Volume 20 No. 1
|Anthropoplogy and the Issues of Our Day, by James L. Peacock.||The Art of Anthropology, by Robert L. Humphrey.||Mammoth Excavation on the Web.|
|Communication and the Future of American Archaeology, by Jeremy A. Sabloff.||Teacher's Corner: Zoo Labs, by Alison S. Brooks.||Materials Available from the Anthropology Outreach Office|
|In Search of America's MIAs: Forensic Anthropology in Action, by Robert. W. Mann and Tohmas D. Holland.||High School Maritime Archaeology Program, by Clark Graham.||AnthroNotes credits|
by James L. Peacock
[Editors' Note: The AnthroNotes editors asked James Peacock, President of the American Anthropological Association (1993-95) what he sees as the future for anthropology as we approach a new millennium.]
In the presidential address to the American Anthropological Association in 1995, I sketched three possible scenarios for anthropology in the 21st century:
1) Death, extinction.
2) Living death. Anthropology as an enclave: irrelevant, cherishing ideas once avant garde, and now quaint. In this vision, anthropology consists of disorganized, slightly intriguing and amusing nay-saying eccentrics who relish vaguely-recalled avant-garde ideas from the 20th century but who are merely a curiosity in the 21st.
3) Life. Anthropology remains intriguing and creatively diverse, iconoclastic and breathtaking in breadth and perception, profound in scholarship, but integral and even leading in addressing the complex challenges of a transnational yet grounded humanity.
In this third scenario, anthropology builds on its strengths (e.g., undergraduate teaching) and diminishes its weaknesses (its marginality despite its scope, and its presence everywhere yet nowhere in academia and society).
The community of K-12 teachers is one of the two or three most crucial arenas in which to broaden the dialogue between anthropology and our wider society. I am delighted, therefore, to join that dialogue through this invited article honoring the 20th anniversary of AnthroNotes.
This article is written in the hope that more anthropologists and teachers will find ways to help our discipline achieve the third scenario by addressing and helping to solve the great issues of our day.
I speak from both inside and outside anthropology. I am an unrepentant, un-deconstructed anthropologist. During the past seven years, I have spent as much time outside the discipline as inside. Various elected posts, including chair of faculty at my university, have brought more interdisciplinary than disciplinary work, allowing me to see enormous opportunities for the discipline of anthropology.
The mutual engagement of anthropologists and academics with teachers and others (such as legislators) in community settings (such as town meetings or conferences) addressing issues of concern to all is worth considering. This could be an alternative to the hierarchical and unidirectional model of the anthropologist or other academic as "expert," conveying wisdom to others such as teachers or students.
The history of anthropology over the last one hundred years can be divided into three phases or orientations: past, present, and future. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, anthropology focused on the past: human origins and evolution. Edward Tylor, holding at Oxford the first academic appointment in anthropology, signifies this focus (Primitive Cultures, 1871). In the early twentieth century, anthropology began to focus on the present: ethnography, describing contemporary, living peoples. Malinowski's fieldwork during World War I (Argonauts of the Western Pacific, 1922) signaled the advent of this phase. Then in the beginning of the mid-twentieth century, after World War II, anthropology was oriented more toward the future through concern with change, "practice" (how people use cultural rules to negotiate their lives), and shaping the future. Sir Edmund Leach, a pupil of Malinowski, inaugurated this phase with his 1954 publication, Political Systems of Highland Burma.
This analysis does not say that focusing on the past or present is obsolete. On the contrary, the tracing of human origins and evolution remains our bread and describing living peoples (ethnography) our butter. Understanding where we come from and who we are are still the fundamental questions of anthropology. Nor is it to say that anthropology is or should become only future oriented, in the manner of authors Alvin Toffler (Future Shock, 1970) or Peter Drucker (Post Capitalist Society, 1993). However, I do believe there is and should be an emerging emphasis on dynamism and activism grasping and shaping the future. Hence my two slogans: 1) the future of anthropology is the future and 2) the future of our mastery is the mastery of our future.
The most recent epoch has been a troubled one, marked by two complementary trends: turning inward and turning outward. The inward turning is exemplified by the notorious reflexive or postmodernist navel-gazing: the anthropologist, like many other academics, reflecting on his- or herself and discipline and questioning/ deconstructing both.
The outward turning is exemplified by the growth in applied anthropology, the practice of anthropology in the world at large. Half the anthropologists with new doctorates now take jobs outside the academy. Thus my third slogan: you get the most out of anthropology by getting out of it provided, of course, you carry its wisdom with you as you go out to work in the world. It is these ambassadors who often have the opportunity to be engaged in the issues of our day.
What should emerge from anthropology's engagement with human issues? How can we get better at doing it constructively and publicly?
Margaret Mead is a good example of one who publicly addressed issues of society, promoting anthropology as a useful perspective. Some of anthropology's current intellectual leaders waste valuable public opportunities by airing arcane debates internal to the discipline and tedious to those outside, not to mention some of us inside the discipline.
