dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #186

Mary Ann Dimand amaebi at iwon.com
Thu Jul 13 13:36:17 EDT 2000


Jennifer said:

> Way OT- there was a fascinating thing on BBC2 last night
> about one of the Mississipian mound cities.
> ... seeing them was incredible- links to both South American
> things like very Aztec-looking pottery and designs on shells,
> and modern N. American Indian things like cross-in-circle and
> spiral motifs.

And in fact there's lovely work in Earle and Brumfiel on these cultures,
which was one article I assigned my American economic history students. (Of
*course* I wasn't influenced by the fact that I grew up in Southern
Illinois. Inconceivable!)

The author (whose name I can't recall) discusses the examination of
archaeological evidence concerning

(a) the mode of production under which the mounds were created, given the
person-years they embody,
(b) the economic system under which the (communal?) grain stores were
developed,
(c) speciallization of labour, which is a big clue as to
(d) whether there's trade (which is one thing) or ceremonial exchange (which
is another), or some of each.

The article on feather cloaks in Hawaii is good, too, and particularly
helpful on that last point.

> With all the Arthurian/Celtic fantasy around why doesn't there
> seem to be much based on other societies where magic was
> part of their lives?

Oh, probably because of all the Arthurian/Celtic fantasy around. :D Writers
areoften inspired by the work of others and sometimes by the sales of
others. And Americans tend to have a bit of cultural inferiority-feeling
where the British are concerned, particularly in literary matters.

(If you add up all the fantasy based on other mythos, there's quite a lot--
but no one sort is as well-represented as Arthurian/Celtic, I think.)

Mary Ann


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