The Dead Fed: Symbolic Meanings of the Shellmounds of the San Francisco Bay Area

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1 Cambridge Archaeological Journal 9:1 (1999), The Dead Fed: Symbolic Meanings of the Shellmounds of the San Francisco Bay Area Edward M~Luby & Mark. F. Gruber Not±e ThE materillm ay be pidtected by copyri]ht BW (I':tE 17 use ode) San F:tancEco State Unirem:Iy Long viewed as 'kitchen middens', tire shellmounds of the San Francisco Bay Area have provided archaeologists of coastal California insight into -the subsistence and ecology of precontact native groups. In this article, the authors develop aframework for understanding the cultural significance of these shellmounds which regards them as intentional cultural features, incorporates social context, and builds on earlier subsistence-focused..studies of the shellmounds in order to better appreciate the meaning ojthe numerous human remains interred ~herein. A structural analysis is then used to show that the concepts of food and ancestors joined together at shellmounds, so much so that ritual attention to the ancestors was very likely regarded as essential to ensuring a continuing supply offood. Archaeological sites which...contain the remains oj shellfish as their primary. constituent are common in. several coastal areas of the world. Usually called..'shellmiddens' or 'shellmounds', sites of this kind are found in Australia and New Zealand (Bailey 1975; Bailey et ai. 1994; Jones 1968; Lourandos 1997; Shawcross 1967; Stratham 1892; Sullivan 1984), South Africa (Buchanan 1988; Henshilwood et ai. 1994; Jerardino & Yates 1997; parkir\gton 1~91), and Japan. (Aikens & Higuchi 1982; Aikens & Rhee 1992; Akazawa 1986). The best known examples of shellmounds in the world are perhaps those of coastal Western Europ e which date to the late Mesolithic (c to 3200 BC). They range from those associated with the classic Ertebolle culture in southern Scandinavia (Albrethsen.& Petersen 1976; And~rsen &. Johansen 1986; Andersen 1991; Brinch Petersen 1989; Madsen et ai. 1900; Madsen 1900), through to Brittany in western France (Hibbs 1983; Pequart et ai. 1937; Pequart & Pequart 1954) and south to Portugal (Ferreira 1994; Roche 1972). Shellmounds are also found along both coasts of North America (Bernstein 1993; Stein 1992), and are particularly common in the protected bays, and lagoons, and on the coastal. islands of California (Erlandson & Glassow 1997; Moratto 1984). In central California, the coastal shores and bays are lined with hundreds of oval shellmounds composed of a complex matrix of architectural features, animal bones, and artefacts. In the San Francisco Bay area in particular, these she11mounds sometimes con-. tain thousands of burials in large, deep sites. In California archaeology, as in many other areas of the world where ~cologically-focused research has been predominant, the emphasis on culture history and subsistence has guided theoretical interpretation of these shellmounds. We believe that shellmounds, as places of habitation and burial, may offer a key, in and of themselves, for understanding the early inhabitants of the San Francisco Bay area and other central California coastal peoples. By considering the shellmounds to be intentional cultural features rather than accidental aggregates of shell refuge that happen to contain artefacts, we believe we can offer a more comprehensive view of these shejjmounds and begin to examine their social context by developing symbolic and cosmological analyses. In this article, we develop an interpretive framework for understanding the cultural significance of the shellmounds which incorpora~es social context, as well as cultural historical and subsistence information. We begin by conducting a detailed review of the archaeological setting, chronology, and nature of the San Francisco Bay area Sheilmounds. We then 95

2 Edward M. Luby & Mark F. Gruber build on e~~er studies,of she1lmo"unds, interpretations of sociopolitical organiz'ation for coastal central California, and. Hayden's (1995) model of trans egalitarian society. We will suggest that indi- viduais called 'aggranclizers' by Hayden exploited mortuary rituals and feasting at she11mounds to enhance their prestige and Simultaneously to redistrib':lte surplus. As a consequence, socioeconomic differences were levelled, and this is reflected in the evidence for differentiation in the burial treatment of individuals in shellmound graves. We then use a structural analysis to show that the concepts of 'food' and 'ancestor'join together at shellmounds, so much 'so that ritual attention to the ancestors was very likely regarded as ensuring a continuing supply of food. We will also argue that the shellmounds were the likely locations of frequent festivities and ritual activities related to mortuary feasting.l. Finally, w~.discuss the implications of our frame-. work for interpreting shellmounds in other areas of. the world..,. Archaeological background and chronology of the San Francisco Bay area In the early 1900$,archaeologist Nels Nelson; then of the University of California at Berkeley, was the first to survey and methodically record more than 400 'shellmounds' lining the shore of the San.Francisco Bay (1909). The sites ranged from small, dense accumulations of oyster, clam, and musscl shell to very large shellmounds consisting of crushed shell mixed with burned areas, artefacts, earth, animal bone, and "urials. The larger sites were pver 10 m deep and up to 200 m long, with most situated within a few kin of the shores of the San Francisco Bay~ the largest estuarine system in California. Urban development has destroyed most of Nelson's si~s. Fortunately, during the first half of the century, some of the larger sites were excavated by Nelson and other archaeologists, who then deposited the associated collections at museums. Indeed~ Nelson's shellmound study is the foundation upon which subsequent f1ich~eological work in the San Francisco Bay area has been built. His report not only provides the best available image of.shellmounds before their disturbance, but is also a primary source. of information for continuing development"-ielated projects (Banks & Orlins 1979). In addition, Nelson documented some of the larger and more imp.ortant shellmounds in the area, including Ellis Landing (CCo-29S), Paterson (Ala-328), Fernandez (CCo-259), and Emeryville (Ala-309). 96 Archaeological collections from these sites form the basis of the chronological system used in the San Francisco Bay area today. ". The she1,1moundsof the San Francisco Bay area accumulated during th~ last 2000 to 3000 years, beginning at the end of what is termed the Early Period (c BC) but primarily during the Middle Period (c. 500 Be-AD 500).Most of these she1lmounds w~e either reused frequently over long periods of time or were continuously~occupied, although the issue of duration of sedentary occupation.continues to be debated (Lightfoot 1993; 1997;.Mor,atto 1984). During the late Early Period and the 'entire Middle Period, shellmounds and the associated bayshore-. adapted culture are usually described as belcinging to the broadly-defined'berkeley Pattern' (Fredrickson,. 