Anthropology has a distinctive and difficult intellectual task. Carrying it out, anthropologists perform miracles. What is this task? Another slogan "backwards and in high heels" sums it up. When Ginger Rogers asked what it was like to dance with Fred Astaire, she replied, "I do everything he does, backwards and in high heels." Anthropologists do that so to speak, compared to other thinkers. They engage the categories of our society, such as democracy or capitalism, then throw our own anthropological concepts into the dialogue with exotic ones --a dance if you like-- thus forcing us to rethink our own categories and our own society. We are to most intellectuals as Ginger was to Fred.
A basic contribution of anthropology is to honor and understand local knowledge. "Local" is sometimes far away, sometimes close by, but always localized, immediate, and thus subordinated to the so-called global-- to turn that local wisdom back on our own taken-for-granted categories of wisdom and morality.
I affirm and applaud the miraculous achievements of anthropologists today and over the past hundred years who are the real heroes and heroines, putting themselves at risk in every way --physically, psychologically, culturally, professionally-- to do what nobody else does: to reach out into incredibly remote or different or challenging situations and make sense of them--brilliantly. Anthropologists really do miracles.
But somehow we need to do more miracles and within the public sphere. Thus, public or perish. By public I mean not publicity but engaging serious public issues, sometimes publicly, deploying our special strengths, our miracles, in so doing--in forums ranging from schools to town meetings.
What kinds of issues should we engage?
The gamut from human rights to environmental destruction to creating viable national or international culture, to poverty, homelessness, and the 45 million refugees in the world today. We anthropologists already contribute importantly to such issues but vastly less than we could and should.
One general issue bears directly on the future of our discipline and to which our discipline offers special wisdom --the issue of globalism.
One aspect of globalism is often identified by two terms: the information revolution and the management revolution. The information revolution pertains to the growth of the computer technology in every sphere, from banking to teaching. The management revolution pertains to the growth of management in a corporate or business model in every sphere, from health delivery to education. Both so-called revolutions are driven by globalistic capitalism, where the ultimate goal and value is the bottom line. To maximize profit, human values are subordinate to this one value.
Thus, in health care, some HMOs may subordinate the Hippocratic oath to economics; in education, downsizing replaces humanistic ideals of education with a piecework model, so that temporary employees replace the classic academic community, which united scholarship, mentoring, governance, and public service as a full-time, life-long calling. The result is that for short-time savings, schools or the academy sometimes resemble sweat shops.
We anthropologists must force the "real world" leaders to think hard about the long-term consequences of undermining the educational endeavor and other societal processes by the information and management revolutions.
A counter to this trend of profit-making is suggested by the modifying adjective: global. Globalization bears a relationship to particularized groundings: to local identities, region, kin, community, and to the ground itself --nature, the environment. Globalization works in many ways to destroy these groundings; perhaps in other ways it can affirm them. Anthropology is the discipline perhaps best equipped to grasp at once the global and local/particularized and to probe the ways these seemingly opposed trends relate and could relate. I call this relationship GLOB GRO --global and ground.
Hence, the management revolution and the information revolution should engage anthropological analysis; they are both global and "cross-cultural."
Globalism or the broader relationship of "glob-gro" takes anthropology far beyond the stones and bones that are its staple. Engagement with globalism as an issue brings anthropology into the classroom and into the community in a way that deploys the discipline's full spectrum from evolution to ethnography.
What abides and what should abide in the teaching of anthropology?
First, I would nominate, especially, telling the human story --prehistory and history-- our most solid and publicly recognized contribution. Second, I would incorporate new twists such as gender and ideology into ethnography and comparison and continue the study of the sustaining institutions, such as religion and the family (kinship). The most exciting work combines history or prehistory and ethnography; for example, Charles Hudson's work on DeSoto and the Spanish era in American history (Hernando de Soto and the Indians of Florida, 1993), offers a fine tie-in between ethnography and early American history. Ecological frameworks also offer excellent ways to join the so-called four fields (and more), in pushing issues of the environment, both natural and cultural.
How can we encourage anthropology departments to engage more with the issues of our day and departments to work more with local school systems?
I caution my colleagues to sustain the basics; nobody else will. But think flexibly about these; the four fields are better conceived, I think, as force fields --as dynamic tensions among biological and cultural, theory and practice, positivism and interpretivism, past and present orientations rather than as fixed sub-disciplines. Second, consider mustering support for selected ways to help anthropology reach out:
I encourage teachers to approach anthropologists in their communities about getting involved in K-12 education. Taking the initiative might in turn stimulate anthropologists to reach out and form collaborative efforts.
Anthropology departments or individual anthropologists who decide to collaborate on issues with K-12 classrooms or schools, can receive some help from the AAA's long-range plan, which has as one major objective "engagement of the discipline with societal issues."
