Friday, 29 August 2014

Archaeology and the psyche: part ten ― the "ritual" avoidance

So-called Celtic "ritual" spoons
© Trustees of the British Museum
Iconography is embarrassingly neglected by archaeology. I have seen attempts at deciphering the propaganda content in Roman Imperial coins, but this subject is so easy that any eleven year old child could do it armed only with a Roman coin catalogue and Wikipedia entries for various emperors. The iconography of Greek coins would be far more challenging and that of Celtic coins is notoriously difficult for anyone who could even get past Derek Allen's "This need to look behind the surface of Celtic coin types has made a happy hunting ground for the crankish interpreter in pursuit of devious religious symbolism." (The Coins of the Ancient Celts, 1980, p.148). However, even Celtic coin iconography ― being a product of a Graeco-Celtic fusion, is a walk in the park compared with that of early Celtic art. It is not just bravery that is required in this, but a psychology commensurate with the task and a broad knowledge of other subjects.

First, let us look at what is implied by the use of the word "ritual" in much archaeological writing. Many archaeologists condemn its usage explaining, and rightly so, that anything that cannot easily be interpreted can be described as "ritual" with no further explanation, a cop-out, in other words. Rituals are actions that are commonly observed or undertaken with little conscious knowledge of their history and significance, so saying "of probably ritual significance" can be widely accepted as-is. It takes an inquiring mind to then say "but what does this really mean? In matters of religious iconography, an extraverted thinking type would never even ask that question. Jung  says of this type: "Irrational phenomena such as religious experiences, passions, and suchlike are often repressed to the point of complete unconsciousness" (General description of the types).

Lituus on a Judean coin issued under
Pontius Pilate
photo: Classical Numismatic Group Inc.
Next, I will make an attempt at deciphering the iconography found on pairs of spoons that are sometimes found in insular Celtic graves and of a fairly narrow time span. For a good collection of images of these objects see Thelma's North Stoke blog entry: "Gathering theories". We must start with the lituus staff which has a long and widespread history (Ambos and Krauskopf). Among the illustrations in the linked paper is a chart showing various forms that the Etruscan lituus and its predecessors can take. Some of these will be important later on in this post. It is also important to understand that augury is not restricted to the flight of birds, but can take a wide variety of forms.

 "Immediately after midnight, or at the dawn of the day on which the official act was to take place, the augur, in the presence of the magistrate, selected an elevated spot with as wide a view as was obtainable. Taking his station here, he drew with his staff two straight lines cutting one another, the one from north to south, the other from east to west. Then to each of these straight lines he drew two parallel lines, thus forming a rectangular figure, which he consecrated according to a prescribed form of words. This space, as well as the space corresponding to it in the sky, was called a templum. At the point of intersection in the centre of the rectangle, was erected the tabernaculum. This was a square tent, with its entrance looking south. Here the augur sat down, asked the gods for a sign according to a prescribed formula, and waited for the answer." (Augures)
You will note that the augur would make the familiar sign of the cross with the lituus staff and we must wonder about syncretism in its later Christian application. Also, remember that insular Celtic huts where this act might take place are circular while continental  huts were rectangular. Insular rectangular structures not built by the earlier Belgae immigrants, such as at early Silchester were small shrines. We must also understand that the place within this cross where the templum was subsequently marked could be in any quadrant of that cross and perhaps there was a method to determine which quadrant it was drawn in.

The next question to ask is: "Did the Druids around the time of these spoons engage in augury?" Cicero says yes:
"Not even among barbarians is the practice of divination neglected since there are Druids in Gaul, one of whom I knew myself your guest and eulogist Diviciacus the Aeduan. He claimed to have knowledge of nature, which Greeks call 'physiologia' and he used to tell the future partly by means of augury and partly by conjecture."  De Divinatione I, 90
Kermaria Omphalos
image: Henri Moreau
It is also important to remember the "as above, so below" principle in magic. The centre of the world and perhaps the centre of a territory was called the omphalos and was marked with a conical stone sometimes called the baetyl. The stone of Kermaria has been thought to have originated in the territory of the Carnutes which was considered to have been the centre of Gaul by the Druids. Unfortunately, the illustration only shows one face but this one shows all four faces. This is a similar arrangement of variations on a theme that I established as being shown on a chronologically ordered sub-group of Coriosolite coins and shares with it one of its expressions (bottom right in the linked photograph). Further evidence for the above can be found here in the diagrams and partially in the text.

The lituus is also shown on some Coriosolite coins as with the nose of the obverse head to the left, and possibly also with what are called the "whisks" around the head. The "leaf" attached to the curl in the whisks corresponds with some forms of the lituus shown in the Ambos and Krauskopf paper above. note also, the cross in front of the pony.

In front of the pony on the coin to the right, we see both a lituus spiral shape and the cross.

The name "lituus" was also adopted by the astronomer Roger Cotes (1682-1716) and it has strange similarities to what I have been discussing as the illustration below shows. I have no way of knowing how much of his naming decision and discovery was conscious and how much was due to its archetypal imagery.

Cotes' lituus 
In summation, I say that the spoons were used as functional objects in augury, although just how they were used remains uncertain. It could be that a liquid with particles within it was allowed to drain out of the hole and the particles that remained determined in which quadrant the additional lines were drawn ― a bit like reading tea leaves. The patterns, too, could have had an augury function. One thing that I am certain of is that these objects were not used in some mindless "ritual".

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Archaeology and the psyche: part nine ― psychological symbols

image: Steve Osborne
While I commonly use the word "symbol" inappropriately, there are times when symbol and sign should not be confused. The criterion for a
sign is that it should be understood and for a symbol that it express something that cannot be done easier or better in some other way.

