Motes and Beams: A Further Response to White on the Upper Paleolithic

by Paul G. Bahn
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Title:
Motes and Beams: A Further Response to White on the Upper Paleolithic
Author:
Paul G. Bahn
Year: 
1990
Publication: 
Current Anthropology
Volume: 
31
Issue: 
1
Start Page: 
71
End Page: 
76
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Language: 
English
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Abstract:

in spring and summer, while penecontemporaneous lev- els at Abri Pataud, which in contrast are reindeer-dominated, have yielded a predominance of reindeer killed in winter. Furthermore, winter occupation of the Pyrenean zone is clearly indicated by the reindeer from the quasi-Pyrenean site of Duruthy (Delpech 1983) and by the ibex remains from Les Eglises (Delpech and LeGall 1983). These results, well described by Straus (CA 30:623-24), contradict Gordon's view that "the Pyr- enees were occupied in the warm season, the Perigord in the cold season, invariably winterlspring." Reindeer may have been primarily cold-season prey in the Perigord, but even that remains to be determined in a complete reanalysis of Magdalenian (and earlier) rein- deer seasonalitv in southwestern France. It is clear that in at least some instances Perigord reindeer hunters turned to other prey species during the warm season.

It is Kehoe's opinion that "Bahn's Pyrenean mono- graph reflects the perspective of the historical science of evolutionary biology," a perspective that she shares. If so (and I see little relationship between evolutionary biol- ogy and Bahn's work), I prefer my science in some other form. Kehoe's "science" combines selective and inap- propriate ethnographic analogy and the superficial anal- ysis and facile interpretation of rock art with a defunct ecological determinism and operating procedures that generate untestable plausible scenarios.

Procurement and processing characterized by mass slaughter and large-scale storage, far from meriting at- tention as benchmarks in evolutionary biology, are necessitated by emerging social and cosmological com- plexity (see Bender 1978 for similar arguments concern- ing agricultural origins). Kehoe does not address the evo- lution of this complexity. My point is that the Upper Paleolithic lacks not only evidence for herd controll pastoralism but any indication of the socioeconomic hierarchy characteristic of societies that view animals as property (see Ingold 1980, 1987).

Finally, I urge Kehoe to examine the original ethno- graphic sources for the Ingalik, the Han, and other Athapaskan caribou hunters and for the Labrador Es- kimo, all of whom had recourse to resources other than reindkerlcaribou, JS Jid the Magdalenians. In likening the Magdalenians to the Saami, she both ignores the recent acquisition of pastoralism in Lappland and under- estimates the local availability of a multiplicity of large- to-medium-sized ungulates (other than reindeer) in late Paleolithic Europe.

References Cited

BENDER, B. 1978 From gatherer-hunter to farmer: A social per- spective. World Archaeology 10:2o4-22. DELPECH, F. 1983. Les faunes du Paleolithique superieur dans le Sud-Ouest de la France. Cahiers du Quatemaire 6.

. 1988. Review of: Of men and reindeer herds in French

Magdalenian prehistory, by B. Gordon (British Archaeological

Reports International Series 390, 1988). Bulletin de la Societe

Prehistorique Fran~aise 85:280-82. DELPECH, F., AND O. LE GALL. 1983. La faune magdalenienne de

la grotte des Eglises (Ussat, Ariege). Bulletin de la SociBte Prb-

historique de17Arit?ge 38:91-118.

Volume 31, Number I, February 1990 I 71

GORDON, B. 1982. Tooth sectioning as an archaeological tool.
National Museum of Man Canadian Studies Report 14e.
. 1988. Of men and reindeer herds in French Magdalenian
prehistory. British Archaeological Reports International Series

390. IN GOLD, T. 1980. Hunters, pastoralists, and ranchers. Cam- bridge: Cambridge University Press. . 1987. The appropriation of nature: Essays on human ecol- ogy and social relations. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. KELLEY, JANE H., AND MARSHA HANEN. 1988.Archaeology and the methodology of science. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. LE GALL, 0. 1984. L'lchtyofaune d'eau douce dans les sites pre- historiques: OstBologie, paldodcologie, palethnologie. Cahiers du Quatemaire 6. PIKE TAY, A. 1989. Red deer huntingin the Upper Paleolithic of southwestern France: A seasonality study. Ann Arbor: Univer- sity Microfilms. SPIESS, A. 1989. Deer tooth sectioning, eruption, and seasonality of deer hunting in prehistoric Maine. Paper presented at the 54th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Atlanta, Ga.

