| Where Recherche duTemps Perdu|
---- meets Kirchliche Dogmatik
I haven't been able to do a blog entry, but I've posted a few "Chips from the Workshop" pictures on Facebook, which I'm adding to this entry.
Wow, it's hot again! As I recall, it was unseasonably warm early in the spring; then it got to be normal, viz. in the latter part of April it got cold with a number of freezing nights in a row. Now the outside looks like it hasn't since 1988, the last major drought summer. The grass is orange brown. In contrast to, say, the West where you just can't have grass unless you water it regularly, around here we don't water our yards when it gets to be like this. We rejoice that we don't have to mow the lawn (except for the weeds that apparently don't need moisture), knowing that soon enough the grass will be green again.
1988 may also have been the last summer when we had multiple days in the hundreds in a row. That's the summer we got air conditioning for this house. Well, technically it still was summer when we got it. We ordered it in early July or so, but by that time there weren't any units available from wholesalers in the area, and we wound up having to wait a couple of months--meaning that by the time we had central a/c, the weather was finally cooling. On really hot nights June and Seth would sleep in the living room, while Nick and I would be on backyard safari in the tent.
As I'm reminiscing, what really struck us after the a/c was finally installed, and we closed all the windows and turned off all the fans, how much fan noise we had been living with and how much easier it was to converse all of a sudden.
So, they're saying it may get as high as 110° F tomorrow. We have nothing planned for the day, except of course the usual indoor travel, back to primordial civilizations, guided by the anthropologists and archaeologists who told us about them. I had a worthwhile break from them yesterday and today since nephew Michael and sister-in-law Kim came by. Michael is heading out with the peace corps shortly and is visiting friends and relatives, and Kim took the opportunity to provide his transportation. We had fun and were able to arrange for them to see Nick & Megan because I took the crock pot of soup I was making over there, and we had supper together. Then we met up with Seth & Amber at the dogs' agility lessons. It was baby dog night, and Amber had brought Haven, the less-than-a-year-old Great Dane to work out. What a picture of grace and elegance she is when she moves. June thought of and coordinated our little itinerary of the evening.
I realize that I have been making rather free use of jargon on this site lately, such as referring to maybe a "hunter gatherer" culture. The picture on the left should clarify that term as it depicts a person collecting various hunters. So, there is an example of a "hunter gatherer."
Come to think of it, I didn't let myself get away from my topic completely since I was able to consult with Nick on where things stood these days in the anthropology of Native American cultures, relative to the material I had been reading. North American archaeology apparently continues to keep everyone's heads spinning in circles. At the time Wilhelm Schmidt was writing High Gods in North America in 1933, he said that he was unaware of any paleolithic discoveries in North America. As a matter of fact, the first excavations were taking place at that time, and the first publications on those sites were being written. Around that time, the migration across the Bering Land Bridge was already an accepted theory, though then, as now, scholars with their eyes open were aware of some facts that did not fit into the Bering theory by itself. As everyone knows, the Bering theory has become enshrined dogma, but the inconvenient facts have not disappeared, and there are some bitter debates going on in professional circles with the fairly likely outcome that, at a minimum, the Bering-only version no will longer stand up and, again at a minimum, a Bering-plus theory will have to become the new standard. Then, of course, what content the "plus" might consist of is another question, and there will be a lot of hearty debate (viz. ad hominem attacks and vilifications) before there will be a majority view. Forget about consensus in your lifetime, even if you're reading this a hundred years from now.
The first discoveries in human paleontology of North America exposed several different paleolithic cultures. These ancient sites have consisted of animal skeletons with embedded arrow heads and spear tips. Since animals don't normally grow such items in their bodies, the inference that they were inserted by humans seems to be reasonable, and I doubt that one would go very far out on a limb by hypothesizing that they were inserted in a somewhat forceful manner very shortly before the animal died. Furthermore, there is good reason to suspect that probably either the imminent death of the animal caused the sharp objects to be inserted into them or the insertion of the sharp objects caused their imminent death. Most people favor the second option.
Radiocarbon dating of organic remains established a sequence of paleolithic cultures, with the oldest known one until recently bearing the monicker of "the "Clovis culture", named after the city in New Mexico close to where the remains were found. The animals in that case, by the way, were mammoths. The beginning of the Clovis culture was assigned a date of around 11,500 BC. [I'm ignoring the probability range impacting this date by the C14 method and the "B.P." ("before present") designation that apparently is fairly standard for this kind of work.]
Would "a hundred years from now" be "100 A.P."? It occurs to me that we could have a single unified time scale, without offending anyone's religious sensitivities, if we assigned all events a date of B.F. ("before future"). It would not be easy to pinpoint the numbers, but they have already become somewhat flexible with the B.P. designation, and surely the ambiguity would be made up for by achieving greater unity among all people. We could all study history as well as eschatology together and sing "I'd like to buy the world a Coke®" with gusto and meaning.
The "Clovis-first" theory also became enshrined in anthropological circles, but it is also getting quite wobbly. There are some huge gaps in archaeological support between the time of the Bering crossing (a single skeleton in Alaska dated around 25,000 BC) and the appearance of the Clovis artifacts. Some of that time is being accounted for with the theory that, even though people could migrate into Alaska, once there, they were stuck because the glaciers were not allowing any exit out of Alaska. But some recent excavations are increasing the probability of a "Paleoindian" culture on the main continent prior to the Clovis culture, and once the scholars whose entire academic lives have been riding on the "Clovis-first" theory either cave in (la mot juste?) or retire, that doctrine will very likely also be displaced. But again, even if one goes against the stream of the last sixty years, doing so means to raise a whole new set of questions. If the Clovis culture was not first, then what was the previous culture like, and who were the people bearing that culture? So, that's what's being toiled on in my workshop right now.
The last picture (below) came with some questions when I posted it on Facebook, and I will state them again. For Nick's anthropology students (or anyone else who may have had to deal with this topic), What culture may be reflected by the spear head and knife carried by the man in the picture? Also, Jennifer H. knew the answer immediately but she deferred posting it publicly before anyone else had the opportunity to take a stab at it. What is the woman carrying in that red bag?
Looking forward to your insights.