not intimidate them. After all, Crete, Cyprus, and Malta and any number of other islands were settled already between the sixth and fifth millennium BCE. Boating was probably undertaken by specialized boat crews who brought obsidian and trade commodities to various ports of call during the summer months when calmer weather was common. Apart from what people grew in their fields, there were cherries, apples, mushrooms, pears, and other forest products that when dried would last into the winter. Honey and berries were also collected, as well as herbs of various types. Salt, if not found locally, was procured through trade. Animals were not technically considered food, but there were always enough ritual excuses to merit a sacrifice. A visitor moving into a village would have seen areas of new gardens, half-regenerating gardens, worn dirt pathways moving in different directions, a number of clearings, a soft haze from the smoking fires, and the thatched roofs of the houses through the thinning trees. The visitor would have already attracted the attention of the dogs and inquisitive children, with the adults watching warily from their tasks. Then, stepping into a wide opening, she would see the village itself surrounded by a ditch and wooden palisade, with the noise of the people, children, dogs, and animals, now all around. Much as with First Societies, the surrounding landscape was still seen as sacred. Peaks and rocks were honored and caves were still held in reverence. Many aspects of the sacred landscape might have, in fact, been borrowed from the First Society people, some of whom might still have been found in the highlands. In a cave in Italy that was preserved because of a rockslide, bowls had been placed on the floor to collect the water dripping from the roof. The water was probably considered sacred and used in healing ceremonies. Not too far away at another cave, in a set of low, tortuous galleries, hundreds of images were painted, some geometric, others showing men hunting deer. In ways that would also have been familiar to First Society people, there people still worshiped figurines, mostly of women. In fact, the figurine world was to remain a part of culture from the middle European areas around to Egypt for a long time to come. At Passo di Corvo, archaeologists found a statuette of a female figure with half-open eyes, in what seems an altered conscience condition. She wears a necklace and has markings on her upper torso. The traces of red pigment indicate that she had been painted.8


RONDEL The shaping of the earth’s surface might seem as ancient as time, but it is not. Marking the landscape through drawings or stone piles is certainly as old as mankind, but dragging stones and moving earth in baskets to make mounds or other shapes was a new way of operating. The Mississippians began to do so around 6000 BCE and the Olmecs and later Mesoamerican cultures beginning around 2500 BCE. The people who lived in eastern Europe began to do so around 3000 BCE. For the previous two millennia, burials were in pits with stones perhaps on them. But in North Germany and into Poland uniquely shaped, memorial tombs were built.9 About 50 meters long and a few meters wide, they were trapezoidal, clustered in groups often and often, as in Sarnowo Poland, and pointed in a northeastern direction (Figures 10.4 and 10.5). They had a stone base all around. The bodies were usually interred singly in sunken graves, but there might be as many as ten such graves under one mound. In some cases a wooden mortuary structure was erected which was then burned before the mound was constructed. Grave goods are modest, indicating that despite the size of these earthworks, their importance lay in the communal nature of their construction. The emergence of this type of effort, the use of a stone base when none was provided for a house, and the moving of tons of earth is certainly indicative of a fundamental change in the attitude toward death. Figure 10.4a, b, c: Long barrows in northern Europe; (a) general extent of barrow sites in Europe, (b) site plan of Sarnowo, Poland, (c) remains of a typical barrow. Source: Mark Jarzombek/Magdalena Midgley, The Origin and Function of the Earthen Long Barrows of Northern Europe (Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, 1985), 25

Figure 10.5: Wietrzychowice Long barrows, Wietrzychowice, Poland. Source: Cezary Namirski

Somewhat similar long barrows are found in Cerny, France, one of several agro-pastoral settlements along the Yonne River ( Figures 10.6 and 10.7). Although the houses had not been found, the villagers created a mortuary ritual center at a bend in the river. The barrows were extremely long and thin, like comets in the landscape with the tail pointing to the river. How they were mounded over is not known since modern-day farming has long since removed the top parts. But they probably consisted of a mound at the end of the palisaded allee. Over time, the design changed and as the tombs were renewed, they were built as a ring of stones. Similar ritual sites along the river would probably have been common.10 Figure 10.6a, b: Cerny, France: (a) plan; (b) site plan. Source: Illustrator: Timothy Cooke/Claude Constantin, Daniel Mordant, and Daniel Simonin, La culture de Cerny: Nouvelle économie, nouvelle société au Néolithique: Actes du colloque international de Nemours, 9-1011 mai 1994 (Nemours: A.P.R.A.I.F., 1997)

