There is nothing more interesting today than reading the dissenting views of the Supreme Court justices on the case of United States v. Windsor which negated a section of the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). Antonin Scalia wrote a vitriolic dissent that had amazing language blasting his fellow justices. In his concurrence, Justice Alito, joined by Clarence Thomas, tried to give us an anthropology lesson, stating that (p. 14),

While modern cultural changes have weakened the link between marriage and procreation in the popular mind, there is no doubt that, throughout human history and across many cultures, marriage has been viewed as an exclusively opposite-sex institution and as one inextricably linked to procreation and biological kinship.

Sorry guys, but that is not even close to the truth and if you are using that in any way to bolster your case, you lose. I’ll make it easy for you: you don’t have to even read an anthropology text, just look it up in Wikipedia which actually gets the range of pre-Christian marriage types somewhat correct.

Here’s the point: all you need is just a few examples of how the Western form of marriage—one formed by “romantic love” between people of opposite sexes— is not the norm across time or cultures. Different cultures have always had a different take on how to form unions between individuals, groups, humans and spirits, the living and the dead. You have to love the description of men in India who marry a plant!

“Marriage,” however you define it, is not a universal institution. Never has been. Christianity has tried, in its worldwide efforts, to make marriage uniform and in its own image, but humans do not in any sense “naturally” form the bonds of monogamous opposite-sex relations that Christianity requires.

Every first year anthropology student learns about different types of marriage and kinship. Polygamy (one man marries several women, common until recently among Mormons and still common in some parts of the world); polyandry (one woman marries several men); monogamy (one sexual partner for the duration of the marriage), serial monogamy (one sexual partner at a time), and open marriage (agreement of partners in a marriage to have additional sexual partners). It goes on and on, so how is it possible that a Supreme Court justice (or two or three) does not know this?

I wanted to scream in 2011 when the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, claimed that teaching students anthropology was a bad use of resources. “We don’t need them here,” he stated. He wanted to redirect funds to learning in science and technology. That would give us lots of technologists and scientists that end up believing things like the Supreme Court justices: bogus information on how human act and believe and understand their worlds. That does not make for good technology that can be useful to these very same human beings.

All these guys could use a lesson in anthropology. As an article in Mother Jones explains, Scott and other politicians who are calling for the same gutting of a liberal arts education have a clear reason for it:

That, in the end, is perhaps why Scott’s really out to kill anthropology and the liberal arts: As opposed to conservative-friendly disciplines like economics and business management, liberal arts produce more culturally aware and progressive citizens, inclined to challenge ossified social conventions and injustices. Eliminate cultural and social sciences from public colleges, and you’ll ultimately produce fewer community organizers, poets, and critics; you’ll probably churn out more Rotarians, Junior Leaguers, and Republican donors.

Or, you’ll churn out more ossified Supreme Court justices who never learned the first lesson of anthropology: that every culture approaches its task of how to organize the world in a different way and from these cultures we can learn a lot about how we, ourselves, could act.

P.S

From Mother Jones:

bubblechartrevise

In The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850), the scarlet letter “A” was a badge of shame. But not here, not in the wonderful world of anthropology. So, a word now from Scarlet A (anthropologist):

In a recent issue of the American Anthropologist (December 2010), John Comaroff has an essay about the purported “end of Anthropology.” Comaroff presented this topic in a lecture in the Penn Anthropology Department some months earlier (and in various places around the world in the past few years) and the essay (“The End of Anthropology, Again: On the Future of an In/Discipline”) provides the same illuminating examples and arguments that his lecture did. Comaroff does not believe anthropology is ending and in fact points out how more than ever we need the insights anthropology offers to make sense of the strange things happenings around us.

I can’t do justice to his nuanced and detailed arguments and I can’t pretend to understand everything he references. But because I want to get these ideas about the value of anthropology involved in the current Penn Museum discussions, I will try to summarize some of the valuable points here.