1974; Bennyhoff & Fredrickson 1994)..J;lu~,~erkeley Pattern is characterized by an emphasis on grinding -technology, chipped stone 'points, a well-developedbone tool i1;1dustry,a rarely elaborated mortuary complex, and certain types of Rations and Olivella shell, beads and ornaments. Subsistence practices emphasized collecting, and in many areas the acorn, processed by mortar and pestle, is believed to have beei\ the dominant staple. Along the bayshore, a regional specialization emphasized the collection of shellfish from rich marshlands.., During the Late Period (AD ), shell-. mounds were associated with a broad set of charac. teristicslabelled the 'Augustine Pattem.' (Fredrickson 1974; Bennyhoff & Fredrickson 1994). The Augustine Pattern probably represents in situ cultural development of earlier populations, imd is characterized by the introduction of the bow, arrow, arid harpoon; a general intensification of occupation resulting in larger, more densely. o~cupied areas; increased social stratification; use of cremation for 'wealthier' burials; and a continuing emphasis on intensive gathering of shellfish and acorns, but with more fishing and hunting. Bone awls, used in making the wellknown basketry from California, are common. Distinctive forms of Haliotis and Olivella shell beads are used, and clam shell beads are introduced as a form,of currency. Finally, trade appears to involve greater geographic distance than in earlier periods. Characteristics of the large shellmounds Since Nelson's initial study of shellmounds in the early 19005,archaeologists have recognized a wider range of sites, including variations in the shellmounds themselves (Lightfoot 1997; Moratto 1984). Shellmounds can range from sparse scatters of shell and

3 The Dead Must be Fed heaps of discarded shell adjacent to inland occupatioo sites to conspicuous, burial associated and exceptionally-sizedmounds containing' many layers of finely crushed shell., These large-sized, 'classic' shellmounds are the focus of this study. They are located within a strip of marshland 3 to 7 kin wide surrounding San Francisco Bay, and appear to be clustered with smaller shellmounds into groups (Lightfoot 1997). The sluillmound clusters are sepa rated by several kilometres, and the relative timing of occupation within and between them is still under investigation. It appears that between twelve and twenty-four of the larger she1lmounds.once existed, (i.e. those with basal diameters around 100metres or more), as described in reports by Banks & Orlins (1979), Bickel (1981),DaviS. (1960),Loud (1924), Nelson (1909; 1910), and UhIe (1907), as well as in site reports on file at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of An thropologyjuniversity of California, Berkeley. Most of the large shellmounds were oval in plan, with deposits sometimes extending below the, ground. M01,lI1dmatrices varied, but were primarily composed of crushed shell, soil, ire-cracked rocks, chipped and groundstone, clay items, animal bone, and burials (Gifford 1916). Stratified layers of shell, ash, stone, earth, and clay were observed. Although excavation methods varied at the large shellmounds, ranging from careful stratigraphic removal to steam shovel salvage, analyses of artefact assemblages, combined with investig'ations of stratigraphic profiles, a;-eotten sufficient to link features such as burials to!:he broad chronological periods of the area. For example, these kinds of analyses allowed Beardsley (1954) to propose an ii\ 1uential cultural classification scheme that forms 'the core of the bayshore regional variation of the Berkeley and Augustine Patterns. Nevertheless, the chronological system of the San Francisco Bay area, a subject of much discussion, is a subject which requires more investigation (Hughes 1994).. The large shellmounds are all associated with burials, some of the sites probably containing thousands of individuals. Graves are distributed among all occupation periods, and sometimes' appear to'be grouped together, though it is more common to find burials in no discemibl~ pattern and vertically separated. only by centimetres. More than 200 burials were excavated from West Berkeley (Ala-307); 500 from Paterson (Ala-328), and 700 from Ala 309 (Emeryville). Most of these burials were simple inhumations, but cremations (e.g. 8 per cent at Ala 328) and multiple burials (e.g. approximately 12 per cent at Ala-328) were also recovered. In addition, individuals were buried in a variety of positions and orientations, with a marked tendency for flexed positions in all periods (Moratto 1984). Depending on the temporal period, stratigraphic layer, and site, burial equipment ranges from a complete absence of items (61 per cent of the approximately 500 burials from Ala-328 contained no artefacts), to pigment, shell beads, shell ornaments, bone tubes, antler wedges, bone whistles, bone tools, and groundstone items (listed in descending order from the burial sample at Ala 328) (Bickel 1981). Analysis of ar,tefacts, and stratigraphic profiles permits many burilils in shellmounds,to be assigned to occupational periods, and their placement in she11mounds appears always to have been contemporary with the site's -formation.significantly, while most burials are located within the matrix of shellmoui1ds, submidden..~burials are!llso knowntciexist (e.g. at Ala-328;De---:-- Silva Island, Mrn-17, and Haley Road, Ala-33D). Problems with early field strategies probably account for the few detai~ed accounts of these submidden areas (Lightfoot 1997). Large shellmounds are also associated with ar-: chitecturalfeatures: limited evidence of hearths, pits, housefloors, and ovens. Refuse from domestic activities, such as the processing of shel1 ishin day-today subsistence activities, and the manufacture of tools, is also present. Together with the thousands of burials, this suggests that these shellmounds were repeatedly used both as residential locales and as long-term repositories for the dead, and perhaps as socio-political centres (Lightfoot 1997). Moreover,' sinc,ethese large shellmounds'did not accumulate in a ~ and laterally dispersed manner, they may have been intentionally elevated, not only to keep people dry during high tide and to provide easy access to rich marine resources, but also to serve as landmarks and as dwelling places' atop ancestral remains (Lightfoot 1997). Earlier 'shellmidden' studies Many shellmiddens, including those in coastal central California, were first perceived and excavated in, a derived from the Scandinavian model for 'kitchen middens'. Both Nels Nelson and MaxUhle, pioneers of northern California archaeology, applied the Danish term 'kjaekkenmaedding' to the shell mounds of the San Francisco Bay. area. While they. briefly noted the possible religious. importance of the mounds as burial locations, the very term 'kitchen midden' de-emphasizes the symbolic and sumptuary 97