Figure 10.7a, b: Cerny, France: (a) view; (b) development over time. Source: Timothy Cooke/Claude Constantin, Daniel Mordant, and Daniel Simonin, La culture de Cerny: Nouvelle économie, nouvelle société au Néolithique: Actes du colloque international de Nemours, 9-10-

11 mai 1994 (Nemours: A.P.R.A.I.F., 1997)

Around the same time, a new earth-architectural form appears, known as the “rondel” or “enclosure,” a circular space 80 to 100 meters across and defined by a ditch and mound. Shapes vary. Some are compact, but others quite large. Some have one ditch and mound, others two or more. Some enclosures had a wooden palisade, others did not. Clearly the variation depended on

the combination of resources, wealth, and manpower. Most seem to have an entrance, sometimes called a causeway, toward the east. 11 It was once thought that these earthworks were defensive structures or the remnants of fortified villages, but since few have remains of houses in them it is likely that many were ritual meeting places or cult centers. The circle might have been visited on feast days with the farmers and their families gathering in a nearby temporary camp. A few households would have been established permanently as hosts, custodians, and caretakers, of these places. But why rondels appeared and began to spread across Europe all the way into England is not known, but one perhaps can surmise that the deep roots of First Society ceremonialism had here been enlarged by the ritual requirements of the herders and agriculturalists (Figure 10.8). Figure 10.8: Formal development of causeway enclosures. Source: Timothy Cooke/Alastair Oswald, Carolyn Dyer and Martyn Barber, The Creation of Monuments: Neolithic Causewayed Enclosures in the British Isles (Swindon: Heritage Press, 2001), 77

A typical example is Bylany in Czech Republic, one of thousands of hamlets that sprung up along

the tributaries that fed into the fertile Elbe Valley that stretched 200 kilometers east to west. Over time the hamlet grew into a major settlement consisting of dozens of longhouses and dominated by a grand circular enclosure across the river to the west (Figures 10.9 and 10.10). The houses had a characteristic form. Each was supported by five rows of oak posts, the largest being the center row holding up a pitched roof.12 Walls were made of twigs, bark, mud, and reed mats. The clay for the walls was taken from the area along the wall on the outside, creating in places pronounced ditches that also served as convenient watering holes for the animals. Whereas some archaeologists have assumed that the beams were lashed together by rope (made of grass and reeds), others, noting the difficulty and even danger of such a construction, argued that the builders were able to drill holes through beams and attach beams together with dowels. This would have reduced the number of columns and increased the utility of the interior space.13 At some moment, when the rondel was built, a settlement area had to be cleared for its construction. Figure 10.9a, b: Bylany, Czech Republic: (a) rondel settlement; (b) site map. Source: Mark Jarzombek/

Figure 10.10: Bylany, Czech Republic: (a) cutaway of house; (b) plan showing first stage (dark), second stage (light). Source: Mark Jarzombek/

Bylany belonged to the Linear Pottery culture (ca. 5500-4500 BCE) that as it expanded northward morphed into the Funnelbeaker culture (ca. 4000–2700 BCE), which spread even into southern Sweden. At Merzbach, Germany, there is a similar situation as at Bylany. Here and along neighboring streams dozens of small hamlets sprung up (Figure 10.11). Figure 10.11: Merzbach, Germany: (a) general area showing distribution of settlements; (b) settlements along Merzbach. Source: Timothy Cooke/Peter Bogucki, Forest Farmers and Stockherders: Early Agriculture and its Consequences in North-Central Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 75

At first, the round enclosures were built in the village, right up to the doorstep of existing houses. The later ones were built on the slopes outside of town, indicating larger communal activities.14 The use of rondels moved north and west over time and proliferated in France from between

4500–3500 BCE15 (Figure 10.12). But whereas there are many south of the Loire River, there are few in Brittany. The reasons for these gaps are unknown. A rondel has been reconstructed on its original site at Goseck, Germany. It consists of a ditch with the mound on the outside and just within a double ringed palisade, leaving an opening of about 50 meters in diameter. It had three relatively narrow entrances with the southeastern-facing one being particularly significant. Animal bones, stone blades, pottery and even human bones were placed in the foundations of the fence or in the ditch. Figure 10.12: Rondels in Europe. Source: Florence Guiraud

