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Architecture and Energy: An Evolutionary Perspective

Author(s): Elliot M. Abrams


Source: Archaeological Method and Theory, Vol. 1 (1989), pp. 47-87
Published by: Springer
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2 Architecture
and
Energy
An
Evolutionary Perspective
ELLIOTM. ABRAMS
Architecture has
long
been the focus of
investigation by
a
variety
of scholars
including archaeologists. Owing
to the
conspicu
ous scale and aesthetic value of
relatively large
architectural
works,
it is understandable that structures were
among
the first artifacts to
be studied within the
pre-anthropological paradigm
that charac
terized
early archaeology.
Within this classical
framework,
tremen
dous attention was focused on such works
as
the Great Wall of
China,
the
pyramids
of
pharaonic Egypt,
and the
megaliths
of
Neolithic and Bronze
Age Europe,
which served to
publicize
as well
as romanticize the
discipline
of
archaeology.
The
preoccupation
with
large
architecture was not restricted to the Old
World; many
of the
earliest
systematic archaeological
efforts in the New World
reported
extensively
if not
exclusively
on
architecture,
as
titles of such works
as
Squier
and Davis's 1848 classic Ancient Monuments
of
the Missis
sippi Valley
connote. It is of interest to note that
many
of these
early
contributions,
albeit written
prior
to the
emergence
of
anthropologi
cal
archaeology,
contain a considerable wealth of excellent architec
tural data that remains available for
contemporary study.
Etymologically,
architecture refers to those structures built
by
a
master
(Webster's
New International
Dictionary 1942),
with
implicit
reference to a
relatively high degree
of structural
complexity requir
ing
the
presence
of full-time construction
specialists.
In an an
thropological
consideration of architecture
or
architectural
features,
this definition must be
expanded
to include
any
structure or feature
representing
the built environment
(McGuire
and Schiffer
1983).
The
most common basis for
classifying
this broad set of features is func
tion, yielding
such
types
as residential
structures, temples, pyra
mids, storage
and work
facilities,
defensive
earthworks,
and
public
47
48 Elliot M. Abrams
space.
These functional
categories
are created
through
a
combina
tion of
formal, spatial,
and contextual
attributes,
all of which must
be measurable and verifiable
(Rathje
and Schiffer
1982:62). Analyses
dependent
on functional
categorization may
either isolate
single
ar
chitectural
features,
such as the house
or
the
religious shrine,
or
focus on
classes,
such as vernacular or domestic architecture. A sec
ond criterion of architectural classification is the cost of
production,
the most common
category being
monumental architecture.
Specific
classifications
relating energy expenditure
and
energy
flow have
yielded
the
categories
of
productive
and
nonproductive
architecture
(Sidrys 1978).
In whatever
way
one
defines
architecture,
the
primary
consideration in
classification,
as a
component
of
analysis,
is that
research be conducted
on similar or
comparable
units of
analysis.
Over the
past
three
decades,
architecture has
emerged
from the
context of
pure description
and
qualitative
assessment into one
more embedded in
anthropological
and behavioral constructs
(cf.
Willey
and Sabloff
1974).
Several
important qualities
of architecture
encourage
a wide
range
of
potential analyses
within
anthropological
archaeology.
Residential structures are
nearly ubiquitous among
cul
tures
(excluding
those societies that
only
utilized natural
shelters),
and the house is an ideal unit of
analysis
in
archaeological
studies of
settlement and
demographic patterns, urbanization, sociopolitical
organization,
and
family
relations and
organization (e.g.,
Wilk and
Rathje 1982).
Because architecture often is
highly
visible and dura
ble,
it
frequently
serves as a medium of
political, social, ideological,
and
symbolic expression,
and
similarly
lends itself to a
variety
of
behavioral
analyses (Rathje
and Schiffer
1982:65).
In
addition,
the
differential
expenditure
in
materials, time,
and labor
provide
meas
urable and verifiable indices of manufacture and maintenance
costs,
useful in a wide
range
of
analyses,
as will be discussed
specifically
in
this
paper. Overall,
both the cultural embeddedness and scale of
ar
chitecture allow for
a considerable
range
of
analyses
from an anthro
pological perspective.
It has been stated that
anthropological archaeologists
have
ne
glected
architecture
as a means of
reconstructing evolutionary pat
terns of cultural
change (Gilman 1983, 1987).
The
study
of architec
ture in and of itself
(and particularly
domestic
architecture)
has
lagged
behind
analyses
of other classes of
artifacts,
such as ceramics
and lithics. The
analytic
use of
architecture, however,
is
actually
quite
common,
its involvement
being
obfuscated within
analyses
Architecture and
Energy
49
focusing only
on its
presence
and distribution.
Clearly
the vast ma
jority
of settlement
analyses
and
demographic
reconstructions
begin
with architecture.
Analyses, however, typically
do not
intensively
scrutinize the architectural features
themselves,
and thus these arti
facts remain
underexploited by anthropological archaeologists.
