Subject:      Re: C. moneta
From: (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/09/22
Message-ID:   <606bis$rje$>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology


Thank you for researching this interesting matter and for sharing your
findings with us.

tom kavanagh ([22] wrote:


: [Moore] ... we have information that in the Peabody Museum, Cambridge
: Mass, is a dress of a Cree woman, collected by the Lewis and Clark
: expedition in 1804-1805. On this dress are four dozen cowry shells
: perforated... The shells found by us differ from those on the Cree
: dress, which are of a larger variety and much more distinctly humped
: than are our shells, ours being of the variety /atava/ as described by
: Rochburne, who says they come from the Cape Verde Islands." =

Yes, Jackson also quotes this from Moore in his 1917 book. But this is
what he adds on p. 189,

"Notwithstanding Rochebrune's [please note the correct spelling]
assertion, few students of Cypraea admit the possibility of the occurrence
of living C. moneta at the Cape Verde Islands, or indeed on any portion of
the West African coast. The cited occurrences there of this and the allied
form, C. annulus, may be due to accident."

Further, Jackson says that enormous numbers of these shells were traded
everywhere in Africa, due to their popularity there. Also they were
shipped along the West African coast by the Portuguese, and some of these
ships were lost. So this find may have been of cowries from such sources.

: Moore's report was purely descrtiptive, and he made no attempt to given
: a cultural attribution

This is precisely what Jackson gives in his book.

: or to date the artifacts recovered

Jackson also tried to do this to the best of his ability.

: other than the
: above noted "Columbus" connection.

Which, of course, is extremely ephemeral at best.

As for the discussion of George Carter's general competence in the area of
American archaeology that you or Bernard originated, I can only wonder
about this. I'm sure that Carter was doing American archaeology before
any of us in this ng was born. Sure you may have found some assorted
inaccuracies with what he said. But let us not use this as a smokescreen
to obscure the fact

1. that nobody would have even known about this problem now if Carter
didn't point to it _repeatedly_. And

2. that this problems needs a solution.

Trying to shoot the messenger who brings bad news is quite understandable
on the part of the desperate Isolationists whose cherished faith and true
religion is crumbling increasingly under the onslaught of scientific
progress. But this is not the strategy that any _true scholar_ should
exhibit. In fact, every true scholar should take off his/her hat to Carter
who was not afraid to champion these highly unpopular ideas in the face of
brutal opposition by often unscrupulous critics.

Best wishes,


Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- [23]

Comparative studies of primitive art have probably been
jeopardized by the zeal of investigators of cultural contacts and
borrowings. But let us state in no uncertain terms that these
studies have been jeopardized even more by intellectual pharisees
who prefer to deny obvious relationships because science does not
yet provide an adequate method for their interpretation
   -=-   Claude Levi-Strauss, ANTHROPOLOGIE STRUCTURALE, 1958

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