Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley Civilization is known mainly from two archeological sites of Harappa and Mohenjodaro.Other important sites are Chanu Daro,Kalibangan,Lothal,Amri and others.Harappa is situated on the banks of River Ravi at the distance of 160 kms from Lahore.Mohenjodaro is located in the Larkana district of Sind.It seemed to have flourished around 2500 BC. The most prominent feature is the citadel built of burnt brick on a hill on the western side of the city.There also located a structure called Great Bath.It comprised of large rectangular pool.At each end were steps leading into the water and the base was made of neatly fitted bricks coated with pitch to make them watertight.At the foot of the citadel lay the workers quarters which were small houses of wood and mud on brick foundations divided into blocks by narrow streets.The more spacious residential quarters of the citizens lay to the east.

Scheduled Areas

The British Government in India segregated the tribes into backward  areas through the institution of system of  excluded area and partially excluded area.The excluded and partially excluded areas were changed into scheduled areas and tribal areas after independence.

Art 244 of Constitution of India contains the provisions for the control and administration of scheduled areas  and scheduled tribes in all the states  other than Assam,Meghalaya,Tripura and UT of Mizoram.The latter was governed by Provisions of the 6th schedule.

The Governors of the states which has scheduled areas are required  to submit annual reports on the administration of the scheduled areas to the President of India.The collector of the district in which the scheduled area lies acts as an agent to the Governor and administers the scheduled area following the provisions laid down in the Constitution of India.

Significance of Purushartha

The theory of Purushartha is concerned with understanding the conduct of affairs of an individual in relation to family and society.The four division of Purushartha are Dharma,Artha,Kama and Moksha.Dharma stands for moral law in society and is the basis of values.It is a regulative principle with bearing on duties and rights.

Artha refers to acquisition of worldly prosperity.Apart from satisfying the needs  of his family,man has to lend a helping hand to the poor in society.Kama refers to desires of which sex drive is important.It helps to propagate the human species.Moksha stands for salvation is the ultimate end of human life.It liberates the person from worldly ties and leads to bliss signifying the merger of atman with Brahman.During the Brahmacharya ashrama dharma is learnt.Artha and Kama are important in Grihastha Ashrama.In the ultimate Vanaprastha ashrama worldly pleasures  are avoided and steps are taken to attain moksha.Purushartha has moral and ethical values of Hinduism.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Trade and Barter

In primitive societies before money came into use,exchange of  products between people took place.It is known as barter system.A tribe which produced goods in excess of its requirements made over the excess goods to another tribe in exchange for the goods produced by them.

The transaction of goods was at three levels including reciprocity,redistribution and commercial exchange.Reciprocity was based on mutual understanding of the needs of two groups.When a group produced goods in excess of its own requirments it gifted the excess to others.The receiving group gave a helping hand to the other group in times of need.

Tribal Sub plan

It is generally agreed that in India there should be economic development of tribes without destroying their culture and customs.Several committees constituted by the government since independence gave their recommendations for improving the welfare of the tribes.

A number of schemes aimed at improving the lot of tribes have been included in Five Year Plans.Tribes are distributed over vast area of land and their problems also differ from place to place.It is important to take steps for their welfare area wise.In this context the tribal subplan is significant.

In a particular state,predominant tribal districts,areas of residence and tribal population need to be determined by planning integrated development projects.The date collected enable planners and officials to formulate development plans that will create synthesis with the modernization and traditions of tribes.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Homo Habilis and Homo Erectus

Homo Habilis emerged between 2.3 and 2.5 million years ago.They had brains that were large compared to their  body size.Their faces protruded less,teeth smaller,legs longer and arms shorter.They produced stone tools.They lived in grassland,hunted small animals and scavanged the remains of large animals.Stone rings found in Olduvai Africa suggest that Homo Habilis built shelters for protection against cold weather and predators.The earliest remains of Homo Habilis are from Africa but it is disputed since a variety of fossils from China and Indonesia are more than 1.8 million years old.The tools are also traced in Pakistan and France.This suggest that Homo Habilis spread out from Africa.