The mandala was seen by Jung as representing the total self and it is a "natural" symbol to the degree that it can appear in dreams and visions of people who might have had no external contact with it. Although it must be part of our collective unconscious, its use by the mind is to refer to our personal unconscious. I have started to wonder
if it presents itself as a defense of the collective unconscious. When a friend and I were young, we had an "unofficial guru", a woman who had been a student of Paramahansa Yogananda. we frequently used to discuss spiritual matters as part of our quest for universal truth and we happened to be discussing something (which I cannot devolve) over lunch one day in a restaurant. At the same time, were we both taken over by something like a waking nightmare. My friend just broke down into tears, but I felt myself going unconscious and ran out of the restaurant. I found that moving fast lessened the effect and I spent the next half hour or so just running through the streets. Whenever I slowed down, the feeling of unconsciousness started to return but it also had started to fade as well. After recovering, we went to see our "guru" and told her about the experience and the question that had initiated it. She was furious, telling us that we were trying to contact something for which we were unprepared and that, actually, we had got off very lightly for our blunder. I began to understand the potential power of the human mind and many subsequent experiences reinforced that understanding. I am also far more careful about trying to contact the unconscious in such a direct manner.

Jung encountered many other examples of the quaternity that is expressed by the mandala image and tried to resolve the problem of the Roman Catholic Trinity by adding a fourth term such as the devil or the Virgin Mary to the equation. The subject is discussed and expanded upon in his Mysterium Coniunctionis, his seminal work on alchemy, the research for which had a profound effect on the development of his psychotherapy and his ideas about the mind. After wondering about Pythagoras ideas about three being the perfect number and representing deity, and the many examples of ancient Celtic triplism I have started to wonder if another term should be added to the trinity at all. Perhaps the quaternity is more an aspect of personal unconscious and the trinity an aspect of the collective unconscious. Also, is four what is really being represented by the mandala symbol? If it is understood as a balance of opposing forces then the meaning of the mandala is maintained. A cross can be seen both as having four limbs or two axes. In the Roman Catholic trinity, the Father and the Son can be seen as lying in opposition to each other, or apart, but the Holy Spirit is imbued by both and connects them in a new reality. To say that the Father both is and is not the Son defies the laws of classical logic, yet when we add the Holy Spirit as an included middle, then that new reality comes into existence. This is the basis of transdisciplinarity.

Transdisciplinarity came out of the complementarity problem in physics and, in particular, the double-slit experiment. While photon and wave can be seen as a duality, and thus defies classical logic but is true, nevertheless, an essential ingredient to complementarity is the observer which is also important in Einstein's theory. One of the more mystical-minded of theoretical physicists was David Bohm who said:
 "We have got to see that thought is part of this reality and that we are not merely thinking about it, but that we are thinking it”. (On Creativity, p. 141)
Bohm has been criticized by some other physicists because of his connections and friendship with Khrisnamurti who had also influenced other scientists, but I think that an essential question is are those critics introverts or extraverts?The Introvert is more likely to inhabit the Mythos part of my Mythos/Logos spectrum and the extravert the Logos end. There seems to be no realized middle. I have never heard of anyone who is equally introvert and extravert and because the two are ways in which a problem is first investigated then complementarity comes into the picture there as well. How can we both look inward and outward at the same time? About all we can do to resolve a problem most successfully is to have different sorts of minds looking it. We can, however, easily alternate between inductive and deductive reasoning and I fell into that in a natural way in my own research.

The sand mandala is first created and then it is destroyed. If we think of the mandala as opposing forces in perfect balance, then why the destruction? It is because the universe is in an ever changing state and is not static.

The contextual archaeologist looks at the relationship of a and b, while occupying the transdisciplinary T state from which a new reality emerges. However, T states are apparently infinite so it is not only possible but likely that a different archaeologist, viewing things from a different T state might well come up with a different reality or interpretation.  Sometimes, both interpretations can be later seen to be wrong or both wrong and right in the light of a third viewpoint. To imagine that there is an archaeological record that is separate from the observer is to refuse to look for other realities, so sometimes answers persist because they have become unthinking memes. A way to avoid this problem is to have different minds make their own connections without communicating about them with each other in this process.

Another way to look at the problem is when the same site is interpreted from two different theoretical viewpoints. I do not think that this has been done yet. Archaeology could become more elevated toward science, however, by setting up such experiments, but current archaeology resists looking at itself in such a manner, and apart from the postmodern view, the archaeologist stands apart from what is being studied.

This line of thinking is relatively new to me, and the quaternity/trinity aspect is only days old so I will likely modify things and develop the idea as time passes. I offer them here in a nebulous state because it would seem that more minds can only increase our understanding and I have no professional state to defend, nor political axe to grind which might give me a harmful and proprietary attitude about such matters. Was that not what the Internet was first designed to do? Perhaps I am just imagining that, and it was really just a propaganda and sales tool from the start.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Archaeology and the psyche: part eight ― psychological context

A San (Bushman), Namibia
photo: Ian Beatty
In yesterday's video, my feathers were ruffled when I heard the term "culturally specific nature of significance", this is an archaeological factoid that has been the cause of some previous annoyances for me. As an absolute statement it is false and demonstrably so: (a) significance is a psychic function that has no existence outside of minds, and (b) all psychic functions have only a minimal current cultural content, and (in Jungian terminology) this resides mostly in the collective consciousness. This leaves the personal consciousness, and the personal and collective unconscious out of the picture to a great degree. While a named culture is usually one of the many cultural frames of an individual consciousness, I doubt that many people would claim it as their driving force ― although I might make an exception for bureaucrats and nationalists ;-)

Psychological typing is not restricted by any ethnic cultural or national factors although a question like "are you always on time for business appointments?" would be useless if your subject was a San Bushman. Given that the questions can be designed to be appropriate for your subject, you will be able to find the same psychological types in the San Bushman as the Wall Street stock broker, However, cultural differences would certainly affect the relative numbers of each type within any society: you would find a greater percentage of extraverts on Wall Street than inside the Buddhist monastery on Park Avenue. New York is cosmopolitan.

The San captured the attention of archaeologists through a series of papers by J David Lewis-Williams focusing on their rock art which culminated in A Cosmos in Stone (2002). In particular, it was his sections: Neurologically Generated Mental Imagery and Navicular Entoptic Phenomena in Chapter 7, Seeing and Construing which fired many imaginations. Although excerpts are available to be seen on and Google Books, chapter 7 is not part of them. This shamanistic interpretation became known as the "trance hypothesis". You can, however, read a good critique by Lara González Carretero which stays with Megalithic art.