Many of the 400 departments and programs of anthropology are already doing outstanding outreach to their communities, including schools and teachers. More might do so if approached by the schools in the 3,000 counties where the 400 programs are distributed. Some may fear that this outreach will cause anthropology to lose its moorings as a learned discipline and turn it into just another servant of our globalizing, downsizing, greed-driven, exploitative society, stripping us of our scholarly, scientific capacity that can also back up a critical capacity. That would be tragic. However, I contend that outreach can spur inreach: scholarly revitalization through engagement.
Anthropology's special perspective is precious. It is time to engage better, to deploy our wisdom creatively outward. If we do it right, we can revitalize our scholarly and scientific endeavors by fueling them with wider dialogue and bigger work.
James Peacock is the Kenan Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and past President of the American Anthropological Association.
Postscript: Some publications that may be useful to educators wishing to explore collaborative programs are:
AAA Guide. Lists academic anthropology departments and programs, museums, research firms, and government agencies. Available from the American Anthropological Association, 4350 North Fairfax Dr., Suite 640, Arlington, VA 22203-1620; (703) 528-1902 ext. 3032; E-mail: http://www.ameranthassn.org. $40 for AAA members; $55 for non-members.
Why Belong? A conversation about cultural anthropology with James Peacock by Carol Ball Ryan (Chandler and Sharp, 1975) discusses possible links between anthropology and schools. Some of these ideas are in The Anthropological Lens. Cambridge University Press, 1986, reprinted 1996.
"1998 Summer Fieldwork Opportunities."
The following teacher packets consist of bibliographies; teaching activities and resources; and articles, some of which were previously published in AnthroNotes.
"Teacher's Resource Packet: Anthropology," consists of 30 pieces of informational material.
"Teacher's Resource Packet: American Indians" for K-12 consists of 20 pieces of information material.
Write: Anthropology Outreach Office, NHB MRC 112, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560. Please limit request to one copy; duplicate as many copies as you require.
Smithsonian Resource Guide for Teachers, is a catalog listing materials from all the Smithsonian Museums and other educational facilities associated with the Smithsonian. The first copy is free; additional copies are $5 each. Order from: Smithsonian Office of Education, Arts & Industries Bldg., Room 1163, MRC 402, Washington, DC 20560. The guide is also available on the Internet: http://educate.si.edu/intro.html. The Smithsonian Home Page address is http://www.si.edu.
Between April 13 to May 15, 1998, researchers from the Center for Indigenous Research will be excavating a Columbian mammoth, which died between 11,000 to 13,000 years ago, near Ruidoso, New Mexico. As part of the dig, daily images of the excavation will be uploaded onto the Center's web site for anyone to follow the dig as it unfolds. Viewers will also be able to email questions to the researchers in the field and participate in the dig without actually being in the field. A curriculum that covers mammoths, archaeology, and paleontology will be made available. Visit the dig at www.virtualelpaso.com/archaeology.
by Jeremy A. Sabloff
[Following are excerpts from a revised text of the Distinguished Lecture in Archaeology at the 95th Annual Meeting of the AAA, held in San Francisco, California, November, 1996. Sabloff demonstrates the convergence of anthropology's and archaeology's concerns with reaching out to the public in general and teachers specifically on the issues of the day.]
In the 19th century, archaeology played an important public and intellectual role in the fledgling United States. Books concerned wholly or in part with archaeology were widely read. Data from empirical archaeological research, which excited public interest and was closely followed by the public, indicated that human activities had considerable antiquity and that archaeological studies of the past could throw considerable light on the development of the modern world.
As is the case in most disciplines, as archaeology became increasingly professionalized throughout the 19th century and as academic archaeology emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the communication gap between professionals and the public grew apace. This gap was accentuated because amateurs had always played an important part in the archaeological enterprise.
The professionalization of archaeology obviously has had innumerable benefits; the discipline has little resemblance to the archaeology of 100 years ago. With all the advances in method, theory, and culture historical knowledge, archaeologists are now in a position to make important and useful statements about cultural adaptation and development that should have broad intellectual appeal. Ironically, though, the professionalization or academization of archaeology is working against broadly disseminating current archaeological understanding of the past.
I am convinced that as archaeology rapidly expanded as an academic subject in U.S. colleges since World War II, the competition for university jobs and the institutional pressures to publish in quantity and in peer reviewed journals has led to the devaluation by academics of popular writing and public communication. Such activities just do not count, or even worse, count against you.
If some academics frown upon popular writing, even more do they deride popularization in other media, such as television. Consequently too few archaeologists venture into these waters. Why should the best known "archaeologist" to the public be an unrepentant looter like Indiana Jones? Is he the role model we want for our profession? We need more accessible writing, television shows, videos, CD-ROMS, and the like with archaeologists heavily involved in all these enterprises.