Homo Erectus
Homo Erectus was a human species found in Asia,Africa and Europe and were present between 1.8 million and 200,000 years ago.the body size of Homo Erectus was larger than Homo Habilis.The average brain size  was also larger at 1000 cubic centimetres.They were not the first to walk upright.They were widespread in Africa,Asia and Europe.It shows that they were adaptable to a variety of climatic and ecological settings.Anthropologists have found variety of stone and deer antler tools.Remains in Spain show that Homo erectus hunted large animals like elephants.Bone tools found in China show that animal skins were stitched together for clothing. 

Integration of tribes in Indian society

India has many tribes and constitutes 7% of Indian population.Their culture,institutions,values,beliefs and way of life was so different from others that a special policy was required to integrate them in Indian society.British always had followed the isolation policy.India's first Prime Minister,Jawaharlal Nehru advocated a five point tribal policy which was the first step towards integration of tribals into the society.He stressed on the freedom of tribals to develop their own genius,preservation of rights in land and forests and continuance of traditional tribal institutions.

Integration means combination of diverse elements of perception leading to happy synthesis of culture.In pursuance of this policy many common programmes for tribals were undertaken.In recent years several legislation and policy decisions were taken to give ownership of land and forest produce to them.The reservations in educational institutions and other government set up is another step in direction of bringing tribals at par with other general population.

Religion and science

Religion is an expression of collective consciousness.It provides opportunity for integration and solidarity of the society.The object of science is to study the universe in its material aspect while religion has as its immediate object god and supernatural life.Despite the advancement of science ,religion performs a valuable function for both society and the individual which cannot be negated by substituting scientific explanations for religious explanations for the universe.Religion is based on faith and rituals whereas in science it emphasizes on facts,proofs, verification and observations.Science believes in empirical truth whereas religion believes in non empirical truth.Science emphasizes on the known aspect and religion focus on the unknown or supernatural aspects.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Louis Dumont's concept of Homo Hierarchies

Dumont's Homo Hierarchicus offers several new perspectives of social structure when it was published in the year 1966.He has brought the method of structuralism in his study of caste system.The chief elements of his methodology are

  • Ideology and structure
  • Dialectic transformational relationship and comparison
  • Indological and structuralist approach
  • Cognitive historical approach

New Trends in the types and forms of family in India

In contemporary India ,joint families are fast losing their importance due to urbanization and globalization and majority of families have turned nuclear in nature.Livein relationship are also gaining acceptance among vast majority of people.The loosening bonds of traditional normative patterns are responsible for this trend.The majority of couples marry after a certain period or when they have children.Relaxation of previously intolerant attitudes towards homosexuality has been accompanied by a growing tendency of courts to give custody of children to mothers living in gay relationships.People staying single is also increasing due to several factors like trend towards late marriages where people are giving due importance to their career rather than marriage.The rising trend of divorce and the growing number of old people in the population whose partners have died.However most of these trends are visible in urban centres and metro cities whereas the rural areas still follow old norms in most of the places regarding family system.

Castes among Muslims

Islam is a monotheistic religion infused with egalitarianism.It is based on casteless and class less premise with stress on brotherhood.But in India,Muslims from the time of their settlement got divided into groups with graded status resembling the Indian caste system.

With reference to Uttar Pradesh,Louis Dumont noted the presence of Ashraf or nobles the descendants of the immigrants divided into four kinds and common people of Indian origin meaning converts.The latter have always distributed along the lines of their original caste.Ashrafs belong to the four tribes of the same blood Saiyads,Sheik,Pathan and Mogul.Among Ashrafs there is no endogamous division though marriage is within a small circle.Among non-Ashrafs status is broadly distinguished as converts of superior caste,professional groups like artisans of Hindus,converted untouchables.These groups are endogamous like Hindu castes and many of them continued to follow their original Hindu customs.In South India ,converts even retain their caste names like Nadar Muslims.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Upper Palaeolithic in India

The evidences of Upper palaeolithic period has been found in India in states of AndhraPradesh,Uttar Pradesh,Karnataka,Jharkhand,Maharashtra and in Madhyapradesh.It is also found in some places in West Bengal.The most convincing evidence for the period is found at Kurnool and Chittoor districts of Andhrapradesh.But there is absence of stratigraphic evidence.