This
analytic neglect
of architecture is
particularly
ironic since
architecture
as a
cultural creation was studied
by
one of
anthropol
ogy's
earliest and most influential
theoreticians,
Lewis
Henry
Mor
gan.
In his classic Houses and
House-Life among
the American
Aborigines (
1881
), Morgan
was the first to
recognize
that architecture
reflects social
relations, including family structure,
political organi
zation,
and
kinship terminology,
within and
among
cultures. In addi
tion,
he was the first to
propose formally
the correlation between
architectural
scale, quality,
and variation with overall cultural com
plexity. Although many
of the theoretical and
empirical
statements
of
Morgan
have since been retired from the
anthropological
litera
ture,
the
development
of much
contemporary
anthropological theory
and method continues to reflect his influence
(Harris 1968:188).
This
chapter
in effect returns to
Morgan's original thesis,
examin
ing
the
relationship
between architecture and sociocultural com
plexity,
albeit from
an
energetic perspective
not
emphasized by
Morgan.
It
investigates
the
epistemological underpinnings
for
an
energetic approach
to
architecture, defining
the
goals
and
analytic
potential
of architectural
energetics.
It then considers the
produc
tion of domestic and
public
architecture within the context of in
creasing
cultural
complexity, serving
as a
springboard
for future
research. A method
involving
the translation of architecture into
energy
is
offered,
followed
by
an
application
of this
energetic ap
proach
to architecture at the Classic
Maya
center of
Copan,
Hon
duras. This
study
is in
part
a
consequence
of the
processual changes
in cultural
evolutionary
studies
and, thus,
a
brief overview of those
paradigmatic changes
is in order.
A Brief
History
of the
Analytic
Role of Architecture
The
majority
of architectural studies in
anthropology
made
during
the first half of this
century
reflected the collective
Classical and Boasian concerns with detailed
description.
Some of
50 Elliot M. Abrams
the finest architectural
excavations,
those
sponsored,
for
example,
by
the
Carnegie
Institution of
Washington, D.C.,
in the
Maya
Low
lands,
occurred
during
this
developmental period. Although
these
architectural data were not
fully exploited
in terms of their
analytic
potential, they provided
the foundation for
ensuing analyses
and cur
rently represent
a
valuable data
base, perhaps
unmatched in the ar
chaeological
literature.
Following Morgan,
the next
anthropological application
of archi
tecture was as an index of cultural
stages
within the unilineal frame
works of Childe
(1950),
Service
(1962),
and Fried
(1967). Pioneering
studies
\by
Heizer
(1960)
on
the Olmec and Erasmus
(1965)
on the
Maya attempted
to establish
systemic
connections between the vol
ume of elite architecture and the scale and
organization
of labor
characteristic of the
evolutionary types
of the state and chiefdom
respectively. Regional
studies
on Mesoamerica
(Sanders
and Price
1968)
and
Mesopotamia (R.
McC. Adams
1967)
also utilized the
pres
ence and scale of architecture
as an
index of labor access and control
and thus of cultural
development. Although portions
of these exem
plary
works have since been transcended both
empirically
and ana
lytically, they
drew architecture from its
descriptive
shell into the
mainstream of
evolutionary anthropology,
and demonstrated consid
erable
analytic
and theoretical
progress beyond
the monolithic dic
tum of
Morgan.
For
example,
many
of the statements
concerning
the
systemic
context for labor
participation
in
preindustrial
societies
(Sanders
and Price
1968:55)
are
applicable
in
contemporary
studies.
Perhaps reflecting
the intellectual
progress
and
insight
of this
period,
caution
against
the
overly simplistic
correlation between architec
ture and cultural
types
was
expressed (Kaplan 1963;
Heizer
1966),
a
portent
of
ensuing developments.
During
the
1970s,
dissatisfaction with the
rigidity
of the taxo
nomic
structuring
of
evolutionary stages arose,
and was
expressed
in
various
ethnological
essays
(e.g.,
Saxe
1970; Flannery 1972;
Peebles
and Kus
1977;
Earle
1978).
Recent
critiques
of
evolutionary
taxon
omy argue
that such
a framework
methodologically
obfuscates the
cultural
variability
that
archaeologists
are
trying
to
recognize
and
conceptually
biases the
analysis
of the nature of
processual change
and
stability,
the
conceptual
core
of
anthropological archaeology
(Athens 1977;
Yoffee
1979;
Wenke
1981;
McGuire
1983).
In
essence,
the
proponents
of such criticism
argue
that the
typologies
of the
1960s
assume
stages
of relative
stability
that should be considered
Architecture and
Energy
51
hypothetical, subject
to
empirical
verification. Other
researchers,
both
implicitly
and
explicitly (e.g.,
Sanders and Webster
1978;
Earle
1987), suggest
that these need not be
mutually exclusive,
and that
the cross-cultural
analytic
as well as heuristic benefits
support
the
use of these
typologies.
In
fact,
this debate is not over the use of
typology
in
evolutionary studies?typology
is a
necessary
and inte
gral analytic component
in the
process
of science. The issue centers
on the
appropriateness
of the
existing typology,
a
point
that need not
debilitate
and,
it is
hoped,
will not
dominate, evolutionary
studies.