It did not take long before the subject started to be applied to the Celts, and I found the association of Druidism and Shamanism to be especially ill-conceived. While I do not think that an original source of significance which might create a sign or symbol cannot be entoptic or otherwise neurologically-generated, signs and symbols take on a later life of their own that does not require shamanism to be practiced every time the symbol is subsequently used. Unless we can establish that Pythagoras was a shaman, then the connection must remain dead.

Archaeology is given rather too much credit, in the video, with regard to signs and symbols. A more detailed and critical approach is not post-eighties as might be imagined if we thought that cognitive archaeology was entirely new, but can be found in Franz Boas, Primitive Art (1966). Even that, which focuses on N. American Indian art, and especially the Pacific Northwest (if you are American, and not Canadian) cannot be completely translated into Celtic artistic matters.

I think that some archaeology continues to paint itself into corners by its theory-ladenness and its  pigeonholing. I am often called a "collector" by some archaeologists, and that is supposed to mean something by those who apply that label. While collecting is one of my cultural frames, it takes up very little of my time. I have a great number of cultural frames but if asked to describe myself, I would say that I am a research archaeologist who leans mostly toward evolutionary archaeology (with certain reservations against Darwinian natural-selection -- shared with Wolfgang Pauli, and with an additional belief in the value of Jungian psychology and attention to postmodern concerns for the subject). My collection is just one of the tools that I use. So we might then wonder how well the past could be interpreted by people who seem to have such great trouble even in interpreting the present.

The psychology of ancient individuals can be seen to a degree, given that the evidence is either specific enough and plentiful, or is cast into a much wider arena. It will contain a measure of cultural identifiers, but individuals will bring their own psyche to the forefront in their work . I was able to prove this in my own book: Celtic Improvisations.

Most important of all is that cognitive archaeology is pretty well useless if it does not include the psychology of the observer as significance is a psychic function dependent to a very great degree on that psychology. To argue against this would be to say that all individuals share exactly the same ideas of the significance of anything providing that they are of the same ethnic culture. In other words you do not exist apart from the label given you by others. If this is not true for you, then it is not true for anyone and at any time.
Tomorrow, the wave/particle/observer trinity applied to archaeology.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Archaeology and the psyche: part seven ― cognitive archaeology

Got an idea
As I have a lot to do today, this will be a very short post. As a preface to tomorrow's topic I am presenting a video introduction to cognitive archaeology. Tomorrow's post will be much more than an expansion of this same subject, so think of the following video as a point of departure.

Gotta rush!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Archaeology and the psyche: part six ― archaeology as fetishism

Small carved chest by John Robson (gyaawhllns), Haida,
na7ikun qiirawaay Raven clan, 1846–1924
photo: Joe Mabel
It occurs to me that someone finding this page through a Google search for "fetishism" might be looking for something entirely different. If you are such a person, try adding "Freud" to your search terms. ;-)

For an excellent discussion of fetishism in archaeology, I recommend reading Chris Cumberpatch, People, Things and Archaeological Knowledge: An Exploration of the Significance of Fetishism in Archaeology.  The link will take you to the full article and much of what I could say about the subject would thus be redundant.

I can add a few things, though. For example, the preliminary quote by Michael Shanks might give you a false impression of that archaeologist's ideas, and also opinions about antiquarians have been very much been revised in recent years to reflect their connections with interdisciplinary studies  and its use as a derogatory term is diminishing. For a different flavour to the Michael Shanks quote, I offer the following (from the same book, p.81):
"The collector focuses on the object, getting to know and cherishing the background, anything it suggests—period, method of production, previous owners, place and occasion of acquisition, history of the object in the collector’s possession, the memories and associations it evokes for the collector. ‘For a true collector the whole background of an item adds up to a magic encyclopaedia whose quintessence is the fate of his object’ (Benjamin 1970a, p. 60). This magic encyclopaedia, a physiognomy of the object, is full of commentary, review, classification, association, evocation, and is never complete with a growing collection and the collector’s ongoing life. It is the object’s resistance to classification and order." 
Michael Shanks ideas are reflected in this comment from Gary Kemper (given here with his permission) on the Stout Standards blog:
"I think what would be interesting would be a real progression of history shown by an archeologist that claims to be interested in the history of an item. A presentation of how a person found an item and sold it and made a house payment or fed their family or passed it down to a family member.
"When they talk about history they are not interested in some types of real history but only in the types of real history they promote. They want to control history which is their right to do if they find an item. They should not have the right to force people to prolong the history of an item in their way."
I show a wooden chest made by a Haida artist in the nineteenth century. This artist made many objects not just to sell to his own people, but also for tourists. Among these are a number of small totem poles which were specifically sold outside of his community as souvenirs and examples of totem pole art. The Haida, themselves, do not have such small totems as part of their own culture, they only have the full-sized versions. One of the ever present concerns of "emerging artists" is their hope to become nationally and internationally recognized. Canadian art is very regionalized and it is thus difficult for the artist to earn a living wage from the art. They need larger markets. Many people, nowadays, buy art for its investment potential as well as the fact that they like having it around. I defy you to find any artist who would not like the idea of their work being sold around the world long after they die. Yet Canadian cultural property laws state, in essence, that any work by John Robson cannot be exported:
(3) No object shall be included in the Control List if that object is less than fifty years old or was made by a natural person who is still living.
 Not only would this law impact any of John Robson's heirs, which you would imagine might have been a concern to the artist, but it also has an affect on living Haida artists for without an international interest in Haida art their own incomes will be lessened as a result. Who, in Canada would buy a work of art if they knew that their heirs would be unable to sell it outside of the country after some arbitrary point in time? My wife used to say (applying it to artists) "Canada devours its children and then worships their bones". The artist can expect only limited support from the government while they live.