Francis Pryor, a noted archaeologist of these roundels, describes a possible scenario, 16 summarized here: On the ritual day, hundreds of people arrive from the surrounding settlements with expectations having been built up for week[s] as the dated neared. They bring their prized possessions and cattle and wear ritual garments. Special temporary huts are constructed along the river’s shore by each of the clans. Up on the hill, where the rondel is to be made, the elders mark the boundary by walking in a huge circle, while men behind them follow, dragging a wooden plough, which scours the ground. The elders, looking to the sky for birds as signs of the divine, then lay out a second circle inside the first. Apart from the elders and the ploughmen, no one is allowed inside the great circle. Along that outer ring, men drive wooden stakes into the soil to mark clan identities. In the next few days, work gangs dig out their section of the ditch piling the earth and gravel from the subsoil around both sides of the ditch, but leaving gaps between the ditch segments. At the center of the enclosure, meanwhile, drummers are beating a rhythm. When the digging is complete the ring now officially defines a place close to the next world, the realm of the ancestors. The ceremonies can begin. The senior members of each family, formally cross the ditch, bringing with them

wooden pots, racks, and trays that hold valuables like honey, salt, pottery, polished axes, amber necklaces, and small ornaments, which are exchanged between clans with pomp and ceremony. Then a prized possession is procured and placed in the clean bottom of the trench. This might be a skull of a much-loved grandmother, a ceremonial bowl, or a comb, along with meat from a ritually slaughtered sheep or cow. The men who had excavated the ditch had taken great pains to keep the ditch clean. There is no scrap of mud nor root or grass in it. This state of purity is essential if the family offerings are to reach the ancestors unharmed and uncorrupted. The offerings are then covered with clean gravel. The layer of white gravel standing in contrast to the dark green of the grass is then covered with a carpet of animal hides. The lead elder then takes a basket of soil and empties it into the ditch. This is a signal for everyone to join in and soon the ditch has vanished and made into a mound of soil some one meter high or so. The next day and through the night, a special ceremony is held in the east end, which has been ritually cleaned again and is now enclosed by a wooden fence. There the elders sing traditional songs to honor the ancestors. At the end of the ceremonies, there is a ritual feast, after which the bones of the slaughtered animals are carefully placed in the ditch segment to be returned to the spirits of the land that fed them. The ceremony draws to the close and the enclosure is now “activated” and will remain a powerful symbol in the history of the region for several generations, if not longer. To reinforce its potency, there are yearly events at the site with people congregating on its western side, which symbolizes the here and now as opposed to the sacred, eastern side. Burial mounds, containing the bones of people associated with this location, will be added to the site for generations. Meanwhile, back in the area of the Black Sea, the Vinča tradition morphed into what is known as the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, which developed north of the Black Sea in the forest-and-steppe zone that stretched from the Carpathians and the Danube all the way to the Dnipro River. These people practiced the usual shifting agriculture, growing wheat, barley, millet, and beans. Since the weather was warmer than today, one should not be surprised to find that they also ate grapes, apricots, wild plums, apples, and pears. At the earlier stages of this culture, settlements were comparatively small, made up of no more than a dozen houses, but around 3500 BCE, as cattle became increasingly important, some of the settlements reached the size of a town with hundreds or even thousands of houses and a population of as many as 15,000 people. And there was not just one of these, but several, large not only for Europe, but also in comparison to towns in Mesopotamia. These mega-villages—or perhaps proto-cities, depending on how one looks at them —contained granaries and two-story buildings that were probably ceramic workshops. A t Talianki and Maidanets there were more than 2,000 buildings, with perhaps about 1,500 being occupied at any one time (Figure 10.13). The houses were erected in concentric circles or ovals around the central open area that was used for ritual events and animal corrals. Although today such large villages might seem more normal, in those times, this was quite unusual. There are clearly no palaces and temples, and no obvious hierarchy. And yet, such a large community of people and animals needed not only food and water, but also salt. The logistics would have been formidable and point to a ritual world that promoted cooperation and the distribution of goods. One of the most recognizable aspects of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture is the pottery that its people produced. They made significant improvements in the firing and modeling. The extensive pottery workshops were necessary in order to produce carrying devices for these goods, laden on ox carts. Copper, however, remained a key element in the economy. But because there are no Cucuteni cemeteries associated with these proto-cities, the discussion about their mortuary practices is still an open one. It seems that some of the houses served as ossuaries, a place where the bones of the dead were buried. As with the Vinča, figurines played an important ritual role in

all aspects of life (Figure 10.14). The deposition of figurines in the floor of the houses suggests an intensive ritual practice focused on the household rather than on public buildings as would also have been typical of earlier VinÄ?a traditions. Some of the figurines were placed inside of ritual vessels (Figure 10.15). Enigmatic, however, are examples of pottery that seem to represent the facades of shrines protected by a ritual gate. Figure 10.13: Cucuteni village: Talianki. Source: Timothy Cooke/Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991), 366, 367

