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8 Cards in this Set

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what is the importance of context for evaluating archaeological claims?
It is possible to observe similarities/correlations in form between virtually anything (e.g. between the position of Anasazi sites in Utah and the stars of Orion).

Therefore, need to look at: (1) what it is (form), (2) when it dates to (time) and (3) where it is found (space).

In terms of (1) we need to look at (a) whether there is truly a correlation in form or whether it was imagined (e.g. solutrean hypothesis), and (b) whether this correlation can be best explained due to independent invention or to a causal connection between the the objects under consideration.

we need to use (2) and (3) in evaluating whether a causal link uniting two things could even have been possible. e.g. we find swastikas in many cultures including between the romans and the native americans. However, the fact that they are separated both in space (distance from each other) and time (development of their civilizations) suggests that this was a matter of independent invention and not contact.
What is the difference between science and pseudoscience?
The scientific method basically involves four steps:

(1) asking questions (observe)

(2) Developing (inducing) an hypothesis/interpretation

(3) Developing and testing implications (deduce)

(4) Collecting evidence to test hypothesis (test)

Pseudo scientists are very good at steps (1) and (2), but are very poor at steps (3) and (4). That is to say they will make observations like the correlation between the orion constellation and the position of anasazi sites, and they will develop an explanation for that observation (e.g. that there was some spirtual force guiding the anasazi). But they don't think out the implications of their claim very well and don't bother too much with evidence collection.
Over the past 500 years, many have claimed that the first Americans originated in Europe or the Middle East. What evidence was used prior to the 1800s to support claims about the homeland of the First Americans? More recently, information about Kennewick Man was used to support this claim. What evidence from Kennewick Man was used and why is it problematic?
Evidence used to support the claim that the first Americans originated in Europe prior to the 1800s was grounded firstly in biblical exegesis. At the time, people believed that modern people living today were all descended from the three sons of noah, and on that basis divided humanity into three races: (1) ‘Caucasoid,’ (2) ‘Mongoloid’ and (3) ‘Negroid. The appearance of Native Americans was then disturbing to many, since Noah simply did not have any fourth son that would account for this new race of people. On the basis of Biblical interpretation, many people then argued that Native Americans must be among the lost tribes of Israel or even that the represented some ‘pre-adamite’ phase of humanity that was not affected by the flood.
Others, taking a pseudo-scientific approach, attempted to trace the origins of New World societies back to Old World ones by way of ‘trait lists.’ These trait lists compiled a series of vague correlations in form between civilizations as a basis for assessing whether they had a common origin (e.g. the Apache flood creation story and the Middle Eastern flood story both involve natural disasters). These lists in general were unscientific and often explicitly racist. The Spanish cleric, Gregoria Garcia argued, for example, that the Native Americans were clearly related to Jews by virtue of the fact that they were both ‘cowardly,’ ‘loved silver’ and ‘did not believe in the miracles of Christ.’
The first real scientific investigation came with Jose de Acosta, who argued on the basis of common animals across continents that Native Americans came from Asia. He reasoned that whenever humans migrated, they would take useful animals with them and that furthermore certain animals (e.g. predators such as wolves) would have to have arrived on their own accord. Since animals can’t use boats, they would have had to have walked there. Thus, he concluded that the continents of Asia and North America were once connected by a land bridge.
In recent times, James Chatters classified the 9.2 ky old skeleton (‘Kennewick Man’) as Caucasoid. This was translated in the press (with the help of some sloppiness from Chatters) into ‘white person.’ Thus, people believed that white people were present in North America long before the first European colonialists settlers arrived. The problem is that ‘Caucasoid’ does not refer specifically to ‘white people,’ but can refer to a range of populations across Europe, the Middle East, and even populations in Asia. While they do not particularly resemble many Native America populations, Kennewick Man’s skeletal remains are consistent with many modern populations living in Asia. The point is that we should not compare modern skeletons with ancient ones.
The Asatru used three lines of evidence to support their claim that Kennewick Man was their ancestor: (1) genetic evidence – the haplogroup x is found in Kennewick Man’s DNA. According to the data available at the 1990s, this haplogroup was found in Europeans and Asians, but not in Native Americans, (2) archaeological - the stone tool points found, they argued, resembled that of the solutrean (European) stone tool industry, (3) the facial reconstruction of Kennewick Man demonstrated him as being unequivocally white