But there is another aspect to Haida culture that has resulted in the repatriation of grave goods to be reburied: the Haida believe that such objects and even their large totem poles should be allowed to decay and vanish because that is the natural order of things. Grave contents must remain true to the original intent, yet what they call "fetish objects" can be given, sold and inherited, and are often made for the express reason of being marketed. This differentiation is a sophisticated view of the past and is actually a true conservation of the past. What ends and what remains is the decision of their culture. What is given back to nature experiences entropy, but even what is preserved can show gradual wear from handling and the patina of time. This becomes part of the natural history of the object.

A 17th century Vanitas
The picture shows that all will decay:
Sic transit gloria mundi
What exists in museums has been "ritually killed" it exists apart from human touch behind glass, no longer able to intimately interact with the lives of people. The conservation of objects is also the destruction of time as a natural process. The idea of the public art museum was promoted by Lord Duveen so that his wealthy art collector's heirs would not crash his market by selling the collection. He was also the person who ordered that the Elgin Marbles be cleaned, removing their patina.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Archaeology and the psyche: part five ― archaeology as religion

Temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor, Egypt. Hathor
photo: Steve F-E-Cameron (Merlin-UK)
There is only one religion and we all follow it. It's name is faith. It does, however, have many expressions and these are called religions (plural). There are what are called "the great religions" because of the large numbers of people who follow them: Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and so on. However, there are others that most people would not recognize as being religions at all. The one that amuses me the most is Atheism as it reacts against the common (and illiterate) idea that religion means belief in a god or gods. Religion comes from the Latin word which means to bind. We cannot find an origin for the word faith in the Latin fides which is cognate, but we might in proto Indo-European: *bʰeydʰ- (“to command, to persuade, to trust”).

Some religions or sects of religions are utterly intolerant of others whose followers they might call infidels, or unbelievers, while others express more universal or "meta-religious" views, such as Universal Sufism and Sikhism which exhibit great tolerance to other expressions.

I am sure that many of you who are reading this are already thinking "I don't follow any religion at all"; "but I have lost my faith", or something similar, but even if you are a cynic, you have faith in that. Faith can be expressed strongly or weakly, but we all have faith in something at some time. One of my favorite examples of this comes from Wolfgang Pauli, a physicist for whom I have great respect, perhaps because he was a close friend of C. G. Jung, and my personality type (INFJ) is also sometimes attributed to Jung, himself.:
"Werner Heisenberg [in Physics and Beyond, 1971] recollects a friendly conversation among young participants at the 1927 Solvay Conference, about Einstein and Planck's views on religion. Wolfgang Pauli, Heisenberg, and Dirac took part in it. Dirac's contribution was a poignant and clear criticism of the political manipulation of religion, that was much appreciated for its lucidity by Bohr, when Heisenberg reported it to him later. Among other things, Dirac said: "I cannot understand why we idle discussing religion. If we are honest – and as scientists honesty is our precise duty – we cannot help but admit that any religion is a pack of false statements, deprived of any real foundation. The very idea of God is a product of human imagination. [...] I do not recognize any religious myth, at least because they contradict one another. [...]" Heisenberg's view was tolerant. Pauli had kept silent, after some initial remarks. But when finally he was asked for his opinion, jokingly he said: "Well, I'd say that also our friend Dirac has got a religion and the first commandment of this religion is 'God does not exist and Paul Dirac is his prophet'". Everybody burst into laughter, including Dirac." (Wikipedia)

When I was engaged in voluntary public relations work for the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, I thought that the easiest approach in arguing against US import restrictions on collectors coins and demands that legitimacy should be established with documented evidence of sales of coins prior to the UNESCO convention of 1970, would be the fact that most collectors coins have no chain of ownership, and that demanding such was thus nonsensical. Proving this fact is simplicity itself: you can find no end of auction catalogues which record no prior histories and in which most of the coins are not even illustrated. As coins are multiples, any mention of one type of coin could be claimed for many others. There are many Glendinning's catalogues which had no illustrations at all. Claiming that even a significant proportion of ancient, medieval, and early modern coins would have come from looted archaeological sites is pure fiction. Yet none of my arguments had any effect, whatsoever, on those who had claimed otherwise. I concluded that those people had to be either very stupid or were deliberately lying to the public for their own private and nefarious motives. No matter how hard I tried to discover which explanation was true, I could not do so.

Last night, I realized that I had been faced with a paradox, and as soon as I realized that, I was able to solve it through transdisciplinarity. It was a "Eureka" moment (especially so as it came to me while I was soaking in a hot bath at the time). The included middle of that logical dilemma was faith being expressed by those who still demanded non-existent proof or evidence. I was dealing with a religious issue expressed as Logos. All of these people were believers and I was an infidel in their eyes. I should have realized this earlier: in the early seventies I was involved in fighting against mind-control cults, so much so that, after a colleague was murdered by cult members, the rest of us started sleeping with a loaded pistol by our beds for a while. When we confronted the cult on public television, the police actually set up roadblocks around the television studio to protect us. We had worked with the RCMP in Canada, and some of my friends had also been FBI witnesses in a US. case against the same cult. These actions had only limited success and the cult still exists. Cult faith is insidious.

I can give another very clear example of how previous sales can be impossible to establish: A certain coin dealer purchased a very large number of coins from a member of the public in the late nineties. The bulk of them were 17th century silver coins from Austria, but the group also contained ancient coins (including fifty Roman denarii). The oldest coin was a drachm of Alexander the Great and the most recent coins (in mint condition) were dated 1850. It was part of an estate inherited by a woman and included the deceased's house and contents. She had no idea of the coins existence before she started going through the house contents. It took her eighteen months to find them all. They were hidden everywhere: every pocket of each item of clothing in the closets had a group of coins in them. Most of them had no accompanying holders, but a few did, and together with a few scraps of paper evidence established that the collecting period was in the early nineteenth century. The deceased was Jewish and had fled to North America in 1938 to avoid Nazi persecution. For about sixty years no member of his family even knew of their existence. Some of the coins had obviously been collected by a silver buyer, but there was a group of more than seventy-five 15 kreuzer pieces of Leopold the Hogmouth which had no duplication by mint or by date. That lot was certainly a numismatic collection. This morning, I contacted the dealer to get the above details and I asked whether I might identify the company for this blog. The answer was that, while the dealer had nothing personal against anyone knowing, my identification might make the woman who had discovered them known and this would violate her legal privacy rights. Coin dealers are frequently asked by "heritage cult members" to break the law, thusly.

