Foursomes and so on
- BuyThe Creation of Inequality: How Our Prehistoric Ancestors Set the Stage for Monarchy, Slavery and Empire by Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus
Harvard, 631 pp, £29.95, May 2012, ISBN 978 0 674 06469 0
By the time I’d read no more than a third of The Creation of Inequality I would have willingly knelt before the authors to touch my nose against their knees and announce: ‘I eat your excrement ten times.’ That’s how commoners on the Polynesian island of Tikopia in 1929 would have addressed their chiefs, as originally documented by the anthropologist Raymond Firth. Having read about such encounters in Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus’s book I am left in no doubt that they are the archaeological and anthropological chiefs of social evolution to whom I must show the utmost deference. And so should everyone else, for this is a work of profound importance.