Figure 10.14: Cucuteni ritual figurines. Source: Š CristianChirita (

Figure 10.15: Detail from reconstructed Cucuteni house. Source: Š CristianChirita (

Trypillian houses were made of timber and woven willow branches covered with a coating of clay with admixture of chaff; the roofs were supported by wooden pillars. The houses had windows, but apparently no chimneys and the smoke from the hearths and sacrificial altars

escaped from the windows and doors. Some houses were made of small logs covered with a thick layer of plastered clay, creating a comfortable and dry interior. Stone was sometimes used, but rarely. The floor was made of clay, which was then exposed to fire to harden it; the interior walls were painted brown, white, or red. Once in fifty or seventy years the settlements were abandoned and the people moved elsewhere, burning down the abandoned village, in what must have been a ritual destruction.

THE KURGAN EMERGENCE Around 4500 BCE, the nomadic herders of the open steppe developed an earthwork, mortuary architecture in the form of artificial mounds, known as kurgans. They were built near a pasture and a water source, and on an elevated spot. A shallow, wide circular ditch was made with the soil placed on the inner side of the ditch. Then ceremonies were performed, after which the grave pit was dug at the center of the circle and lined with wood. The deceased were buried in this chamber along with ceremonial belts, animal tooth necklaces, copper pendants, as well as copper spiral arm rings and finger rings. When the burial was over, it was covered with brushwood and filled with soil and the whole then covered with topsoil blocks.17 In one kurgan area, at Khvalynsk on the Volga River (dating to 4500 BCE), archaeologists found 158 human graves with the bones of 52 sacrificed sheep, 23 cattle, and 11 horses. 18 Ritual events took place in all phases of the funerals, as is clear from where offerings were found by archaeologists: on the grave floor, in the grave fill, at the edge of the grave, and above the graves (Figure 10.16). Figure 10.16: Expansion of Kurgans into Europe. Source: Florence Guiraud

The kurgan ideology moved eastward in several waves, the first being to the rich farming

cultures of the Black Sea19 (Figure 10.17a, 10.17b). Whether this was an invasion or a process of cultural integration is not known. It was probably the latter, since the development of the horse as an instrument of war was still a thousand or so years in the future. At any rate, the impact of the kurgan ideology is obvious and lies in the spread of the telltale graves that appear in Moldavia, southern Romania, and east Hungary around 4400 BCE. The mostly male graves are a distinct contrast to the even ratio of male-female burials of the earlier cultures. Fortifications began to be built around the towns consisting of earthen walls, stockades, and moats.20 This period coincides with the development of new metallurgical techniques characterized by the making of bronzes of copper and arsenic and tin that replaced the pure copper metallurgy of the pervious period.21 Figure 10.17a, b: Two examples of kurgans: (a) Tsareva Mogila, near Kherson, Ukraine, (b) Tarvana, near Vracs, Bulgaria. Source: Andrew Ferentinos/Timothy Cooke/Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991), 366, 367

Tens of thousands of kurgans were eventually made, especially during the next two thousand years, but few survive in their original landscape, as most have been sacrificed in the name of

agriculture or archaeology. One of the more remarkable ones, the Håga Kurgan (Hågahögen) or King Björn’s Mound in Sweden—60 kilometers north of Stockholm—still gives a sense of the importance of the setting. It is 7 meters high and 45 meters across and it was constructed around 1000 BCE at the top of an oval hill in the middle of what was once a marshy river bottom. During the burial there had probably been human sacrifice, the evidence for which is human bones from which the marrow was removed. The coffin contained a sword, brooches, a number of gilded buttons, and various other bronze objects. For a while the kurgan builders and the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture overlapped, but the latter began to noticeably decline around 3300 BCE. The reasons are not clear, but it coincided with a cooling in the climate. We see in this area the emergence of a new cultural horizon, the so-called Globular Amphorae culture, coming in from the north as well as a shift in the eastern steppe from cattle-raising to horse-raising. It was a transformation that was to have a huge significance in the history of civilization, and will be discussed in a subsequent chapter.

