|Posted by John Mangels on October 31, 2010 at 3:19 PM|
The Lost City Museum will be having a guest lecture by Dr. Christine VanPool of the University of Missouri on Sunday, November 7th at 6 PM Pacific time. The following is an Abstract of the talk:
“The Spirit in the Material: A Case Study of Animism in the American Southwest”
Christine S. VanPool
Archaeologists are shifting from a focus on individual artifacts and sites as passive tools to a "cognitive" framework that considers the relationships among humans and their material record. Ethnographic and archaeological evidence demonstrates that people often imbue their surroundings, including tools, with a "life essence" that makes them active, as opposed to passive, objects. A growing number of archaeologists have sought to utilize this framework to reconceptualize human relationships with specific artifacts and classes of objects, features, and places on the landscape, and to understand how such "living" beings impact human behavior. Here I propose that archaeologists working with groups from the North American Southwest can gain insight into the social significance of pottery by examining Southwestern ethnographies. Puebloan potters consider pots living beings with a spiritual essence that is both affected by and that impacts humans. Pottery manufacture is a mutual negotiation and exchanges between the pottery and clay to create a "Made Being" with its own spiritual and material aspects. I explore the significance of this perspective on understanding the archaeological record and consider potential made beings from the Casas Grandes region. I will ultimately conclude that this perspective provides useful insight into the placement, decoration, and discard of many vessels that have puzzled Southwestern archaeologists for decades.