4 Edward M. Luby & Mark F. Gruber aspects of the mounds and mstead emphasizes their material and specific subsistence value. This consequence is not inconsistent with Nelson's own perspective:. At the outset one is disposed to wonder at such a world-wide practice [ofburial in shellmounds] that really religious appears motive tois have sometimes no precise assigned, explanation. and while :me there is no good ground for disputing such a view, especially as nearly all huxnan actions appear to have had some religious significanceat one time or another;still a thoroughly practical reason may not,be entirely wanting. The shell deposits, it will be recognized, are made up of usually loose, porous material very easily dug into with a stick or a shell or even with the bare fingers; on the other hand, to make a hole large enough to accommodate a human body in ordinary Californiasoil is a hard task at some seasons of the year, even with modem tools.-however; this is merely suggestive,.and primitive man may have had other reasons for burial of his dead in the mounds. (1909,343) Uhle also notes that 'shellmounds originate on the accumulated refuse deposited by people who have lived in the place when the heap has formed, and the mounds may therefore be regarded as sites for dwelling places, or abodes of the living, and not set aside ae..burial grounds by people living elsewhere in the vich-rity' (1907,21). Indeed, the term, 'kitchen midden', which was widely adopted and continues to form the conceptual basis of the.'shellmidden' concept today, has framed the subject in a way that later interpretations have barely transcel!.ded. It is worth emphasizing that 'shellmidden' sites in Scandinavia, and especially those of the classic ErteboUe Culture'in DerF mark, are rarely associated with burials (Clarke 1975; Shete1ig & Falk 1937i Tilley 2996). While more recent studies in coastal central California have focused on issues ranging from the.exploitation of estuary, terrestrial, and freshwater food resouices (Broughton 1994; Follett 1975; Simmons 1992) to the degree of seasonal occupation or sedentism at the shellmounds (Bocek 1991; King 1974i McGeein & Mueller 1955), the subsistence value of these sites is almost always assumed to be of paramount importance. The symbolic and cosmological significance of the shellmounds is seldom considered or is viewed as a matter of secondary importance. Even the most notable exceptions to this observation - King's (1974) examination of status differentiation in mortuary assemblages, and Lightfoot's (1997) overview of the multiple functions of San Francisco Bay area shellmounds - do not explore th~ nature of associated ceremonies, their possible link to subsistence, and the cultural meaning of the s~ellmounds. We believe that we can better understand the function of the shellmoudds'in pre-contact,funes by fully investigating symbolic and cosmological dimension, in additioi1 to considering their economic or subsistence importance. ' complexity and shellmounds To best appreciate the symbolic and cosmological meaning of a she1lmound CO?t~g buri~, sociopolitical complexity must be considered. In'the continuum of, sociopolitical complexity, state societies often have cosmological systems sustained by professional priesthoods whereas nomadic band-level societies often have cosmologies that are communally exhibited in mythological narratives. OUIfirst questions are, therefore, whafkiitd of s6d6:::politic-aiorganization characterizes the groups inhabiting these shellmounds and what are the likely cosmological correlates? Although the aboriginal people of coastal central California are still perceived as a classic example of 'hunter-gatherers', the' anthropological intuition of that societal level is no longer simple. Today, hunter-gatherers are no longer automatically considered band-level egalitarian peoples. In fact, various modes of social inequality are demonstrably present in otherwise 'egalitarian' groups, especially those from complex and rich subsistence environ-. ments (Feinman & Price 1995). Bean & Blackburn. have already begun the process of rlh!xaiiliningso Ciopolitical complexity, precisely in the California context: A re-examinationof Californiafrom a fresh viewpoint - the idea that hunting and gathering societies there may have been analogous to many primitive agriculturalpeoples elsewhere- should provide new perspectives on ideas suggested by cultural evolutionistsand should help in answering many questions about the upper or maximal levels of sociocultural integrati~n that hunting and gathering culturescan achieve.(1976a, 46), California archaeologists have laboured over the question of sociopolitical complexity for decades. Kroeber introduced the term 'tribelet' in 1925, a character.ization which is somewhat problematic and isolates coastal central California from comparisoi1sto any larger cultural region. The continued use of this singular term also removes the organizational structure from the discot.irseof cross-cultural comparison, 98

5 The Dead Must be Fed from which so much can ordinarily be adduc~d. In his own assessment of coastal California sociopolitical organization, Lightfoot (1993) recognizes the need to compare Kroeber's concept with sodo-. political units in other regions of No~ America:. I am struck by significant differences in the spatial scale and elaboration of sociopolitical units along much of the Pacific coast (when defined by regional settlement data) compared to archaeological studies of complex horticultural societies in the AmericanSouthwest, Southeast, and Midwest. The latter are characterized m late prehistoric times by settlement hierarchies composed of primary and L. secondary centers- exhibiting evidence of elaborate public structures, conspicuous domestic architecture,plazas, exoticgoods, and large-scalestorage.facilities- that are centrally placed in relation to outlying hamlets and homesteads. (1993, 193) Lightfoot then goes on to differentiate California from better known, more complex htmter-gatherer groups by stating, 'The autonomous sociopolitical units de- fined for much of the Pacific coast appear to be organized on a much smaller scale [in coastal California]... ethnographers typically define this as the local group, a winter village.aggregation, or a ljt1lage community composed of one to four or five villages (Kroeber 1962, 33Y (1993, 183; italics added). Lightfoot concludes, 'Based on my reading of the ethnographic and archaeologkalliterature of the Pa- cific coast, I see a sociopolitical landscape in late prehistoric and early contact times that was filled primarily with small village communities, that were densely packed along inhabibiple coastlines, lakes, and river valleys' (1993, 184). The trans egalitarian model Much is still tm!mown or Uncertain about the sociopolitical organization of coastal California (Lightfoot 