(1) was proven false by subsequent analyses of mtdna haplogroups, The originally sample populations used in the 1990 study were too small. Once they were increased, it turned out that a certain percentage of Native Americans did have haplogroup X. (2) is false because it is simply making broad correlations in form. (3) is false because the original reconstruction excluded eye color, skin color, and hair. This was done in an attempt to be scientific, since the aforementioned features do not preserve well in the archaeological record and are hence more or less subjective. The result that the reconstruction looked misleadingly European (some say he looks like Patrick Stewart). Native America tribes argue, however, that there are many living Native American people who would fit the facial reconstruction.
Modern evidence supports the idea that Native Americans were unequivocally the first Americans and migrated across the Bering Land Bridge around 12.5 kya. Dental morphology of Native Americans strongly suggests Asian Ancestry by virtue of (1) shovel-shaped incisors, (2) three roots on the molar instead of two, (3) ‘winged’ incisors or incisors with extra enamel. Joseph Greenberg’s linguistic model of Native American languages divides them into three groups, which he argues indicates three separate migration events. However, Greenberg’s work is rejected by most historical linguists. Geneticists have furthermore identified five distinct mtDNA haplogroups and two distinct Y-Chromosome nuclear DNA haplogroups among Native Americans. The mtDNA haplogroups can be traced to a specific Siberian population (the Atlatians), and the Y-DNA can be similarly traced to populations in that area.
A quote from Andrew Jackson’s address to Congress in 1830: “In the monuments and fortresses of an unknown people, spread over the extensive regions of the west, we behold the memorials of a once powerful race, which was exterminated, or has disappeared, to make room for the existing savage tribes.” Identify: 1. the claim put forth in this quote, 2. the evidence that was used to support the claim, 3. the argument and evidence used to disprove this claim, 4. how this claim was used for political purposes, and 5. what are archaeologists’ current interpretations of the moundbuilders (be able to discuss a specific example)?
The claim is that the mound-builders were members of a lost and technologically sophisticated race of people that were obliterated by ‘wild savage tribes’. There were five lines evidence used to support this claim: (1) Indians were too ‘primitive,’ both biologically (in terms of intelligence) and socially (in terms of organization), to have built the mounds, (2) Indians had no tradition of mound-building and when asked about it claimed that they were not built by other people, (3) Native Americans were recent arrivals to North America and the mounds were dated to be very old current dating systems, (4) the materials that composed the artifacts found in the mounds were made of materials beyond the metallurgical skills of the Indians, (5) artifacts were found in the mounds that contained European, African, and Middle Eastern scripts and Indians were known to have no writing system at the time, In terms of (1), Samuel Morton argued that Native Americans had the second lowest intelligence of any race (slightly above ‘Negros’) on the basis of their cranial capacity. The problem with this study is that (a) intelligence has never been shown to be correlated with brain size, and (b) his sample sizes for Native Americans all came from the Peruvian highlanders, who all tended to be of short stature and hence had smaller heads/brains.
Most of these claims were debunked by the study done by Cyrus Thomas. (1) was false because, as he pointed out, Indians were agricultural and sedentary, with many of their settlements supporting tens of thousands of people. A culture with a high enough level of organization to support such large scale settlements would have been easily able to build the mounds, (2) is false because American Indians were observed building mounds as early as 1560 (as depicted in the paintings of Jacques Le Moyne), Many French travelers also observed (smaller) mound-building associated with Indian settlements. However, many of the mound-building cultures were wiped out as a result of contact with small-pox, (3) is false, but not for the reasons Thomas thought it was (he thought that dendochronology could not be used to date the sites accurately). In reality, we now know through carbon dating that American Indians arrived in North America by at least 12.5 kya. (4) is false because, while the artifacts were rumored to be made out of complex alloys, Thomas’ analysis found that they were all unequivocally made out of mined ores (predominantly native copper), (5) was found false when Thomas discovered that these ‘artifacts’ were hoaxes, many of them contained obvious anachronisms in their writing and many of the clay pots were unbaked (which meant they would have been useless).