WOOLGAR, STEVE.1988. Science: The very idea. Chichester:
Ellis Horwood.

Motes and Beams: A Further Response to White on the Upper Paleolithic

PAUL G. BAHN

428 Anlaby Rd., Hull HU3 6QP, U.K. 25 IX 89

The comments on White's "Husbandry and Herd Con- trol in the Upper Palaeolithic" (CA 30:bog-32) are inter- esting and helpful on the whole, although I wonder whether their authors would have described White's pa- per as "objective" (Delpech) or "a classic example of rigorous attention to the actual archaeological data" (Olszewski) had they read my own comment beforehand. White's reply acknowledges only a couple of his many misrepresentations and misunderstandings of my work and then proceeds to produce a fresh batch.

Olszewski's view that my hypotheses about Palaeo- lithic animal control are now becoming entrenched in the literature as archaeological "truths" is quite star- tling. This is certainly not my impression, nor was it my intention: indeed, a major thrust of my archaeological writings has always been, and continues to be, the de- bunking of such myths, and the ideas about animal con- trol were set out specifically to destabilise some idees fixes that had found unquestioning acceptance in the literature since the beginning of this century. I will re- turn to the question of archaeological truth at the end of this reply.

There is not a great deal with which to disagree in the comments. Delpech is certainly right to stress that changing environment adds an extra factor to an already very complex picture. On the other hand, her second point is irrelevant; since nobody is arguing that Palaeolithic animals were domesticated (an error also

72 / CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY

made by Clottes) it is not surprising that the ungulates

of the period are no different to wild forms.

Some commentators find my arguments unconvincing

or implausible, and that is neither surprising nor unwel-

come. As Clottes points out, I have never tried to impose

a single monolithic hypothesis on the data but have em-

phasized a diversity of strategies involving a continuum

of possible man-animal relationships: such a contin-

uum, envisaged not only by Eric Higgs but also by other

scholars such as Pales (see below), is accepted here by

Kehoe and Sturdy and accorded some degree of accep-

tance by Clottes and Olszewski. I find it interesting that

on the basis of very different evidence Kehoe has reached

conclusions similar to my own about considerable con-

trol of animals, and I feel that his hypothesis of cor

ralling's being depicted in some cave art is worthy of

careful consideration (Bahn and Vertut 1988: I 5 5) and

certainly deserves better than White's blank refusal to

accept most of the interpretation.

Cribb (whose name sounds as apposite as my own in this debate!) is mistaken in his claim that I have an "underlying proposition" that herd following and herd control represent a revolutionary form of man-animal interaction. On the contrary, I see them as something that was quite natural, that could be expected to have occurred given the economic options of the period. I agree that certain forms of herding involve primarily so- cial relations, but that information comes from modern anthropology: we have no possible access to that kind of data from the Palaeolithic, despite the wishful thinking of some scholars on this point (I shall return to this later), especially since, as Cribb himself points out, herd- ing per se leaves no archaeological traces.

The attempts to pin precise labels to Palaeolithic man- animal relationships are merely name-games, and, as Sturdy says, such labels are probably meaningless for the period. That is why I have always tried to focus attention on what people were doing, referring simply to various forms of control. It is White, in his reply, who has stuck the name "transhumant pastoralism" onto my views (I have no objection to the epithet-see Bahn 1984:338); he then says that Delpech "recognizes that what Bahn is proposing is pastoralism" (p. 628), whereas in fact Del- pech makes no reference to this term whatsoever.

Cribb is correct in pointing out that White is simply choosing to deny the presence of one particular special- ized form of animal exploitation. White admits this ("I doubt that the range of variation extended to transhu- mant pastoralism" [p. 6281) and attributes his choice to the absence of the "social prerequisites" in "our" current social reconstructions of the period (it is hard to see how social prerequisites could be fossilised) and of evi- dence of "technological commitment to animal trac- tion." He asserts that such evidence should be readily visible in the archaeological record-but surely most of the relevant technology would have been made of organic materials? And in any case, he is ignoring not only the halter images, which cannot be brushed aside (see below), but also the perforated bLitons, some of which, on the basis of wear studies and good ethnographic anal-

ogy, could certainly be parts of simple harnesses (Bahn

1976). In short, White denies the existence not of com-

plexity in exploitative behaviour but merely of the parts

of that complex spectrum that he seems to dislike. As

Sturdy points out, he has ignored good ethnographic data

that weaken his case.

