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consume as they order the material world. Fragmentation applies to
objects, bodies included, and the result can be to enchain or accumulate
them in webs of identity. But fragmentation is not the only action that
relates such practices. Consumption, conceived of here as a facet of
embodiment (Table 6.1), is an equal partner in hominin involvement with
the world of people and things. In a contemporary context consumption is
now one of the main ways in which people forge a relationship with the
world (Appadurai 1986; Douglas and Isherwood 1978; Miller 1995a) and so
create an identity by establishing self-hood (Friedman 1994:104). This use of
consumption owes much to Hegel™s notion of objectification where people
create a physical world of their internal desire by buying and using things
(Gosden 1999:165). In anthropologist Danny Miller™s opinion this is
achieved by the consumption practices of the household, so that ˜moral,
cosmological and ideological objectifications are constructed to create the
images by which we understand who we have been, who we are, and who
we might or should be in the future™ (1995:35). He then makes a crucial
point that today it is the ˜sheer scale of the object world (Miller 1995a:35)™
that fragments the objectification of such inner desire and belief. Partial
connections abound in the face of such a volume of material things
Consuming and fragmenting people and things 139

table 6.2. An archaeological model of social practice and social action
(adapted from Chapman 2000)

Social practice Accumulation Enchainment
Material projects Sets (place) Nets (landscape)
Examples Caches, stores, flocks, Stone, bone, shell and pot
cemeteries and housing transfers ˜friends and relations™
˜offspring and family™
Material proxies Containers Instruments
Social action Consumption Fragmentation

and results in their often contradictory significance at different times and
places of their consumption. There are no single meanings for these images
since context is all important, a point that is brought home to us by the
disturbance of travel.

Material projects: sets and nets
However, the equation of breaking things and passing them around, or
hoarding them at some places and not others is too simple a linkage with
the contrasted notions of personhood such as the Western (individual) and
Melanesian (dividual) (Chapter 5). Neither was there ever a simpler social
existence. Even in the Palaeolithic hominins had to cope with Miller™s
˜sheer scale of the object world™ although it differed both quantitatively and
qualitatively from our own.
Rather than simply fragmenting and consuming things, hominins have at
all times been engaged in material projects (Table 6.2), a necessary
consequence of inhabiting the world and being social. They enrolled others
in these projects (Strathern 1998:135) and by doing so they created
distinctive identities based on an understanding of those hidden cognitive
processes (Chapter 5) supplied by solid and linguistic metaphors refer-
enced to the body. Western and Melanesian personhood are just two
glimpses of those hidden social categories but with no particular historical
position to each other.
Material projects vary in scale and commitment, for example cooking a
meal, raising children or building a boat. These on-going projects involve
maturation, as Bloch (1998:33À5) found in his study of Zafimaniry houses
on Madagascar, and where house building and the development of a
marriage were intimately tied together. The dance I paid to see at Makuri
140 Origins and Revolutions

village was, from my perspective, an ephemeral project but one rich in
material and corporal culture as well as emotional and social significance
for the dancers. The question for all these projects is, how has the reality of
that particular social situation been defined (Turner 1991)? Sociologist
Erving Goffman (1959; 1963; 1967; Turner 1991:467) would no doubt have
dwelt on the performance of the self, stressing everyday rituals of interaction
such as how we attach and detach ourselves from social gatherings and how
we present ourselves in terms of a front. Language plays a role as part of
those rituals but would not necessarily be accorded prime position in
defining the social reality.
Archaeologists, however, usually miss the end of the show, often by
several millennia. Rather than studying the performance, our concern is
with the social actions of fragmentation and consumption and how they
were informed by concepts based on metaphor. Our assumption is that
there was an understanding among participants.
This understanding, I maintain, explains why the evidence from the past
is so strongly patterned that we can slice it by time and space, carving history
at its joints. These patterns take the form of sets and nets of material culture,
the proxies for material projects. I have given some examples in Table 6.2
and these will be amplified below and in Part III. In general terms sets are
most closely associated with the creation of place while nets carry us out
into landscapes. Sets and nets are a further instance of a mutual rather than
binary distinction since it is difficult to say where one ends and the other
Archaeologists are expert carvers of historical turkeys, well aware that
their evidence consists of patterned sets and nets of material located in time
and space. These are our building blocks, that we describe as assemblages,
hoards, pit groups, caches, structured deposits, chains of connection,
redistribution networks, trade systems, interaction spheres and cultures
(Gamble 2001). We arrange them by phase and tradition using measures of
frequency and resemblance while independent age estimates verify the
historical order. Such sets and nets consist of complete and incomplete,
whole and fragmented, objects.