Tool types made mainly of bones discovered at Betamcherla caves in Kurnool.Here stratigraphic evidence in the form of mesolithic tool types in the top with Upper Palaeolithic tool types below has been discovered.In Chittoor district at Renigunta near Rallakalva river tool types representing Upper paleolithic culture have been discovered such as blades,burin,points,scrapers and choppers and flakes.At Yerragondapalem in Prakasam district many tool types representing upper Paleolithic culture have been discovered.In Uttar Pradesh at Belan valley stratigraphical evidence for the presence of upper paleolithic culture seems to have been discovered.Sholapur doab in Karnataka few tool type represting upper paleolithic culture seems to have been discovered.At Singhbhum in Jharkhand stratigraphic evidence has been unearthed.There is lot of variation in tool types and frequency of tools in each of the various sites providing evidence of upper paleolithic culture.

Genetic Adaptation

In biological theory of genetic evolution adaptation refers to psychological or behavioural changes which result in increased chances of survival in a given environment.The genetic quality of the human race can be improved through positive eugenics involving reproduction among those considered by society as desirable and by negative eugenics involving discouragement of reproduction among those with genetic defects.

Ethnocentric Approach to the study of Culture

In society people whose vision is limited to his or her own desires and needs are generally not effective  in dealing with other people.Such individuals are egocentric and not suited to develop cultural and social relationship between people of different attitudes in society.A person who judges other cultures solely in terms of his or her own culture  is ethnocentric  and this attitude defined  in a person is ethnocentrism.

Organic Evolution

Organic evolution is defined by the development of organisms from simple and homogeneous to complex and heterogeneous forms.It is a continuous and never-ending process  from the time life appeared  on the earth millions of years ago.A multitude of life forms appeared  in the geological past  and many species  became extinct some of them terminally due to changes in the environment.Studies on fossils and living animals and plants bear out a continuous development in which each stage grows out of the one before.It seems as though organic evolution unfolds forces that have been always defined ever since life first appeared.In physical anthropology the concept of evolution is traced from the first  appearance of primitive  organisms  through stages of development of many species ending with the appearance of Homo Sapiens.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Language -Edward Sapir

Peter Metcalf in his book  Anthropology states that one of Boas's most outstanding students was Edward Sapir.His overview of the field of linguistics called Language (1921)where he expanded on the basic insight that the sounds of language form a system at several different levels.At the most fundamental level any given language makes use of only some of the noises that a human mouth can make.But competence in speaking does not consist of getting noises exactly the same every time which is not human but rather of observing certain distinctions between noises.

Michel Foucault 's influence on Anthropology

Anthropologists are using ideas outside the field of anthropology especially from the fields of sociology and linguistics.The other fields are literacy criticism,philosophy and political theory.Anthropologists are using the idea of discourse as used by the French philosopher Michel Foucault who talked about knowledge and power built into the framework of the discourse.

Anthropologists influenced by Foucault sometimes replace the old idea of culture with the idea of discourse and its added implication that powerful groups may through discourse exercise control over less powerful groups.This shows that anthropology is not a closed system.It takes from other ideas and get enriched in return.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Anthropology as a Kind of Writing

Clifford Geertz initiated a theoretical assumption where he emphasizes not only the idea of  translation but also the idea of ethnographic writing as a genre within literature.A key concept according to Alan Barnard is the thick description including ethnographic details,different informants interpretations,the ethnographer's interpretation etc. 

Some useful terms in Anthropology

Communitas is defined by Victor Turner for an unstructured realm of society where often the normal ranking of individuals is reversed or the symbols of rank inverted.This sense of community characterizes  rites of passage.


Compadrazgo is defined as a fictive kin relationship between the god parents of a child and the parents of the child.It is common in certain Roman Catholic societies.


According to Alan Barnard in Investigating Human Social Life,evolutionist anthropologists  are those interested in how cultures and societies change and develop from simple to complex.The evolutionist perspective was most prominent in the late 19th century but it gained popularity in the late 20th century.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Diffusionism in Anthropology

Diffusion is the transmission of things from one culture,people or place to another.The essence of diffusion is contact and interaction.The biblical framework of explanation,developed vigorously in the 16th and 17th centuries is diffusionist.The dispersion of mankind with the fall of the tower of Babel provides a genealogical that is biological and social diffusionary connection between all people.Diffusion also underpins the development of language studies especially in the work of Orientalist Sir William Jones on the Indo-European language group and of the German Max Muller who worked on comparative philology but was a proponent of the idea that all humanity shares the same mentality.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lucy Mair's views on Sorcery and Witchcraft

