Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lost and Found Paradigms (Turek)

Here's a short read concerning Beaker paradigms and archaeological interpretation. It comes within a series of essays dedicated to Czech archaeologist and theorist Evzen Neustupny.

Beakers are a unique international question, so even the most basic interpretations and assumptions have been diverse. The history's history of Beaker culture can be shown to have also followed the moods of the socio-political timeline of the last hundred years.

When it comes to paradigms or interpretations I have some issues with the mainstream including a few in this paper.  It's too much to discuss in a ten paragraph blog, so I may address those separately in the weeks to come.

Quickly, I think there is too much emphasis on the 'Beaker package' and over-interpreting the importance of its components.  Americans smoke tobacco (Native American), have crappy tribal tattoos (Polynesia), eat pizza (Italy) and drink Pilsners (Czech R.).  You could add cowboy hats (S. Spain), denim jeans (France) and probably a long list of the "American Package" that come from other places, but it doesn't mean that all these cultures played an active role in creating the archetype.  Some components of the Beaker outfit seem to be getting inordinate weight.

I see a similar tendency in the interpretation of Beaker pottery.  There are things that are important and things that are less important.  I've used the Coca-Cola to media comparison before.

Finally, It would be incorrect to say that Guanches, Aztecs, and Solomon Islanders collaborated to create Hispanic culture.  Spaniards do exist and regardless of how you define Hispanic, it is a coherent international Spanish influence, not collaboration that defines Hispano-America, for example.  This is at the root of the question as to whether Beakers in the Isles, Bohemia, Poland and Spain had a common 'culture'.  Beaker 'culture' and its 'subcultures' is a more complex issue so I'll leave it at that for now.

Overall, this paper is a good, quick narrative concerning the development and influences of the Beakers.  Both the African and European influences are discussed.

*Been a really busy week, I hope to start throwing down some posts beginning on Monday* -BBB

Paradigm Found:  Archaeological Theory, Present, Past and Future.  Essays in Honour of Evzen Neustupny.  Oxbow Books, edited by Kristiansen, Smedjda and Turek (2015)  [Link]

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