Most archaeologists have not made a religion out of their interest, and are thus silent about such matters, but some who have are certainly zealots, yet everyone has some indications of religious belief, even if they do not consider themselves religious at all. It is visible in scientism and skepticism as a philosophical stance, it is also very visible in strong nationalist feelings concerning the past. Frequently, archaeologists and museum workers are irrationally opposed to trade and profit, and we can compare this to Christ overturning the tables of the money lenders in the temple. At its most mundane, faith in the preservation of marriage vows, and even a child's belief in Santa Claus are exactly the same. This is all apart from any realities, and the nature of reality, itself, is hotly debated by theoretical physicists who often postulated particles long before their existence could be proven (as happened with Pauli and what later was called the neutrino)

The root of all religious belief lies in the collective unconscious.It is ineffable, not subject to any laws of science that we are aware of and only seen through a glass, darkly. Jung thought (Psychology and Religion) that the archetypes were passed genetically but, of course, we cannot verify his ideas about that and those whose religious beliefs include any varieties of reincarnation might well have other ideas. None of this can be verified or negated by science in its current state and this might never be possible at all.

As human beings, we all share the same brain structures and these must affect the mind that inhabits that brain. Organisms who have no brains at all, have given evidence of mind-like functions in experimentation (like planarian worms who have only a bundle of nerve tissue that is only called a brain), so we cannot even be certain that that a brain is even necessary for sentient life in the universe. It is possible that minds evolved brains and not the other way round. We cannot create life to test this and it is thus beyond the scope of science. Ideas about these things, too, are theoretical or only a matter of faith.

Unlike religions (plural), religion (singular, faith) cannot be accessed by the consciousness, yet in the "upper levels" of the latter, certain patterns can be detected and demonstrated. I have some ideas, in that regard, concerning the quaternity as described in Jung's Mysterium Coniunctionis, together with alternative ideas from Jung's on how it might be reconciled with the Christian trinity, and I might start looking into this in the next series here. On Monday: archaeological fetishism.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Archaeology and the psyche: part four ― the road well travelled

Wheel ruts
photo: Bob Jones (Geograph)

“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” Mark Twain

Neural signaling

"Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric." Bertrand Russell

If Benjamin Button had been an academic he would have started with a Ph.d, and then got his Master's degree so that he could teach the things he had discovered to others. Finally, he would have amused himself in his young age by reading mountains of books and papers written by people who tried to do it the other way round. None of them would have been very original, and perhaps not even right, but at least they would have had lots of company.

Good original research is a solitary activity. The only voice you will hear will be that of the primary material. It's a quiet voice, and too easily drowned out when everyone is talking at once.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Archaeology and the psyche: part three ― thinking about things

La Pensierosa (The Thinker)
John William Godward, 1913

“The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking." A. A. Milne, War with Honour, 1940

Michel Foucault's The Order of Things: An archaeology of the human sciences was a revelation to me, not because it taught me a new way to think about things, but because it confirmed that I had been thinking about things in the right way. The conscious mind tends to compartmentalize things and this is how we form classifications of objects. It doesn't matter if the object is a plant, an animal, a coin, artifact, or an archaeological site: if we want to understand it it is necessary to view it alongside other apparently similar objects to know how it connects or does not connect with a greater whole. The simplest division of such objects are called classes and these are seen as the basic units within a classification system. The structure of any classification system is nested within other groups and as it would be too confusing to call each of them a class, we tend to assign other names to them, or in some way or another differentiate these groups. Thus in the biological taxonomy of the Linnaean System we get Kingdom, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. Going down even further, we can add sub-species, variety, and population and it as this point that we find the most disagreements between taxonomists. One type of creature might be claimed to be a sub-species by one person and a regional variation or population by another. At the very bottom of the scale, in a named object, would be individual.

A blatant error would be to confuse an individual with a class. I saw a good example of this with a picture of a Celtic coin in a "fringe archaeology" work by Barry Fell, where he imagined that he was seeing an Ogham word in the design. His mistake was not merely that he had predated Ogham characters by more than three hundred years, but that the device was only partly visible on that individual coin because it had been struck off-centre and part of it was not visible at all. If he had looked at the type (which in numismatics would be the equivalent of Kingdom as the numismatic taxonomy goes type or series, then class, and variety) he would not have made that mistake. This sort of error can also arouse suspicion: was it really a mistake, or did he select that individual to support a greater claim? This question reveals another potential classification system and that is the structure of a fiction. In other words, a plot.

But it does not even end there, because a number of people in discussing the problem will likely start using other terms like "innuendo", "out of context", and "conspiracy theory" (my favorite because it supposes that, if conspiracies actually exist, then no one ever has a theory about any of them). These, in turn might be honest, misguided, manipulative, bullshit, and so on. The Internet is choked with such things. Their language is explained by Phil Agre under the term "jargon". Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

While spending ten years or so establishing the manufacturing orders of Coriosolite coin dies, I came to understand that I could not include classes without abandoning a certain measure of objectivity. Although I started working on these in the mid eighties, just before my daughter was born, the book was not published until 2002, and I did not read Foucault (which validated my ideas) until a year later. Foucault reveals that all classification systems must contain a great measure of subjectivity, and that they are really an invention to serve the purposes of the classifier. These purposes will also have a cultural and/or temporal flavour. The data revealed to me that the coins actually consisted of only Series and continuums of individuals within them, and I came to this realization because instead of picking the arbitrary markers of a selection of motifs to determine each Class, I examined many hundreds of other motifs and the design elements from which they were constructed to order the coinage in an evolutionary manner. That there was such an evolution was my original hypothesis and it was based on their great variety of design.

