Africa: the Pulse Model Perspective
Mr. Roderick McIntosh development of what he calls ‘the pulse model’ is an attempt to establish a stable logic construct of information-intergration that could provide insight into the progressional experiences of humanity and also take into account the composite continental implications of a given experience. This construct is conceived as part of the extended mapping strategies of the modern era ( an archaeological chain of evidence)- as part of the greater efforts to better understand composite earth history and human evolution as we move towards the establishment of a composite viewpoint of our species that is consistent with the state of technology and known information in this time period. The thrust of Mr. Mc Intoch’s theory seeks to establish the base components that can be utilized to measure experience and change. In seeking to gain insight into the progressional experiences of trans-African cultural dynamics Mr. Mc Intoch focuses on 1) ecological and climate research as a fundamental quality that provides the backdrop for human experience 2) the emergence of occupational specialization and 3) the processes of communal identity. In the first category Mr. Mc Intoch examines the interrelationship between documented weather patterns in the African continent and the emergence of cluster pattern communities. The extension of this approach then seeks to map the paths traveled by a given people ( his subject focus in the article is West Africa) and to look for the interrelationship between the properties of the specific environment and the occupational reality for the indigenous people of the region. Mc Intoch then establishes 1) a viewpoint that defines stable and mutable group movements (ie. forager vs settlement) leading to an attempt to understand the emergence of specific occupations ( fishing and agriculture and extending to metal working). This is a viewpoint that is looking for and at concrete materials- as a way to construct a viewpoint of early composite human reality. The approach starts from a particular object and seeks to divine/understand greater aesthetic questions concerning the dynamic interactive nature ( and synergy) of early African cultures. I found Mr. Mc Intoch’s writings about the finds at Jenno Jenne to be very exciting and consistent with the model he established at the beginning of the article.
The strength of the pulse model is that this method can serve as a positive factor that can predict location sites that might be of relevance to archaeological study. The dynamics of this model 1) predicts greater intensification of specialization as the response to ecological dynamism 2) establishes a concept of ‘Identity’ that can be utilized and extended. The extended implication of this method comments on a) the negotiations of belonging to a group b) regional exchange and integration and (c) the emergence of symbols ( and I am especially interested in this zone of information). Mc Intoch writes that ‘negotiation is an exchange of information’ and then postulates a viewpoint that logically extends into the domain of coded symbols and the development of contracts of complementary reciprocity between specialists. He sees these experiences as the genesis experiences that gives insight into the whole of human interaction dynamics. The dynamic implications of Mc Intoch’s model challenges 1) monodimensional concepts of ethnic lineage 2) as well the internal dynamics of multi-ethnic co-existence. The extended implications of his model gives a paradigm to postulate ‘mapping experiences’ into the ancient era ( ca 1000 AD). It is in this area of his research that Mc Intoch makes a dynamic breakthrough. The pulse model in this context 1) establishes rainfall and temperature oscillations in a given time parameter (ie stable pluvial conditions) 2) gives a paradigm that helps in tracking the migration patterns of given groups of people 3) and gives insight into trade patterns. Mc Intoch’s writings document that cluster settlement structures were a gradual development that gives insight into the process of urbanization. The extended implications of his writings also comment on 1) the role of ecology as a axiom-component that also figures into the evolution of specialization 2) the role of myth, ideologies and material expressions as an ‘affirmation’ of cultural solidification and identity. The heart of this information to me gives insight into the emergence of ‘codes’ of human interaction dynamics ( and I am especially interested in this area of information- that being, the forming of social ‘codes’ and later, the ‘aesthetic-codes’). In seeking to detail the inner components of his model Mc Intoch also gives us some information about the documented ‘conflicts’ of the people of a given area-region. This part of his article was the best part for me. In seeking to understand these aspects of human experience, we are being given through Mc Intoch’s research, an opportunity to look at genesis constructs of human behavior ( and ritual ceremony).
The article of Mr. Jan Vansina balances the article of Mc Intoch in a most beautiful way. Mr. Vansina is obviously aware of the complexities of the last one hundred years of anthropological research. The thrust of his writings seeks to help us view the methodological and aesthetic differences inherent in our present day disciplines in a more critical way. Mr. Vansina is saying – ‘wait a minute people- watch out for over generalizations- we need a broader knowledge base to better sort out archaeological finds. In particular, Mr. Vansina focuses on the aesthetic tools of the historian versus the archaeologist. The heart of his viewpoint seeks to challenge monodimensional theories that seem ‘over comfortable’ ( or that might be at odds with a broader information spectra). This is the case for 1) theories of migration 2) the general process of change ( as it relates to evolution, technology, environment, migration, and diffusion). Vansins is saying that once a ‘given actualization’ happens, there is no one model of diffusion ( or at least, scholars must fight the tendency to rest comfortably with one theory and/or one hypotenuses). He writes, “different pathways of development can , in different parts of the world, lead from the same simple stage to the next higher stage of evolution”. Vansina list three categories of Phillipson that involve 1) political centralization 2) the emergence and significance of ceramics 3) the use of metallurgy and its spread ( not from one so-called genesis source, but rather as documented from many different source regions). In seeking to understand this subject Vansina extends to develop a theory of multilineal cultural evolution that implies a more dynamic reference base than any single-theory postulate. He writes of temporal oscillations as a stable-logic component that must be taken into account in any attempt to understand Africa. – And I can agree with the concept that history is not a static subject that contains only one ‘answer’, but rather, like everything else history is an exciting subject that is continually changing- and is never finished ( just like the ‘present and future’).