- continued, part 2 -


In other words, if anthropology speaks of 'material culture' it should not do this with the optics of an archaeologist and his methodologically conditioned, narrow tool-program. The anthropological position requires an anthropological term focussing on the full range of human 'material culture'. Its full range of variations in various human conditions has to be phenomenologically recorded, including e.g. ethnology (Hirschberg/ Janata 1966ff.). And further, it should adapt its outlooks to the time spans involved. In view of the totality of human 'material culture' <6> this anthropological term would have to theoretically postulate a new (pre- and para-archaeologically valid) period of 'pre-lithic fibroconstructive industries'. As nest building behaviour among the great apes it may have developed in the Miocene and evidently continues - as a subhuman, partially learned tradition (Bernstein 1962, 1969) - until today, evidently because it had an important existential function in a balanced adaptation. As operational traditions in the framework of balanced adaptation, such fibroconstructive technologies might show similar continuities in the domain of hominisation up to the present. The fibroconstructive technologies found in modern traditional societies might be considered as survivals of a very ancient type of technology. Thus shifting the primatological 'credo' into the anthropological domain a new credo results:that ethnology can offer valid information regarding the behaviour of fossil hominids and humans!

We gain a new hypothesis, Man the constructor, the builder. Fibroconstructive technology implies a continuity from Miocene apesnests to the Pliocene with Australopithecus and Homo habilis. In the sector of 'constructivity' this would mean functional diversification. We would have to assume semantic and domestic types. Homo erectus would imply that building in bipedic position was an established activity. Homo sapiens indicates that 'nuclear demarcation' had developed its structuro-symbolic potential, leading to topologically structured habitats and the formation of ontological concepts about the environment using categorially polar analogies. There are ample paleolithic sources to document such processes (see below). What is important here: they can be related to "constructivity", and basically, to the nest of the great apes.

Under whatever conditions, earlier or later, the increasing development of the terrestric nest must have triggered bipedic posture, precision grip of the hand and face flattening of early and later hominids, and, with increasing complexity of constructive processes along the 'architectural revolution', the increasing size of the brain. This is doubtless a necessary hypothesis on the basis of the Yerkesian evolution of constructivity. In addition it is far more convincing than all the other fairly vague assumptions!

Consequently, in contrast to archaeologically supported prehistory, we must systematically assume a much richer cultural environment, from the Lower Paleolithic through all later periods. We have to systematically assume fibroconstructive structures like nuclear and peripheral signs defining places, indicating paths or found prey, structures for storage, cages, traps and human huts for temporary or (semi-)sedentary use. Not only this, very early there must have been also symbols, serving as cognitive models in a system of polar analogy, enabling to spatially, socially and ontologically structure the habitat. (Egenter 1994).

In short, we are speaking of an anthropologically (or ethno-pre-historically; Wernhart 1981) reconstructed 'system' of material culture. It does primarily not rely on 'historistic' confirmation, which it considers historico-methodologically conditioned, thus problematic. Using 'structural systems theory' in the wider anthropological circle of material culture and spatial organisation (habitat) it constructs its approaches essentially in the 'uppermost strata', in ethnology where vital complexes can be reconstructed. Archaeology gains a new function: to document, date and discuss fibroconstructive technology on durable sources ('soft prehistory'; Egenter 1986, 1994).

Using such sources of a 'soft prehistory', e. g. in rock-art, we would have to seriously question archaeology whether these 'fibroconstructive' industries and their broad potential for cultural developments did not escape its method. We might discover the potential that important cultural developments might have happened in a systematically reconstructed evolutionary line of 'material culture' which was not durable! Conventional pre-history merely based on durable materials (maybe 1-10% of the factual 'material culture'!) would now have to be considered as speculation.


There are evidently no doubts that the Yerkes made the "great leap forward" (Fruth and Hohmann 1996) already in 1929 with their term 'constructivity', but nobody within primatology really realised it, probably because there is no formation for structural conditions in the zoological domain! <7> This is particularly deplorable in view of important sources supporting the Yerkesian "evolution of constructivity".

There are a lot of iconic sources in paleolithic and mesolithic art showing hut-like forms and built signs and symbols ('tectiformes', so called 'human figures', see Egenter 1994). Often their texture and forms leave no doubts that they are a product of fibroconstructive technologies! The iconic character of rockart sources also provides clear indicators of fibroconstuctive signs ('semantic architecture') very likely used for territorial demarcation (Egenter 1986, 1994).

Further, Lucien Lepoittevin recently published archaeological sources related to the evolution of domestic architecture (La maison des origines, 1996). Among earliest sources he discusses the stone circle documented by the Leakeys at Olduvai and a similar discovery by the Chavaillons (Melka-Kunturˇ, Ethiopia, 1969) and, further, C. Perl¸Õs (1975) study on early traces of fire (Olduvai and Ethiopia). Also with its later sources, the book plausibly demonstrates that not only 'constructivity' but also rudimentary forms of 'domestic architecture' are outlining an evolutionary line which is at least as temporally deep-rooted as that of the tools.

In a quite different sense primatological discussions related to nest building behaviour in relation to culture, and particularly Groves/Sabater Pi's extrapolation of Hediger's terminology on human campsites risk becoming outdated. Architectural research has made tremendous progress in the last decades. Within only a decade the whole non-urban domestic architecture of the globe was documented. We refer to Paul Oliver's "Encyclopaedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World" (1997). About 750 architectural researchers and specialists worldwide contributed to it. On 2500 pages it speaks in the present context
1) of the definite presence, or even dominance of fibroconstructive technologies in constructions (and material culture as a whole) among traditional societies of the globe. Architectural ethnology has good reasons to consider the term 'fibroconstructive technology' as an important term. And
2) it speaks of often rich spatio-symbolic conditions even in the most primitive hut. Both these facts can only be explained in the framework of a much wider 'macrotheoretical' concept of constructive evolution: in the framework of an architectural (and habitat) anthropology.

In short, to conclude, the study of nest building in primatology tells us a scientifically rather deceiving story. Namely, of how, in primatology, a most precious hypothesis became lost in 'current' microtheoretical trends: that of the Yerkes in its macrotheoretical implications. Since evidently the new groups of 'Cabo San Lucas / Wartenstein' (see photos in MacGrew 1996 :xii/xiii) are about to set the course for future research in primatology, this essay should be taken as a clear reminder that the Yerkesian (1929) 'structural view' of the apeÕs nest is not submerged yet in their sociobiological waves, but continues to be alive in a very different and fast-developing domain, in the anthropology of architecture and habitat. In this domain the term 'constructivity' related to the nest construction of all great apes continues to play a key role in the reconstruction of a 'constructive' cultural evolution. Note that this is not just a minor terminological shift. This 'constructive anthropology' asks: did man 'construct' his ideas?

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