As noted
by
Wenke
(1981:116),
"The
history
of science shows that
great
advances are not
always,
or even
usually, dependent upon
ter
minological purity."
This re-examination of
evolutionary taxonomy
has had some im
pact
on the
expansion
and
refinement of architectural
analyses (e.g.,
Gilman
1983,1987; Lightfoot
and Feinman
1982;
McGuire and Schif
fer
1983).
McGuire's
(1983)
consideration of the evolution of resi
dential structures in the Southwest
perhaps
best
expressed
this
theoretical and
analytic
reorientation.
First,
the
concept
of cultural
complexity
was divided into the variables of social differentiation
and social
inequality?the degree
of variation in statuses and the
differential access to basic resources
respectively. By measuring
and
comparing
the size of residential and
storage features,
he concluded
that
differentiation,
or social
heterogeneity,
evolved in a
similar but
distinct rate and
degree
as social
inequality.
Other
analyses
have
considered architecture
as a means of
expanding
our
conception
of
cultural
complexity (Arnold
and Ford
1980; Cordy 1981;
Turner et
al.
1981;
Cheek
1985, 1986), although
far more are needed to refine
the measurement and
understanding
of
processual change
of cultural
systems.
These
analyses
have been
complemented by preliminary
but im
portant
theoretical efforts aimed at
understanding
the cultural con
text and diachronic
changes
of various architectural
designs
and
features
(Robbins 1966; Whiting
and
Ayres 1968; Rapoport 1969;
Hunter-Anderson
1977;
Fletcher
1977;
Gilman
1983;
McGuire and
Schiffer
1983).
The most
synthetic
of these efforts
suggests
that ar
chitecture,
as a cultural
product, represents
a
compromise
between
varying
needs and
costs,
and that the
resulting
architectural
design
thus reflects the cultural context for such decisions
(McGuire
and
Schiffer
1983). They
illustrate this
point by suggesting
that variations
in vernacular architecture in the Southwest result from the
interplay
52 Elliot M. Abrams
between the variable costs
involving
uselife of the
structure,
residen
tial
mobility, production,
and maintenance.
Although preliminary,
these efforts
provide
the foundation for the further
generation
of
middle-range
theoretical statements
concerning
cultural
context,
cultural
complexity,
and architectural form.
In both the theoretical and
empirical
considerations of the evolu
tion of
architecture,
there is consistent
reference,
either
implicit
or
explicit,
to the amount of
energy expended
in the
production
or
maintenance of architecture. The
production costs,
most
simply
the
energy expended during
the
complete
construction
process,
have
a
strong
influence of the
presence
and form of architecture
(McGuire
and Schiffer
1983:282).
Some of the
categorizations
of
architecture,
such as
monumental
architecture,
are based
explicitly
on
relative
energy
expenditures.
This connection between architecture and
energy may provide
the foundation for further
archaeological
investi
gations
of cultural
complexity,
and the
implications
of the
epistem
ological
and
ethnological relationship
must be considered.
Energy
and Architecture
Energetics,
most
succinctly,
is the
study
of the transfor
mation, conversion,
and movement of
physical energy (however
ana
lytically measured) through
a
system (e.g., Hardesty 1977).
Unlike a
strictly
structural-functional
or
symbolic paradigm, energetics,
grounded
in
physical
relations rather than cultural
values, attempts
to
provide
a calculus of
systemic change
and thus lends itself to the
anthropological study
of cultural
evolutionary process.
The
many
applications
of
energetics
in the
physical
and
biological
sciences
(e.g.,
H. Odum
1971; Gregory 1987)
as well
as in
biological anthropol
ogy (e.g.,
B. Thomas
1973)
are
well known and
widely accepted.
The
historic
perspective
and value of
energetic
models within cultural
anthropology,
most
notably championed by
White
(1943;
also Cot
trell
1955),
are
similarly recognized,
and their
contemporary utility
has been demonstrated
recently by
various researchers
(e.g., Rap
paport 1968; Kemp 1971;
R. N. Adams
1975;
Sanders and
Santley
1983;
G. Webster
1986).
The
epistemological
foundation for such
an
energetic approach
in
archaeology
was
perhaps
best
expressed by
Barbara Price
(1982:720).
"Whatever else a material
object
may represent,
it is
directly
the
Architecture and
Energy
53
energy
expended
on it."
Anthropologists certainly recognize
the
multiple
attributes and cultural
meanings
within
any
artifact?as
mentioned,
houses in
particular
contain considerable and varied cul
tural
meaning.
Some
archaeological analyses, however,
focus
on
those
symbolic (i.e., psychological
and
emotional) aspects
of artifacts
that, although
valuable within the holistic and emic
conceptualiza
tion of
culture,
are
subject
to
disparate
and
largely
untestable in
terpretations (e.g.,
Hodder
1982).
These
analyses
are thus
beyond
the
realm of scientific
inquiry.