LAKE SHORE CULTURES Europe, around 4000 BCE, was denned by a cultural arc that went from northern and central France in the west, through Germany and down into Romania and east in the Ukraine. Although the people who lived there had slightly different ways of making pottery and tools, they shared the tradition of the rectangular farmstead house (some longer, some shorter), as well as a village life (whether small or large), the use of rondel earthworks, and an integrated economic and ritualistic relationship to agriculture, animal-tending, metal, and salt. They were also all mostly valley people, avoiding the flood plains and settling on gradually sloped shores of tributary rivers. While this was happening, a similar but nonetheless distinctly different culture was being created along the hundreds of lakes that dotted the geography from Austria all the way west to France and Spain. These shores were excellent for agriculture, the reason being that following the Ice Age, the water lines of the lakes had retreated leaving a mineral-rich substratum of shells and grasses. The soft soils were, however, not well-suited for houses. The only way to guarantee stability was to use wooden posts driven into the ground and anchored in place by loam pounded into the postholes. Cross bracing was needed to keep the structure from twisting or bending. A platform could then be built up with walls made of lightweight wicker and branches. To provide access, the inhabitants laid down logs to produce a sidewalk with the doors facing onto these log roads.22 With time, villagers learned how to construct settlements over the water to preserve as much of the shore as possible. Though the village worked together to make the houses, the various family units probably operated more or less independently. Because of the linear nature of shore agriculture and the need to compress houses together to preserve land, these lake-shore dwellings formed tight, well-defined communities different from the more sprawling farmstead-villages in the valleys.23 Examples of the lake-shore tradition can be found in northern Italy, along the Rhone Valley, across Switzerland and to southern Germany, from Lac de Chalain, France, to Keutschacher See, Austria, and as far south as Lake Ohrid in Macedonia.24 Archaeologists, often working underwater, have begun to analyze the nature of these sites from the postholes. One example is Sutz-Lattring, in Switzerland, one of several pile-dwelling villages along the Lake of Biel. As it grew, it expanded laterally and then a new row of houses began to be built even farther out, all connected by long causeways.

In the fourth millennium, these lake-shore villages defined a corridor that played an important role as mediator in the east-west copper and salt trade between central Europe and France. One village on Lake Constance, Unteruhldingen, has been partially reconstructed (Figures 10.18, 10.19, and 10.20). Figure 10.18: Sutz-Lattringen, Switzerland, plan of post and a conjectural reconstruction of the village. Source: Florence Guiraud/Living on the Lake in Prehistoric Europe: 150 Years of LakeDwelling Research, edited by Francesco Menot, Routledge, 2004, p. 188

Figure 10.19: Map showing pile-dwelling sites in the Alps. Source: Florence Guiraud

Figure 10.20: Pile dwelling, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Source: © Andreas F. Borchert (

MEGALITHIC CULTURES At the same time that agricultural societies were expanding into Europe with their rondels, people were also spreading relatively quickly along the Atlantic coast from Portugal to the north of Ireland. This emerging Atlantic Coast culture was different from the already established European tradition in many ways, but most noticeably in its attitude toward death, which was seen dynamically—and dramatically—as a return to the spirit world. This was, of course, nothing new from the perspective of First Society. What was new was the scale of the architectural expression.25 The importance of these structures was not their permanence as such, but that they were part of a process—in which even construction played a part—that defined the interaction

