Journal of World Prehistory

, 24:213 | Cite as

The Brno Effect: From Culture to Mind

Original Paper

Abstract

This paper connects to several of Andrew Sherratt’s abiding interests: grand narrative, general theory, Mitteleuropa, typology, the problems of comparative method, and, tangentially, the question of the origin and nature of the relationship between faith and reason. In addition, what I have to say builds strongly on the work of David Clarke, whose powerful influence was exerted on me principally via Andrew. The title reference is to the Middle Upper Palaeolithic mammoth ivory marionette of a male human figure from Brno, Czech Republic, which serves as a pivot for my argument (although the paper does not pretend to present a detailed and fully contextualised account). By building on observations and contentions concerning the unique life-world of humans, it is possible to argue that a recognizably modern form of human intelligence appeared (and perhaps could only have appeared) as a product of some essentially accidental, initially perhaps epiphenomenal, interactions between minds and material artefacts. I want to show that the familiar idea of a genetically-driven reorganisation of cognition, moving from mind to culture, in our genus, can be challenged by a reverse proposition, using a materiality perspective to work from culture to mind.

Keywords

Brno II Marionette Upper Palaeolithic art Sapient paradox Sherratt Herder 

References

  1. Belting, H. (1994). Likeness and presence: A history of the image before the era of art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chernykh, E. N. (1992). Ancient metallurgy in the USSR. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Clarke, D. L. (1968). Analytical archaeology. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  4. Dawkins, R. (1979). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Dawkins, R. (1996). Climbing mount improbable. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  6. Gellner, E. (1989). Culture, constraint and community: Semantic and coercive compensations for the genetic under-determination of Homo sapiens sapiens. In P. Mellars & C. B. Stringer (Eds.), The human revolution: Behavioural and biological perspectives on the origins of modern humans (pp. 514–525). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Gibson, J. J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. New York: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  8. Gombrich, E. H. (1948). Icones symbolicae: The visual image in neo-Platonic thought. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institute, 11, 163–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Günther, H. F. K. (1927). The racial elements of European history. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  10. Herrnstein, R., & Murray, C. (1994). The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  11. Lewis-Williams, D. (2002). The mind in the cave: Consciousness and the origins of art. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  12. McGrath, A. (2007). The Dawkins delusion? Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine. London: SPCK.Google Scholar
  13. Mithen, S. (1996). The prehistory of the mind. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  14. Oliva, M. (1996). Mladopaleolitický hrob Brno II jako příspěvek k počátkům šamanismu. Archeologické Rozhledy, 48(3), 353–383.Google Scholar
  15. Oliva, M. (2000). The Brno II Upper Palaeolithic burial. In W. Roebroeks, M. Mussi, L. Svoboda, & K. Fennema (Eds.), Hunters of the golden age: The Mid Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia 30,000–20,000 BP (pp. 143–153). Leiden: University of Leiden.Google Scholar
  16. Oliva, M. (2005). Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Moravia. Brno: Brno Museum.Google Scholar
  17. Olsen, B. (2010). In defense of things: Archaeology and the ontology of objects. Lanham: Altamira Press.Google Scholar
  18. Pettitt, P. B. (2011). The Palaeolithic origins of human burial. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Pettitt, P. B., & Trinkaus, E. (2000). Direct radiocarbon dating of the Brno 2 Gravettian human remains. Anthropologie (Brno), 38, 149–150.Google Scholar
  20. Pinker, S. (2002). The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature. Allen Lane: London.Google Scholar
  21. Renfrew, C. (2008). Neuroscience, evolution and the sapient paradox: The factuality of value and of the sacred. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 363(1499), 2041–2047.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rilke, R. M. (1983 [1923]). Die vierte Elegie. In R. M. Rilke Duineser Elegien/Die Sonette an Orpheus (pp. 21–23). Baden–Baden: Insel.Google Scholar
  23. Sartre, J.-P. (1976). Critique of dialectical reason. London: New Left Books.Google Scholar
  24. Shanks, M. (2007). Symmetrical archaeology. World Archaeology, 39(4), 589–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sherratt, A., & Taylor, T. (1989). Metal vessels in Bronze Age Europe and the context of Vulchetrun. In J. G. B. Best & N. M. W. de Vries (Eds.), Thracians and Mycenaeans: Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Thracology, Rotterdam, September 24, 1984 (pp. 106–134). Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  26. Sherratt, A., & Taylor, T. (1997). Metal vessels in Bronze Age Europe and the context of Vulchetrun. In A. G. Sherratt (Collected Papers) Economy and society in prehistoric Europe (pp. 431–56). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Sologub, F. (1990). B плeнy/In Bondage. In G. Struve (Ed.), Russian Stories/Pyccкue paccкaзы: A dual language book (pp. 238–269). New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  28. Taylor, T. (2002). The buried soul: How humans invented death. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  29. Taylor, T. (2006). Why the Venus of Willendorf has no face. Archäologie Österreichs, 17(1), 26–29.Google Scholar
  30. Taylor, T. (2008a). The Willendorf Venuses: Notation, iconology and materiality. Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien, 138, 37–49.Google Scholar
  31. Taylor, T. (2008b). Materiality. In R. A. Bentley, H. D. G. Maschner, & C. Chippindale (Eds.), Archaeological theories (pp. 297–320). Lanham: AltaMira.Google Scholar
  32. Taylor, T. (2009). Inventing death. In A. Azoulay, A. Demian, & D. Frioux (Eds.), 100,000 years of beauty (pp. 128–131). Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  33. Taylor, T. (2010). The artificial ape: How technology changed the course of human evolution. New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  34. Valoch, K. (2009). The Brno puppet. In A. Azoulay, A. Demian, & D. Frioux (Eds.), 100,000 years of beauty (pp. 180–183). Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  35. von Kleist, H. (2007 [1810]). Über das Marionettentheater. Heilbronn: Kleist-Archiv Sembdner, Internet-Editionen.Google Scholar
  36. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978 [1931]). Mind and society. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Webmoor, T., & Witmore, C. L. (2008). Things are us! A commentary on human/things relations under the banner of a ‘social’ archaeology. Norwegian Archaeology Review, 41(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. White, L. A. (1959). The concept of culture. American Anthropologist, 61(2), 227–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wylie, A. (1989). The interpretive dilemma. In V. Pinsky & A. Wylie (Eds.), Critical traditions in contemporary archaeology (pp. 18–27). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archaeological Sciences, University of BradfordBradford, West YorkshireUK

Personalised recommendations