Price's
point,
that
by studying
the
energe
tic content of an
artifact,
we are
analyzing
a
measurable, verifiable,
culturally
relevant and
universally
recurrent
attribute, places
ar
chaeological analysis solidly
within the domain of science.
The
explicit goals
of the
energetic analysis
of architecture are to
explain,
in concert with
middle-range theory,
the cultural context
that led to the
particular pattern
of
energy
expenditure
and distribu
tion,
and to describe and
explain
the
process
of
changing energy
ex
penditure
in architecture
through
time. The ultimate
goal
of this
analytic
framework is to better understand the
dynamics
of
proces
sual cultural
change.
Couched in terms of McGuire's
(1983)
defini
tion of cultural
complexity,
architectural
energetics
seeks to recon
struct the scale of social differentiation and
inequality
as
reflected in
the
energy expended
in various architectural features. For
example,
architecture, by
virtue of its
capacity
to absorb
relatively large
amounts of
energy during production,
can
hypothetically
reflect
a
significant
range
of
organizational
behaviors
requisite
for such con
struction,
an
important
index of cultural
complexity.
This connec
tion between cultural
complexity
and architecture is considered in
the
following
section.
Several
qualities
of
energy
and architecture lend themselves
analytically
to the
question
of cultural
complexity.
Since
quantifica
tion of
energy expended
in the
production
of
any
artifact is
possible,
architecture can be articulated with the more
comprehensive energy
flow models of
particular
cultural
systems. Furthermore, compari
sons of architecture of
varying quality, form,
and function can be
made,
with
energy
as a common
denominator.
Finally, energetic
data
provide
a more accurate measure of architecture than do
simple
enumerations
or
area/volume measurements.
Comparative
basal
measurements,
for
example, ignore
the differential costs that
may
affect eventual conclusions
concerning
social differentiation and
inequality.
54 Elliot M. Abrams
Architecture and Cultural Context
This section
explores
the
relationship
between
increasing
energy expenditure
in architecture and cultural
complexity,
based
on
ethnographical
and
archaeological
data. The
primary
focus is the
comparative expenditure
in two
general categories
of architecture?
residential structures and
"public architecture";
the latter includes
public
burial and ceremonial structures. The cultural contexts for
these data
range
from
relatively low-complexity
nomadic hunters
and
foragers
to
relatively complex
stratified societies.
Unfortunately,
very
few
analyses relating
architectural
energetics
to cultural com
plexity
have been conducted.
Consequently,
this review is necessar
ily preliminary
and
any
conclusions are tentative and
subject
to mod
ification. In
fact,
far more
questions
will be raised than resolved.
Because of the
preliminary
nature and breadth of this
discussion,
more
complex
models of
causality
for the
patterns
of
energy expendi
ture are
secondary
to the elucidation of the
patterns
themselves.
The term
"energy expenditure,"
in the
present context,
refers
only
to the total initial costs of
production, including
the
energy
ex
pended
in
procuring
raw
materials, transporting
those materials to
the site of
construction, manufacturing components
of the struc
ture,
and
actually assembling
the structure. It does not
incorporate
the costs of
training
workers
or of
maintaining
the structure once
built. It further does not consider cost from the
perspective
of infla
tion or
changing
value of labor
through
time.
In nomadic hunter and
gatherer societies,
domestic structures em
body relatively equal
amounts of
energy per capita,
correlated with
a
relatively
even social distribution of and access to
energy.
As Fried
( 1967:35) noted,
"At the heart of an
egalitarian society
is a fundamen
tal
egalitarian economy."
This
egalitarian
economy
is characterized
by
balanced and
generalized reciprocity
that in effect level the distri
bution of
energy throughout society.
Concentration of
energy
is thus
minimized and domestic
architecture,
which most reflects
personal
status,
reflects the relative absence of social differentiation and
inequality.
The amount of
energy expended
on the residential struc
tures of nomadic societies is also
quite
low relative to similar archi
tecture in more
complex
societies. Since nomadic
populations
anti
cipate
a limited uselife of the
residence,
it is
expected
that sufficient
but limited amounts of
energy
be
expended
in construction
(Robbins
1966;
Hunter-Anderson
1978;
McGuire and Schiffer
1983). Although
Architecture and
Energy
55
this
energetic expenditure
is low relative to costs
by
other
cultures,
the costs of
production
are
likely
to be
high
relative to most other
objects
or
facilities.
Few data exist
concerning public
architectural features
produced
by
nomadic
hunter-gatherer
societies.
Ethnographical
and archae
ological
data indicate that these societies can and often do
produce
public space
for ritual and recreational
purposes (Drennan 1983).
It
appears, however,
that little
energy
is
expended
in such efforts
and,
in order of
magnitude, perhaps
is
comparable
to that
expended
in
residential
architecture, although
this remains untested.
Residential architecture in
sedentary villages requires greater
ex
penditures
of
energy
than do residential structures in nomadic
societies,
as
exemplified by
data from the Midwest
(Brown
and Vierra
1983:170).
