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13 Things 2009

13 Things 2008

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology

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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

Posted at Nov 19/2008 09:31PM:
sarah baker: It occurred to me that the blades we handled in class represent a very gendered archaeology of the blade...would the scrapers have been used by women? Otherwise, these were tools for men, no?

Posted at Nov 19/2008 10:42PM:
caroline: I was thinking more about after class today about our discussion of what defines humanity. I realized that in talking about tool use and individual cognition, we have completely ignored the fact that humans are social creatures, and I think this is an important piece of the puzzle. I haven't decided yet whether socialization is the third piece of a triangle or whether it might perhaps be a link between cognitive skills on an individual level and the importance of tool use.

Some ideas: If we were not social beings, we would have no need for many of the cognitive developments that set us apart from other creatures (theory of mind is an incredibly important example). Communication and especially language would be useless, and there would be no reason to externalize memory. It is a little more difficult to connect the importance of our being social with tool use. At a very basic level, at least, tool use brings beings together to hunt and eat.

Posted at Nov 20/2008 08:16AM:
chris witmore: Yes, Sarah, you are correct on some levels. Still, how does one really know what gendered activity encompasses in the distant past. It is very difficult to tease out such distinctions on the basis of the residues we have in many cases. You are touching on a fascinating area of archaeological studies.

Caroline, you are correct in that many of the interactions we would place under a rubric of the social were downplayed. But I don't necessarily believe it is difficult to connect tools with being social. This is partly because for me things are part of what makes us social creatures and they mediate many of the relations that many researchers would consider exclusively social. Did you see my follow up comment on the portable radio?