1993, 185). Traditionally, for example, we and other anthropologists might ask the following questions about these 'village communities'. Were there chiefs? headmen? big men? elders? If so, how did they function in integrating village commtmities? What form of intergroup and intragroup federation or affiliatibn existed? What socia~ structure tmderlaythe system of exchange?. Ordinarily, such fundamental lacunae might pre-empt further anthropological analysis. Hayden (1995), however, offers a new model for recovering inferences about pre-contact peoples. Drawing on a.wealth of ethnographic data and anthropological theory, Hayden raises the issue of inequality in 99 a variety of cultural contexts as ~ way to obtain fresh insight into sociopolitical and symbolic dynamics. He introduces a new lexicon of terms for. economic and political roles which are open-ended in application to sociopolitical complexity but still.describe polity function and predict the economic motives of key players in non-stratified societies. These terms correspond closely to the W1derstanding'of the fluid social complexity which currently characterizes many California native groups in precontact times. In discussing htmter-gatherer groups, Hayden uses the term 'transegalitarian', referring to societies which are neither egalitarian nor politically stratified (1995, 18).Transegalitarian societies cover a wide range of size and sociopolitical complexity, iri a continuum from communities in which independent families control key subsistence. resources, to com-. munities that require cooperative labour for key subsistence behaviour or where resource-owning corporate groups control key subsistence behaviour. Groups such as the Chumash, whose locus is south of the San Francisco Bay area, exhibit' a degree of economic organization that falls along the more corporate level of exploitation of key subsistence resources (1995, 41). Although H~yden's.model has not been applied to coastal central Cal omia societies,we shall demons.trate that they clearly fall somewhere within the continuum he outlines... In Hayden's model, a crucial element of transegalitarian societies is the figure of the 'aggrandizer'. This concept is heuristically helpful because it avoids the use of problematic terms - 'great men, head men, big men, elites, and chiefs' - and all the social organizational patterns which are correlated or.connatural to them. Instead, Hayden simply uses t'e.term 'aggrandizer' to name a figure who is 'ambi.tious, enterprisin~ aggressive [and] accumulative' of key resources. Whether the precontact peoples of coastal central California.and the San Francisco Bay area had chiefs or elite elders per se is a matter of debate. The term 'aggrandizer', however, can be used to tell us something of what they did have, without having to!mow the exact nature of the social com-. plexity of thegroup.:z Moreover, without appeal to such terms, we no longer need to categorize precisely the pre-contact social organization (e.g. chiefdom, tribe, band,' tribelet) in order to focus' on the central organizing features of these groups. Such features can relate directly to the symbolic arid cosmological questions which we believe are essential to the practice of placing burials in she1lmotmds. The term 'aggrandizer' is also valuable because it

6 Edward M. Luby & Mark F. Gruber allows reseelrchers workmg on coastal central California societies to make direct comparisons with other transegalitarian groups in the world. 'This is especially important when the archaeological record is ambiguous or silent. Lightfoot cites Hayden's model as valuable for the analysis of exactly this kind of society, which, while being well adapted to its resource-rich environment, was otherwise anomalous to conventional anthropological categories until recently. Hayden observes that 'some for:ms of inequality have a~ways existed among hunter-gatherer. groups' (1995, 20). We agree with Hayden in the ~mergence of inequality may be an impulse driven by individual motivation as well as group dynamics, even when the environment is not the driving force in change. Aggrandi.zers wish to emerge as centralplayers in their "societies -by establishing themselves as people to whom great debt is owed." Hayden is hardly alone (e.g. Mauss 1954) iri suggesting that feasting events are ideal communal moments to" exhibit prestige and establish binding contractual debts. The redistributive economic function of feasts is essential but is just one element of the complex mutual obligations and personal status formation thafexist in transegalitarian societies. We believe that aggi-andizers are actors in an economic setting, and, at the same time, they are agents of prestige display in a surplus-oriented subsistence mode. Prestige, however, is not simply an. economic concern or a"subsistence matter. Prestige must also relate to the hierarchy of values and meanings inherent in any society's- cu1~ view. Someone who evidences prestige.must alsoreid orce critical values and symbols- of a culture. In this sense, the matter of aggrandizement is inherently related to the matter of cosmology. By identifying the inhabitants of trans egalitarian, and attempting to investigate the cosmological correlates of various ;forms of this social organization, we are therefore led to a third question: might coastal aggrandizers have arranged funeral feasts to become objects of indebtedness? The cultural meanings of the shel1mounds Whether or not the mounds were seasonally occupied or continuously inhabited; whether or not occasional meals or every meal of the group was processed on them; and whether or not the precise date of every individual burial is known, we aim to. show that shell.mounds were, most likely, places of mortuary feasting. We believe the evidence support- ing this contention is compelling. Hundreds or thousands of individuals, sometimes buried in the same shellmound for over two millennia (Bickel 1976; Lightfoot 1997), strongly suggest _that shellmounds played a central role in mortuary ceremonialism.. Ethnological cross-cultural analogy, by demonstrating a link between burial location arid mortuary feasting in transegalitarian groups (Hayden 1995), strengthens this connection..the few ethnographic narratives available concerning death, which are derived from immediate post-contact native groups in the San Francisco Bay area, also Support ~e idea (Ortiz 1994).3We suggest that shellmounds, as places of habitation of the living as well as interment of the dead, were sites of frequent festivity, dance, costume, and music, some or all of which, while cartceivably ~elated to cosmology for Westerners, were essential to the symbolic and mythological life a.. pre-contact peoples of the San Francisco Bay area. Most likely, their feasts occurred above their deadail activity that surely had cosmological signmcance. Thus, aside from subsistence concerns, which the she11mound itself embodies, its role as a locus of mortuary ritual and"communal