British anthropologist Lucy Mair defined sorcery as a sort of legitimate evil,a harmful spiritual activity which might be objectionable but was at least understandable in so far it was related to social values.She writes,'All these ideas belong to the field of legitimate action against misbehavior .In some circumstances  one might include in this field the use of magic-charms and spells  and objects believed to have mystical power.In the language of anthropologists  harmful magic is generally called sorcery and most sorcery is thought to be illegitimate.But it is possible in Africa to buy from a sorcerer protective magic which will keep thieves of your property and in parts of New Guinea different families are believed to own different kinds of harmful magic with which they protect their own food crops.It is also possible in Africa after something has been stolen to get a sorcerer to make magic which will injure the unknown thief if he does not make restitution.The Nyoro of Western Uganda have medicine to smear on the ruins of a house that has been burnt down so as to punish the person responsible.The chiefs of the Trobriand Islands in New Guinea were generally supposed to employ sorcerers against anyone who threatened their authority'. 


Man has been defined as a complex of certain biological and socio-psychological drives.An individual human being is not in a position to satisfy all the needs himself.He must cooperate with other fellow human beings and engage in organized behavior.A solitary isolated human being will probably lose his existence  or failing that happening immediately will lose his humanity.So the need for forming associations which is the coming together of groups of human beings to engage in organized behavior for a designated goal and in conformity with a designated set of rules and norms must have come naturally to man as that for satisfying hunger and allied needs the two set of needs being inter dependent.An association is to be differentiated from a community in so far the former is deliberately formed and depends upon human initiative and action for its emergence whereas the latter emerges spontaneously out of physical proximity and a consciousness of kind.


According to some anthropologists,belief in mana  is the beginning of religion.It is a supernatural power and exists as a quality or attribute of objects.Such a religious complex of beliefs has been found among the Indian tribe of Munda,Ho and other cognate tribes of Chota Nagpur.They use the term bonga to designate this power and quality.

Among the Ho the bonga are understood as powers indefinite and impersonal;they do not seem to have any objective appearance or existence.The overall supremacy of the bonga over Munda life shows only the extent of anthropomorphism.The impersonal bonga use the medium of dreams to foretell,day dreams being used for fore warning about bad things.Bonga is manifestation of a vague supernatural power one that is the cause of all energy.

Differences between individuals,differences of power,prestige and so on are regarded to be due to the degree of the bonga power possessed by a person.Anything that is new requires a new adjustment and anything that upsets the personality is a bonga.Tradition and myth may also separate certain things and animals as not parts of the environment to which man adapts himself.These may then become the bonga.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Attributes of Culture

Anthropologists have arrived at some generalizations which can be attributed to Culture.Kroeber has drawn attention to two aspects of culture called eidos and ethos.Eidos is the formal appearance of a culture derived from its constituents.Contrasted with the aggregate of constituents is ethos,the disposition of a culture which determines its quality,its main themes and interests.According to Bateson each culture can be said to have two aspects the first consisting of the total emotional emphasis of a culture called ethos and the second consisting of the emphases resulting from a cognitive processes operative within a culture called eidos. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jajmani System

Jajmani System as a term was introduced into Indian social anthropology and sociology by William Wiser.In his contribution based on his study in a village in Uttar Pradesh he described how different castes interacted with one another in the production and exchange of goods and services.With variations this system existed throughout the country.

A Study of Tepoztlan: A Mexican Village

In 1930 Robert Red field ( 1897-1958) published Tepoztlan: A Mexican Village where he combined Boasian functionalism with evolutionist and German sociological traditions to focus on the normative rules that governed social behavior.He produced an idealist representation of a village where people lived in peaceful harmony. Red field developed the concept of the Great and Little traditions the urban-folk continuum.

Reinventing Anthropology- Dell Hymes

A group of radical American anthropologists wrote a series of essays in Reinventing Anthropology in 1969 which was edited by Dell Hymes.This was motivated by the general political climate of the 1960s - the war in Vietnam,civil rights issues and protests in US.It called for a programme of reform in Anthropology and became part of the contemporary discourse of anthropology.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reflexivity in Ethnography

According to anthropologist Alan Barnard,one of the main characteristic of recent ethnography is the emphasis on Reflexivity.The ethnographer reflects on his role as ethnographer.Ethnographers are more subjective regarding ethnography less as an objective account of an alien society and more as an attempt to bridge the divide between cultures.Reflexivity today is activity undertaken during fieldwork.It is also a style of writing.While anthropologists welcomes the notion of Reflexivity when it became popular in the 1980s,it has advantages as well as disadvantages.