I am delighted that the debate has given Straus an all too rare opportunity to publish his excellent data from Dufaure, data which serve to confirm and amplify those from Duruthy, since Dufaure is essentially the tail end of that site. There is no doubt that much evidence, at least in the late Magdalenian, points to this location's having been a long-term winter home base, and the hy- pothesis that its occupants may have moved with the herds to the uplands during the warmer season has al- ways been an obvious one: it is interesting, incidentally, that Duruthy's excavator suggested that its occupants may have had a life-style analogous to that of the rein- deer-herding Lapps (Arambourou 1979).

Where I part company with Straus, however, is in the latter part of his comment, where he speculates about seasonal migration into the Pyrenean uplands. I agree that this probably did occur at times, but there is very little proof of it, and the only solid evidence Straus men- tions for upland exploitation is the site of Les Eglises, which was a cold-season camp. Yet White sees these speculations as "cautiously formulated hypotheses," scientifically derived, supporting short-distance seasonal movements. Ironically, the data cited by Straus in support of this view are those of Gordon (1988), which White and others are normally quick to reject and which Gordon himself uses to support long-distance patterns of movement.

I do not wish to digress into details here, but it must be said that Isturitz cannot be classed as an upland Pyre- nean habitat (its altitude of 107 m is less than that of the clifftop behind Dufaure) and indeed, on the basis of ant- ler evidence rather than teeth, it is clearly a winter site. However, since Isturitz and Le Mas dlAzil are "super- sites," I have argued (1984) that they may well have had some occupation all year round and so are not useful elements for any seasonal-migration hypothesis. Espalungue, Espelugues, and Gourdan are higher (all at 450 m or more), but their strategic locations at valley "gate- ways" at the junction of foothills and mountains make them potentially useful spring and autumn locations (see Bahn 1984). Gordon's results are not, by and large, incompatible with such a view, though other evidence is largely lacking from these old excavations.

The inconsistencies involved in these speculations are abundant; for example, Le Portel and Enlkne are seen as cold-season base camps, even though their altitudes are much the same as (or higher than) those of such sup- posedly summer sites as Espalungue and others; and Straus seems to be classing La Vache with Les Eglises as a summer location, having just explained that the latter was a winter camp. La Vache itself was certainly used in winter for the same kinds of animal exploitation as nearby Les Eglises (Bahn 1984:275),though it also seems to have some evidence for spring/autumn or perhaps

summer exploitation of reindeer (Gordon's results point

primarily to spring). The picture is confused and requires

more data of the same quality as those from Duruthy,

Dufaure, and Les Eglises.

To sum up, then, we have virtually no direct evidence

of exploitation of the true Pyrenean uplands in the sum-

mer, except possibly one small undated camp at 800 m,

the Grazo dC 1'Aspiouo (Bahn 1984:241). We do, however,

have much clear proof of some kind of contact, whether

direct or not, between the Pyrenean foothills and both

coastlines; yet neither Straus nor White mentions the

possibility of seasonal movements to the littoral, prefer-

ring to rely on the existence of imaginary sedentary

coastal peoples as the source of the marine element in

inland prehistory. That is their prerogative, but it does

not entitle them to imply that the evidence for short-

distance movements is far better than that for long. If

measurements of the faunal data now make direct move-

ments between the Pyrenees and the PCrigord less likely

than when I wrote my 1977 paper, it is still perfectly

possible for people from the two regions to have made

contact in some seasons, for example, along the Atlantic

littoral, since the Biarritz area has a far more pleasant

winter climate than the Dordogne (Bahn I 984:I I I).

I share Study's surprise that the old bits and pieces of evidence are still being squabbled over. Having taken their "alternative analysis" as far as one could, I had not really thought about them for years, and the current debate has added nothing of substance to their study: understandably, most of the comments avoid entering the largely sterile argument about specific bits of data. New pieces of evidence are needed, such as a detailed analysis of the Oxocelhaya horse cited by both Clottes and myself. However, if the old evidence is to be dis- cussed, it is crucial that this be done with fairness and accuracy: hence the tiresome and regrettable need to make one more response.