feasting warrants investigation.. According to Firth in his classic monograph, the Tikopia regard' ancestors' as the s~e of food:. Food serves as a most important manifestationof socialrelationship, and through it kinship ties,po.. liticalloyalty, indemnity for wrong, and the canons of hospitality are also provides a " basisfor the initiation of other socialrelations,such as [thoseinvolved] in the acquisitionof traditional lore. Again, the major foodstuffs rest in totemic alignment with the major social groups; ritual appeals are made to the gods and ancestorswho are regarded as the sources of food. (Firth 1939, 38 in Feinman& Price 1995,272) We do not make a causal link between ancestors and food for all cosmologies, but in the case of the shellmounds, some kind of linkage is very likely. FroIn one realistic point of view, the shellmounds embody the place of feasting and the remains of food. From another equally valid perspective, the mounds are the burial sites of the dead and the cover over their remains. In both cases, however, we believe that the ritual and sumptuary uses of the ' shellmounds were exploited by aggra:hdizers. Hayden argues that communal feasting is critical to the prestige of aggrandizers and that they will seizethe most"compelling pretext they can find in order to assure regular celebratory feasts (1995, 39). He quotes Mauss to the effect that the most compelling 100

7 The Dead Must be Fed i r: motivation for a feast, or other ritual activity, would have to be cosmological (see Hayden ). In the coastal California context, we believe that mortuary ritual provides the most apparent ritual context for feasting. We do not think funeral feasts are the only. occasion by any means for surplusdriven economic exchange, but Bean and colleagues have suggested that a,kin-based alliance of ritual exchange underlies central California economies (Bean &I<ing 1974; Bean & Blackburn 1976a). Mortuary behaviour is often kin-based in transegalitarian groups. We are, therefore, simply supplying a plausible, even likely, kinship-based mechanism for the exercise of that exchange, given the ubiquity of burials in conspicuous shellmounds. Moreover, funeral feasts involving wealth exchanges or reciprocal kin obligations to expend surpluses are common in most '.. Suxplus and the expression of inequality While archaeologically difficult to elaborate in its particular refinements, surplus certamly factored strongly in coastal central California society (Bean & Lawton 1976). Surplus is considered to be pervasive by the ethnographers and archaeologists of this region (Bean & Lawton 1976; Chartkoff & Chartkoff 1984). Estuary envlrotunents are notably ab1ji1dant, especially those in temperate, Mediterranean-style. climates. Human exploiters of the biomass of the San Francisco' Bay area couid access a relatively great quantity of food from a relatively small expanse of land with a readily ac;..cessibleand locally adapted technology. In fact, the popwation density of the. area was among the highest in North America (Heizer 1978). This demographic phenomenon alone suggests that social diherentiation mechanisms would have appeared, resulting in. inequalities and surpluses. It seems likely that surplus of the magnitude described in studies of coastal central Califomia society would be strongly linked to social inequalities and variations in prestige.,. Several archaeologists have observed evidence ror,sociaeconomicdifferentiation in mortuary remains and have argued that 'elites' existed (King 1974; Fredrickson 1974). More recent studies of inequality, however, suggest that the evidence from shellmound graves is more ambiguous, and that the expected elaboration of social differences which the material economy would suggest is not present. For example, in a study of the 100 or so burials from the deepest component of Ala-328, dating to around 400 BC, Luby (1996) conducted a cluster analysis based on 74 burial attributes. Analysis of the clusters suggested that the burials could be divided into two groups, both encompassing all age and sex categories: an earlier group buried in yellow clay beneath the midden, and a somewhat later group placed within the mound matrix at slightly shallower depth. A shift from a cemetery, as defined by Goldstein (1976), to a more loosely structured burial setting was observed, and this was not reversed during the remaining occupation of the site. Concomitant with this shift, the degree of inequality between the burials in the cemetery as compared to those,in the tt.lound matrix appeared to contract, as measured by the number of grave goods, their diversity, and the presence of non-local grave goods. More graves in the cemetery contained artefacts, including some rare, finely-detailed and non..:1ocai ornaments made of Haliotis shell which were not found in the mound matrix buriais H", The shift observed at Ala-328, and probably at all the other large shellmounds, is interesting: a nonvisible cemetery associated with burials expressing inequiility is replaced by a long-term burial programme in which burials are placed in the matrix of a higply visible mound. Moreover, a clear case for marked socioeconomic differences among the burials in the m01ji1dmatrix cannot be made. We are left then, with a paradox in the material record, one which does much to explain why the burials in the shellm.ounds have not previously been subjected to sustained symbolic ~ysis. Inequality most certainly exists, yet it is not widely reflected in the treatment of individual graves in the matrix of the shellmound. This holds for all tl{~ large shellmounds in the San Francisco Bay area for which there is evidence, from the time of,their appearance until just before European contact. The paradox described above is not the only one in the anthropological analysis of coastal central California society. As discussed above, submid den:, burials dating back over 2000 years probably underlie many o! the shellmounds in the San Francisco Bay area. Given the usual expectations for the emergence of sociopolitical complexity, burials in the ma~ trix of the shellmounds exhibit greater' egalitarianism than those buried beneath them. As we have seen, however, there is relatively more socioeconomic variation in burials rom these earlier submidden contexts than in later period shellmound burials. In addition, descriptions of non-midden burials from San Francisco bayshore sites dating before years ago suggest relatively higher levels of socioeconomic differentiation t:lumin later periods when shellmounds 101

