Class Canceled

Monday, 26 Oct. — Class canceled again today. I promise not to infect you all with the flu on Wednesday.


Finally, I’ve got the second pipe up and running. I hope that now we can all rest assured that everyone’s blog entries are being fed onto the Netvibes site.

As I mentioned in class today, we will be convening on Monday in room 212 at the library to watch Aguirre, Wrath of God. I will also be emailing the midterm take-home exam to all of you at your UTK addresses next week.

I’m looking forward to your reactions to Cajamarca, and to the various portrayals of Spanish and indigenous people from this week’s readings.


Schedule Update – and Exam 1

One of your illustrious colleagues pointed out weeks ago that I had failed to put a date on the syllabus for Exam 1. I have amended this, and Exam 1 will be due in class or via email no later than class on the 5th of October. This comes after Aguirre Wrath of God, so plan accordingly. I will hand out the exam the Wednesday prior to it being due. Make sure you make it to class that day.

An additional scheduling note– tomorrow (Wednesday 16 Sept.) we will be watching a documentary on inca/spanish combat, our final foray into the realm of archaeology. I had planned to show it next week, but its owner wants it back.

Marx Quote

The Karl Marx quote from the end of class on Wednesday is:

The way in which men produce their means of subsistence depends first of all on the nature of the actual means of subsistence they find in existence and have to reproduce. This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the reproduction of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore, coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce. The nature of individuals thus depends on the material conditions determining their production.

Karl Marx, The German Ideology

I’d like for you to consider this quote within the context of the pre-Hispanic Andes. Of course, first that means you need to understand what Marx is arguing. So, what is he claiming? Does Marx’s contention provide a compelling explanation for the social, religious, economic, political, etc. practices in the Andes up through the Inka? Can you think of any examples from the readings– from the Huarochiri manuscript, or the article on cloth, or any of the other readings that confirm or contradict Marx’s claim?

Apropos of our discussion in class this past week, and of many of your blog posts yesterday, Colleen Morgan on her blog Middle Savagery has a discussion of the ethical issues surrounding a collection of 4,000 yr-old human remains from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The remains are part of a special collection owned by the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum, and were taken in the 1940s by Peter Bruce Cornwall. Morgan also links to a number of interesting discussions of related ethical debates with regard to Native American human remains. I’d urge you all to take a look at her post, as well as the pieces linked to the post to see the larger context of archaeological uses of human remains.

Morgan is part of a team of archaeologists analyzing the collection, and that team has published a project statement of ethics here.

Does the context in which human remains from the long-ago past impact the ethical considerations in their use? Should national governments have strict control over all archaeological remains that happen to exist within their borders? Is there a point where human remains, and other types of artifacts, become a patrimony of all of human kind? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

On RSS and Our Mashup

ProfHacker has a great post up introducing the concept of RSS and why it makes life easier for pulling information from a variety of websites. I’d like to recommend it for any of you who are still unsure of what RSS and an RSS feed is. There are also good recommendations for sites and applications you can use as readers to aggregate your own feeds.

A number of you have asked about how the RSS feed shows up on the class portal (or in a few cases, doesn’t seem to show up). The ability to mash up a whole bunch of feeds such as the 30+ blogs you all are running for this course right now depends on something called a Yahoo Pipe. I enter all of your RSS feed addresses into the pipe, it aggregates them together, sorts them based on publication date, takes the 45 most recent posts and spits them out as a whole new feed. This is then loaded through a widget as a single feed onto the netvibes portal.

For the interested, here is a screenshot of the pipe we’re using:


Coming up in Week 3

I believe I’ve added all of the feeds for the blog addresses that have been mailed to me. If you didn’t receive a response, let me know– it’s possible I’ve overlooked one or two emails. I’ve enjoyed reading this first round of comments.

Coming up in Week 3, we will be watching and discussing a video on mummification practices, and also looking at the most basic social and political structure that emerged out of ancient Peru — the ayllu. You need to finish reading the Benson and Cook book along the way.

Don’t forget to click on a few of the links on http://www.netvibes.com/history360#Early_Andes and comment on your classmates entries!

Coming Up in Week 2

On tap for August 24 and 26 — we will have a second go at some technology, and for those who are having trouble I’ll give a quick tutorial in using our web portal, setting up a blog, and the like. But, most of our time will be spent looking at the intersection of ecology and human settlement in the early days. We will be considering particularly how elevation and precipitation affected Andean settlement right from the start.

We will also be discussing pp. 1-92 of the Benson and Cook book, Ritual Sacrifice in Ancient Peru. This first reading includes chapters on the importance of sacrifice in early Andean cultures, as well as specific analyses of decapitation, blood letting, fertility, sacred weaving, and more, particularly amongst the Moche.

Where, you might ask, were the Moche located? Moche settlements were concentrated on the northwest coast of present day Peru, and flourished between 100 and 800 CE. The Moche were preceded on the north coast by the Cupisnique, who flourished for a millennium and a half, beginning around 1500 BCE.


Welcome to the course blog for History 360 – the History of the Early Andes. In addition to our blog, we also have a class portal, which brings together a whole host of resources on  Latin America, Latin American History, your own blog posts for this class, and other important course resources. Be sure to bookmark that page, as it is the easiest way to access your course materials.

Your course syllabus, schedule, and readings are also available at this blog. I would suggest that you subscribe to the RSS feed of our course blog using a service like Google Reader or NetNewsWire (for those inclined towards Mac). These are very easy to set up, and allow you immediate access whenever something new is posted to a feed-supported site.

I’m looking forward to a great semester.