Lessons from An Alternative View



Kent V. Flannery's recent model of the development of early agriculture in Oaxaca rejects interpretations of ecological change suggested by palynological research undertaken as an aspect of the multidisciplinary research program he initiated in 1965. It also rejects the palynological conclusion that a maize-like plant was cultivated in Oaxaca prior to and throughout the Naquitz Phase. This paper develops the position that Flannery's alternative interpretations are structured by assumptions which are usually applied in archeological research but which are debatable in the present case, and by his commitment to a particular theoretical position. Two lessons are learned from this analysis: (a) assumptions and theories buried deeply in the matrix of conventional research practices affect even our identification of “observed data,” and (b) some accepted archeological wisdom about the nature and values of multidisciplinary research may be surprisingly naive.