I utilized my unconscious mind to recover the intentions of the original artists. This is psychic archaeology, and was possible for me because I am an Introverted Intuitive type. It would be virtually impossible for an Extraverted Thinking type to originate, but not so much for that type to follow if they became convinced of its scientific value. Intuitive is an irrational function and thus closer to objective, and thinking is a rational function and thus closer to subjective. I dare say that there will be many of you thinking "What?!!!" at this point. We are used to equating the irrational with insanity and the rational with sanity. This is an indicator of where our societies are on the Mythos to Logos scale. In Jungian terminology it is quite different with respect to objectivity and subjectivity. I'll let Wolfgang Pauli explain further:
"As a matter of fact the physicist would expect a psychological correspondence at this point, because the epistemological situation with regard to the concepts 'conscious' and 'unconscious' seems to offer a pretty close analogy to the undermentioned 'complimentarity' situation on physics. ... It is undeniable that the development of 'microphysics' has brought the way in which nature is described in this science very much closer to that of the newer psychology: but whereas the former, on account of the basic 'complementarity' situation. is faced with the impossibility of eliminating the effects of the observer by determinable correctives, and has therefore to abandon in principle any objective understanding of physical phenomena, the latter can supplement the purely subjective psychology of consciousness by postulating the existence of an unconscious that possesses a large measure of objective reality." C. G. Jung, On the Nature of the Psyche, p. 139n
The method that I decided to use was similar to that of the naturalist who established that sightings and photographs of  "the Loch Ness monster" were of otters: I just looked at the designs without trying to think about them, morning and night for quite a long time. As with that naturalist, a couple of indicators bubbled up to the surface of my unconsciousness allowing me to think about them and thus taking other unconscious aspects into the conscious mind where they could then be thought about and tested. After that point, I was able to "rough out" the entire chronology in a single sitting. I was also preconditioned to be able to conceive of continuums because of my understanding of David Bohm's Rheomode.

Although I had broken with classical classification systems because of their subjectivity, I knew that people still needed something similar for the singular function of assigning a design to part of the chronology, so I created my Groups, explaining to the reader that these could only be used for that function, and that to do otherwise would demote them to Classes. No statistical methods could possibly be applied to them and they were created only as a convenience and as a way to avoid saying "within the chronology somewhere between Coin x and y" These consisted, mainly, where certain parts  of the design changed in unison.

I also developed a system of notation like so:

1. 2. 3. (4. 5. 6.) 7. 8.  The numbers within parenthesis are in an arbitrary and subjective order because there is no evidence to claim their order as objective. Another way of looking at it is: 1. 2. 3. x. 7. 8. where x can be any arrangement of  4. 5. 6. It is a sort of Schrödinger's cat type of situation where the box might be opened by the discovery of new varieties within the continuum which might eliminate the parentheses or lessen the numbers contained therein.

Because I had so many divisions serving different functions, I decided not to use Bob Van Arsdell's better system of allowing for new discoveries of types and varieties by having orders of numbers like 353-5,  355-1, 355-3, 355-5 I did this for design reasons and because my chronological part of the study was the finite contents of a specific hoard and not the "un-finite" nature of a tribe's or region's coinage which might then need new intermediary numbers. It could still be changed, however, within the existing chronology, by adding such a system. In the the twenty years or so since I wrote the chronology, a couple of new varieties did emerge that fitted perfectly into it, and which I described as between a and b. for each.

The distribution patterns that I was able to reveal, that were invisible in the previous classification system, were easy to see regardless of whether a hoard had 85 coins or nearly ten thousand, so the new hoard of perhaps 70,000 coins should not have any effect on these patterns either. I found it interesting, however, that J-B Colbert de Beaulieu, who had invented the previous system, had said that no distribution patterns were visible in the data, but never questioned the thought that this might also mean that such distribution patterns might be revealed by adjusting his classification system to see them. This would have only required the grouping together of  three of his classes as one series, and two of his classes as another and allowing the sixth to stand on its own as a separate series (which would have been easy to identify as not being Coriosolite at all). It could have been done by applying all combinations until the distribution pattern just popped into view without any understanding of the design evolution whatsoever. That, too, is an objective method. My ultimate purpose, however, became much larger than just chronological and distributional matters.

Tomorrow, why the academic method is psychologically "bass-ackwards".

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Archaeology and the psyche: part two ― taking care of the equipment

Gravel truck
photo: Charles01
I have some friends who used to be in the gravel business. They had supplied the gravel for the construction of Calgary's famous Centre Street Bridge. In those days, the gravel was delivered to the site by horse and cart. I learned that the money was made not so much from the sale of gravel, but its delivery, and the key to success was in keeping all of the trucks in good running order at all times. The mechanics were the most important people in the business. Of course, having equipment in good working order is one thing, using it is another. For reasons that I cannot fathom, one of my friends once asked me to help load  a large drum full of who knows what into one of their sheds with a bulldozer. As I had never driven one before, he showed me how to operate it. Well, knowing and doing are two different things, and I nearly took out the shed when I clipped the door frame with the bucket. Still, it was fun and after driving the thing around the yard for a while before attempting the job I wondered if I might ask another friend if I might try driving his Centurion tank one day. After nearly demolishing the shed, I decided that being a tank driver was probably not a good activity for me.

While a field archaeologist uses a trowel to excavate a site, the tool that is used to interpret what is uncovered is the mind. So you would think that this tool, too, should be kept in good working order and that it should be properly calibrated so that the answers that it gives are accurate. I always used to zero my digital scales at the Nickle lab before weighing a coin and I knew that the room's air flows would effect the third decimal place so I never bothered with such a finely tuned measurement: whenever the air conditioner cut in, the scales would note the event. When I thought about this series, I couldn't recall ever reading anything about psychology in archaeological interpretation. I checked a few books and found nothing. Looking on the web, I was only able to find Digging deeper in the archaeological psyche which dealt more about motivation than about interpretation and leaned more toward Freud than Jung. Still, it broke the ground a bit and gave me a few ideas.

