Do., 27. Jan.|
Webinar by Chris Low (!Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford)
Title: Rethinking symbolism and human origins - with relation to the San
27. Jan. 2022, 15:00 MEZ
Miss the talk? To watch this webinar click here.
In the search for origins answers, it has become common practice to link the arrival of people who think like us to the arrival of a suite of characteristics, most prominent of which is symbolic thinking. The significance of symbolism is further emphasised by some archaeologists who recognise symbolic behaviour as a proxy for syntactical language. In recent decades archaeologists in South Africa have repeatedly recognised beads from certain key South African sites as some of the earliest examples of 'explicitly symbolic ornaments'. In this talk I draw on over 20 years of working with the San on issues of medicine and human environmental relationships to argue that the arguments archaeolgists make around beads and symbolism make little sense in San contexts. This leads me to question, firstly, whether we need more nuanced discussion of symbolism and secondly, just who the 'we' is when archaeologist look for people who think 'like us' in the archaeolgocial record.