Technologies of the person
The utility of differentiating practice and action (Table 6.1) can be shown
by considering further those categories of personhood, Melanesian and
Western or the dividual and individual (Table 5.4), and how material
culture provides solid metaphors for such social relations. To recall,
Consuming and fragmenting people and things 141

table 6.3. Fragmentation and two technologies (after Chapman 2000:39)

Reductive technologies Additive technologies
Flint knapping Ceramics Textiles Metallurgy
Combination tools
Butchering animals

Knappett (2006) reminds us that cognition is embodied, distributed and
situated both in a body and an environment (see also Anderson 2003;
Barrett and Henzi 2005; Wilson 2005). The boundaries of the body are not
immutable but change through contact and association with objects, much
as the psychologist James Gibson (1979) argued in his ecological approach
to understanding perception. Finally, as LiPuma (1998) pointed out, the
distinction Melanesian:Western may have rhetorical value in challenging
some rational views of categories such as personhood but that fundamen-
tally both forms of openness and closure can be found in all societies. What
matters is the authority accorded to each of them.
Therefore, the hunt is not on for the material correlates of the dividual.
Neither are we in search of a cha±ne operatoire (Leroi-Gourhan 1993;
Schlanger 1994; 2005) that would create an individual through an ordered
sequence of techniques that brought together, and then shaped, the
resources needed to undertake the task. Rather, as Knappett (2006)
argues, we are examining those instances of layering/accumulation and
networking/enchainment in the construction of personhood. I would go
about this by considering those social actions of consumption and
fragmentation that use material culture in metaphorical ways to accumu-
late and enchain through the proxies of sets and nets to material projects.
Once again Chapman (2000) provides a valuable lead and a pointer to a
possible methodology. He argues that the distributed person can be tracked
archaeologically through the deliberate fragmentation of material. To do
this he recognises two major forms of technology, reductive and additive
(Table 6.3), which either produce or are subject to intentional breakage
followed by the distribution of the parts as representative of the whole; a
material expression of that variety of metonymy (Chapter 3) known as
synecdoche (Chapman 2000:67).
In both technologies fragmentation begins with a complete object. The
difference is that in the additive case the object was made-up, like a pot
142 Origins and Revolutions

from a lump of clay, while in the reductive example it was made-down, like
an arrowhead from a nodule of flint (see Figure 4.6). Chapman™s thesis is
that with additive technologies people were making things in order to
intentionally break them and so have materials for enchainment. He points
out, moreover, that the simple distinction between these two technologies
of growth and reduction is blurred by combination tools. For example, the
microliths inserted into the shaft of an arrow or the blades in a sickle are
clearly part of an additive technology. In the same way the beads in a
necklace or the accumulation of long bones in a tomb are also additive. The
actions of consumption and fragmentation therefore provide a basis, when
applied to material culture, for the metaphorical expression of such
concepts as embodied cognition and distributed personhood.

How material projects accumulate and enchain
Chapman defines sets as ˜integrally related groups of individual elements,
as in the examples of flints forming a composite lithic tool or beads
comprising a necklace™ (2000:46, my emphasis).
Recognising sets depends on assessing integral relationships. For
example, links are confirmed through the choice of raw material establish-
ing similarity and difference. Elements in a set such as a tool-kit can be very
different, as with chisels and saws, but they nonetheless have a formal-
functional relationship as ˜wood-working tools™. Chapman (2000:46) also
recognises a set as composed of disparate-looking elements linked in a
symbolic chain of contrasts and opposites. For example, the 263 hetero-
geneous items, including bowls, spoons, and a purse, sword and shield,
found in the Anglo Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo (Carver 1998) form a
disparate set gathered over some time from across Europe and deposited
in eastern England 1,400 years ago. It is a set recognised by association, in
this instance through the contiguity of items within the burial container
formed by the ship.
Sets enchain and can take the form of reductive, additive and composite
technologies which have been present from the Palaeolithic onwards. Sets
can also be broken up without breaking the items in the set. The beads in a
necklace can be distributed and new relationships are therefore created.
The enchainment relationship would be expressed metaphorically as