You would think that Jung would rate fairly high in something about the "archaeological psyche". After all, Jung originally wanted to study archaeology but settled on becoming a medical doctor instead. Now there's twist ― I'm sure that in most cases it is the other way round. In most university psychology courses, Jung is merely used as part of the history of the subject. A casual observer might think that this is because Jung is outdated. Actually, it is because Jung is extremely difficult. Jung was aware of the problem himself and had his various assistants contribute most of the chapters of Man and his Symbols because he was aware of the great gulf between himself and the public. I don't think the plan worked very well. You can detect  a few times when the Zeitgeist or the collective consciousness crept into the work, especially with the fragmentation spoken of by Aniela Jaffé and her really bizarre bit about "Roman" coins, which are actually Celtic and the designs of which she compares with art drawn by someone on LSD. There is absolutely nothing in this that is even partly correct -- not even the order of them based on their distance from Rome, which, even if were put in the correct order would mean nothing at all as they were all based on Greek coin designs, anyway. Wolfgang Pauli would have said "It's not even wrong".

I really think that everyone should approach Jung from his own writings first, and only then look at the other authors. Do not start with Mysterium Coniunctionis, but pick The Undiscovered Self, granted, the latter's social concerns deal much with the Iron Curtain and worries about the atomic bomb (it's from 1957), but it is up front with this and not so allusive as Man and his Symbols. Then tackle his paper On the Nature of the Psyche. It is bound, in the Bollingen series title, with On Psychic Energy which precedes it, but read the other paper first. I think that in recent years most people have started with Man and his Symbols and then have gone on to On Synchronicity ― not a good plan. Alternatively, try Joseph Campbells' compilation, The Portable Jung. You will need to read On the Nature of the Psyche a few times, but it is well worth it.

Let us say that you are in charge of putting together an archaeological team. In order to start with the best equipment (the core archaeologists, themselves), the very first thing you should do is to have all of the potential candidates take one of the personality tests based on Jung's original work. The "big two" are MBTI and HumanMetrics. Aim for getting two people to be joint heads of the team, one an extravert, the other an introvert. Be careful, though, there can often be sexual attraction between these two types so you want to avoid that. One obvious way would be to pick people who are of the same sex (and both heterosexual), or are of different sexes (and are both homosexual). While you could use the free online tests, it would be best  to pay for the service and thus have these companies supply competent people to interpret the results in accordance with your needs. This sort of thing is common in business, because it can be of great. practical. use. About the worse way to go would be to pick people based only on their academic qualifications and their publishing history. You would probably do better with a lottery! Try to have all of the core personnel come from very different academic and social backgrounds. It really doesn't matter who you pick for support staff other than that they are efficient in what they do. You will thus end up with a relatively objective "think tank". Such teams are actually quite rare as think tanks are too often constructed to a specific end. You want the opposite of that: you are not trying to design something pre-determined, you are trying to get people together who look at things differently. The past is wild and unpredictable and archaeologists are often accused (with considerable validity) of only finding what they are looking for. Stick with the companies who use the method above. I had dealings, once, with a company who used another company who were a front for Scientology. It was a complete disaster and ended up with a virtual mutiny among the staff.

When we had our business, I had my staff put in eight hours each day, but two hours of that was for their breaks. Pushing people too hard results in lower productivity and can result in too many "sick days" and a lack of enthusiasm. Unused to two half-hour coffee breaks, they all returned to work afterward with considerable energy and enthusiasm. I have tested these things and they work. Our productivity soared as a result. It might shock you to know how little work is actually accomplished in the average office.

The extravert will have a natural ability to deal with the material, and the introvert will have a natural ability to deal with meaning, but what if you are just one person looking at the evidence of the past? Imagine that everything has been dug up and recorded and it is your job, alone, to make sense of it? I'll have some answers for you tomorrow ― things that have worked for me.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Archaeology and the psyche: part one ― introduction

Psyche and her sisters
Jean-Honoré Fragonard

"Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"

Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol

I've always been a "systems person". When I was three years old I disturbed an ant's nest just to see what the ants would do about it; I built my first expert system before I ever heard of the term "expert system". It was Robert Van Arsdell who identified it as such when he read the manuscript of my book after I had first submitted it to Spink & Son, Ltd. I had called it a "quick identification chart".

Everything was always connected. Nothing was isolated, not even my own life: before I started school at the age of four, I asked my mother, "When I die, who will my next mother be?" I don't remember if she tried to answer that question, I do remember her being startled by it though. Neither of my parents were religious. Sure, they put down "Church of England" on the forms, but I have no knowledge that either of them had ever seen the inside of a church. I became interested in Bible stories until I had a nightmare full of Biblical imagery followed by a very scary out of body experience in which I started drifting toward my bedroom window. There was something in the room with me: a ball of golden light, an inch or two in size, that just hung there in mid-air. I tried closing my eyes, but it didn't work. When I was fifteen, I started to become interested in philosophy, and then Tibetan Buddhism, but a growing interest in girls put most of that out of my mind! I didn't even realize I was being driven by biological urges. Now, at the age of nearly sixty-five, having been married for twenty years, and on my own for more than ten years, such biological urges have little effect on me. I'm pretty well free of both desires and fears. I'm not free of curiosity, though. It drives me.

Pam in Banff, Alberta
Oscar Wilde's lines came to me when I was in my early twenties and heard an older friend say that his wife had been a ballerina, but that he had put an end to that. Not long after that, I met Pam, a ballerina from Los Angeles and she moved in with me. She had come to Alberta to continue her dance studies at the Banff School of Fine Arts. I was afraid that I might be holding her back, and I broke up with her. I don't know what happened to her after Banff, or if she achieved her goals, but I hope she did. It was quite the sacrifice to me at the time, but I felt that I had no choice. It was her passion, and she understood. Her best friend in Los Angeles had been Jimmy Webb's girlfriend and he had written the song MacArthur Park about his relationship with Pam's friend. I used to think about that song whenever I walked through MacArthur Park in the summer of 1969 and it all became part of that experience for me, later, when I met Pam in Calgary. Everything is connected.