This increased
expenditure undoubtedly
is a
consequence
of the need for more durable structures in
anticipation
of extended
uselife and
perhaps
the minimization of maintenance costs. The
dynamics
of cultural
complexity
have been considered for some sed
entary village
societies.
Lightfoot
and Feinman
(1982),
for
example,
suggest
the
presence
of
village
leaders in
early Mogoll?n villages
in
the Southwest based on the increased size
(and
thus
energy)
of those
pithouses
associated with increased
storage
facilities and increased
percentage
of nonlocal
goods.
Researchers have
challenged
the
integ
rity
of the
archaeological
data
(Schiffer 1983:694),
and have
ques
tioned the basic
hypothesis linking village
leaders with
larger
resi
dences
(Cordell 1984).
Watson
(1978),
in an
excellent
study
of the
comparative
room
and house sizes
among
various Neolithic
villages,
clearly
shows that intra- and intersite
variability
existed in residen
tial architecture. Much of this
variability, however,
was a conse
quence
of the functional differentiation
among
rooms and struc
tures,
perhaps indicating
an increase in social differentiation rather
than an increase in social
inequality.
This too
may
have been the
case in the
early Mogoll?n village.
This tentative
conclusion,
that
increased variation in the size of residential structures reflects first
and foremost
an increase in social differentiation rather than social
inequality,
is
supported
to some
degree by
other
analyses
of residen
tial structures in the Southwest
(McGuire 1983;
McGuire and Schif
fer
1983:289).
A caution
against oversimplification
is
signaled by
similar data from other southwestern sites. The measurement and
analysis
of room size at
Grasshopper pueblo
indicate that there is
"very
little residential
variability
that cannot be
explained by
house
56 Elliot M. Abrams
hold size or
stage
of household
development" (Rathje
and Schiffer
1982:289).
The burial data from
Grasshopper, however, suggest
a
significant degree
of social differentiation
(Rathje
and Schiffer
1982:294).
Thus the
degree
to which architecture reflects social dif
ferentiation and social
inequality
in these
early villages
is
perhaps
case-specific
and
quite
variable.
Public architecture
among semisedentary
and
early sedentary
societies is
quite
common in the
archaeological
record. For
example,
the Midwest
region
of the United States abounds in "ancient monu
ments"?primarily
burial mounds?that number in the tens of thou
sands, many
of which were constructed
by seasonally sedentary, pre
agricultural
societies of the Middle
Archaic-Early
Woodland Period
(ca.
4000 B.C.-A.D.
0).
There
are,
unfortunately,
no
analyses
that
quantify
the
energy expended
in the construction of
any
of these
early mounds;
thus an
energetic comparison
of residential and
pub
lic architecture cannot be
presented.
Based
on
excavated
Early
Wood
land
(Adena)
burial mounds in southeast
Ohio,
several
hypotheses
concerning energy
in these
public
structures can
be offered. The con
struction of these
early
mounds
appears
to have been incremental
(e.g.,
Skinner and Norris
1984), involving
numerous additions that
suggest periodic,
low
energy expenditure per
construction
episode.
Even the
largest
of the Ohio Adena mounds was built over
several
centuries. The difference in the costs of
production
between residen
tial and
public
structures thus
may
not be as
great
as
the static re
mains
might suggest.
The
primary
difference between these two
types
of architectural works lies in their social function.
Although
burial mounds and residences both
provide
utilitarian
functions,
only mounds,
at this
stage
in
evolving
cultural
complexity,
assume
symbolic (i.e., nontechnological)
functions. This
stage
in cultural
evolution has been
characterized, among
other
things, by
increased
territoriality, intergroup conflict,
and
intragroup
communication
(e.g.,
Brown
1985;
Braun
1986;
O'Brien
1987).
These mounds and
similar burial features elsewhere
may
have served as
integrative
arti
facts,
both
enhancing
local
group solidarity
and
signaling
the terri
torial claims of that
group (e.g.,
Renfrew
1983).
If
so,
then their
uselife would have been
multigenerational, requiring
either
greater
initial
expenditures
of
energy
in
production
or,
as seems to have
been the
case, greater expenditures
in maintenance of these mounds.
To the best of
my knowledge,
there
are no
analyses tracing
the
patterns
of
energy expenditure
in either residential
or
public
archi
Architecture and
Energy
57
tecture from
relatively egalitarian sedentary
societies to
early
hier
archical societies. These ranked societies
(Fried 1967)
are
typified by
a
two-tiered
sociopolitical hierarchy,
an increased
population
size
and
nucleation,
a
greater dependence
on fewer economic
resources,
and a
growing complexity
of resource distribution mechanisms. Al
though archaeologists
need to establish the relation between
growth
in architecture
along
this continuum of
increasing complexity,
the
ethnographic
record does
suggest
an
increased
energetic expenditure
in those residential structures associated with the chief or
political
leader of that territorial unit. Such structures include not
only
the
chief's residence but also those of his closest
genealogical
or
political
associates. Several
ethnographies
describe the house of the chief as
being larger
and more ornate than that of the
commoner,
including
ranked societies found in Panama
(Helms 1979),
Hawaii
(Tuggle
1979), Tonga (Gifford 1929),
Tahiti
(Goldman 1970:181),
India
(von
Furer-Haimendorf
1969),
and
Fiji (Tippett 1968). Certainly
this
ethnographic inventory
could be
expanded
and in no
way
should be
taken as exhaustive. It should be
added, however,
that the absence of
a
larger chiefly
residence need not
preclude
increases in cultural
complexity.
