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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Diegueno Shaman's Wand: An Object Lesson Illustrating the "Heirloom Hypothesis"


I make but two simple points. The first is to describe an intriguing Diegueno artifact and point up how this artifact might serve as an analogy for some cases of prehistoric behavior. Secondly, I would like to goad archaeologists into venturing beyond the narrow range of hypotheses now in use. There is no need to simply write off stratigraphic anomalies as rodent disturbance or frost heaving (or sloppy excavation). What about testing for temporal curation? We can overextend any argument, of course, and no single hypothesis will serve us unflaggingly. In fact, the heirloom hypothesis will undoubtedly be rejected in most cases. But when it cannot be rejected, then we have something. The Diegueno ceremonial piece suggests a shred of ethnographic behavior of use to archaeologists. I consider it to be a worthwhile object lesson.

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