It is depressing to note that the academic trend away from public communication appears to be increasing just as public interest in archaeology seems to be reaching new heights. If we abandon much of the popular writing to the fringe, we should not be surprised at all that the public often fails to appreciate the significance of what we do.
How can American archaeologists promote more popular writing by professional scholars? The answer is deceptively simple: we need to change our value system and our reward system within the academy. Just as Margaret Mead and other anthropological popularizers have been sneered at by some cultural anthropologists, so our Brian Fagans are often subject to similar snide comments. We need to celebrate those who successfully communicate with the public, not revile them. Ideally, we should have our leading scholars writing for the public, not only for their colleagues. Some might argue that popular writing would be a waste of their time. To the contrary, I would maintain that such writing is part of our collective academic responsibility. Who better to explain what is on the cutting edge of archaeological research than the field's leading practitioners? We need to develop a significant number of our own Stephen Jay Goulds or Stephen Hawkings.
Not only do we need to change our value system so that public communication is perceived in a positive light, more particularly, we need to change the academic evaluation and reward system for archaeologists (and others!), so that it gives suitable recognition to popular writing and public outreach. Effective writing for general audiences should be subject to the same kind of qualitative academic assessment that ideally goes on today in any academic tenure, promotion, and hiring procedures. However, such a development goes against the current pernicious trend which features the counting of peer reviewed articles and use of citation indices. The whole academic system of evaluation...needs to be rethought...and the growing trend away from qualitative evaluation is especially worrisome.
As a call to action, in order to encourage popular writing among academics, particularly those with tenure, all of us need to lobby university administrators, department chairs, and colleagues about the value and importance of written communication with audiences beyond the academy. Academics should be evaluated on their popular as well as their purely academic writings. Clearly what is needed is a balance between original research and popular communication. In sum, evaluations should be qualitative, not quantitative.
There clearly is a huge irony here. The academic world obviously is becoming increasingly market-oriented with various institutions vying for perceived "stars" in their fields with escalating offers of high salaries, less teaching, better labs, more research funds, and so on. Most academics not only are caught up in this system but have bought into it. At the same time, those scholars who are most successful in the larger market place of popular ideas and the popular media and who make dollars by selling to popular audiences are frequently discounted and denigrated by the self-perceived "true scholars." These latter often have totally bought into the star-centered broad academic market economy and are busy playing this narrower market game!
In order to fulfill what I believe is one of archaeology's major missions, that of public education, we need to make some significant changes in our professional modes of operation. This is a four-field problem with four-field solutions! The Society for American Archaeology has just endorsed public education and outreach as one of the eight principles of archaeological ethics. I strongly believe that we must change our professional value system so that public outreach in all forms, but especially popular writing, is viewed and supported in highly positive terms.
It is my belief that, unfortunately, the bridge to the 21st century will be a shaky one indeed for archaeology and anthropology perhaps even the proverbial bridge to nowhere unless we tackle the communication problem with the same energy and vigor with which we routinely debate the contentious issues of contemporary archaeological theory. The fruits of our research and analyses have great potential relevance for the public at large. The huge, exciting strides in understanding the past that anthropological archaeology has made in recent years need to be brought to the public's attention both for our sakes and theirs!
Jeremy Sabloff is director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum and past president of the Society for American Archaeology.
[The complete article should appear in the December 1998 issue of the American Anthropologist 100(4). Members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) receive this publication. For information on joining the AAA, write: AAA, 4350 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 640, Arlington, VA 22203.website: http://www.aaanet.org ]
by Robert L. Humphrey
[Editors' Note: Robert Humphrey's cartoons have amused AnthroNotes readers for twenty years. In celebration of his work, we present excerpts from an original essay written for the new publication Anthropology Explored: The Best of Smithsonian AnthroNotes, available from the Smithsonian Institution Press. See pp. 18-19 of this issue for a full description of this new publication as well as information on ordering a copy. Excerpts from Humphrey's chapter are presented with permission from the Smithsonian Institution Press.]
The ability to make and understand cartoons represents some of the most complex symbolic thought, expression and self-reflection of which we humans are capable.
Admittedly, it is sometimes difficult to find the humor in some of the articles in AnthroNotes. Not all cartoons are meant to be funny, but they are intended to combine visual elements in such a way as to startle--to capture our attention and focus it momentarily on a new idea, or on a familiar idea seen from a new perspective. By synthesizing multiple elements into a single focus, cartoon art causes us to see an event or phenomenon through new eyes, making us laugh, or even to think!
A good cartoon simplifies, distills, and refines an event until it instantly communicates a moment in time that the artist has singled out as being different from the preceding moment or the next one. Immediacy is the essence of a successful cartoon.
As an anthropologist, I particularly enjoy drawing for AnthroNotes because I am able to work as an artist and anthropologist simultaneously. Every drawing is an ethnography or archeological site of its own a specific time and place, a complete environment peopled by thinking, behaving, interactive beings. Further, I suspect there is no better guide to the morality, politics, religions, social issues in short, the culture of our times than our cartoons.