Part Whole
Element Set
Consuming and fragmenting people and things 143

Furthermore, to create a set is to accumulate and consume.
The concept of sets leads seamlessly between enchainment and
accumulation (Table 6.2). Sets, like nets, depend on the concept of
expansion. According to Chapman whole objects are fixed, i.e. completed,
but sets of them can be expanded indefinitely as Imelda Marcos showed
with her shoe collection.
Sets, of course, are well represented by hoards of metalwork, a key
category of archaeological data in Later European prehistory. These are the
real focus of Chapman™s enquiry and his methodology has to be judged
accordingly. He argues (2000:47) that sets, complex sets and collections
are three types of hoard that take on a special significance with met-
allurgy because it is apparently uncommon to find items deliberately
fragmented, a factor which Chapman puts down to the choice of raw
This is where accumulation comes in to play. Chapman™s argument
(2000:48) is that fragmentation creates people through objects because the
relationships are inalienable (Gregory 1982; Mauss 1967; Thomas 1991). By
contrast, accumulation opens up the possibility of alienable relationships
underscored by abstract values such as wealth. Chapman regards this
development as a by-product of the Whole !Set relationship.
Moreover, the possibility of accumulation through manufactured sets of
similar objects was, he argues, first realised with metal artefacts (Chapman
2000:43ff.). The technique of manufacture using moulds led to replication
and the generation of sets on a massive scale.
Hoards of metalwork are, however, only one example of a material
project. Rather than seek the origins of such technologies I prefer to use
Chapman™s insights to consider the broader implications of hominin
involvement with material culture. Archaeologists will always find nets of
material culture because hominids have always been peripatetic. Fission
and fusion is a fact of social life for primates as well as hominins. But
at the same time we will always find sets. The rhythms of material life
which take place in the context of practice and action lead to association
and accumulation. Even the simplest stone tools in the archaeological
record reveal these spatial-temporal characteristics. For instance, what is a
family group if it is not a set of embodied, accumulated and enchained
relationships built in varying ways from emotional, material and symbolic
resources (Table 5.5)? To that extent a set is nothing more than a congealed
net, a knot in the string. The difference I would draw is that such congealing
defines places while nets articulate the use of landscapes which people cross
by paths while enchained by objects into wider social structures (Table 6.4).
144 Origins and Revolutions

table 6.4. A scalar framework for studying hominin society (after Gamble
1999:Table 3.1)

Rhythms of material
Locales and corporal life Regions
Encounters and Enchainment & accumulation Landscape of habit
ˆ ´
gatherings Cha±ne operatoire
Social occasions Social landscape
Paths & tracks
and place Consumption & fragmentation
Individuals Sets & nets ! Networks

Table 6.4 also points to the important issue of scale, particularly between
locales and regions, and their connecting rhythms of material and corporal
life and that is discussed further in Chapter 8.
The creation of nets, and indeed sets, of material culture, what Chapman
sees as the primary directive of fragmentation, is therefore to be expected in
all hominin societies, and their creation will lead to variety among their
proxies. There will be times when sets are ubiquitous as relationships are
accumulated either through fragmentation or consumption. At other times
nets will dominate the record as social practices enchain through those
same actions. What determines the outcome of this tension between sets
and nets, then, is the structure between the practices of accumulation and
enchainment and the actions of fragmentation and consumption that are
mediated by material and corporal life (Table 6.4). Instruments and
containers and their constellation into nets and sets are therefore my chosen
proxies for the study of the variety of social life over nearly three million
years of hominin use of material culture (Part III).

When the music stopped: the burial at Saint-Germain-la-Riviere
But before the broad sweep can be attempted a practical example is in
order to clarify some of the terms and methods advocated in this
I have chosen the rockshelters at Saint-Germain-la-Riviere, 30 kms
east of Bordeaux. Like many in the region these have produced
rich collections of Palaeolithic stone and bone implements. In 1934
excavators uncovered the burial of a young adult female, more recently
dated directly by radiocarbon to some 19,000 years ago (Drucker and
Consuming and fragmenting people and things 145

figure 6.2. The burial container at Saint-Germain-la-Rivie The body was found
within the small tomb. A bison skull, horn core fragments and reindeer antler were found
close by (after Vanhaeren and d™Errico 2003:Figure 2 with permission).

Henry-Gambier 2005; Vanhaeren and d™Errico 2003; 2005). This was a time
when much of northern Europe had been abandoned due to the spread of
ice sheets from Scandinavia onto the northern plains, including the British
Isles. Bordeaux would have been at the leading edge of the southern refuge
for human populations and further from the ocean due to the lower sea
levels. Most of the people in the southern refuge were clustered in
Cantabrian Spain and Portugal (Gamble et al. 2005).
The young woman lay on her left side with her legs tucked up, her right
hand shielding her face. She lay, covered in ochre pigment, within a
container formed of four stone blocks covered by two slabs (Figure 6.2).
Seventy years later the excavator™s records are not all that we could wish for,
but in a recent re-examination Marian Vanhaeren and Francesco d™Errico
(2005) are certain that at least eighty-six objects, that they regard as grave
146 Origins and Revolutions

table 6.5. Four sets of grave goods with the young woman at Saint-Germain-
la-Riviere, France (Vanhaeren and d™Errico 2005:Table 1). The rodents almost
certainly have no cultural significance