Here is what anthropology offers each and everything it touches, looks at, considers, and contemplates, in what Comaroff calls five operations:

1. Operation One: A different take or a different point of view on how something works. This questioning of how things are done “normally,” how decisions are made, what the conventional wisdom is, why things have “always been done that way,” why certain things are acceptable and other things horrifying and taboo, who controls what gets said and why, who controls what decisions are made and why, all these things an anthropologist would question not in order to be simply contrary but to be critical in the academic sense of that term. This critical stance does not let secret decisions stay secret and hidden agendas stay masked; it does not let exercises of power go unquestioned and it does not take sides in order to drown out other voices. In the question of a museum exhibit, Scarlet A would ask why this exhibit and not some other, who has a stake in making this exhibit happen as planned, who made compromises and made deals and expects something in return for turning a blind eye to questionable practices or oddball decisions. Who is protecting whom, and why?

In Comaroff’s more elegant words:

“What is it that actually gives substance to the dominant discourses and conventional practices of that world, to its subject positions and its semiosis, its received categories and their unruly undersides, to the manner in which it is perceived and experienced, fabricated, and contested?”

2. Operation Two: How does the world we live in get produced and come to seem inevitable and natural? How does a process, like defining ethnicity, actually end up creating ethnic categories and the resulting human behavior: biases, segregation, wars, genocide. Scarlet A asks how does a process like creating a museum exhibit make selections and decisions that result in the production of knowledge that is anything but transparent and inevitable. Anthropologists don’t take these things as a given, they investigate how they came to be and in doing this point out that what seems inevitable could have ended up being any number of other things. This is an amazing action that anthropologists take because it pulls the rug out from under our smugness, our certainty, our sense of superiority, our sense of rightness and goodness. It is humbling and empowering all at the same time.

This time, in Comaroff’s more difficult words, which I hope I read correctly:

“The second operation involves being-and-becoming: it is the mapping of those processes by which social realities are realized, objects are objectified, materialities materialized, essences essentialized, by which abstractions—biography, community, culture, economy, ethnicity, gender, generation, identity, nationality, race, society—congeal synoptically from the innumerable acts, events, and significations that constitute them.”

3. Operation Three: Anthropologists often look for those moments or situations when there is a break in the facade or a rupture in the routine or a failure in an enterprise or a problem that suddenly gets revealed. These moments of rupture often, remarkably, lay bare all the structures and processes that have been keeping a well-oiled machine from revealing its squeaks and its rusty bits. These moments when things as they have been or things as they should be are suddenly cracked open are a brilliant source of illumination. They show what has been concealed in order for things to seem normal. And once the rupture occurs, it is hard to put all the junk back in its previous place (and we would also watch carefully the process by which that was attempted). Scarlet A takes notice of those moments when things fall apart and says, “Wow, how did that happen, why did that happen, and who is trying to make it go away?”

In Comaroff’s words:

“The third operation is the deployment of the contradiction, the counterintuitive, the paradox, the rupture as a source of methodological revelation.”

4. Operation Four: Situating what we are studying in multiple dimensions of time and of space. If we are studying something, we show how the particular occurrence we are looking at has analogies or parallels in other places and other times. This comparative layer to our work brings it back to some of the discipline’s basic concepts: that nothing humans do is done in isolation, it is done in patterned forms. The symbolic has economic and historical dimensions at the same time and in previous and future times; the religious is not divorced from the commercial or the political; a decision that seems local has connections to so many things and incidents that are global. Trying to tease these out of what seems to be just a local phenomenon or just a global situation is the power of an anthropological perspective and ignoring this perspective renders any analysis dangerously vapid. Scarlet A points out that museums, above many other institutions, are ripe settings for looking at these intersections.

In Comaroff’s words:

“…the fourth epistemic operation: the embedding of ethnography in the counterpoint of the here-and-there and the then-and-now—in a word, its spatiotemporalization”

5. Operation Five: We move back and forth between things and ideas, the abstract and the concrete, the theory and the practice. This continual movement not only provides a sort of self-correction to both data collection and its theorizing but it places the anthropologist in a responsible position: to not let one overwhelm the other, to not let observations run rampant over theory, to not let theory beat down observations. We care to reach not a balance but a never ending dialogue so that we don’t get stuck in the same “conventional wisdoms” that we so dearly love to unpack. Scarlet A promises to try to stay in motion but when faced with museum exhibits that are atheoretical, that only want to revel in the material for their beautiful materiality, she sometimes has to put her foot down and stomp a bit!