As an anthropologist, I realize it is important to symbolize without stereotyping, to lampoon a serious topic without becoming tasteless, since the cartoonist's goal is to communicate ideas, not just to amuse the reader. The most amazing part of this experience is what others read into my cartoons; they find humor in things I did not anticipate or, worse, they miss what I meant to be most obvious. Unlike my academic papers, my cartoons often do distort ordinary perceptions by violating some kind of cliche and looking at something familiar in an off-kilter way. To do this while remaining sensitive to an extraordinarily eclectic and critical readership can be quite a challenge.
by Alison S. Brooks
Types of Communication Acts to Observe (the numbers and letters will be used as explained below):
I. Olfactory: taste and smell
The relationship of the infant primate to other ani bmals of its own species has been the subject of considerable experimentation and observation, both in captivity and in the wild. This lab involves a quantitative study of these relationships and an attempt to see patterns of interaction and socialization in a group of caged primates.
Describe dominance/submissive behavior in a group of caged primates and discern the rank order (if any) of individuals in the group.
The following events or interactions are connected with dominance behavior in various species:
Observe one group of animals housed together for 40 minutes. Make a chart with those 10 interactions across the top and the list of animals in the cage down one side. Note "dominance" interactions as they occur, under type of interaction and animals involved, e.g. under supplanting you might have a "d" for animal 4 and an "s" for animal 6, indicating that animal 4 spatially supplanted animal 6. Any given interaction may fall into more than one type: mark it under as many types as relevant but indicate that it is one behavior sequence (for instance, you might number interactions sequentially ld-ls, 2d-2s, 3d-3s, etc.).
Rank animals in order of number of d's. Rank in order of number of s's. What do you perceive to be the rank order of the animals in this group? What kind of interaction is most closely correlated (by eye) with your rank order? Is the rank order of some animals (e.g., very young juveniles) improved by their association with a more dominant animal? Hand in notes and chart along with your conclusions. (Note: one problem you may find is that the most dominant animal may be avoided by others, resulting in little interaction.)
[Editors' Note: All of the previous activities were designed for observation of monkeys and apes at the National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C. These activities, originally developed by Alison S. Brooks for classes at George Washington University, were tested and revised by Carolyn Gecan, an anthropology teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, VA. These activities can be adapted for use in any zoological environment.]
References on Primates:
Napier, J.R. and P.H. Napier, 1985. The Natural History of the Primates. London: British Museum (Natural History).
Ciochan, R.L and R.A. Nisbett, eds., 1998. The Primate Anthology: Essays on Primate Behavior, Ecology and Conservation from Natural History. New Jersey: Prentice Hall (selections from Natural History magazine).
by Robert W. Mann and Thomas D. Holland
[Editors' Note: At Arlington National Cemetary, the famous Tomb of the Unknown Soldier holds the remains of unidentified soldiers from each of our major wars in honor of all the United States soldiers either missing in action or whose remains are still unidentified. On February 5, 1998, the Washington Post reported the possible exhumation of a coffin from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for a mitochrondrial DNA test, a relatively new test that can establish identification through genetic markers in the maternal line (Chip Crews. "A Name for the Unknown." Style Section B pp. 1&4). Jean Blassie, whose blood would be used for the testing, hopes to finally establish the answer she has sought for 26 years: what happened to the remains of her son after his A-37 attack plane went down on May 11, 1972, near An Loc, 60 miles north of Saigon. What is known is that the following October South Vietnamese troops found six bones four ribs, a pelvis, and a humerus and 2 ID cards belonging to 24 year old Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie. The bones were shipped from Saigon to the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) in Hawaii, and from there eventually to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The case has a bit of the "unsolved" mystery to it and reminds us once again of the importance of forensic science in the everyday lives of ordinary citizens of this country. In the article that follows, one of the forensic physical anthropologists from the CIL-Hawaii describes the important work that goes on year in and year out in this largely unknown facility, as teams of specialists work to recover, repatriate, and establish definite identifications for American service members (POWs/MIAs) lost in all past wars.]
What do Jeffrey Dahmer, the Branch-Davidian Standoff, the crash of Korean Airlines Flight 801, War of 1812, Operation Desert Storm, and thousands of American soldiers listed as missing in action (MIA) share in common?
Few people are aware that forensic anthropologists assisted with each of these cases and continue to serve in many emergency response and mass disaster teams as well as acting as consultants to a variety of medical and legal agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Forensic anthropologists apply their skills to some unusual and difficult cases, including the finding, recovering, and identifying American POWs/MIAs by the only laboratory of its kind the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI).