8 Edward M. Luby & Mark F. Gruber appear (Gerow 1968; King 1970). If, as many culture historians would suggest, more egalitarian peoples have simply displaced the earlier groups, why would they choose their burial sites as a. foundation for their habitations?. Cosmology and shellmounds Paradoxes are the stuff of structural-anthropological analysis, which we will now introduce to further elucidate our argument. Levi-Strauss makes a critical observation about the material world intact non-stratified societies, '... one may readily conclude that aromals and plants are not known' as a result of their usefulness; they are deemed to be useful or interesting because they are first of all known' (1962, 9). h\ Levi-Strauss' view, members of '..non-stratified societies are driven by the impulse to classify the elements of their environment well in. excess of that which is strictly necessary to ensure survival. CertaWythose parts of the environment which are exploited for basic subsistence are due careful symbo.lic elaboration, but only as.part of a. much greater system of classification. A preoccupation with exhaustive observation and systematic cataloguing of relations and connection 'grants every. object 'ofsensate experience a place in the aboriginal ' cosmology, and renders every object subject to ritual use' (levi-strauss 1962, 10). While it is possible for Westemers to conceive of morally or spiritually neutral a supermarket or a garbage dump, some hunter-gatherer groups may be engaged in the sacred reajm in every: contact with their environment and in their subsistence Within it. She1lmounds, therefore, while conceivable to some archaeologists as refuse heaps, would be layere4 with significances for the inhabitants Francisco Bay area, and with symbolic of the San meaning which enfolded them into a broad cosmology. Whether habitation on the mounds was occasional or seasonal, the category of 'home' would undoubtedly be coincidental with the mound. And the symbolic content of this domestic centre would be prof9undly imbued with the additional sacrality of food, for the process of mound construction was a direct consequence of group diet. These. two categories, food and home, are among the most powerful symbols in any cultural system. The addition of bur i als grants to the she1lmounds a third powerful sacred association. Vpn Gennep notes that hwnan dwellings, especially occasionally visited ones, are fraught with symbolic mean~gs and ritual prescription. These 102 prescriptioilsare frequently dietary (1960,23-5). Ukewise he observes that customs regarding the dead are universally associated with food. The dead need to be fed, and so may reqcire burial under feasting areas, or the dead need to be placated by food to keep them from interfering.with the affairs of the living. The survivors need to close ranks around each other by funeral meals or to make communion with the dead via a sacred mortuary feast (1960, ). In any case, without knowing which mythological permutation was aboriginal, the interpenetration of mortuary and sumptu:ial symbols could h~dly be more intense than among peoples who bury their dead in their subsistence remains. The pre-contact peoples of coastal central California may well have feasted at the time of funerals, as part of the means of prestige reinforcement and resource redistribu-.' tion, along. one of the lines Van Gennep indicates,'h Additionally, feasts may have had the intention of placating tl:teghost of the deceased (Margolin 1978, 145-7; also see page 16). Huntington & Metcalf (1979) echo Hertz's (1907) classic work concemingthe symbolic layering of the material world in relationship to the very bodies of the deceased: 'close attention to the commercial and sociological contexts of the corpse yields the ~ost profound explanations regarding the meaning of death and life in almost any society' (1979, 17). In the same work, the authors apply this insight to the Berawan of Borneo, whose 'chief, a man easily fitted into Hayden's category of 'aggrandizer' in an unstratified society, uses the opportunity of death and the occasion of burial to convoke great feasts wherein surplus resources are redistributed and relationships of social obligation and debt are reinforced (Huntingto~ & Metcalf 1979, 133-4). Structure and symbol The forgoing discussion is offered as support for a primarily symbolic analysis of co.asta! central California she1lmounds. h\ human populations, food and death are categories of cultural life subject to the greatest degrees of symbolization and ritualization. The Catholic Mass, for instance, is a ritual meal celebrated over. a ston~. altar wherein the bones of a martyr may be interred; the prayer 'iritention' of the rite is always for the welfare of a departed soul. MateriiU investigation can never neglect the fundamental symbolic aspects of meals and burials without postponing recognition of their subject's full humanity. A structural analysis of the mortuary behaviour

9 The Dead Must be Fedof the coastal central Califori:ria peoples may take us yet further in linking the material remains to a cosmological framework. Levi-Strauss observes that the non-edible parts of the items which round out a society's subsistence are subject to a special degree of symbolic interpretation. The fur, feathers, be* and teeth, he notes, cannot be coilsumed as can the meat, but they can be assimilated into the group in rites in which religious actors are arrayed in these very bones, feathers, and teeth. We need only consider the shaman, outfitted in.aritual display. Ritual an.d symbolthen complete an attitude of communion with the species that feed the community (Levi Strauss 1962, 107). For the coastal central California peoples, that part of the subsistence 'menu' which is.. inedible includes bones and shells, the very matrix of the shellmounds. If the people of the shellmounds contemplated their consubstantial.uruon with the food they ate;-then the remains of-that food could". easily be associated with the remains of their own dead. Therefore the mingling of human remains with animal bones and shells should not be regarded as indifferent disposal of the dead in places where refuse accumulates, but as interment of one part of the communi,ty in the matrix from which the community takes its life. Although the precise mythological or even theological means by which these symbolic elements are interarticulated probably cannot be deduced from the structural apprmich or induced from the material remains, the correlation of the symbolic elements with each other can be offered for further inquiry by anthropologists and archaeologists. The Native American Fox group provides a good example. Like th~ Ohlol1e, the pre-contact people of the San FranciscQ.Bay area, they wish to send the dead further along the transition from this life. They wish to avoid the avenging ofpast injustices by the dead and the bitterness of undue grief. At the same time, death is' an occasion of feasting by which subsistence resources are redistributed, increased food production motives are encouraged, and future surpluses are assured. 