For Comaroff, this means:

“…the founding of the discipline on grounded theory, on an imaginative counterpoint between the inductive and the deductive, the concrete and the concept, ethnographic observation and critical ideation; also, in a different register, between the epic and the everyday, the meaningful and the material.”

Anthropology, Comaroff points out, has principles, and these principles not only makes it a unique contributor to any analysis but also make it a crucial component of any intelligent operation or presentation. To ignore anthropology is to laugh at these principles which give a humane insight into any kind of practice.

It also, not incidentally, would make any museum show that followed these principles much more interesting, less crass, more significant, more engaging, truly interactive (without unnecessary buttons), mesmerizing, fascinating, thoughtful, stunning, and yes, beautiful. And, to show that it would not cost two million dollars, I will design some such virtual museum exhibits in a future post called, “If I Were a Rich Man…”

But I am not a rich man, I am….Scarlet A.

I have always wanted to check out one of the many Harry Potter conferences that take place each year and I have just finished participating in Infinitus 2010. They are a fascinating combination of academics and fans, with professors with advanced degrees given equal status with a very informed fan base that also presents their analyses and opinions on all things Harry Potter. I have previously criticized traditional academic conferences for their deadly boring presentations: someone will stand in front of an audience of their peers and read a paper to them while one slide sits on the screen for the whole time. This bizarre ritual has not changed in decades and fan conferences like Infinitus provide an alternative model, especially for anthropologists. At Infinitus, there is no “Other” as “informants” and “anthropologists” switch roles endlessly, seamlessly, and delightfully.

I am not necessarily suggesting that we bay at the moon that one presenter urged as she began her presentation on werewolves but that communal howling (which she led) did start us all off on a more equal paw. The point is that new models of the presentation of research, thought, analysis, and appreciation could be a great benefit to anthropology, and fan events could provide a dynamic model that anthropology always claims it wants to have but doesn’t want to be embarrassed trying.

The Infinitus conference took several years to prepare and the range of activities and experiences offered to audiences suggests why. Each component of Harry Potter fan culture was well represented and showed the variety of approaches people take to understanding the world spawned by the Harry Potter books. There were academic and fan talks on particular aspects of the books or movies (themes like friendship, fat, religion, failure, mentors, mothers, money, and bullying) as well as applications of the lessons from the wizarding world to everyday muggle teaching, political and social activism, the creation of art, and official and fan merchandising. There was a dance and a quidditch tournament and life-size wizard chess.

Fan-created literature, parodies, spoofs, and homages in the form of wizard rock bands, paintings and drawings, crafts, fanfiction, podcasts, videos, and musicals were abundant as were discussions and presentations about all these productions. Performances were large-scale (the premiere of a full-length parody movie as well as a musical) and intimate (coffeehouse-style performances by singers and comedians). One group put several of the characters on trial in a fascinating debate that determined the possibility of their ultimate redemption (an activity that could be directly applied, with interesting results, to the AAA meetings).

The point is, I learned more about the world of Harry Potter by seeing and hearing the many different approaches to engaging with the ideas, passions, and interests that these folks, academics and fas, wanted to share. And in order to truly share they had to cross over into each others’ worlds and be flexible and knowing about how to communicate. That was the magic of Infinitus and should be the magic found in anthropology conferences, but it is not.

I spent a great deal of effort avoiding the pre-release hype surrounding Avatar. I didn’t go to the Comic-Con session about it or read any of the online buzz or previews or reviews or interviews. The reason I did this is because I wanted to give this movie a chance to win me over when I finally got to see it. I wanted it to work. I really did.

I have found the critiques of Avatar fascinating. As The New York Times described on its front page, people are reading all sorts of messages into the movie, from the most socially conservative to the most philosophically radical. This, I think, is the measure of a good movie (that is, a movie that is good to “think with”). This kind of flexibility is not a weakness but a gift, the kind good movies give us: the excuse to talk about things that need to be talked about.

As I describe to my students (in a course called “Anthropology and the Cinema”), the meaning of a movie does not reside in what is actually shown on the screen. The meaning of a movie is only created by our using it: thinking about it, talking about it, imitating it, critiquing it. Avatar isn’t about the White Man’s Burden (or white guilt or the Messiah complex, or whatever you want to call it), or about ecology, or about the evils of militarism and capitalism. We can certainly use it to talk about these things and even though much in Avatar is heavy-handed (“unobtanium,” anyone?), it is still good to think with.