The role of forensic anthropology historically has been to assist medicolegal agencies medical examiners, police, and the FBI in the identification of recent homicides. From an examination of skeletonized remains, forensic anthropologists first distinguish whether they are animal or human. If the latter, they then ascertain biological age at death, time elapsed since death, sex, race, stature, and method of death (e.g., shooting). Forensic anthropologists must have specialized training in radiology, anatomy, dentistry, and forensic pathology in order to complete their objectives. The awareness of unique skeletal and dental features also helps them establish a positive personal identification.
Although most forensic anthropologists are affiliated either with a university or research facility (e.g., Smithsonian Institution), fifteen are employed by the Department of the Army at the CILHI. Located adjacent to Pearl Harbor on Hickam Air Force Base, Oahu, the laboratory has, in addition to its anthropologists, two forensic dentists, and more than 150 soldiers and civilian support staff. The CILHI grew out of the Vietnam War and CIL-THAI (Thailand); it moved to its present location in Hawaii in 1991. This world class laboratory has the largest staff of forensic anthropologists in the United States and is responsible for the worldwide recovery, repatriation, and identification of American service members (POWs/MIAs) from all past wars. At present there are nearly 80,000 American MIAs from World War II, 8,100 from the Korean War, and 2,098 from the Vietnam War. Since 1973, the laboratory has been responsible for the identification of 738 unaccounted-for service members.
The search for POWs/MIAs is a very sensitive issue among many Americans who have lost children, spouses, and friends as part of the tragedies of war. Although these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and civilians were "lost" at war, they have not and never will be forgotten. The slogan of the American POW/MIA effort is "You are not forgotten."
Just as Americans long for the return of their loved ones, so do the people of other countries who also have missing friends and family members. The Vietnamese people, for example, have exceptionally strong, close family ties that are strained at the loss of a loved one. There are over 333,000 Vietnamese MIAs, most of whom will never be identified, even if found, because of the lack of Vietnamese medical and dental records from which to base a comparison, and subsequently, an identification. In addition, most Vietnamese soldiers were buried in large open fields or dense mountain jungles in unmarked or poorly marked graves, all signs of which in time will disappear.
The CILHI has a dual role. First, it deploys 12-person teams of experts throughout the world to find and excavate graves and aircraft crash sites (for example, F-4 Phantoms and UH-1 Cobra helicopters). Second, it provides for the laboratory analysis and identification of American MIAs. A typical recovery team consists of an anthropologist, a military officer, a noncommissioned officer-in-charge (the "foreman"), an explosive ordnance disposal technician for disarming or removing bombs, a medic, interpreter, radio operator, photographer, and mortuary affairs specialist.
While most of the world s forensic anthropologists work from the relative comfort of a laboratory, those at the CILHI must travel to distant, and often remote, areas of the world in order to excavate and recover POW/MIA remains. In 1997, for example, the laboratory sent teams to Vietnam, Laos, China, North Korea, South America, the Pacific Islands, Russia, and Armenia. The terrain in these countries varies from ice-laden to tropical rain forests, and the hazards include malaria, snakes, scorpions, spiders, unexploded ordnance (bombs and mines), and precarious mountains. Housing conditions "in the field" also vary from hotels and guest houses in the larger cities to sharing an 8-person tent in the jungles of such inhospitable places as Laos and Cambodia for 30 to 45 days. The team must carry everything necessary to be self sufficient throughout the mission including excavation equipment, electrical generators, fuel, tents, food, cooking supplies, medicine, and hundreds of boxes of bottled water all trucked or flown in by helicopters. It is a physically and mentally demanding job that requires dedication, professionalism, and stamina.
Although the teams excavate isolated graves, the majority of excavations currently undertaken by the CILHI are air crashes in Southeast Asia; many of which were lost over the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. This "trail" actually consists of a vast network of footpaths, tunnels, and dirt roads that served as a clandestine supply and personnel pipeline connecting North and South Vietnam during the war. The difficulty for the excavation/recovery teams, however, is that by the time they reach a crash site there is little remaining of the aircraft. Many environmental and cultural (i.e., human intervention) variables, over a period of 20 or 30 years, result in the decay and loss of remains, personal effects, and aircraft wreckage.
One such case is an F-4 Phantom jet that crashed in Quang Binh, Central Vietnam in 1969. While searching for the site, a witness told one of the authors that as soon as the airplane stopped burning, he and many other villagers rushed to the crash site and scavenged wreckage for useable parts. Using only their bare hands, they bent and snapped aluminum from the fuselage, cut electrical wiring with machetes, and used a blow torch to cut thick metal rods into useable items. Everything that could be scavenged from the site was either carried back to the village and used around the home or sold to the nearest scrap dealer. This and other crash sites serve as a sort of "hardware store" where villagers living in remote areas obtain items and materials otherwise unavailable. Examples of the creative use of wreckage include rice-house rat guards and boats from fuselage aluminum, smoking pipes from hydraulic fittings, knives and machetes from propeller blades, rubber Ho Chi Minh sandals cut from aircraft tires, and fence posts, flower pots, and pig troughs from aerial-dispensed cluster bomb units resembling four-foot long canoes.
