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More than a century ago the publications of Gdouard Lartet laid the foundations for the nomenclature and stratigraphy of the French Upper Palaeolithic. Academic debate arising from Lartet's work continued until the 1930s by which time the framework and classification of the period were fixed. They have remained fairly static ever since. Indeed, the French system appeared unimpeachable, so that scholars strove to apply it, unchanged, to widely differing areas. Since the 1930s most work on the French sequence has been designed to confirm the results of old and 'untrustworthy' excavations, and to shore up an original framework with additional information. The situation is much the same for the way of life of palaeolithic man: the standard textbook description of savage hunters eking a living from a harsh environment was in vogue for a very long time, and one might be forgiven for believing that this hypothesis had always been dominant; this is not the case. It is little-known fact in this country that during the latter part of the nineteenth century there were major arguments in academic circles concerning the way of life in the Palaeolithic, and in particular the question of domestication during that period. Were it not for the demise of Piette and the subsequent dominance of Breuil, it is possible that the present orthodox account of the Upper Palaeolithic might be very different
Over half of Leo Klejn's monograph-length article constitutes what might be described as an ethnography of Western archaeology; more particularly an armchair ethnography written from the perspective of Leningrad. Western archaeologists will inevitably react to it in much the same manner as native peoples react to ethnographic studies of their cultures. They may admire the industriousness and intelligence of the ethnographer and grudgingly admit that he perceived things about them of which they were unaware. Yet they remain convinced that in some significant way he failed to comprehend the inner spirit of their culture or to appreciate sufficiently its merits. At its healthiest, this feeling constitutes a challenge to understand one's own culture better. Klejn's monograph surveys developments in theory and method in archaeology between 1960 and 1973 in the Soviet Union, Central and Western Europe, and the United States. No attempt is made to consider trends in China, Latin America, or elsewhere in the Third World. Klejn's aims are three-fold : bibliographical, historical, and critical. Although he denies that his presentation is sufficiently detailed to constitute genuine scientific criticism, his evaluations of recent trends in the development of archaeological theory influence his historical interpretations and enhance the interest and value of the entire study.
The discovery of what is demonstrably, on the basis of present knowledge, the earliest major assemblage of gold artifacts to be unearthed anywhere in the world is an event of some note, comparable in significance with Schliemann's find of the Great Treasure at Troy more than a century ago. The finds at Varna must be at least 1,500 years older than those of Troy 11, yet apart from the original announcement by their excavator (Ivanov, 1975), and useful, although brief, descriptions by Gimbutas (1977 a and b), the Varna cemetery has so far excited little archaeological comment. The publication by Ivanov (1978) of the first well-illustrated account of the cemetery allows an assessment of its importance. Its status as the oldest substantial find of gold emphasizes the position of south-east Europe as an early and independent centre of metallurgical innovation. But the gold is only one of several materials indicative of high status in the cemetery: what had hitherto seemed a moderately egalitarian society now displays clear evidence of salient ranking. This in turn has major implications for our understanding of the social context in which early metalworking in Europe developed and prospered.
Prior to the recent description of stone-lined ovens in Hawaii (Hendren, 1975, 133, 139), such ovens had not been reported elsewhere in Polynesia, and as a result some attention has been placed on the origin of the urnu pae. An undocumented claim has been made for the probable Peruvian source of the Easter Island stone-lined oven (Heyerdahl, 1968, 1g5), but in fact cultural origin is still in question because local innovation by the undeniably Polynesian substratum of the indigenous population has not been ruled out. Regardless of their origin, urnu pae are a class of cultural remains that assume major importance in Easter Island settlement-pattern studies by virtue of their easy identification and common occurrence with other structures on extended family residential sites. The exposed rims of umu pae eliminate the need for excavation to locate cook houses, which means that the layout of habitation sites and relationship of major household activity areas often can be determined on the basis of surface survey alone. Umu pae function independently to fix the location on flat terrain of open-site habitations that may otherwise be hard to see owing to the absence of structural remains or earthen terraces.
Clark (1975) gave a clear account to ANTIQUITY readers of the current state of the radiocarbon calibration problem. It is now 19 years since De Vries demonstrated that one of the primary assumptions of the radiocarbon dating method was in error. Since then more than 1,200 measurements have been made on samples of known-age wood and over 70 papers published on this topic (reviewed by Bermingham and Renfrew, 1972 and by Clark, 1975). In spite of this activity, at the recent radiocarbon conference in Los Angeles and La Jolla no international agreement could be reached on a single calibration or correction that could be used to convert radiocarbon measurements to calendar ages. The problems of calibration have undermined the confidence of many European archaeologists in radiocarbon dating-one hears remarks such as ‘one can’t take the dates seriously, after all they are only radiocarbon dates’. Workers attempting to reconcile calibrated radiocarbon dates with historically based chronologies have found that the agreements do not live up to their expectations based on the quoted standard deviations of the dates. In the short term the results we present here may further convince the archaeologist that radiocarbon dates will not solve his chronological problems. However, we hope to demonstrate that radiocarbon dating is ultimately capable of sufficient accuracy to be fully compatible with historical chronologies