How does it do this? One way is to use a familiar story. Many critics and viewers have expressed concern about the “stolen” story of Avatar. They note that this supposed original take on an alien encounter sounds awfully familiar, like Dances with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, Pochohantas, or other movies that include oppressed Native Americans rescued by sympathetic white men. But there are no original stories that would resonate with the large audience Avatar has attracted and it is precisely because it is a “stolen” story, one that our culture tells over and over, that it has been popular.

The story is not just one of military vs science, or military vs natives, or commerce vs nature, or animism vs monotheism (that one is from the Vatican). It is actually all of these and more: it uses one of the most common and general themes of American narratives: what happens when we encounter something that is different. How will we act, what will we think and feel? Will we honor our core values or betray our deep fears? Will we be honest, kind, understanding? Will we be open or closed, mean or helpful? We constantly, daily, endlessly test this in our selves and our culture. The movies offer us endless scenarios for testing this out in a virtual universe that has different parameters (blue people instead of some other color, an alien planet instead of next door) and a lot less real-world repercussions for our testing.

The complaints about this movie being like Dances with Wolves, etc, are not wrong, but they are oh so narrow. This movie is also like Cameron’s own Titanic, The Abyss, the Terminator movies, Dark Angel (on TV), or Aliens. It is like Gran Turino and Atonement and The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire and District 9 and every alien movie ever made, not to mention most buddy movies and chick flicks, and Disney animations from Beauty and the Beast to Tarzan. They all ask the same thing: can you love someone who is different, can you work with someone who is different, can you ever understand someone who is different? I don’t know that we can even find a definitive answer to these and other questions; we are just, as humans, always endlessly looking.

So, is Avatar a good movie? You can apply your aesthetic criteria and get one answer and you can apply your political criteria and get another. But if you apply your anthropological criteria–is it good for thinking about what it means to be human–then Avatar succeeds but not, as Cameron claims, because it is unlike any other movie that has ever existed, but rather precisely because it is so like so many other movies that have gone before.

I am not going off to the annual American Anthropological Association meetings until Friday, and then only for a day. In fact, I have not been to the meetings in years. We are a two-anthropologist family (a dangerous enterprise) and it always seemed more important that my husband go and keep us his contacts since he had the tenured position and I simply floated from one temporary teaching job to the next. Now, don’t get all gender-pissed at me: I can uphold my feminist credential against any onslaught but the fact is, we under-employed anthropologists have to pick and choose how we spend our non-existent conference dollars and how we exercise our minor status. The meetings, quite simply, just make me feel bad when I see so many happily employed anthropologists in one place.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t miss the session at 10:15 that Faye Ginsburg is chairing tomorrow (Friday): EXPLORING THE “BOUNDARIES” OF EXPRESSIVE MEDIA IN ANTHROPOLOGY. This is what I do (I think), in my research and my classes and it will be worthwhile hearing how other people are doing this. The fact is, way too much anthropology for me has become one of two things: an attempt to quantify everything and emulate the hard sciences, or a noble but I think misdirected effort to cozy-up to social work. My research involves talking to people (easy to quantify: today I talked to 10 people) and listen as they tell me how they think their world works. But I don’t feel the need to step in and fix their world or help them see how they can change it. If that condemns me as more of an observer rather than a participant, so be it.

Take offense if you will, but I love applying “old-fashioned” anthropological concepts (worldview, “the Other,” mythology, symbolism, ritual, categorization…) to the most contemporary topics: participatory fan culture, Hollywood blockbusters, and weird everyday stuff like 2012. And this is where the bedwetting comes in. 2012 (the movie) is worthwhile if only as an excuse to really really wreck Los Angeles this time. I saw, with true awe, my old house uplifted on a chunk of expensive realestate and plunged into the sea. The stuff of mythology.

Besides the quiche fiasco I described in my previous blog, there is a framing story that deserves mention. John Cusack plays a divorced dad who picks up his kids for a camping trip. His ex-wife hands him a tote bag that contains “Pull-Ups” (big kid diapers) for his daughter who still wets her bed. This was done in whispers, a shameful thing.