Derek Freeman and his critique of Margaret Mead

Margaret Mead did her fieldwork on Samoa and Manus in the Pacific with latmul and Mundugamor( Papua New Guinea),on Bali( Indonesia) amd with both native and Euro Americans.Mead was interested  in childhood and adolescence,sexuality and the relation between personality and culture.Mead advocated the use of ethnography in educating the American public about the significance of culture in creating adolescent truma.Her most famous contribution was her study of adolescent sexuality in Samoa.Her Samoan informants did not have adolescent traumas whereas Americans did.She saw  what had formerly been regarded as a universal adolescent truma simply as an aspect of American culture.According to Mead's account Samoan girls had sex with their boyfriends and had no guilt feelings or other hang-ups about it.They did not have any disputes with their parents who simply turned a blind eye.

In 1983 Derek Freeman published Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth in which he presented critique .Mead's investigation of Samoa was theory driven.She set out to prove the theory of her teacher Boas on the primacy of nurture (culture) over nature(biology).Her research in Samoa violated the enthnographic practice of her teacher.It consisted of sitting on a missionary veranda and being visited by four adolescent Samoan girls.In these interviews they shared their sexual fantacies with Mead which she made the basis of her analysis of Samoan society.Defenders of Mead agree that Freeman established her representation of Samoa as false but she gained insights into American culture through her studies.Moreover as a leading member of the Culture and Personality school helped establish psychological anthropology as it is known today.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bride Wealth and Dowry

Bride wealth is a form of marriage exchange involving giving cash or goods by the bridegroom's kin to the bride's  kin to settle a marriage.A person can claim compensation for violation of conjugal rights only when bride wealth had been paid.If a marriage is terminated , bride wealth has to be returned to the giver. Bride wealth enables the husband to have economic,domestic and conjugal rights over wife.It enables the wife to hold her husband accountable for violation of conjugal rights.The rights of both help to keep the husband and wife together but divorce is known in societies where bride wealth is prevalent.

Tribal Religion in India- Some Perspectives

In the beginning  tribal religions in India were termed as animism in various census reports and books.Animism was applied as most basic form of religion in which magic is the predominant element.It conceives of man as passing through a life surrounded by the company of powers and elements mostly impersonal in character.Some of these are regarded as presiding forces over the various departments of life each force having its sphere of influence.Thus there may be a spirit presiding over various diseases,spirits dwelling in rocks and mountains,trees or associated with river and waterfalls and so on.These are propitiated to ward off the dangers associated with their influence.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cognitive Anthropology

Cognitive Anthropology is a sub field of cultural anthropology and is concerned with relationships among language,culture and cognition.Cognitive psychology,structural linguistics and structural anthropology have influenced the development of cognitive anthropology.It sees culture as a system of knowledge and concepts.They are concerned with the accurate description of ethnographic reality.So they consider that words used by people for significant objects and phenomena,alternative meanings to words and variations in meaning according to the context of communication need to be carefully recorded.

Style of Life -Robert Redfield

Robert Red field described concept of style of life as consisting not of culture but of all that may be regarded as most fundamental and permanent about a culture which has persisted in time.It would include ways of securing a living in so far as these play a role in the shaping of the conception of what  constitutes the good life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Joint Family

Joint family is prevalent in India sanctioned by tradition,history,myth and religion.It is a collection of more than one primary family on the basis of close blood ties and common residence.Consequently there can be two types of joint family- matrilocal joint family like that of Nayar and the Patrilocal joint family as in Central Indian tribes and all Hindus.

In both these family types, the offspring female in the case of matrilocal and male in the case of patrilocal do not as a general rule leave their families of origin on their marriage.Such families are basically amalgam of several families of origin and procreation.Such members of a joint family as do not have to leave their family of origin on marriage may not lose completely the membership of  their original families thus bringing about the dual membership.

