On Pigs in Subsistence Agriculture

by David J. Nemeth
Citation
Title:
On Pigs in Subsistence Agriculture
Author:
David J. Nemeth
Year: 
1995
Publication: 
Current Anthropology
Volume: 
36
Issue: 
2
Start Page: 
292
End Page: 
293
Publisher: 
Language: 
English
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Abstract:

that an interest in relativism need not be a sign of disci- plinary paralysis and that the perception that archaeolo- gists had competition in the field of interpretation might well provide them with a (much-needed) opportunity to assess the degree to which they have been able to adhere to their stated scientific methodologies. Klejn obviously takes this to mean that disciplinary maturity for me means that we will all be in for long periods of navel- gazing and not very much doing and that the possibility of science as a special kind of knowing is dead. This misapprehension leads him to a straightforward misquo- tation of my conclusions in this area, specifically that I hold that "relativist epistemology is the natural or ap- propriate theory of archaeological knowledge" (which I do not) and that "all archaeological judgements need to be arbitrary or be ordained by ideological prejudice" (which I also do not) (see Murray 1993b:112-13).

It is worth wondering what could have possessed Klejn to layer misunderstanding with misquotation, es- pecially given his strong advocacy of objective scholar- ship. Obviously he has a bee in his bonnet about the potentially destructive powers of relativism, so much so that he finds it impossible to perceive that it might in- deed have some benefits for the science of archaeology. In my own case the matter is made more serious by his interpretation of the origins of my own relativist tendencies, particularly as they relate to archaeologists and Aboriginal people in Australia.

Klejn implies that I suffer from guilt about what my forebears did to the Aboriginal people of Australia. In this he is also wrong. I did not participate in those activi- ties, but as a member of Australian society I am in part responsible for the current state of relations in the coun- try. It is not my primary concern whether Aboriginal people approve of my activities as an archaeologist, al- though such approval is always nice. Rather, I argue for a relationship in which there are mutual rights and re- sponsibilities and both the right to tell things the Ab- original way and the right to tell things the white scien- tific way are respected. Most people can detect that these are two quite different discourses which clash only when one attempts to dominate or exclude the other. Such clashes have occurred and will doubtless occur again. What is important is to recognise that this is a political process which will itself undergo great changes when people are more fully aware of the respective rights and interests of the parties. One of these likely changes is that Aboriginal people will begin to see the value of archaeology as a means of providing new sources of perspective on Aboriginality rather than sim- ply a colonial relic which keeps the power of producing knowledge about Aboriginal people (hence of reshaping identity) in white hands.

Klejn does not understand these important matters of context. Instead of recognising that heritage and the retention of identity can be vital elements in the sur- vival of Aboriginal people and a great source of support as they come to grips with non-Aboriginal Australia, Klejn delivers some homilies about progress and the need to civilize savage societies. It all has a distinctly 19th-century feel about it, as science and civilization go hand in hand, but perhaps this has much to do with an ignorance of the postcolonial experience of indigenous people in places like Australia, New Zealand, or North America. The people whom he describes as "naked, of- ten hungry and ill, downtrodden, and limited in their horizons" (p. 5 10)might well tell him to keep his sym- pathy for his fellow Russians, and I have no doubt that they might want to aspire to a higher state than that attained by European civilization.

References Cited
BAILEY, G. N. 1983. Concepts of time in Quaternary prehistory. Annual Review of Anthropology 12: 165-92. BINF oRD, L. R. 198 I. Behavioral archaeology and the "Pompeii premise." Iournal of Anthropological Research 37: 19 5-208. KLETN,S. 1993. It's difficult to be a god. CURRENT ANTHROPOL

L.
OGY 34:508-11.

MURRAY, T.1987. Remembrance of things present: Appeals to authority in the history and philosophy of archaeology. Ph.D. diss., University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

-. 1993a. Archaeology and the threat of the past: Sir Henry Rider Haggard and the acquisition of time. World Archaeology 25~175-86.

-.1993b. "Communication and the importance of disciplin- ary communities: Who owns the past?" in Archaeology theory: Who sets the agenda! Edited by N. Yoffee and A. Sherratt, pp. 105-16. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

-. n.d."Dynamic modelling and new social theory of the mid-to-long term," in Dynamic modelling and the study of change in archaeology. Edited by S. van der Leeuw and J. McGlade. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. In press.

SCHIFFER,M. B. 1985. IS there a "Pompeii premise" in archaeol- ogy? [ournal of Anthropological Research 41:18-41. -. Formation processes of the archaeological record. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. SHANKS, M.,AND C. TILLEY. 1987. Re-constructing archaeol- ogy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. YOFFEE, N.,AND A. SHERRATT.

Editors. 1993. Archaeological theory: Who sets the agenda{ Cambridge: Cambridge Univer- sity Press.

On Pigs in Subsistence Agriculture
DAVID J. NEMETH

Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio 43606-3390, U.S.A. 30 VIII 94

Kim's (CA 35:119-33) establishing the role of pigs in the rise of political elites is an ambitious project that- perhaps prematurely-shifts scholarly attention and en- ergy away from the incomplete study of the role of pigs in subsistence agriculture. Archaeological work will continue to contribute answers to many of the impor- tant questions that Kim and the experts who have com- mented on his article have raised about the purposes of ancient agricultural practices in China involving pigs. Meanwhile, scholars might also investigate remnants of more recent subsistence practices involving pigs on iso-

lated Cheju Island, South Korea, several hundred kilo-

meters southeast of the Shangdong peninsula.