Now what this kid goes through in the next two hours would make anyone wet their pants but she remains fairly calm, protected by a series of heavy-handed symbolic hats. It is not until the end that she announces that she does not need the “Pull-Ups” anymore, thanks dad. I swear, that is the line the movie ends on. Makes you wanna scream, “It’s a damned good thing, kid, because that factory is probably lava-encrusted by now.” Is this the best story we can come up with about what is important at the end/ends of the world (of anthropology?). Maybe it’s a good thing the diaper factory is gone. Maybe we will learn to “Depend” less on the things that make us ashamed to put on our symbolic hats and face the apocalypse.

As the AAA heads to Philadelphia to discuss the End and End(s) of Anthropology, it will find itself face-to-face with a readymade case study.
The story of “What Really Happened at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology” started in November 2008 when the research scientists of the museum were informed that their positions were being terminated as of May 2009. The 18 or so researchers (the number is uncertain because of odd job categories) were told that this was a cost-saving move to protect the future of the museum. Soon after the announcement, the administration of the museum began defending its decision, explaining that the researchers had originally been hired on grant money (which was not the case; most were never on grant money) and now that the grants were over the museum could no longer afford to keep them on.
Some mild protests were lodged in the press and an online petition campaign aimed specifically at saving the archaeologists and lab scientists who were supposedly under the knife garnered several thousand signatures. The administration of the museum had to explain in several press interviews that it had every intention of “saving” (their term) the researchers who did worthwhile work. Internally, several curators and administrators announced that they would make every effort to “save” the people in their own sections (geographic areas).
In the end, all but three of the researchers were “saved” and are still working in the museum, most at similar or the very same jobs they had before the economic crisis that was supposed to be solved by their departure. The only cost saving came from the three researchers who were not offered a continuation of their employment. All these researchers were women, all were over 50, but perhaps most significantly, all were cultural anthropologists. In fact, they were the only full-time cultural anthropologists in the museum. As Agatha Christie would say: And Then There Were None.
Coincidence? To understand what really happened, we need to step back to the first months of the new administration of the museum (see note below•). Quite often when the new director mentioned the name of the museum, he called it the Museum of Archaeology. Now, granted, the museum’s full name is a mouthful but everyone had gotten used to taking the necessary extra gulp of air needed to say the whole thing. After a few months of this shortened version of the name, several of the cultural anthropologists took to saying out loud, “and Anthropology,” when this happened at staff meetings.
At the same staff meetings, this archaeology-only agenda for the museum started becoming more specific with direct and unambiguous statements about the need for the museum to pull away from the influence of anthropology. The long history of association between the museum and the Department of Anthropology at Penn was being presented as a problem that was about to be solved. Also about to be solved was the entire field of anthropological archaeology which, it was stated in several contexts, was misguided and needed to be entirely revamped. It was the plan of the current director to lead this charge to remake American archaeology in the image of British archaeology.
A few weeks before they were formally told that their jobs were being eliminated, the researchers met with a representative of the museum administration to discuss why they had not received information about their research money. Again, this person said “The Museum of Archaeology” several times and I finally asked directly, “Why do you and the director say the name of the museum that way, without saying ‘anthropology’?” His answer confirmed for me that the naming was deliberate and was in support of the goal of eliminating anthropology at the museum. His answer was that the director felt that the term “archaeology” covers both archaeology and anthropology, just like it does in the British model. If I am not mistaken (and I have taught the history of anthropology), the exact opposite is true: archaeology in most of Britain does not include socio-cultural anthropology at all.
The end of anthropology at the museum has come and gone. Some of the curators at the museum are anthropological archaeologists but no full-time socio-cultural anthropologists remain either as researchers or in other capacities. The museum has a series of lectures and programs that are almost exclusively focused on archaeological sites and its newest venture is a degree at both the undergraduate and graduate level in “world archaeology.”
The greatest loss, in my mind, is the larger perspective that cultural anthropology always introduces. The collections of the museum are ethnographic as well as archaeological and both types of material benefit from the attempts made by cultural anthropologists to connect material culture with living people. Whether it is using the depth of time provided by archaeological artifacts to demonstrate some continuity with contemporary behavior, or it is using more recent ethnographic materials to draw people to their past, cultural anthropology has the tools, the perspective, and the history of doing this. But this is no longer the case at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Dr. Louise Krasniewicz
Penn Department of Anthropology
•Full disclosure: my husband was the previous director of the museum and was replaced by the current director. He is an archaeologist and I have been an archaeologist in the past so there is no denigration archaeology intended in what follows.