White refers to two series of hatched lines on the La Madeleine bison's jaw and near its eye, lines that are probably anatomical in nature. I feel confident that read- ers who compare these with the lines on the Arudy horse will see the extreme difference. The horse has multiple lines of short strokes, not merely uniform in size but also engraved in deeply incised furrows which accentuate their superficial resemblance to cords. I stress again that Breuil, who knew these carvings far better than anyone, found the Arudy horse very difficult to explain by the anatomical theory (see Bahn 1978:187). I also stress again that I myself am by no means certain that the Arudy horse is a haltered image, but never- theless I am concerned that its description be free of distortion.

White's maxim that "the fewer the examples, the more suspicious we should be of our interpretations" (p. 626) is facile, especially as he himself adds that not even quantity guarantees consensus in interpretation. The example of the Altamira "boars" is a very poor one: Freeman and others were quite right to question the identity of these figures, and I agree that they are very probably bison. This does not, however, mean, as White

Volume 3 I, Number I, February 1990 1 73

implies, that there are no boars in Palaeolithic art-for

instance, there are a couple of convincing examples on a

plaquette from Parpall6 (Pericot 1942:fig. 418). I suggest

that a far more apt analogy is the insect. At present there

are about a dozen possible insect figures known in Pa-

laeolithic art (Bahn and Butlin n.d.), most of them dubi-

ous or ambiguous. The one indisputable figure, the

grasshopper from Enlene (Ariege), is so clear that even

White, without a trace of the required suspicion, in-

cluded it (1986:29) in an exhibition catalogue with the

caption "one of the few Upper Paleolithic artworks

showing an insect." It would therefore seem that unique

images are fully reliable when one wishes them to be or

when they fit the acceptable face of the Palaeolithic.

White's caption even sees two "larva-shaped bodies re-

sembling ant eggs" in the same engraving, an interpreta-

tion that is certainly open to the deepest suspicion.

As for the La Marche horse, I think that my original

presentation (Bahn 1978:189) of Pales's selective tracing

did "sufficiently contextualize" the drawing and explain

how it came about, given the constraints of a brief arti-

cle. Besides. I assumed that anvone interested in the

specimen o; in the topic as a whole would consult the

original paper by Pales and de Saint-PCreuse, but obvi-

ously I was mistaken on this point.

White's claim that Pales and de Saint-PCreuse "re- mained highly skeptical" of this halter image is at best an overstatement; in fact they present (1981:142, my translation)' their interpretation of the lines as a harness and then say "we are not certain of it" and that they maintain "some reservations" about it-which is en- tirely reasonable and precisely what one would expect from such careful and objective scholars. It does not rep- resent a high degree of scepticism: indeed, they go on to state that the horse is perhaps "harnessed" and very troubling. They see its harness lines as "evidence of the animal's capture, which could well have occurred in this period, if not earlier, and which we personally consider to be probable. Hunting, capture, stockrearing, in semi- liberty or in enclosures, are stages that can be envisaged as probably occurring before attaining domestication." I could not have put it better myself. "Highly skeptical"? Hardly!

One can add that Pales and de Saint-PCreuse would never have published a whole paper on this halter image had they not found it both troubling and convincing; and it is worth noting that in the book they not only chose to make this plaquette the first to be presented but also put it on the cover-a key measure of the importance they attached to it. As Clottes remarks, nobody has been able to challenge the resemblance to a halter. That the "hal- ter lines" are due to chance as White suggests is incred- ible; it is inconceivable that so rigorous a scholar as Pales would have accorded this specimen so much im-

I. "nous n'en avons pas la certitude" . . . "une certain reserve" . . . "enchev&trC1'. . . "un indice de la capture de l'animal, qui a fort bien pu se produire A cette Cpoque, sinon avant; ce que nous tenons personnellement pour vraisemblable. Chasse, capture, Clevage, en semi-libertC ou en enclos, sont des Ctapes qui peuvent @tre en- visagCes avec vraisemblance avant d'en arriver A la domestication."

74 1 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY

portance if there were the slightest evidence that the

lines were due to mere chance.