D N Majumdar and T.N Madan in 'An Introduction to Social Anthropology'

Ecological Anthropology

Julian H Steward introduced ecological anthropology in his Theory of Culture Change in 1955.He argued that environment and technology play a major role in determining the social organization of culture and can be correlated with an evolutionary framework.

The main concepts of ecological anthropology are

Adaptation- the ability to respond to environmental stress

Means of subsistence- the method of exploiting an environment such as fishing,hunting,gathering,herding or agriculture.

Ecological niche- the set of resources  used in a particular environment.Different people may exploit different ecological  niches in the same environment.

Carrying capacity- the maximum number of people following a particular means of subsistence who can exist in a particular environment.Sometimes this supposes a specific means of subsistence.

Social organization refers to the activities of members of a society.It is related to the idea of society as social structure (the positions people occupy in relation to one another).

Cultural materialism is the extreme view that environment and technology together determine the social organization.This view was given by American anthropologist Marvin Harris and the key text was his book titled Cultural Materialism.

Culture and Motive - An ethnography by Fredrik Barth

In 1960s under the influence of functionalism,the focus in studies of anthropology was solely on the abstraction 'society',  the individual actor had disappeared from the view.This view was criticized by many anthropologists and argued that social outcomes were obviously the result of individual choices.So the objective of actor centered approaches was to understand the social situations that individuals confronted in everyday life and how they chose to invest their limited resources of time,energy,wealth and influence.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Anthropology of Art

Religion,belief,ritual and symbolism are linked to major interest of anthropologists which is art.The anthropology of art has been concerned with material objects such as sculpture,masks,paintings,textiles,baskets,pots,weapons and the human body itself.These are not seen merely as aesthetic objects, appreciated for  their beauty but as playing a wider role in people's lives.

Dormitories in Tribal India

Dormitories are youth houses facilitating  young people to come and live together and is common among  tribal communities.In India dormitories have played an important role in the cultural,social and religious  evolution of many tribes.The koyak Naga tribe has named boys dormitory as ban and girls dormitory as yo.Gitiora is the name given to dormitories by the Ho and Munda tribes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Study of Myth

Myths are tales sacred or religious in nature social rather than individual or anecdotal in subject matter and concerned with the origin or creation of phenomena whether natural ,supernatural or socio-cultural.Myths may be acted out in particular rituals.Myths and rituals share common symbolic elements and are complementary aspects of creative and religious expression.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Anthropologists take the term sacrifice in a wide sense as it is common to all the religions.It is not essential that it involves giving up something valuable but only that a symbolic gesture is made.This can   be a gesture recognizing the presence of a spirit or ancestor.Chinese mourners place rice on the graves of their deceased relatives and in many African societies people pour a very small amount of drink onto the ground for spirits or ancestors before drinking themselves.Extreme cases of human sacrifices are very rare.Most commonly animal sacrifice such as goat or a cow is slaughtered for the ancestors or god but actually eaten by the living people who perform the sacrifice.Evans Pritchard has described in great detail sacrifices done in Nuer Religion (1956).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Witchcraft and Sorcery

Witchcraft is commonly defined as a malevolent magical practice  which is at least in part ,inherent in the make-up of an individual.People are born to be witches or become witches through an evil substance within them which they have little or no control over.Sorcery is similar in its effects but it is learned rather than inherited.The distinction within Anthropology rests on a similar distinction made by the Azande people of Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo and recorded by Evans-Pritchard in Witchcraft,Oracles and Magic among the Azande (1937).

Cargo Cults

In several parts of the world most importantly in Melanesia  and the Pacific people have beleived that at the end of the world or dawn of a new age their ancestors will return with a cargo of valuable goods.Such movements were especially prevalent in the aftermath of the Second World War ( 1939-45).

Prophets have predicted these returnss and encourged people to build docks or airfields so that the ancestors could bring valuable,especially western goods like the latest clothing,radion,refrigerators and motor vehicles.Peter Lawerence's Road Belong Cargo is a famous case study.

Among native North Americans similar religious beliefs are found and these are usually called Nativistic movements or revitalization movements.

Theories on origin of state- Alan Barnard

There are different theories of how states came into being.The most important are
Hydraulic Theory proposed by Karl Wittofogel in Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power,1957.This argues that early states developed because of the invention and spread of systems of irrigation.These involved the necessity to control the labour of large number of people.

