عنوان مقاله [English]
The study concerned with “the archaeology of dwelling” as a new theoretical approach with its own problematics and thematics. Dwelling perspective in archaeology is the product of some epistemological lack in the discipline; the lack of research in those kinds of phenomena which could be marked truly as cultural/cognitive; Phenomena unexplainable in ecological, environmental, geographical and anthropological terms. This weakness comes from such a consideration in conventional view of archaeology as a discipline unable to investigate past meanings through material remains. According to epistemological basis of the study, it has been emphasized that meanings have inevitably materiality’s of their own kind, making it impossible to distinguish material and mental, locating each of them in the opposite pole. The problematics of the study was to recover a kind of credit for archaeology in that, it can approach factors beyond ecological, geographical or anthropological, without losing its archaeological accurateness; factors such as cognitive, metaphysical, semiotic, and conceptual. The study defined dwelling philosophically, anthropologically and archaeologically to build up three levels of archaeological facts, each of them with their own problematics and thematics. At last, archaeological dwelling is concerned with a level of human material facts which were hidden systematically from the discipline under the terms such as “mental”, “psychic”, “unreachable” or “without evidence” until recently. A case of Sarfiroozabad used as an explanation of its practical applicability.
Keywords: Paradigm, Dwelling, Cognitive Niche Construction, Poetics, Sarfiroozabad.
This study is concerning with those aspects of Humanity which were neglected within the most parts of anthropological or environmental archaeology. These neglected aspects could be discussed under the rubric of “dwelling theory”, through of which it will be possible to take into account some level of phenomena which hadn’t have any place in problematics of mainstream archaeology most of the time. Niche construction theory (Odling-Smee, Laland et al. 2013) and its higher level in terms of human being, known as “cognitive niche construction” (Clark and Chalmers 2007) pave some new way into a kind of attitude according to which not only synchronic structures and diachronic systems come together, but also beyond environmental-ecological, geographic and anthropological facts, a poetic kind of archaeological facts could be discussed.
There are three critical elements in ecological paradigm as an approach which consider every living being as an interwoven entity within a particular ecosystem, and every ecosystem as an assembly of organisms inhabited in a geographic area: material flow, energy flow and information flow or communicative signals. Cultural ecology as a branch of it concerns with mechanisms by which human beings control energy flow (subsistence), material exchange and information essential for survival. In this respect every kind of material culture is indeed a mediator for optimized adaption of man to its environment.
Besides natural environment, archaeological findings have another place-related aspect called “human spaces”. Geographic paradigm is dedicated to the study of human spaces, main issues of which include analysis of mechanisms and patterns underlying formation, transformation and collapse of social spaces. Settlement archaeology is one of the basic branches of the paradigm.
What is common between these two paradigms is primarily an implicit solid duality of nature vs. culture. According to both of them all of man’s living system is affected by ecological factors. Man’s livelihood is more than anything else dedicated to producing and maintaining some socio-economic system which would be in perfect harmony with possibilities, potentialities and limits of environment. The culture just means that man has an active role in choosing between options already taken by environment and natural selection. Cultural levels in this respect are merely just settlement and landscape (in fact, built environment) functioning as a ground to build up socio-economic structures.
On the top of this kind of hierarchy stands the weakest last level called ideological-metaphysical facts (Harris, 1979). Things as motifs painted on the pottery, artistic representations, monuments etc. belong mainly to this level. This level is the main subject of anthropological paradigm to be studied according to some culturological laws and formula. Together, environmental-ecological, geographic and anthropological paradigms are basic components of “processual” archaeologies. Whereas the relation among these factors and parameters (ecological, geographic, anthropological) is not hierarchical-vertical within the framework of “post-processual” archaeologies, but some horizontal, interwoven and complicated.
Identified Traces- Discussion
Beyond of this reductionist view overwhelming in archaeological paradigms, lies a fundamental separation of human being from all other creatures, primarily thanks to his capability to possess language and dwell within it. The Heideggerian phenomenological approach to this existential separation is formulated under the rubric of Dwelling of Dasein in the world. Contrary to animal, man does not have any kind of already given environment to become perfect within it right after birth. He is obliged to establish a world of his dwelling through logos (language) and techne (skill). Logos and aesthetics are two basic potential of man to establish a world consisting two interwoven levels of landscape and task-scape.
Man is a self-domesticated creature (Bednarik, 2011). Unlike other animals, especially higher-level ones, who are constantly on the influence of natural selection and their active roles in environments known as “niche construction”, both of which come together on behalf of well-being of them in the world, man has another extra condition; namely his cultural heritage or his cognitive niche construction. It means that man is basically influenced by his cultural choices in his formation and evolutionary processes. Man’s self-domestication is fundamentally due to his cognitive potentialities.
So, such cognitive factors as aesthetic-techne and language-logos produce a kind of niche construction abilities in human beings which is known as cognitive niche construction. Every cognitive niche is a built physical structure by the organism to transform one or more problem spaces so that can be helping in thinking and inferencing on one or more target domain. Here, language or material symbols as a whole are considered as main axis of niche constructive acts in human beings.
Now, by putting aside reductionist paradigms predominant in archaeological thought and taking this alternative theoretical perspective into account, we are facing with three separated yet interwoven and complementary levels of archaeological facts, all of which call for their own scientific and verifying imperatives. These levels include genetic-phylogenetic natural inheritance; ecological inheritance; cultural-cognitive inheritance.
First level of facts: Genetic- Physic- Physiologic inheritance; every organism is a set of attributes, traits and faculties hardwired within them. Form of organisms, their organs as well as position of them, neurotic, sensual and motivational relationships among them are governed by genetic capabilities. In humans, upright posture has created a particular condition affecting whole of his biological and evolutionary destiny. Free hands and encephalization are among the main consequences of his upright posture which paved the way for achieving high levels of cognitive developments (Coolidge and Wynn 2009, Pinker 2009, Barash 2012, Bednarik 2014).
Second level of facts: ecological inheritance; genetic structures and physical-physiological capacities are just possibilities for occurring existing behaviors or habits, but not the sufficient causalities of them. Organisms act actively and choose some features of their environment (both internal and external to their bodies) in place of the others. They change their environment to the best of themselves. Every organism has its own settlement, subsistence and communication systems built out of its biological inherited structure plus the special capacities of its immediate environment. It is the level of making comfort, extracting energy and producing cooperative as well as competitive signals.
Third level of facts: poetic domain; as mentioned above, man is apart from other creatures by his possession of language. Language is not a form of communication system, but the only representational one which is absolutely limited to Homo (Bickerton, 2009). The basic characteristic of language is its intrinsic ability to equip man with concepts and conceptual realities. Man is primarily dwelt in its representational products as a result of that. Language makes a kind of cognitive niche on the man’s ecological niche, art, religion and philosophy being principal forms and manifestations of it; all of which are poetic in character, if we consider poetic, following ancient Greeks, as “revealing the truth”. Only in humans changes in their environment, at any rate, could be made out of poetic truths congruent with perfectionism (even in most concrete domains such as economy).
All of the abovementioned levels should be investigated archaeologically and there would be different archaeological facts for every of them. It is true of all forms of archaeological investigations and as is shown in this paper, the poetic facts could be dealt with and studied archaeologically even in most preliminary observations such as systematic archaeological surface surveying. At least surveying of Sarfiroozabad, Kermanshah, provided us with a good example of that possibility.