'It is the dead who make food increase,' a native informant explains, 'they [the Indians} must coax them that way' (Levi-Strauss 1962, 31). That the dead could be regarded both as obstacle to and opportunity for social integration appears paradoxical to. abstract logic, but eminently reasonable in human' social relations. Mythological constructions of symbols, built on the everyday elements of experience, mediate such paradoxes. The emergence of various levels of prestige and resource differentiation in a community likewise creates the possibility for social tension. Individuals or subgroups 103 of individuals, "aggrandizers', emerge whom other people could resent or resist. The ritual burial of such emergent figures could be the opporturlity to foster the continuing inequality urlder the symbolic pretext of reinforcing the egalitarian ide. In coastal central California, ethnohistoric evidence supports this subtlety, namely, that ritual burials could be used to mask inequality. The name of th~ dead is not to be mentioned, his or her kinship 'bond is altered by death, and the titles of kinship are changed; ~e anniversary of the individual death is not observed, rather, a gene:ral, yearly aj:uu:'ersary. of all the dead is celebrated (Harringtbn 1942; Levy 1978). Finally, before contact times, coastal central Calliomiansbegan cremating their dead (Levy 1978). Such a behaviour is related to the ones mentioned above and to the.. idea that the status of the dead is obscured by mortuary practices. -All of these customs can be interpreted in terms of a fear of the dead (Margolin 1978, 145-9). At the same time, anthropologically speaking, the prestige status of the dead or their 'aggrandizement' is levelled. The lack of grave good differentiation in many of the shellmourids should therefore be regarded as part of a profound syinbolic interpretation of the. world by coastal central California peoples and not as a lapse of cosmological interest in the fate of human remains. Although nowhere in the archaeologicalliterature are the coastal peoples characterized explicitly as indifferent to their dead, as long as'anthropological inquiry remains disengaged from the meaning of the shellmound burials, the refuse image, the 'midden' construct, gives unintended but implicit support to that idea. Even if the construction of the shellmounds was so slowly incremental that the early generations who formed them would not have seen a significant accumulation of shells, these mourlds still, possessed an overall symbolic value. As we have suggested, food and its non-edible matrix is homologous to life, as well as to death. A non-throwaway culture does not necessarily see this non-edible matrix collected into one space as 'garbage', 'but as a condensed symbol. Some such cultures, therefore, 'build' up their mounds high, in an economy of symbolic conservation. An analogous tendency is seen in the modem world among groups who wish their bodily remains to be interred in large integrated burial grounds. is only thinking of the fitting disposal of the deceased; they do not see themselves as amassing a cemetery complex, yet they are, and the cemetery complex itself is a powerful symbolic condensation to all in' the society. In some cases, the

10 Edward M. Luby & Mark F. Gruber modem i:~t:'!tery emerged from the family plot, later Conclusions' to become a cultural axis in the cosmological drama ', of life and death. Indeed, the relationship between Analyses of the archaeological record from a strucancestors, food, and she1lmounds may have been set tural viewpoint are nottmcommon (e.g. Hodder 1982; in motion before the formation of the mounds them- '1986; Parker Pearson 1982).We believe that our analyselves. In the submidden cemetery of Ala-328, for sis of California she1lmounds is a somewhat typical example, many burials are already accompanied by example of the approach. Our analysis builds on HaIictis shell ornaments and Olivella shell beads. The pre-existing subsistence-focused models, however, shells themselves probably had an important sym- nther.tlum.attempting to replace them. In the conbolic value before the formation of the she1lmounds. text of California archaeology, and arguably in ar- Levi-Strauss likens the work of structural analy- chaeology in general, we believe that our analysis sis to the artistic assemblage of the apparently unre- represents a departure from prevaili,ng interpretalated parts of diverse cultural terms and material tive approaches, bridging the gap which sometimes artefacts. The art of, such an assemblage is not so appears between diverse theoretical frameworks. much the arbitrary aesthetics of the anthropqlogist From this new perspective, might we now ex:- as the recovery of the cosmological perspective of plore the implications of shellmoundsas symbols of the people investigated. From their material remains, corporate group membership, as Luby (1996) has the resources of ethnographic observation and anal- suggested, and as conspicuous territorial symbols,..ogy; -and an appreciatiorcofthesymbblic impulse at for local village communities, as Lightfoot (1997)has---_u the core of every culture, we can hope to recover an' observed? Can we also investigate the seeming paraunderstanding of coastal central Californians which dox that sheumounds served simultaneously as vis~ is fully anthropological, iliat is culturally holistic. ible representations of 'wealth' arid inequality and rather than materially reductionistic (Levi-Strauss as the loci of activities intended to level such cilifer- 1962, 16-36). In fact, the word Levi-Strauss uses for ences? What is the significance of 'group' or 'multithe art of his holistic cultural recovery is 'bricolage' pie' burials, which are sometimes found in the (p. 16), and the one who operates in this artois the sh~ounds,orofbroken,labour-intensiveground. 'bricoleur' (p. 17). Such a one is accomplished in th,e stone items which were, placed in many.graves? integration of the 'bits and pieces' of cultural re- Might the scant archaeological evidence suggesting. mains which have the aspect of detritus or debris. housepits atop the San Francisco Bay area shell- But this,is also closely related to the task of archae- mounds now be reevaluated? How do much smaller ologists, whose efforts in cultural recovery so often shellmounds or non-midden sites in the region fit involve,refuse interpretation. It is all the more so in into the prevailing model of villa~ communities? the interpretation of she1lmounds, which, in their Furthermore, might it be possible to exp~ore the imparts, are indicators otsubsistence and social behav- plications ofnew ethnohistorical aruilyses, which sugiour, but in their whole, are symbols and cosmological gest that death rituals possessed a pervasive 'sense markers. Myth, ritual, and symbol are essential hu- of place' (Milliken 1991), and that specific features in man acts that seize upon the raw materials of diet, the landscape (perhaps including she1lmounds) were death, and social bonds. For coastal central Califor- sacred and served as markers of iqentity and homenians, these raw materials come together in shell- land (Ortiz 1994)?, ', mounds, and anthropologists must seek the humanity We might also begin to ask if our analysis of the of myth, ritual, and symbol from