zone between the living spirits and the living humans. What prompted these people to first engage in these particular architectural activities is anyone’s guess, but clearly for several thousand years, the activity of finding, moving, leveraging, and ornamenting stones of all sizes was integral to the normal activity of a clan.26 The predominant practice, initially at least, was the collective burial in which remains of numerous individuals were placed together over time in the same tomb.27 Grave goods were usually few. In some tombs there was evidence that the bodies had first been buried or exposed to the elements elsewhere, and it was only the cleaned and disarticulated bones that were placed in the chamber. But this was not always the case: Sometimes bodies were actually buried in the tombs and removed later for secondary burial rituals. At any rate, what is shared is the practice of secondary burial, which is unfamiliar to the modern world, but which was common in this ancient time even in Mesopotamia. At death, the body was buried, but some time later, perhaps a year or so later, the bones were gathered and reburied. It was the second burial that was usually the one associated with rituals. What this did was create a difference between an individual’s death and the role that death played as part of clan cohesion. In that sense, these tombs were not graves in the modern sense, but better thought of as memory devices associated with the telling of stories and legends. They were also ancestor sites, the places where the spirits would return to find their kin, and in reverse a type of portal for the deceased into the realm of the ancestors. It might be useful to think of them as battery-driven magnets, for their job was to attract the good spirits related to ancestors as well as to repel any evil spirits. In this they were not static objects, but continually “active” and indeed, like a battery, in need of being periodically “recharged” through various rituals conducted by clan leaders and their followers. One could make a comparison with the great mound builders in the Mississippi, which were appearing at about the same time. Both the megalithic structures of the Europeans and the great mounds of the Mississippians were the product of communal activities, both involved ritual activities that had not only to do with ancestry, but also with socializing and trade. The main difference is that whereas the Mississippians are First Society, the builders of the megalithic tombs are agro-pastoralists. While the agricultural world did have an important valence in these efforts, the similarities should not be dismissed. If anything, one could argue that the megalithic builders did not so much revolutionize First Society norms as magnify them, not only in the scale of their efforts, but also by integrating them with a culture of animal sacrifices that would have been alien to First Society people. The rapid spread of this culture along the Mediterranean and Atlantic margins of Europe suggests that maritime contacts between sea-fishing communities played a key part in the genesis and dissemination of ideas. This raises the possibility about beliefs relating to sea and shoreline. Headlands and islands with their dramatic tidal transformations were especially charged with mythological or symbolic associations that may explain the density of these monuments in those places.28 Many of the ritual sites were also probably associated with winter pastures, since they were close to rivers or springs.29 What we have today is only what has survived into the modern era. In Denmark, for example, it is thought that about three thousand megalithic tombs were originally constructed in between 3400 and 3200 BCE, but of these only about two thousand remain, which is more than in other places where cities and farming have erased all traces of many of these sites. What has not survived at all is the living landscape of farmsteads and settlements. People lived in thatch-roofed houses made of basket-like walls reinforced by stakes. Walls were just sturdy enough to support the roof that

went low to the ground. Settlements ranged from a single farmstead to small, interconnected hamlets of up to ten or fifteen houses, but larger communities existed only rarely. The word “megalithic” (meaning “large stone”) used to describe the architecture of this period is no accident, but not all megalithic structures are made from gigantic stones. The various words given to the constructions are cairn, cist, cursus, henge, alignments, menhir, dolmen, cromlech, barrow, portal tomb, and tumulus. A cairn is a pile of rocks, large or small, that marks a particular spot, sometimes associated with a burial, but not always. A cist is a small stone-built coffin-like box used to hold the bodies of the dead. It can be uncovered or covered with earth or with even larger constructions. It can be built for both primary and secondary burials. A cursus (plural: cursi) is an avenue-like construction defined by ditches that crosses the landscape. Some stretched for several kilometers and are mainly found in England. A henge is an English term to describe a circular arrangement of stones, or timber posts and/or ditches, which can be found singly or in combination. Alignments are the most mysterious of these constructions. They tend to be in two distinct types, namely large stones with wide spaces and smaller stones more closely spaced. The ones in southwest England will have a special stone at its southern end, often called an altar stone, though its ritualistic purpose is not known. Some alignments form single rows set in the landscape, but in some places they were made as parallel rows. A menhir is a large standing stone that may be found as a single upright monolith, or as part of a group of similar stones (Figure 10.21). Sizes vary considerably, but their shape usually tapers toward the top. Menhirs are most numerous in Ireland, Great Britain, and Brittany, but are also distributed across Europe, Africa, and Asia. The towering 7.6-meter stone called Gollenstein in Germany dates to around 3000 BCE. It was most likely a hero stone, commemorating a great chieftain or warrior. But it could also have served as a territorial marker. The Bible gives us some possible textual clues. “Jacob set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to him. Then he poured wine over it as an offering to God and anointed the pillar with olive oil (Genesis 35; 14).” The original Hebrew for these stones is tzionim, which strictly speaking means “signs,” but in spoken Hebrew is usually used to denote a stone marking a grave or event. Figure 10.21: Menhir, Drizzlecombe, South Devon, UK. Source: © Herbythyme (

Architecture First Society Part 1  

PART 1; The book can begin to orient the student to a better understanding of the architecture and life of the First Peoples and of early a...

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