Number of
Sets/Nets Proxy categories Elements
Ornaments Containers 4 Shells (2 species), steatite
bead, red deer canines
Bone tools Instruments 2 Deer rib and antler ˜dagger™
Animal parts Instruments 4 Taxa: Reindeer, Saiga,
Fox and Rodent
3 Elements: Foot bones (2), jaw
Stone tools Instruments 8 Blade, notched blade,
bladelet, burin, endscraper,
burin/endscraper, bec and core

goods, were originally found with the body. These form four related sets
(Table 6.5).
Three of the sets are dominated by instruments while the ornaments
form the largest set with seventy-five items. These in turn are dominated by
seventy-one red deer canines that were commonly used in the Lateglacial to
make either necklaces or sewn onto clothing (d™Errico and Vanhaeren
2002). Each has a hole drilled through the root (Figure 6.3). Twelve can be
paired with the other from the same animal.
This set, as Vanhaeren and d™Errico (2003; 2005) show, came from fifty-
eight male and eight female red deer. The latter represented animals of all
ages while among the males equal proportions of 2À4, 4À6 and 6À12-year-
olds were present. Two-thirds of the stag canines were decorated with small
incisions, but only a third of the hinds.
However, the set of canines is also a net. It demonstrates the principles of
extension and expansion since red deer were not present in the Bordeaux
area at this severe glacial time. The most likely source for the canines is
300 km to the south-west in Cantabrian Spain where the red deer was a
notable refuge species (Altuna 1979). The fauna in the rockshelter is instead
dominated by the bones of arid- and arctic-adapted species, saiga antelope
and reindeer respectively (Delpech 1983). But stable isotope analysis
by Dorothee Drucker and Dominique Henry-Gambier (2005) has shown
that at most saiga contributed only 25 per cent of the woman™s diet. Instead
70 per cent must have come from either bison or aurochs. These are poorly
Consuming and fragmenting people and things 147

figure 6.3. Grave goods directly associated with the burial at Saint-Germain-la-Riviere.
1À71 are red deer canines, 72 is a steatite bead and 73 three perforated shells (after
Vanhaeren and d™Errico 2003:Figure 6 with permission).

represented by bones in the faunal assemblage of the locale but their
significance in terms of meat weight must not be underestimated (Drucker
and Henry-Gambier 2005:Figure 7 and Table 4). The isotope study raises
the possibility of further sets of joints of flesh, bones and portions of fat as
well as hides and horns being brought into association. As Jones (2002:101)
puts it:
Breaking and sharing material culture establishes affiliation between
people. Similarly the act of accumulating objects and the act of creating
composites out of distinct fragments harnesses the relations established in
148 Origins and Revolutions

sharing through cementing and articulating together shared social bonds,
and thereby re-articulates a new set of social relations.

Several material projects are therefore on view at Saint-Germain-la-
Riviere. The rockshelter was a container for social space that has its own
distinctive sets of ornaments, stone tools and animal parts (Vanhaeren and
d™Errico 2005:Figure 12) that varied through time but that have a mostly
local signature as determined by the raw materials used.
These artefacts are distinct from the burial of the young woman. Her
project took the form of a detaching ritual (Gamble 1999:404ff.) from the
social gatherings of that place. The actions involved consumption, as shown
by the embodied focus of the project, with a strong emphasis on containers
as shown by the slabs, the necklace and almost certainly the clothes she was
dressed in. The choice of material culture, including a rockshelter, in the
act of consumption enfolded this person. However, the accumulation of
contiguous sets À the woman, the grave goods, the grave architecture À also
continued to enchain her as though alive.
For example, the seventy-one drilled deer canines are a material proxy
that expresses in metaphorical form the practices of accumulation and
enchainment. They acquired symbolic force by being referenced to her
body, although sadly their precise associations with head, neck and clothing
are now lost. But what we can say is that they stand in metaphorical relation
to the distributed character of the woman™s personhood. They were
collected as the result of transactions elsewhere and over many seasons.
Rather than material memories they can be understood as a metaphor for a
distributed mind (Malafouris 2004).
The eight stone tools are acts of fragmentation irrespective of exactly
when and where they were made, as are the body parts of animals and
the two bone tools. Unlike the composite technology of the ornaments
these instruments were made by reduction (Table 6.5). Among both

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