them. About such situation"in coastal central California has implicarealities and their remains, says, 'Mythi- tions for sites elsewhere, especially in situations cal thought for its part is imprisoned in the events where shellmounds 'disappear' from the archaeoand experiences which it never tires of ordering and logical record or are replaced by other site types. For reordering in its search to find them a meaning. But, example; much attention has been placed on the :;~."italso acts as a liberator by its protest against the emergence and development of megaliths iii Neo- ~1:J,!deathat anything can be meaningless with which lithic Westem Europe around 4800 BC. In many stud- \9cienceat first resigned itself to a compromise' (1962, ies, megaliths and other forms of monumental ~2), The scientific methodologies of archaeology' architecture have been variously linked to territori- ' ~~tat first be tempted to compromise in the search ality, a sense of community, permanence, collectivity, ~~:~eaningin shellmound burials, but a ful1eran- and/or as foci of mortuary ritual (patton 1993j Ren- ~~.pologicalconsideration of the matter may 'liber- frew 1976; Scarre 1983; Sherratt 1995; Tilley 199~). ~:~~gs hitherto neglected.. Significantly, in several areas of Western Europe, 11~,h. 104

11 The Dead Must be Fed early megaliths were preceded by 'shellmiddens' which have been linked to sedentary hunter-gatherer-collector populations, and some of these shel1middens are associated with burials (e.g. Teviec and Hoedic in Brittany; and Cabeco da Arruda and Moita da Sebastiao in Portugal). Both Hibbs (1983, 313) arid Tilley (1996, 68) have noted a connection between these shellmiddens and later Neolithic megaliths, and have argued that the 'ritual tradi-, tions' established during hunter-gatherer-collector occupations of the shel1middens may have been incorporated into, Neolithic monumental structures. Perhaps a relationship similar to the one outlined for coastal central California, involving ancestors, shellfish, and feasting, also existed among coastal West European shellmidden communities. In the face of societal changes intr9duced by agriculture, this rela- "htionship may.later have been "transierredor integrated into conceptions of Neolithic monuments. Ii this were the case, the most appropriate place to examine developments in megalithic structures may be at their true origin, with.shellfish, burials, and, feasting, and not with stone, sedentary life, and agriculture. Out of the connections outlined above, a partial but unifying pattern may emerge for interpreting, large, shell-associated 'middens' containing burials. Among some hunter-gatherer-collector coastal peoples, these sites can be considered to stretch across generati01"\sin their accumulation, signifying the success of people's ancestors in the amassing of food and other resources. At the same time, the ancestors of far antiquity ~ay be signi.#ed, as well as the remembered recent dead. Burial, if undifferentiated in shellmounds, can express the, underlying reciprocal economic value of the whole group as received from the ancestors. Alternatively, if the burials are rare and marked by conspicuous grave goods, the greater prestige of an emerging segment of society may be represented. Either way, basic cultural elements are externalized, and the universal intuition of the earth as a source of sustenance is integrated M,th the long lineage of society. Since humans from the time of the Neander 'thals have concerned themselves with the provisioning of the dead and have interred them with the effects of this world's goods or released them to the next world, masses of shell should hardly be regarded as incidental wasteage if people were buried therein.' We challenge such assumptions, and believe that questions concerning the subsistence behaviour, sociopolitical complexity, symbolism, and cosmology of shellmound societies should at least be' posed, even if we are only able to offer provisional answers at this time. By viewing shellmounds as places where the dead must indeed be fed, we hope to build on long-standing traditions of anthropological research and to introduce a new perspective about the groups asso-. dated with these interesting and complex sites. Nates 1. Follo\'{ingthe more recent archaeologicalliterature on coastal central California, we shallrefer to the shellmiddens as shelhnounds. We do this not onlyto work within the contemporary terminology, but to emphasize a shift in interpretation away from a primarily subsistence-levelanalysis. 2: Archaeologists have suggested that certain individuals may have i>een'shamans' or 'headman'; one ~di-_.. vidual at an inland valley site was buried with over 28,000 beads and other 'exotic' items (Wiberg 1983). We believe, however, that it is prematpre from this evidence to generalize about the existenceof shamans as headman in all pre-contact coastal central California societies. The ethnograp~es of more geographically distant California,groups, suggest, instead, that a coastal central California version of the term 'aggrandi2:er' could be developed, such as 'eminent' or 'prominent' individuals. 3. The few ethnohistoric analyses availableof San francisco Bay area native groups during contacttimesdo not link the shellmounds to mortuary feasts. Ethnohistoric analyses and other contact-era account!;do not specifically mention the shellmounds. This may be a consequence of the documented taboo against speaking the name of the dead, which may have extended to the shellmounds themselves,or of the fact that most death-related activitieswere deemed imp.propriate for discussion with ethnographers or other visitors. For festivitiesand dances see Ortiz Edwar4 M. Luby Phoebe HearSt Museum of Anthrapology 103 Kroeber Hall and Archaeological Research Faciiity, University of California Berkeley,.cA USA Department & Mark F. Gruber of Sociology/Anthropology Saint Vincent College Latrobe, FA USA 105

12 Edward M. Luby & Mark F. Gruber Acknowledgements We thank Kent Lightfoot for his encouragement and thoughtful comm~ts on the manuscript, and Dave Fredrickson for guidance and supportive conversations. We are also grateful to Michael J. Moratto, ~ho made several helpful suggestions, and to Ira Jacknis,Junko Habu, and Rob Schmidt for their comments and advice. We also thank the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology and St Vincent College for their support, and Meg Conkey for her encouragement to explore California archaeology from this general perspective. Finally, we are indebted to Pamela A. Derish for her attempts to clarify our thoughts and for her invaluable editorial advice. References Aikens, C.M. &: T. Higuchi, The Prehistory of Japan~. New York (NY): Academic Press.. Aikens, C.M &. S.N. Rhee (eds.), Pacific Northeast Asia in Prehistory. Pullman (WA): Washington State University Press. 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1 The City as One Thing

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