Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest (Anglais) Broché – 15 mai 2011
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Had Turner stopped at a description of his methodology and the sites he reviewed, Man Corn would have been a valuable resource, but only half of what it could have been. Fortunately, Turner goes on to propose a theory explaining cannibalism and the extreme violence accompanying it. In 1993 he made a surprising discovery--the sites showing evidence of cannibalism had a strong correlation with the "Chaco Phenomenon." That is, the sites were from the same geographic area and within the same time period of the Great Houses. In fact, some sites are in fact inside the Great Houses themselves (Pueblo Bonito, Penasco Blanco).
Using this as a base, Turner devotes a chapter to body-processing in Mexico, where cannibalism had long been practiced, a fact well-known to archaeologists. He then makes the connection between Chaco's ties to Mesoamerica and the appearance of cannibalism in the American Southwest. He proposes that actual warrior/priests cultists from the Toltec culture arrived in Chaco, bringing their political system with them, a system built not on peaceful cooperation, but on ritutalistic terror. It's a convincing argument, especially when backed up by a skull found in a high-status burial at Pueblo Bonito--a skull showing dental modification characteristic of Mexican Indians; a modification unknown in the Southwest.
Turner theorizes that they might have been refugees from the collapsing Toltec Empire. My guess would be that they were imperial colonizers intent on taking over the turquoise trade and building it up to be a high-capacity monopoly. But whichever the case, they seem to have brought more than architectural ideas with them. And if, as many have suspected, Mexican religious beliefs influenced the Anasazi, then it's very likely that rituals associated with those religious beliefs were also present.
The book generated a storm of controversy. Not surprisingly, many critics mistakenly assumed that Turner was claiming that all Anasazi at all times were cannibals. This certainly wasn't the case and Turner of course proposes no such thing. But just as Darwin's pioneering work was reduced by misinformed critics to some kind of proof that man was descended from apes, so many critics have assumed Turner's book is somehow racist or culturally insensitive. In fact, just like some of Darwin's more vocal opponents, one gets the impression that some critics haven't even read "Man Corn."
Too bad. Unlike so many other books on the Anasazi, it's not as dry as dust. It's presented in an intriguing way, a survey of the past and a voyage of discovery. It has tons of data, but for each section of data, there is an interesting discussion of what it means.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Especialy for those who've tired of the "peaceful stargazers" school of Anasazi research. "Man Corn" makes the Anasazi appear more real, a people who had a dark side as well.
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