My condolences to Marjorie first.
I had an unfortunate incident when contacting a jazz band drummer, I said I
needed a very good one to his wife over the phone. She said he couldn't drum
for me. Then added because he had gone to the great jazz band in the sky,
but she was glad that I'd thought of him with such regard.
This is what we do, we think with regard.
Go back to the Neolithic and we see grave goods, animal burials with humans,
a 'token' lower foreleg of deer, (Hazleton North for example).
Yes, of course it is interesting. It is a valid topic of ethnoarchaeolgical
research as well.
If anyone saw "Tribe" on tv this week about the Penan of Borneo, they are
hunter-gatherers. They hunt tiny birds and frogs to supply meat but they
keep chickens, monkeys and dogs and they don't eat them. Asked about this
the reply was "it'd be like killing a human!" the animals and birds live
with them, share space with them.
I think that just as we do what we think is 'right' so probably did other
people in the past.
Lower foreleg of deer isn't exactly a prime cut of meat so it is more
'token' observance of the concept of 'do what's right' I think.
It is of course complicated why we do things but that's part of the fun of
archaeology, realising that despite thousands of years, miles and different
ways of life apart we perhaps slightly share a compulsion to act in ways
which make sense to us even if there doesn't appear to be rationality.
Feel free to disagree though if you will. I'm just throwing an idea into the
>From: Michael Haseler <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Death of flint - why the ceremony?
>Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2007 17:31:45 +0100
>>I have been through a similar process, the grave goods I gave to my
>>rabbit were a tea towel covered in fruit and vegetables and a whole
>>apple, seems stupid especially as I do not believe in any afterlife -
>>but you never know!
>>It is interesting but whether one believes or not rationally, there is
>>always a hope and possibly a primitive desire to give goods representing
>>need or delight.
>I think you are trying to rationalise your own actions and making 2+2=5.
>Unlike some animals such as cats (and most politicians) mankind is an
>instinctively socialable creature. That is to say, our species has found a
>genetic advantage in devoting some of our resources to people who are not
>directly related to us. And so humans create relationships with others with
>no obvious genetic relationship and are then compelled by their nature to
>assist/nurture them even though there is no direct benefit.
>Rationally, such relationships only work "genetically" if they provide
>mutual advantage as in a society whereby if you take on a moderate risk to
>your life to save someone from a very high risk of death, then being part
>of a society, there is a "contract" for others to do the same for you.
>Obvious examples of mutual benefit are when one person falls ill, and is
>supported through that illness in the expectation that they will help
>others if they fall ill thereby (on average) providing benefit to everyone
>Obviously, that instinct can also be applied to other species such as
>hamsters and rabbits - and presumably that was a necessary trait for the
>development of animal husbandry and farming. That is to say, we begin to
>work against our immediate selfish benefit, and donate some of our
>resources to assisting another species as if they were "part of the
>What I think you experienced was a conflict between this genetic compulsion
>to "fulfill your social contract" with your pet rabbit and the obvious
>problem that they were dead and about to infest the house with flies.
>The solution you chose is very obviously an attempt to both follow your
>compulsion to "nurture" your "friend" (i.e. feed the animal) - and follow
>your compulsion to remove "unclean" things from your living space.
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