Coin of Karystos from the Wallace collection
Image courtesy  of Classical Numismatic Group Inc
Long before the Internet, when I was working on the research for my book, I had corresponded with various British archaeologists about the Celts and their coins. I never heard anything bad from any of them about my collecting ancient coins and artifacts. I did experience two examples of hostility here in Calgary, though. The first one came from an emeritus professor of archaeology who had purchased the Wallace collection of Euboean coins. Only the League coinage had ever been published, and I had been picked by the curator of the Numismatic Department at the Nickle Arts Museum to die-link and study the coins of Chalkis and Karystos, which were on loan from that professor. He had wagged his finger at me when I said that I was a collector. Nothing ever came of that, I still have my notes somewhere, though. The intended book was never published: the university had refused to pay for the photography, and the professor was too eager to split up the collection in a number of auction lots and make a good profit to allow enough time for the study to be completed. The second time was when my wife was marking papers for a woman who was an art-history instructor at the Alberta College of Art. She came over to the house once and saw my little display case with its Celtic coins and antiquities. "These should be in a museum!" she said officiously. In deference to my wife, I did not kick her out of the house. Later, she was picked as the new curator of the coin department at the Nickle when the previous curator retired. He wanted me to take over, but she was married to a professor of Classics there and got the job instead. She also had  a Ph.D. She got fired after she sent all the Greek silver coins out to be polished so that they would be more attractive for the public. I have not had much to do with the Nickle since then.

I decided, that such people who wag their fingers at collectors are a bunch of nuts who have achieved that negative Jungian state known as Enantiodromia. I still do. Since then I have always championed those who have had a real passion. Everything is connected.

This series will examine not just the psychology of the good archaeologists who still have that passion, but the nuts, too. It will also examine the psychologies of those who are being studied by them: it's really not the things that are important, it's the people who made and used them. I was going to call this series "psychic archaeology", but then people might think it was about dowsing for artifacts, rather than "dowsing" for meaning. But everything is connected isn't it?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Kassander's tomb?

The Lion of Amphipolis
photo: Kkonstan
Late last night, my friend Robert phoned me from Toronto to tell me about the discovery of the undisturbed  entrance to the enormous tomb at Amphipolis that archaeologists have been excavating for a few years and the tomb's association with the large sculpture of a lion found some distance away that is believed to have been erected at the top of the mound. The lion had been cast in a river when Amphipolis had been attacked by the Romans. Our interest in this discovery was to do with the lead seals of Alexander the Great. (we both own an example), which depict a walking lion and the name of Alexander.

Typical of the media, the reports quote expert's opinions without giving much in the way of their reasons for these opinions.

It is denied, of course, that the tomb contains the body of Alexander the Great because he was buried first at Memphis, but his body was later moved to Alexandria. However, I think it most likely that the tomb was built for Alexander. Such a monument would have taken a very long time to build and would have been started long before Alexander's death.

There is also speculation that the tomb was built for Admiral Laomedon of Mytilene, but an iconographic detail of the tomb eliminates that possibility as it was certainly built for a king. This significance of this detail might be known by the excavators, because of its mention in some of the news reports, but nothing has been said about its significance. It is also quite possible that this iconographic detail has not been understood at all.

The crucial detail is the thirteen steps that were discovered some time ago. Robert Graves, in The Greek Myths, (Introduction)says:
"Thirteen, the number of the sun’s death-month, has never lost its evil reputation among the superstitious. The days of the week lay under the charge of Titans: the genii of sun, moon, and the five hitherto discovered planets, who were responsible for them to the goddess as Creatrix. This system had probably been evolved in matriarchal Sumeria.
"Thus the sun passed through thirteen monthly stages, beginning at the winter solstice when the days lengthen again after their long autumnal decline. The extra day of the sidereal year, gained from the solar year by the earth’s revolution around the sun’s orbit, was intercalated between the thirteenth and the first month, and became the most important day of the 365, the occasion on which the tribal Nymph chose the sacred king, usually the winner of a race, a wrestling match, or an archery contest. But this primitive calendar underwent modifications: in some regions the extra day seems to have been intercalated, not at the winter solstice, but at some other New Year—at the Candlemas cross-quarter day, when the first signs of spring are apparent; or at the spring equinox, when the sun is regarded as coming to maturity; or at midsummer; or at the rising of the Dog Star, when the Nile floods; or at the autumnal equinox, when the first rains fall."

Graves has quite a lot to say about the thirteenth month in his work, including that the Greeks symbolized it with the myrtle. The number thirteen underwent considerable syncretization and was first thought to be unlucky because Judas was the thirteenth person to be seated at the Last Supper. However, Judas' role in the death of the "King of the Jews" and his thirteenth position was mythologically necessary. Much later still, thirteen steps were constructed to gallows.

Another theory for the occupant of the tomb was Alexander's wife Roxana. This came about because no penis was found for the lion of Amphipolis, but this was refuted by Michaelis Lefantzis on Argyraspid's blog, Megas Alexandros. Argyraspid replies: "I hope it was not built for Cassander though ;-)".

While I do not think that it was built for Kassander, I think it very likely that he had ordered that he should be buried in the unoccupied tomb. Kassander had made great use of lion iconography in his bronze coinage and the iconography of that coinage would have been aimed only at a Macedonian audience. I think it possible that the lion breaking the spear-head in his jaws on the coins where Kassander styles himself as "King"could refer to the dynastic change. Having murdered Alexander's son, it seems unlikely that Kassander would have wanted Alexander IV to be buried there. Who buried Alexander IV is open to speculation, but the task should have been the responsibility of Alexander's half-brother Philip III as Kassander was not the king at that time. Philip was little more than a figurehead and it is said that he suffered from learning disabilities. Furthermore, if you are looking for a ruthless and scheming  player in this scene, then Kassander is your man. It is said that Kassander went to Babylon to poison Alexander the Great.

I find it interesting, too, that "21st century experts believe that Alexander's tomb disappearance is related to the rise of Christianity in the pagan Roman Empire including Alexandria, Egypt. The theory suggests that Alexander's body was unintentionally stolen from Alexandria by a pair of Venetian merchants, taken to Venice, mistakenly renamed and venerated as St. Mark the Evangelist in Basilica di San Marco (Venice, Italy)." (Wikipedia entry for Alexander's tomb). The origin of the lion motif for both St. Mark and the city of Venice has been attributed to Revelations, but perhaps there is cause to doubt that attribution.

Hopefully, in a few weeks, the mystery might be solved!