As the AAA heads to Philadelphia to discuss the End and End(s) of Anthropology, it will find itself face-to-face with a ready-made case study.

This story of “What Really Happened at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology” started in November 2008 when the research scientists of the museum were informed that their positions were being terminated as of May 2009. The 18 or so researchers (the number is uncertain because of odd job categories) were told that this was a cost-saving move to protect the future of the museum. Soon after the announcement, the administration of the museum began defending its decision, explaining that the researchers had originally been hired on grant money (which was not the case; most were never on grant money) and now that the grants were over the museum could no longer afford to keep them on.

Some mild protests were lodged in the press and an online petition campaign aimed specifically at saving the archaeologists and lab scientists who were supposedly under the knife garnered several thousand signatures. The administration of the museum had to explain in several press interviews that it had every intention of “saving” (their term) the researchers who did worthwhile work. Internally, several curators and administrators announced that they would make every effort to “save” the people in their own sections (geographic areas).

In the end, all but three of the researchers were “saved” and are still working in the museum, most at similar or the very same jobs they had before the economic crisis that was supposed to be solved by their departure. The only cost saving came from the three researchers who were not offered a continuation of their employment. All these researchers were women, all were over 50, but perhaps most significantly, all were cultural anthropologists. In fact, they were the only full-time cultural anthropologists in the museum. As Agatha Christie would say: And Then There Were None.

Coincidence? To understand what really happened, we need to step back to the first months of the new administration of the museum (see note below•). Quite often when the new director mentioned the name of the museum, he called it the Museum of Archaeology. Now, granted, the museum’s full name is a mouthful but everyone had gotten used to taking the necessary extra gulp of air needed to say the whole thing. After a few months of this shortened version of the name, several of the cultural anthropologists took to saying out loud, “and Anthropology,” when this happened at staff meetings.

At the same staff meetings, this archaeology-only agenda for the museum started becoming more specific with direct and unambiguous statements about the need for the museum to pull away from the influence of anthropology. The long history of association between the museum and the Department of Anthropology at Penn was being presented as a problem that was about to be solved. Also about to be solved was the entire field of anthropological archaeology which, it was stated in several contexts, was misguided and needed to be entirely revamped. It was the plan of the current director to lead this charge to remake American archaeology in the image of British archaeology.

A few weeks before they were formally told that their jobs were being eliminated, the researchers met with a representative of the museum administration to discuss why they had not received information about their research money. Again, this person said “The Museum of Archaeology” several times and I finally asked directly, “Why do you and the director say the name of the museum that way, without saying ‘anthropology’?” His answer confirmed for me that the naming was deliberate and was in support of the goal of eliminating anthropology at the museum. His answer was that the director felt that the term “archaeology” covers both archaeology and anthropology, just like it does in the British model. If I am not mistaken (and I have taught the history of anthropology), the exact opposite is true: archaeology in most of Britain does not include socio-cultural anthropology at all.

The end of anthropology at the museum has come and gone. Some of the curators at the museum are anthropological archaeologists but no full-time socio-cultural anthropologists remain either as researchers or in other capacities. The museum has a series of lectures and programs that are almost exclusively focused on archaeological sites and its newest venture is a degree at both the undergraduate and graduate level in “world archaeology.”

The greatest loss, in my mind, is the larger perspective that cultural anthropology always introduces. The collections of the museum are ethnographic as well as archaeological and both types of material benefit from the attempts made by cultural anthropologists to connect material culture with living people. Whether it is using the depth of time provided by archaeological artifacts to demonstrate some continuity with contemporary behavior, or it is using more recent ethnographic materials to draw people to their past, cultural anthropology has the tools, the perspective, and the history of doing this. But this is no longer the case at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Dr. Louise Krasniewicz

Penn Department of Anthropology

•Full disclosure: my husband was the previous director of the museum and was replaced by the current director. He is an archaeologist and I have been an archaeologist in the past so there is no denigration of archaeology intended in what follows.