Coercive Theory was proposed by Robert Carneiro in an article in Science Magzine which says that states first emerged because of warfare in places with limited agricultural land.He used the example of the Inca of Peru but suggested that similar mechanisms operated elsewhere notably in the Nile and Indus Valleys and in ancient Mesopotamia.Pressures kept increasing as population experienced warfare between villages.Those who won subjugated those who lost and built up their power structures.

Class Theory can be traced back to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels who argued that states arose as a result of antagonisms between social classes.

Social Contract Theory can be traced back to works of Thomas Hobbes,JohnLocke,Jean Jacques Rousseau in  the 17th and 18th centuries.It believed that primitive people decided to give up liberty in order to have a social order and this order became the state.Anthropology distinguishes between state and society and hence this theory holds little interest for the anthropologists who work with small and stateless societies.

Background and origin of Anthropology

According to Alan Barnard in History and Theory of Anthropology ,the French philosopher Charles Montesquieu ( 1689-1755) was the common ancestor of modern anthropology.Anthropology began in 1748 with the publication of his The Spirit of Laws.Then came the Darwinian period in 1860s with the advent of Sir Henry Sumner Maine (1822-88),Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-81),Sir Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917) who defined the intellectual tradition leading to modern anthropology.In 1871 the Anthropological Institute was founded in London.Stalwarts like Franz Boas,Bronislaw Malinowski and A.R Radcliffe Brown established the practice of ethnography.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pre harappan and harrapan sites in India and Pakistan

Some of the most important Pre-harappan sites are Amri,Kot Diji,Gumla and Mehrgarh.Amri is a small village west of Indus in the Dadu district and nearly 100 miles south of Mohenjo-Daro.Here well planned houses have been discovered.They are of two types - in the first the houses are rectangular of various sizes with doors and mud floors.The mud walls had supporting wooden posts with possibly thatched roofs.Houses of the second type are internally divided into small cells and seem to be for storage and refuse purposes.There were wheel made pottery with different shapes and sizes and also designs and decorations.Burials in huge jars have been practised at that time.

Kot Diji is situated in Khairpur division of West Pakistan.The excavations have revealed the features of pre-Harappan settlement.The city has defensive walls,well-aligned streets and houses,large communal fireplaces and highly sophisticated wheel made pottery,tools and weapons of stone and copper and bronze,terracotta toys,figurines.The planning can be seen in the art and crafts.

Middle Palaeolithic Culture of India

The Middle Palaeolithic culture of India has not been observed in India unlike Lower Palaeolithic and Upper Palaeolithic culture.However the site Nevasa in Maharashtra reveals the stratigraphical evidence of Middle Palaeolithic and hence the term Nevasian Culture is given to the Middle Palaeolithic culture in India.The Nevasa site is located on the banks of the river Pravara which is the tributary of River Godavari.The tools belonging to the Lower Palaeolithic culture such as hand-axes and cleavers were found in a thin basal gravel resting over the rock while another layer of gravel,fine and less cemented superimposed over it yielded tools belonging to the Middle Palaeolithic such as scrapers,points and few blade like tools.

Another important site on river Godavari is the Kalegaon where the palaeontological evidence supports the presence of Middle Palaeolithic culture in chronological order.The tool types in shape of pebble tools such as hand-axes and flake tools such as borers,scrapers and points have been found here.Also few blade tools like the burins have been found.


A microlith is a small stone tool usually made of flint or chert and typically a centimetre or so in length and half a centimetre wide. It is produced from either a small blade (microblade) or a larger blade-like piece of flint by abrupt or truncated retouching, which leaves a very typical piece of waste, called a microburin.


The tool types of Mesolithic age are called Microliths which means small stones.These microliths were not used in the bare hand but were hafted in a bone or wooden handle.These Microliths occupy a dominant position in the Mesolithic age.These were also used in later periods.Hence it can be said that Mesolithic are microliths but all that are Microliths are not necessarily Mesolithic.All the tool types were prevalent in the Palaeolithic age were also present in a miniature form during the Mesolithic Age.These tools were generally prepared by pressure technique although other techniques were also used.An average of between six and eighteen microliths may often have been used in one spear or harpoon, but only one or two in an arrow.

Microburin               Trapeze                                Triangle             Lunate


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