This claim was used by Andrew Jackson in particular to support the ‘Indian Removal Act,’ which involved forcing tens of thousands of Native Americans off their land and into reservations. It worked to justify the colonialist and racist policies towards Native Americans that existed at the time by claiming that: (1) Native Americans were not here very long to begin with and hence could not make a strong claim to the land, (2) that the Native Americans exterminated the mighty mound-builders is a testament to their savagery and the danger they pose to civilization, and (3) the mound-builders were probably Europeans and so colonialists were simply taking back the land that had been stolen from them originally.
Nowadays, Archaeologists reject the idea of a monolithic ‘mound-builder’ civilization in favor of multiple mound-building cultures. For example, the Adena and Hopewell cultures were responsible for mounds along the Ohio River Valley, Both ha: (1) Burial cults , (2) long distance trade, and (3) the production of fine crafts/artwork. Many of the larger mound-building civilizations were wiped out do to contact with Europeans (i.e. conquest and diseases). Some of them
3. Ignatius Donnelly argued that Atlantis was the source of all civilizations. What archaeological evidence did he use to support this claim? Pick one of these pieces of evidence and describe in detail why it is problematic using the concepts of form, space, and time.
Ignatius Donnely argued that evidence can be seen for Atlantis in the ‘lost wisdom’ present in civilizations around the world. This is to say, he believed that a list of traits demonstrating broad correlations in form across societies was evidence of a common origin in Atlantis. He argued that there were at least six of these traits: (1) agriculture, (2) metallurgy, (3) pyramids, (4) architecture –e.g. he argued that all societies developed ‘arches,’ (5) stone tablets with writing on them (e.g. Obelisks, etc.), and (6) flood stories common in the mythology across civilizations.
Let’s take the example of the pyramids. In terms of form, he argues that the Egyptian step pyramids of Saqqara and the Mexican pyramids of Kukulkan are constructed in the same way and this signifies a common origin for these groups. However, this can be better explained in terms of independent invention. Both civilizations were presented with the same problem of how to build large monuments without the aid of cranes, construction equipment, etc. Faced with a similar problem, they came up with a similar solution. This was to build from the ground up, with one layer being used as a step to build the next layer. The only ‘mystical force’ connecting these two civilizations, was then physics.
In terms of their temporal context, in general, the Egyptian pyramids were built around 5-3000 B.C. and the Mesoamerican pyramids are all less than 3000 years old, with most being considerably younger than that (dating to less than 1.5 kya). This leaves a significant amount of time elapsed between the Egyptian and Mesoamerican pyramids. If pyramid-making represented a common origin for their civilizations, however, we would expect to be building pyramids at around the same time. Furthermore, both dates are well in advance of the supposed date for the destruction of Atlantis (roughly 11 kya). In terms of their spatial context, the Egyptian pyramids were built in deserts to the west of cities, while the Mayan pyramids were built in the center of towns with residential areas surrounding them.
Modern evidence that’s used to support the myth of Atlantis includes the so-called ‘Bimini wall.’ This is a presumed artifact found off the coast of the Bahamas that is essentially a number of rocks arranged in a symmetric pattern. However, it is very easy for natural forces to cause this shape and thus the Bimini wall is most likely a geofact.
Today, scholars believe that the Atlantis myth was based off of the volcano that destroyed Knossos, a Minoan city on the island of Crete. Knossos fits many of the descriptions included in Plato’s original myth such as: (1) rituals involving bulls, (2) vast trading networks across the Mediterranean, (3) evidence of them engaging in warfare with the Athenians, and (4) evidence of them being destroyed by a natural disaster.
Strategies for identifying a pseudoscience claim
Often go to great lengths to appear scientific, such as dressing in lab coats, advertising phony or irrelevant academic credentials, make use of meaningless graphs/pictures/data that look official and precise

Often shift the burden of proof onto the skeptic

Use personal attacks to undermine the credibility of opponents

Use statements by actual scientists (usually taken out of context)
how can the scientific method be used to evaluate fantastic claims.
Evaluating a fantastic claim involves three parts: (1) looking at the evidence, (2)looking at the logic of the claim, and (3) looking at the presentation of the claim

Occam's razor states that the best explanation is the one that requires the least amount of assumptions in order to explain the evidence and no less. Fantastic claims often add assumptions to explanations needlessly or introduce convoluted hypotheses to explain easily observable phenomenon.

Scientific method also makes use of skepticism. The burden of proof is always on the person making the claim. If someone is making a fantastic claim, then the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate that their evidence is actually genuine evidence of their claim.
What are the four assumptions underlying the scientific method?
(1) World is knowable
(2) World is Patterned and operates according to laws
(3) Laws are immutable
(4) Scientist can recognize and study these patterns