White's reference to the number of horse representa- tions at La Marche is not only misleading but quite irrel- evant; very few of the other horse figures from the site have anything like the clarity, quality, or detail of this one, and in fact Pales and de Saint-PCreuse (198 I :142) see this specimen as a "piece de demonstration" of horse anatomy. To return to my earlier analogy, Enlene has produced over a thousand engraved plaquettes, with hundreds of animal figures but only one insect. Would White therefore discard the insect as being a chance jux- taposition of lines? I fail to see the logic or the scientific merit in rejecting the unusual simply because it does not correspond to the norm.

I must also take issue with White's claim that "hunt- ing and clothing can be justifiably inferred on other grounds" than Palaeolithic art. The archaeological evi- dence for Palaeolithic hunting is open to different inter- pretations, as the recent swing towards scavenging theories has demonstrated, and even in the Upper Pa- laeolithic it is often unclear. The supposed spearheads and projectile-points, if that is indeed what they are, could have been for use on other humans. Spear-points embedded in animal skulls could easily be a game or a ritual like White's chosen explanation for a cluster of pole-axed skulls. Higgs often pointed out that weapons become infinitely more abundant and recognisable in later periods associated with farming (e.g., Higgs and Jar- man 1972:9), and Clarke (1976) reinterpreted much of the "hunting technology" of the Mesolithic as tools for plant-gathering. I leave White's claim that some pits near Laugerie-Haute were not only strategically located but also "may have been hunting blinds" to the scien- tific scrutiny of readers: is he seriously proposing a group of holes as "structural evidence for organized hunting"? To use his own judgement of halter images, "these are perhaps not the best examples upon which to rest an argument."

As for his evidence of clothing, burials merely provide beads and perforated teeth, most of which seem to have been pendants or necklace elements but whose distribu- tion sometimes suggests that they were attached to dis- integrated caps, footwear, and body-coverings of some kind; but one could easily argue that only the dead re- ceived such coverings, since we have no solid evidence of clothes for the living. Awls have many possible func- tions-White himself (1986:38) has pointed out their po- tential use for perforating bone, antler, wood, and animal skin-while eyed needles appear only in the Solutrean and are abundant only in the Magdalenian: if needles really mean clothes, were all pre-Solutrean people na- ked? As Nougier has often pointed out (e.g., 1984: 102-7), the presence of eyed needles also implies the possibility of making tents, shelters, kayaks, and cook- ing vessels from skins. I find it interesting that White feels able to infer the existence of clothing from awls and needles, yet shortly afterwards attacks Gordon for seeing the very same artifacts as indicating the presence of women. I fail to see the difference in these inferences, both presumably based on ethnographic parallels, except that Gordon, at least, has a 50% chance of being correct.

I am gratified that White is "willing to accept" (p. 627) my statement about the evidence of antlers from cas- trates; but there is no contradiction in my reiteration of scepticism about these and my mention of the opinion of a Saami reindeer herder. It is always useful to look at both sides of an argument, and the Finnish antler is a new piece of evidence coupled with the view of an ex- pert, both things sadly lacking in this debate.

White asserts (p. 627) that Clottes's recognition of foetal and infant reindeer bones in Magdalenian deposits is "devastating to a husbandry hypothesis"; I beg to dif- fer. Clottes is also mistaken in his statement that simi- lar finds from Isturitz elicited my surprise. What I in fact said (1984:98) was that the presence of foetal horse bones was intriguing in view of my speculations about animal management at Isturitz: "Ethnographic data (Jarman and Wilkinson 1972:95) suggest that it is most unlikely, though by no means impossible, that hunters would kill a heavily pregnant mare, let alone a newborn foal, since this kind of exploitation would endanger the future of the species; the heavy reliance on horse for many mil- lennia which is evident at Isturitz suggests very strongly that exploitation was careful and efficient." Again, therefore, the evidence is open to different interpreta- tions.

I did not, as White claims (p. 627), cite Bulstrode, King, and Roper as having "demonstrated" that the healing of fractures in adult animals is a myth; I merely said that their research strongly suggests this-a minor but cru- cial difference. Others have reached the same conclusion from that article (see New Scientist 109:24), and the au- thors themselves stress that fractures of long bones in adults are rare and usually fatal. In any case, I am pleased to learn that White accepts that the Trois-Freres reindeer already had a partially healed fracture before its fall, and Clottes's dismissal of the "cave vegetation" theory is equally welcome.

