transitive verb 1 : to charge or entreat earnestly or solemnly
2 a : to summon by or as if by invocation or incantation b (1) : to affect or effect by or as if by magic (2) : imagine, contrive —often used with up
Before continuing however, there are a few important points I'd like to make:
1. It has been my intention in all my research to base all hypotheses on evidence, and logical inference directly based on evidence, rather than assumptions. Since so many anthropologists and archaeologists routinely make assumptions, the difference might not be obvious, but it is real and as far as I'm concerned it is all important. For example, I am not simply assuming that certain Pygmies and Bushmen share certain basic cultural attributes with their "Stone Age" ancestors. Assumptions of this kind about hunter-gatherers have been made many times in the past -- and they have also been attacked, and rightfully so, as "myths." I see it as my responsibility to ground all such hypotheses in real evidence, not just suppositions that might seem reasonable, but in fact cannot be supported by anything more than conjecture.
2. Since I've been challenged on this point by a regular commentator on this blog, German Dziebel, I am willing to concede that my acceptance of the mainstream population genetics research, and the associated Out of Africa model, can be seen as an assumption, because this model, though based on a considerable body of evidence, has not yet been fully verified, and there are in fact certain inconsistencies that have not yet been accounted for. Moreover, there are alternative theories, one of which, an Out of America theory, has been presented by Dziebel himself. Those who, like him, remain suspicious of the Out of Africa model, should feel free to regard HBP as the common ancestor of the Pygmies and Bushmen only, rather than all living humans, as implied by the mainstream research and the phylogenetic trees based on it. To put it another way, to the extent that we can regard Out of Africa and the genetic research behind it as having been established with a high degree of confidence, we can accept HBP as, in all likelihood, representing the common ancestor of all living humans; to the extent that this model remains in doubt, the status of HBP will also remain in doubt. As far as I am concerned, the evidence in support of Out of Africa is overwhelming, and I am going to proceed on that basis. If this is an assumption, then so be it. It will be my only assumption -- and if I violate my promise in this regard I have no doubt German will call that to my attention.
3. My primary intention is to open up possibilities for research and exploration rather than establish incontrovertible facts. The method I'll be using, based on what I've called "triangulation," should be seen primarily as a tool -- a kind of observatory if you will, for probing human history. In many cases there will be certain things that can be established and others that cannot. Where something cannot be established with certainty, that should be understood as a basis for future research. In any case, the "triangulation" method must always be balanced by a healthy dose of critical thinking.
As we've already learned, within the three populations under consideration, EP (Eastern Pygmies), WP (Western Pygmies) and Bu (Bushmen), some groups hunt primarily with poison-tipped arrows and others with nets. Interestingly, we find net hunters within both EP (Mbuti) and WP (Aka), while those that hunt primarily with bows and arrows can also be found in both tropical forest regions. No Bu group, to my knowledge, hunts with nets. Despite such discrepancies, however, further research reveals that poison arrows are in fact used for hunting by groups from all three populations, EP, WP and Bu. While the Aka and Mbuti use nets as their primary hunting tool, they use poison arrows from time to time as well. Therefore, regardless of the net evidence, the presence of bows and arrows equipped with poison in all three major populations completes our triangulation and thus makes hunting with poison-tipped arrows a very strong candidate indeed for inclusion in HBC. Note, by the way, that the discrepancy in the use of nets and bows for hunting, which for Hewlett amounts to an important cultural difference among Pygmy groups, has no bearing on our triangulation method, which depends only on the presence of certain traditions, not their relative degree of importance in recent times.
However: bows and arrows are commonly found among a great many peoples worldwide, including many of the Bantu groups that have had contact with Pygmies and Bushmen for a very long time. And there have been reports of the use of poisoned arrows among such groups. Our method is therefore not strong enough in itself to establish the use of such weapons among HBP, because the Pygmies and Bushmen might have learned this technology from their non-forager neighbors . Our method is strong enough, however, for us to zero in on the use of poisoned arrows as a very reasonable hypothesis, which can in fact be tested. What non-forager groups in Africa are known to have used poison arrows, and what historical evidence exists that might tell us whether this weaponry was taught to Bantus by foragers or to foragers by Bantus? Is there any archaeological evidence pointing strongly to the use of such weapons in either the forest or southern Africa prior to the Bantu expansion of ca. 3-4 thousand years ago? If convincing evidence can be found that the Bantu groups learned to use poison arrows from Pygmy and/or Bushmen groups, that would point very strongly to the use of such weapons by HBP and we could at least provisionally accept this technology as a part of HBC. If no such evidence can be found, or if it is determined that the Pygmies and Bushmen learned it from their neighbors, then either it was not a part of HBC or its status must remain indeterminate.
(to be continued . . . )