Ethnoarchaeology in the Uttermost Part of the Earth

Jordi Estévez

Abstract

Our ethnoarchaeological research projects since 1986 have focused on testing and developing archaeological theories, inference systems, and methodologies for recovery and analysis of prehistoric European hunter-gatherer societies. The research began by contrasting the ethnographic image of the Tierra del Fuego gatherer-fisher-hunter groups with the archaeological record from sites attributable to the people defined as “Yamana” and “Selknam” in ethnographies. The research dealt with the variability of the resources and space management strategies and their links to the social organization of these groups. We excavated settlements as well as burial and ritual places. As a result of the research we argue the necessity of using analytical categories of social significance related to work processes, absolute value, and the distribution and consumption of goods. Working with such categories is productive but requires one to rethink some of the general analogies and common a prioris in the study of prehistoric societies.

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