Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spousal discord and plate throwing - an historic precedent?

By way of background, I decided to start this blog as a result of attending one of the SAA meetings some years back. Without being offensive to anyone, a attended a presentation that discussed the "obvious" role of women in prehistoric food gathering and postulated that women were "clearly" playing a "major role" by creating snares, nets, and other devices that "obviously" added to the family and-or community cooking pot. I was struck that although the thinking seemed reasonable, the presenter truly had no archaeological evidence to support the theory (of course, how could you, when we're talking about nets and snares). Instead, they were able to extrapolate an entire societal class based on modern observations.

As such, this train of thought continued as I was conducting a survey in the Great Basin region, wherein I came across yet another piece of broken groundstone (a portion of a mano). While observing the groundstone fragment, my mind recalled those old movies (black and white in my mind - but you can create your own color of insanity here) showing the wife throwing plates at her husband in anger and frustration. With that in mind, I realized something extraordinary - you rarely EVER find whole ceramic vessels (pottery to the layman), or intact groundstone artifacts on archaeological sites (based on my own experience at least).

So, here I was, standing in the middle of a field of sagebrush, and I realized that I had the evidence (or so it might seem to someone with a little imigination) to prove that prehistoric housewives were "clearly" throwing around their plates and other kitchen items at their husbands who "obviously" did something to upset them.

Insofar as actual research, I started examining site forms from other projects, and realized that I had sufficient evidence to write a paper for the next SAA meetings. It would obviously not be taken too seriously, but perhaps this is what our discipline needs - a little bit of light-hearted laughter and some academic effrontery to the existing paradigms that permeate everything we do. With that being said, I invite you all to join in with comments, diatribes, articles, links, fun and funny things, and we'll even allow for some serious discussions as well.


Chris Jensen