The
ethnographical
record
fortunately
is
complemented by
the ar
chaeological,
which allows
us to trace the
gradual development
of
differential
expenditure
in residential structures. Such cases as
Structure
A-1,
Loma
Terremote,
Mexico
(Sanders
et al.
1979:319)
and
Structure
16,
San
Jose Mogote,
Oaxaca
(Flannery
et al.
1981:71)
exemplify
the evolution of
chiefly compounds
or structures.
Again,
although
no
analyses charting
the
patterns
of
energy expenditure
in
residential structures have been
undertaken,
the
quantification
of
these architectural
data,
aided
by middle-range hypotheses
concern
ing
status and
residence, may
help
answer some of the
questions
concerning
the evolution of social
complexity.
Although preliminary,
data
on
residential structures in the earliest
stages
of ranked societal
development
reflect limitations in the
amount of
energy expended
in their
construction,
which
may
suggest
a
greater
increase in social differentiation relative to social
inequality.
For
example,
Structure 16 at San
Jose Mogote, Oaxaca,
built at ca. 850
B.C.,
was erected on a
one-meter-high platform,
un
like
any
residential structure in this small
village (Flannery
et al.
1981:72). By
450
B.C., larger,
more elaborate residential structures
(e.g.,
Structures
25, 26,
and
28)
were constructed.
However,
the
58 Elliot M. Abrams
energetic
limitations reflected
by
these structures are
duly
noted:
"even the most elaborate Rosario
phase
residences so far discovered
could have been built
by
the members of
one
family; they
needed no
corv?e
labor,
such as was
required
in the later
palaces
of Monte
Alban II"
(Flannery
et al.
1981:83).
These limitations
on
the indi
vidual access to
absolutely large
amounts of
energy, by definition,
are
lodged
within the economic structure of ranked
society.
As Fried
(1967:177) noted,
"The
underlying egalitarian economy
in rank soci
ety drastically
limits the
power
of those in
high-ranking
statuses to
manage
the distribution of
usufructuary rights
to
strategic
re
sources"
(Fried 1967:177, emphasis added;
see also Price
1984:219).
Both
ethnographical
and
archaeological
evidence reveal that
larger,
more
varied,
and more numerous
public
structures are
found within
ranked
society,
these structures
principally being storage facilities,
burial
chambers, religious
structures, military edifices,
defensive
works,
and
public
space (e.g.,
Service
1962:135;
R. McC. Adams
1967:11;
Peebles and Kus
1977:432;
Price
1979, 1984;
Evans-Pritch
ard
1940;
Helms
1979; Henry 1928; Tuggle 1979;
Sanders et al.
1979;
Flannery
and Marcus
1976; Flannery
et al.
1981).
In ranked
societies,
energy
is
expended
in
greater amounts,
relative to
egalitarian
societies,
on
larger,
more
numerous,
and more varied
public
architec
ture,
thus
reflecting
the
system's
increased scale of
political organi
zation and
power.
As one
example among many,
Goldman noted that
"the construction of
larger
maraes on Tahiti than
on Raiatea attests
to
growing power
of the
former,
for the size of marae was the con
stant
Polynesian
index of
political standing" (Goldman 1970:177).
Empirical analyses
that consider the
production
and control of the
energy
base directed towards such architecture must be
a
major goal
of future research.
The increased
expenditure
in
public
architecture is caused
by
a
number of variables
relating
to
technological/utilitarian
functions
(e.g.,
Peebles and Kus
1977)
and
integrative/symbolic
functions
(e.g.,
Renfrew
1986),
"financed" in essence
by
the
growing surplus energy
produced by
that
system (cf.
Sahlins
1972;
Price
1984).
This amount
of
energy
can be
very high.
For
example,
Reed et al.
(1968), quantify
ing
the
energy
in Monks
Mound, Cahokia, Illinois, suggested
that
133,600 man-days
of labor
were
expended
in the
largest single
episode
of
construction,
a far
greater
amount of
energy
than that
spent
in
building any
of the earlier Adena mounds. In
addition,
the
energy expended
in
public
architecture
clearly
exceeds that in even
Architecture and
Energy
59
the most
costly
residential structures. The Rosario
phase public
structures from
Oaxaca,
for
example, appear
to have demanded far
more
energy
in
production
than
any
of the
high-status
residences
from that
period (Flannery
and Marcus
1976). Again, charting
the
trajectories
of differential
expenditures
in these two classes of archi
tecture
may prove
valuable in
measuring
the
comparative
increase
in cultural
complexity.