White has once again misunderstood the phenomenon of crib biting, since notched incisors do constitute a dis- tinct and well-recognised variation of normal cribbing wear (see Bahn 1980:214; 1984a:31). The new study by Rogers and Rogers is indeed interesting and timely and provides a case-study illustrating the difference between scientific objectivity and subjective distortion. Alice Kehoe tells me that her comment (in this issue) points to White's declarative rhetorical devices, and I have men- tioned his misrepresentation of Pales's position (though one might attribute that to a misreading of a French text) and of my statement about Bulstrode, King, and Roper's work. Here, however, we have two more examples derived from an article in English.

First, he claims that the wear found on horse teeth by Rogers and Rogers is identical to that observed by me; but they state only (1988:72) that similar forms of wear have been found. This is perfectly reasonable, and it is hard to see how they could have gone further, since they have not seen my French specimens and I have not seen their Nebraskan ones. We can only judge from each

Volume 31, Number I, February 1990 1 75

other's somewhat imperfect illustrations. I am delighted that the search I initiated (1980; 1984a:32-33) for the phenomenon in wild horses has been continued at last, and I am fascinated that something similar has been found on these very ancient, truly wild equids. If the wear is indeed similar-and I am happy to accept that it may be-this adds some weight to one side of the de- bate. But is the new evidence decisive?

White further claims that my inference of "corralled animals" (more accurate, of confined animals) is "falsified" (p. 627) by this research. Rogers and Rogers state only that the presence of this wear "may not be a reliable indicator of human control" (1988:72) and that "these features can arise from factors other than close human control" (p. 73). Once again, this is perfectly rea- sonable. In White's idiosyncratic version of "science," it would seem, if a phenomenon is discovered in an ar- chaeological context but is also found to exist in nature, it must always be natural. I find the Rogerses' far more cautious view to be more acceptable. The important dif- ference between their specimens and the French ones is that theirs are fossil, palaeontological specimens whereas those presented by Henry Martin, Hue, and my- self came not merely from periods contemporaneous (even geologically!) with humans but from living sites occupied by people who were clearly exploiting horses. Consequently, one cannot simply brush aside the hy- pothesis of wear caused by confinement. If I may again resort to analogy: there have been numerous extinctions of animal species throughout the fossil record, but those in the late Pleistocene are considered by many scholars to have been caused by humans, and the debate still rages (see Martin and Wright 1967, Martin and Klein 1984). Or, even more apt, there is the dramatic size re- duction of particular animals that also occurs in the fossil record (e.g., the cave hyena and other Pleistocene carnivores) but is nevertheless still used as the main skeletal criterion of domestication (see Higgs and Jar- man 1972:6; Jarman and Wilkinson 1972:86; Clutton- Brock 1981:22). If White's reasoning were consistent, he would have to deny human involvement in any Pleis- tocene extinctions or in any reduction of animal size simply because these phenomena also occurred in pre- human times.

In fact, the differences between White and me seem to come down to our respective views of archaeology and of "science." If one cannot even prove satisfactorily the existence of clothing in the Upper Palaeolithic, what hope is there for the economic aspects of Ice Age life (other than some basic technological and physiological data), let alone for social organisation? I hate to break the news, but social organisation is unexcavatable, when the best one can hope for is a hypothesis based on inference and analogy. After all, everything rests on the already very considerable assumption that human and animal ethology 15,ooo years ago was the same as today and hence predictable. In fact it is quite possible that all the interpretations of Paleolithic life yet put forward are hopelessly wrong, and in any case we shall never know which of them are correct.

I find White's optimism touching but ultimately doomed. As he himself admits, the existence of clothing and hunting has to be inferred from disparate clues and relies heavily on assumptions, on arguments of plausi- bility, and on selected ethnographic parallels. The most we can hope for is a high degree of probability, but the whole elaborate construct may always be demolished by some new piece of evidence. Archaeologists cannot as- pire to "truth" or to the "real past," which was infinitely complex and detailed. They can aspire only to very simplified models with some probability and widespread consensus-in other words, to accepted fiction.