Cheju Island, once called T'amna (and long before that Yongju), was something of a geographical enigma in the age of Neolithic Chinese seafaring. "Yongju" means "The Blessed Isle" and refers to one of the three moun- tain abodes of the immortals prominent in Chinese leg- end. According to the Chinese dynastic histories the "First Emperor" (ca. 230 B.c.) sent young men and maid- ens into the East Sea with "the five grains" in search of Yongju and its plants of immortality. Cheju Island leg- end and local place-names reflect these events, so it ap- pears that ancient Chinese agricultural practices reached Cheju Island at an early date. Indirect routes of agricul- tural diffusion from China to Cheju through the Korean peninsula or from points south in the East China Sea (e.g., the Ryukyu Islands) should also be considered.

Traditional and productive subsistence agricultural practices centering on pig raising in outhouse (privy) basements were once widespread on Cheju Island, per- sisting there into the 1980s despite a government prohi- bition enacted ostensibly to promote islander health but also to remove what some tourists found offensive in the Cheju cultural landscape. Eradication of the privy- pig trait complex on Cheju Island is now all but com- pleted, though memories and artifacts remain. In the context of what is known of Cheju Island's traditional pig-keeping practices (which are fairly well documented in Korean-language sources), Kim-without citing any of these sources-moves tentatively toward broadening the discussion of the role of the pig in subsistence when he cites Rappaport's (1967:121) finding that pigs are "very resistant to disease and produce a large amount of fertilizer for farming." Unfortunately, he neglects to exploit these ideas. It is thanks mainly to Nelson (pp.13 5-37) that CA readers are introduced to the possi- bility that the mysterious "small circular pits" with complete pig skeletons that Kim mentions might have something to do with "the association of pigs and la- trines in both Korea and China." She goes on to wonder if this practice might not have had "a very long tradi- tion" in East Asia and adds that "it makes good ecologi- cal sense for pigs to process human excrement and turn it into meat that humans can consume" (p. 136).

Both Kim and Nelson have chosen to focus attention on the pig in traditional East Asian agriculture as a source of nutrition. Nelson even supplies a photograph of a pig's being transported by bicycle to market; the implication is that pigs were primarily raised and ex- changed in ancient China and Korea as a source of pro- tein for human consumption. However, pig flesh seems to have been rather scarce in the traditional Cheju Island subsistence system, where the breed of privy pigs was much smaller than the pig in Nelson's photograph. Also, Cheju Islanders usually kept but one privy pig per household.

Privy pigs were butchered relatively young and appar- ently primarily for important celebrations, which sug- gests their important role in ritual consumption. Some of the most interesting questions regarding traditional

Volume 36, Number 2, April 1995 1 293

privy-pig pork consumption on Cheju Island involve

who in the village social hierarchy customarily ate

which parts (for example, the tongue, the liver, the skel-

etal muscles) and why. Most interesting is the subsis-

tence islander custom of occasionally eating raw

pork-a custom maintained despite widespread local

Taenia solium (human pork-tapeworm) infection. In

sum, there already may be sufficient valid and varied

reasons to reexamine the pig-as-nutrition hypothesis for

traditional pig raising on Cheju. Further research there

may also contribute to an increased understanding of pig

raising in Neolithic China. My own studies on Cheju

Island subsistence agricultural practices (Nemeth 1989)

elaborate on some of the possible benefits of privy-pig

keeping (in addition to the nutritional factor) and in-

clude the privy pig's important roles as a fertilizer fac-

tory and a possible factor in disease control (for example,

cysticercosis, roundworm, and hookworm).

The possible link between Cheju Island pigsty-privies and Neolithic Chinese agricultural practices involving pigs would seem to be too tenuous to justify comment here were it not for the fact that numerous clav models of pigsty-privies have been excavated from Chinese tombs (see illustration in Bray 1948:291). These funerary items argue strongly in support of Nelson's suggestion that the significance of the association of pigs and la- trines in both Korea and China needs to be further inves- tigated.

References Cited
BRAY, F. 1984. Science and civilization in China. Vol. 6, pt. 2.

Agriculture. Edited by J. Needham. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni-

versity Press. KIM, SEUNG-o G. 1994. Burials, pigs, and political prestige in Neolithic China. CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY 3 5: 199-41.

NELSON, SARAH M. 1994. Comment on: Burials, pigs, and politi-

cal prestige in Neolithic China, by Seung-Og Kim. CURRENT AN

THROPOLOGY 351135-36,

NEMETH, D. T. 1989. Commentary: A study of the interactions

of human, pig, and the human pork tapeworm. Anthrozoos

3:4-13. RAPPAPORT, R. 1967. Pigs for the ancestors. New Haven: Yale

University Press.

On the Earliest Occupation of Europe
KLAUS SCHMUDE Habicht-Str. 17, 0-453 14 Essen, Germany. 25 VIII 94

Roebroeks (CA 35 :301-5 ) argues that a number of early European sites lack indisputable artefactual material and that the assemblages dating to more than 500,ooo years ago are almost all geofacts. In the paper presented to the Tautavel conference on which he is reporting he explains that in a number of cases these putative arte- facts have been collected by amateur archaeologists

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