The transition from a
ranked to a stratified
system
of human
or
ganization
is one of the dominant research
topics
in
anthropological
archaeology (e.g.,
Cohen and Service
1978;
Haas
1982).
Unfortu
nately,
associated
analyses involving
architecture and
energy
are
nearly
absent. It has been
suggested that, during
the later
stages
of
growth
and
expansion
of ranked
society,
social
inequality
increases
at a
disproportionately greater
rate than social
differentiation,
a
change
in social relations that should be evident
architecturally
(Price 1984:221).
If
so,
then
architecture?specifically
residential
architecture?should
provide
a measure of
emerging
stratification
within an
essentially
ranked
society.
It is within the context of
a
generalized
model of stratified
society
that
a
larger
number of domestic structures consume
significantly
greater
and differential amounts of
energy, reflecting
the increased
differential access
by
individuals to basic and
strategic
resources
(Fried 1967, 1978).
All stratified societies exhibit differential
expendi
ture in residential architecture.
Although
social scientists are
typi
cally
conditioned to avoid
absolutes,
I have
yet
to read
any
ethno
graphic description
of a stratified
society
in which residences do not
reflect concentrations of
wealth, privilege,
and
political power.
Im
portantly,
these residential structures reflect differential
energy
ex
penditure
for
personal
use.
Individuals now have
increasingly greater
control over the
storage
and movement of
energy
and
they
now are
socially
and
ideologically
less restricted from
directing
some of that
total
energy
for their own
private
use.
Residential architecture reflects these
changing
social relations
energetically through
an
expansion
in both
utility (e.g.,
increased
space
for
comfort)
and
symbolism (e.g.,
facades
reflecting group
iden
tity). Hypothetically,
the
increasing range
of
production
costs in
residences reflects substantive variation in the
process
of
expand
ing
social
inequality. Energy
differences
during
the initial
stages
of
stratification, which,
as
mentioned, may
occur in later
stages
of
ranked societal
development,
may
be
a
reflection of
greater
access to
60 Elliot M. Abrams
resources above the
average,- thus,
some households
may
be able to
expend greater
than
average
amounts of
energy
in residential archi
tecture. As the
process
of social stratification
continues,
that
range
of
production
costs
may expand
in a downward
direction,
a conse
quence
of the
inability
of some households to meet even basic needs.
Thus, energy
expenditure
in residential architecture
may drop
below
the
average,
with
affordability being
a critical variable
influencing
architectural
design.
Residential structures such as
theTlamimilolpa
apartment compound
at
Teotihuacan, representing
substandard
per
capita energy expenditure (Mill?n 1976:220), may
reflect this down
ward
expansion
of social
inequality
and thus
a
later
stage
of social
stratification.
Based on its
"monumentality,"
much
public
architecture has
jus
tifiably
been viewed
as one of the hallmarks of stratified
society (e.g.,
Childe
1950;
Sanders and Price
1968;
Drucker
1981).
The amount of
energy expended during single episodes
of construction reflects the
involvement of
very
large
numbers of
people,
an
organization capa
ble of
orchestrating
those
individuals,
the
political power requisite
for
mobilizing
that labor
force,
the
presence
of craft
specialists
sufficiently
trained and skilled to contribute to the construction
pro
cess,
and a
system
that
can afford to lose the
energy
that otherwise
would have been
produced during
the
period
of construction. Such
edifices as the
great pyramids
of
Egypt
or the
Pyramid
of the Sun at
Teotihuacan
materially
reflect the extreme scale of hierarchical
or
ganization
and control of
political
power
subsumed in the definition
of the true stratified state. Because we are
dealing
with continua of
social
power
within stratified
societies, however,
all monumental
architecture must not be conceived of a
priori
as a static reflection of
"the state."
Many degrees
of
monumentality
exist that
may
corre
spond
to the transitional
stages
in state formation
(e.g.,
Monks
Mound) and,
as is true for domestic
architecture,
more studies must
be conducted if
we are to
develop
a
clearer
processual picture
of
hierarchical societies.
Comparative
basal measurements of
pyramids,
as estimates of
energy,
have been used to monitor the
patterns
of
increasing
social
differentiation and
inequality
in the context of the stratified
pre
industrial state
(Rathje 1975;
McGuire
1983).
The earliest
Egyptian
pyramids
were far
greater
in size and
energy
than
any
residential
structure, suggesting
that social
inequality
was
very high
relative to
social differentiation.
During
the later
stages
of state
development,
Architecture and
Energy
61
residential architecture absorbs
an
increasing
amount of the total
energy, resulting
in a decrease in the size of monumental architec
ture. This
change
in distribution of
energy
is
interpreted
as
reflecting
less a decrease in social
inequality
than an increase in social differen
tiation
through
time. This
pattern
of
high
investment in
public
ar
chitecture,
followed
by
a more
equitable
distribution of
energy
in all
types
of architecture is
supported by preliminary analysis
of the
Classic-Postclassic transition
among
the lowland
Maya (Rathje
1975),
and
provides
a substantive
comparative
model of
energy
ex
penditure.