In forensic anthropology, the physical relationship of one item to another (i.e., its context) and whether the objects are on the ground or buried, are important in reconstructing what amounts to a police crime scene. Legally, forensic anthropologists and dentists deal in evidence. Unfortunately for U.S. recovery teams, villagers who remove aircraft wreckage from a site remove the very evidence that U.S. teams need to identify aircraft. For example, aircraft engines and many electronic components have serialized data plates unique to each aircraft. Finding one serialized data plate or identification tag ("dog tag") can turn an otherwise unidentifiable jumble of wreckage into an identifiable aircraft. Incredibly, excavation teams working in Southeast Asia often recover only 100 to 150 pounds of twisted wreckage from a 28,000 pound jet. The rest either disintegrated on impact or was destroyed as a result of secondary explosions, burning, or scavenging.
During the act of scavenging aircraft wreckage, villagers sometimes find personal effects such as "dog tags," wrist watches, wedding bands, and religious medallions. If found, these items are taken from a crash site and used or worn by villagers while others are sold, traded, or subsequently lost. What must be borne in mind is that a wedding band or medallion to a villager living high up in the mountains does not bear the same sentimental value or significance as it does to Westerners. To villagers an identifying "dog tag" can be fashioned into a useful implement such as a small knife or tweezers for removing facial hair, one Vietnamese form of shaving.
The basic excavation strategy at a crash site is to let the evidence "speak" for itself. Only when there is no more wreckage coming out of the ground does the team cease working at a crash or grave site.
By searching for life-support related equipment (parachutes, oxygen bottles and hoses, flight helmets, flight suits), the anthropologist and life-support technician may be able to account for the aircraft's occupants. Determining the number of occupants on board an aircraft when it crashed can be done based on duplicated or multiple life-support related gear. For example, a parachute harness has only two metallic "D" ring. If the aircraft that crashed was an F-4, it carries a maximum of two occupants. If three parachute "D" rings are recovered from among the wreckage, it is safe to say that two people were on board at the time of impact.
Even with the presence of three "D" rings, could one of the occupants have survived this F-4 crash? The answer to this question can only be answered after reviewing all of the evidence and carefully considering the "preponderance" of the evidence. The items recovered from the crash site must provide substantial and wholly consistent evidence that, not only was the occupant(s) on board at the time of impact, but that the crash was not survivable. An example of a non-survivable air crash using this F-4 jet included the following evidence that we excavated from the crash site: portions of the cockpit were found near engine components; pieces of a flight suit, helmet, and wrist watch were recovered among cockpit debris; two parachute "D" rings; a religious medallion, one tooth, and two bone fragments were found near the flight suit material. Few would doubt that the preponderance of the evidence is consistent with one person in the aircraft when it crashed. (In this scenario we knew that the second individual parachuted from the aircraft and was rescued within hours.)
At the end of each Joint Field Activity in Vietnam, all bones, teeth, and personal effects that were turned over by Vietnamese citizens or excavated by the six U.S. recovery teams are received at the Vietnamese Institute of Forensic Medicine in Hanoi. Each set of remains sometimes no more than a few dime-sized bone fragments is hand-carried to the Institute in locked and sealed hard plastic cases by a Vietnamese official. Once at the Institute, the cases are opened during one of the regularly-scheduled Joint Field Reviews, which are attended by Vietnamese forensic specialists and a CILHI forensic anthropologist and forensic dentist. The task of the joint team is to conduct a preliminary examination to determine which of the remains may be American. All suspected American remains are repatriated to the CILHI for detailed forensic analysis. (Vietnamese remains are retained by Vietnamese officials for burial.) The remains are flown in a military C-141 airplane to the CILHI in flag-draped (American) containers for the identification phase.
At the CILHI, the remains are laid out in anatomical order on a foam-covered table, and a forensic dentist and anthropologist are assigned to the case. The two scientists work independently of one another in order not to bias their conclusions. The dentist focuses on the teeth and the anthropologist on the skeletal remains. The remains are inventoried and photographed and the teeth are x-rayed and compared to ante-mortem (before death) records, charts and x-rays. Dental x-rays provide the vast majority of identifications as the dental fillings and morphology provide unique individualizing features for basing a positive identification. Other methods of identification include mitochondrial DNA derived from bones and teeth, unique skeletal features such as a healed broken bone, and video superimposition made by overlaying an image of the skull on a facial photograph.
When the dentist and anthropologist have completed their work, their conclusions are put in writing and compared. The skeletal attributes derived by the anthropologist must be consistent with those of the individual identified by the dentist. In other words, if the suggested identity provided by the dentist is a 22-year-old white male, with a living stature of 5' 11," then the anthropological indicators must be in agreement. If the anthropologist determines that the bones are those of a 30 to 35-year-old black male with a height of 5' 5," there is a problem. One possibility for the conflicting data is that the bones are from one person and the teeth from another (i.e., co-mingled remains). Once this portion of the examination process is completed, the reports are compiled and submitted for inside peer review by other CILHI scientists.
