Re: memetics-digest V1 #1299

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed 05 Mar 2003 - 06:46:18 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: memetics-digest V1 #1299"

    >From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    >Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #1299
    >Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2003 07:44:21 -0800
    > >> If you reproduced one of the artifacts
    >left by an Indian tribe to the degree that it couldn't be distinguished
    >from the original, wouldn't you have received the information contained in
    >making of it?
    >>No. Please explain how I could? Xerox is not culture.
    >I didn't see where anybody claimed that it was. On the other hand, xerox
    >is an intimate part of modern culture.
    >But if you were talking about an artifact such as a clay bowl or a stone ax
    >head, for example, and you went out and gathered the same kind of clay and
    >formed that clay in the same way and decorated it with the same designs and
    >fired it at the same temperature, you would have learned a thing or two
    >about how the tribe accomplished the task themselves.
    >There are anthropologists today who study the art of working stone to
    >produce the same artifacts they find in the earth in order to understand
    >the culture that produced them. I guess you would say they are wasting
    >their time and aren't likely to learn anything about that culture.
    >As you might guess, I disagree
    All the work they do is valuable, but wouldn't you agree that there are limits on what can be gained? It's kinda like the fosil record, there's stuff that's been found and some details fleshed out but still much presently unknown and possibly lost forever.

    With artifacts am I right in asumng that lots of stuff doesn't stick around long? Leave a piece of paper with writing in a marsh somewhere and come back in a decade. I've seen rceipts in my desk that after a relatively short perion of time are unintellible due to yellow or ink fade. How well do wooden artifacts hold up compared to stone or metal? And let's not forget how word of mouth may die with those who spoke of it and how artifacts are only part of the story. Somme dude named Umbojimbo may have possessed a stone axe long ago, but without critical compenents of his cultural milieu, how much can you extrapolate about Umbojimbo and his pals and their culture in general? The artiacts found are an index to what their culture was, but not the whole story, something washed away by the tides of history as it marches along. Who was Umbojimbo? You may find some of his artifacts and maybe his skull or femur, but what do you really know about him?

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