Friday, 9 June 2023

Societies seen as artefacts

(Relic Shack)

This is an interesting poster on eBay (eBay item number:132221902722) that I find thought-provoking. It is produced by 'Relic Shack', a dealer ("The Lee Family Collection, online since 1999"):
14,000 Years in the Ozarks - Indian Artifact Timeline Poster
An arrowhead type collection timeline poster covering the Central United States. This print displays the full chronological order of prehistoric arrowheads starting with the Paleo era and completing with the Mississippian era.
Beautifully photographed
Displayed at the 'Museum of Prehistory - Tautavel France'
Suitable for framing
Based on the award winning 'Native American Timeline Project'
Wide variety of lithics exhibiting fantastic color
36" W x 24" H
Note that the line of artefacts ends with "Columbus" as if the moment whole societies woke up on the morning of October 12, 1492, they decided to abandon making all the traditional forms of artefacts and switch to something else less collectable. Instead of course, there was a period that saw a series of transitions and the period of functioning of groups like the Osage in the north and the Quapaw in the south with sporadic activity by Kickapoo, Shawnee, and Delaware in the 19th century, and by the 1830s, the influx of groups from the east fleeing the white settlers and their growing militias. There are a whole load of stories that these artefacts could tell, and this chart (and the collectors that compiled it) misses out about 430+ years of it. 

The truth is whatever claptrap about "avocational science", "citizen science", "jus' intrestid in th' 'istry" artefact collectors come out with, it is not true that they are trying to do independent scholarship with these artefacts. here the pretty chipped stones are intended to speak of a Noble Savage, of a simpler storytale Golden Age before the white man came and imposed his own print on the landscape. These objects speak to emotions rather than allow the writing of history. And the places in that landscape they came from no longer have the same possibility to speak of their past, because part of the evidence has gone into a collector's pocket or on the market. 


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