It is White who is mistaken about interpretations' be- ing proved right or wrong. No amount of hypothesis test- ing will ever prove anything about the past, and the dis- mal results of placing excessive faith in that road to salvation have been well chronicled recently (Courbin 1988). In addition to resurrecting the useless old 19th- century dichotomies between hunting and herding and between wild and domesticated, White is insisting on another between "archaeology as science" and "archaeology as history." He claims that his hypotheses are accompanied by "explicit test implications" (such as the hunting blinds? the non-subsistence needs of the Grimaldi dead?) and that mine are not and are therefore unscientific. Such implications are, however, quite evi- dent in my work; White himself admits (p. 628) that Svoboda's Moravian flint procurement takes "precisely the form that Bahn's long-distance herd-following model would predict," while Rogers and Rogers (1988:73) see that their work is a test of my hypothesis about the implications of incisor wear. The obsession with making everything explicit is a feature of the New Archeology (see Courbin 1988:126-27) and, as Hole (1983) has re- marked, so is a "research strategy that denies the possi- bility of alternative approaches to the evidence."

This all smacks of the old debates between creationists and evolutionists. Bishop Wilberforce, whose "style of attack was to mingle coarse sarcasm with high- minded statements about the radical quality of new ideas that are established by science," protested at Darwin's use of arguments of plausibility and reasonable- ness as being "utterly dishonourable to all natural sci- ence, as reducing it from its present lofty level of being one of the noblest trainers of man's intellect and instruc- tors of his mind, to being a mere idle play of the fancy, without the basis of fact or the discipline of observation" (Cohen 1965:boz). He also quoted from Adam Sedgwick, who in turn had quoted from Isaac Newton's Opticks, the words "Analysis consists in making experiments and observations, and in drawing general conclusions from them by induction, and admitting of no objections against the conclusions but such as are taken from ex- periments or other certain truths; for hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental philosophy." Darwin, however, realized that a theory can never be "proved" except in the sense that it can be shown to explain a whole range of phenomena; but, through their limited Victorian understanding of how science functions, his opponents tried to "ensure that no theory based on the

auite different foundations needed to investigate the

"

past would ever be accepted as scientific" (Bowler 198s :644). White's article and response, therefore, are presenting arguments couched in Newtonian rhetoric. His insis- tence on salvation only via logical positivism, despite

that route's crashing failure and rapid abandonment in archaeology (see Courbin 1988)~ is quite characteristic: "one of the most striking features of logical-~ositivism

A

. . . was an extraordinary, when judged by academic stan- dards, dishonesty with respect to the opinions of oppo- nents, which in particular consisted in reducing those opinions to trivial and artificial constructions" (Mokrzy- cki 1983:51).

I have tried to correct the errors and distortions in White's version of my work and to show that what we have here is a case of "motes and beams" (Matthew 7:s)-that his preferred version of the Palaeolithic is no more based on proofs than is mine. If arguments of plausibility were good enough for Darwin, they are cer- tainly good enough for me, though the very concept of plausibility seems to offend White greatly. He still chooses to place his faith in test implications; I attach a greater and more fundamental importance to accuracy of facts and to fair and objective evaluation of the evidence and of the work of.others, both past and present.

I still believe that, despite its faults and weaknesses, mv assessment of the evidence, including the awkward biis which do not fit White's mbre orthodvox view of the Palaeolithic, is more realistic in its recognition of our ancestors' ingenuity and capabilities and in the wide range of possible exploitation strategies. To paraphrase Chesterton, I would rather have a battered shape of truth than perfected forms of error.

References Cited

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On Mid-Hoxnian Deforestation

ESMEE WEBB

Department of Archaeology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, W.A. 6009, Australia. 23 VIII 89

While I agree in the main with James's (CA ~o:I-26) timely and sceptical review of data which have been too uncritically accepted, some further comment on his dis- cussion of the evidence for deforestation in the mid- Hoxnian of Britain is called for.

To eliminate the possibility of anthropogenic effects, the palynological evidence from the non-archaeological site of Marks Tey, Essex (Turner 1970)~ is to be preferred in this context to that from Home itself (West 1956)' given the undoubted presence there of hominids (Wymer 1974). The lacustrine sediments at Marks Tey not only preserve the entire interglacial vegetational succession but also comprise countable varves indicating that the

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