The next step is to submit the recommended identification to the CILHI Laboratory Director, the CILHI Commander, and to three laboratory consultants for outside review of scientific integrity and accuracy of interpretation. The reports then are sent to the Casualty of Memorial Affairs Office in Alexandria, Virginia, the appropriate Office of Mortuary Affairs in Washington, DC who presents the case to the family, and finally to the Armed Forces Identification Review Board. If the family disagrees with the suggested identification, they have the right to hire their own consultant who will review the laboratory's findings, examine the remains, and draw his/her own conclusions. If the family's consultant disagrees with the recommended identification, the entire case may be sent back to the original anthropologist and dentist for a second go-round. In all, the process is quite difficult and there are many checks and balances to ensure that each case is handled accurately and in accordance with strict scientific procedures. Once the family agrees to the recommended identification, which most commonly happens, the remains are forwarded to them for burial at the government's expense.
While finding, recovering, and identifying American POWs/MIAs is a costly as well as a physically and mentally demanding job, the POW/MIA issue deserves our fullest attention and unwavering efforts. America s POWs/MIAs truly are not forgotten.
Robert W. Mann is Senior Anthropologist and Thomas D. Holland is Scientific Director of the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hickam AFB, Hawaii (CILHI).
by Clark Graham
Starting in 1991, Xavier High School in Chuuk, one of the states in the Federated States of Micronesia between Hawaii and the Philippines, began offering scuba diving and other marine-related programs. In 1992, I taught a marine science and oceanography course followed in 1994 with a maritime history and archaeology program that I organized. This led to the first maritime archaeology field survey in 1995 of a submerged Japanese aircraft from World War II. Operation Hailstorm, a two day attack by the U.S. Navy on the Japanese Imperial Fleet, successfully damaged most of the Japanese air fighters and sunk numerous Japanese cargo ships along with aircraft. In the last few years, high school maritime archaeology groups have worked on a Nakajima C6N Saiun, a night fighter/reconnaissance aircraft, a Mitsubishi A6M model 52, a Nakajima B6N Tenzan, and historical war sites including airfields.
The survey of the Nakajima B6N Tenzan included conducting a marine survey of the submerged site and nearby reef, the latter made possible through the efforts of Kenneth Yong, marine biology instructor.
This year students are studying two traditional subjects. One group is surveying stone fish traps (maai), while the second is conducting an intensive above-ground survey of an ancient petroglph site. In addition, under the direction of Kenneth Yong, students are carrying out a marine survey and water quality studies of the archaeological sites.
SHIP and Xavier High School believe that these projects are not only educational but also make a significant contribution to Micronesia's historic record. Just as important is the firm conviction that Micronesians can and should study and document their historic and marine sites. Students at Xavier have concluded that "Our work can serve as an example to the people of Micronesia that they can do what people from other countries do." Furthermore, since these sites are located in their oceans and on their islands, the students and teachers believe it is better if Micronesians are involved in the study of their own homeland.
Clark Graham, archaeologist and environmentalist, is president of the Society for Historic Investigation and Preservation (SHIP).
[Editor's Note: Thanks to the Internet, these innovative teachers and students from Micronesia found the AnthroNotes editors at the Smithsonian. We encourage our readers to contact this combined archaeology and marine science program at Xavier High School or the Society for Historic Investigation and Preservation at: SHIP, P.O. Box 1072, Chuuk, FM 96942; e-mail: email@example.com.]
AnthroNotes offers in-depth articles on current anthropological research, teaching activities, reviews of new resources, and summer fieldwork opportunities. AnthroNotes, originally part of the George Washington University/Smithsonian Institution Anthropology for Teachers Program funded by the National Science Foundation, is published free-of-charge. Previously published three times a year, an expanded version will appear fall and spring, beginning fall 1997.
1) to more widely disseminate original, recent research in anthropology in order to help readers stay current in the field; 2) to help those teaching anthropology utilize new materials, approaches, and community resources, as well as integrate anthropology into a wide variety of curriculum subjects; and 3) to create a national network of anthropologists, archaeologists, teachers, museum and other professionals interested in the wider dissemination of anthropology, particularly in schools.
To be added to the mailing list, write: Anthropology Outreach Office, NHB 363 MRC 112, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560-0112; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This newsletter with its cartoons may be reproduced and distributed free-of-charge by classroom teachers for educational purposes.
AnthroNotes Staff: P. Ann Kaupp, managing editor; Ruth O. Selig, Alison S. Brooks, JoAnne Lanouette, editors; Robert L. Humphrey, artist. Illustrations, Robert L. Humphrey, copyright 1998. Kathleen Sims, graphic designer.
Last updated December 9, 1998.