These studies further reflect the
complementary
relation
ship
between the variables of
inequality
and
heterogeneity
and their
combined
importance
in
analyses.
There are
many disparate perspectives
on
large-scale public
ar
chitecture, ranging
from the
strictly energetic (e.g., Aaberg
and Bon
signore 1975)
to the
metaphoric (e.g.,
Leach
1983). Certainly complex
cultural
systems,
the
products
of
long periods
of
organizational
mod
ifications and increased
capabilities
for
energy capture, correspond
ingly
will
produce greater
varieties of architecture.
Given the direct relation between
energy
and the economic
sys
tem
responsible
for that
energy,
some scholars have
causally
linked
large public
architecture with the
dynamic functioning
of the econ
omy.
For
example,
construction of such edifices has been
perceived
as a
functional means of
offsetting "unemployment" (e.g.,
Ham
mond
1977:74). However,
a consideration of the economic context of
many
of these
early
stratified societies militates
against
this
explanatory
framework.
Many preindustrial
state
systems
were not
characterized
by
an
open, competitive,
and dominant market
system
complemented by
a
market
mentality regarding
the
fluidity
of the
conversion of
goods. Similarly,
the
degree
of social stratification
was,
perhaps,
not
generated by
a
complementary degree
of economic dif
ferentiation. These characteristics of the modern industrial state
economy
are
perhaps
necessary
for
creating
such conditions as un
employment,
and it is
likely
that we
may
be
drawing
too
directly
from formal economic
theory
in our
projections
of
past
state
economies
(e.g., Polanyi 1944; Polanyi
et al.
1957). Further,
the con
cept
of mass
unemployment
is inconsistent with the social embed
dedness that characterized
pre-industrial
economies. Social
corpo
rate kin
groups
often dominated economic
activities,
and this social
network served as a
buffer
against
familial or
personal
economic
hardship. Any
broader and more severe economic
hardship caused,
62 Elliot M. Abrams
for
example, by
disease
or
drought
would drain the redistributive
coffers of the
state,
thus
making
unviable a
policy
of labor taxation
for construction.
It is more
likely
that monumental architecture in state societies
was built for the
purpose
of
enhancing
social
integration, reflecting
the increased
willingness
to invest in the
symbolic component
of
architecture
(e.g., Rathje 1975;
Webster
1976;
Hammond
1977).
Large,
state-authorized
public
architecture
may provide
the central
and
conspicuous symbol
of
group identity
in the context of the in
creasing linguistic, ethnic, social,
and economic
heterogeneity
that
characterize states. Even
personal
works
involving portraits
of rulers
may
be associated with both individual and
group
sentiment. As
Hammond
(1977:74), referring
to Classic
Maya centers,
has
sug
gested,
"The
aggrandizement
of the ceremonial center increases the
stake each individual has in the
system
and focuses
loyalty
in a cen
tripetal
manner."
A
corollary
is that the
political strategy
of
building
to enhance
group
cohesion
may
be
employed during
those times when
group
solidarity
is most
needed?during
times of economic or
political
stress. That the
Pyramid
of the Sun was constructed at a
relatively
early period
in Teotihuacan's
growth
may represent
one case of this
political strategy (Webster 1976:817). Similarly,
it has been noted
that Classic
Maya
construction efforts increased
just prior
to the
fragmentation
of that
political system (Willey
and Shimkin
1973;
Cheek
1986).
Given the stress on
the
system,
these efforts too
may
have been undertaken as an
attempt
to offset
symbolically
the loss
of social cohesion and thus
political power by
those in
authority.
In
conclusion,
the
ethnographical
and
archaeological
data
clearly
suggest
that architecture is a
relatively
effective and valuable archae
ological
index of cultural
complexity,
and
support
the
general pat
tern of increased architectural
energy expenditure
concomitant with
increased cultural
complexity.
Because the
process
of cultural
change
is
non-teleologic,
variations in this
general pattern
should be
archaeologically
detectable
and, by
and
large, architecturally
measur
able. Architectural
features, however,
are but one
material index of
complexity,
and thus
analyses
of varied artifacts should be consi
dered when
assessing
the
degree
of
sociopolitical complexity
of
any
archaeological
culture.
This overview
supports
the
efficacy
of social differentiation and
social
inequality
as variables that reflect cultural
complexity.
One
Architecture and
Energy
63
hypothesis,
discussed
below,
is that social differentiation
develops
prior
to and in more
complex expressions
than social
inequality,
al
though
these two variables are of
course
related.
Only
with the
emergence
of social stratification
as a
particular
kind of
inequality
does
inequality begin
to dominate social
relations, having
a
greater
impact
on
social interaction than does social differentiation. Cer
tainly
one of the
major
areas for continued research involves the
relationship
between these two critical variables and their
specific
expression
in a
range
of diverse architectural features.
Methodological
Considerations
From the
previous
section we see that one of the chal
lenges facing archaeologists
is the need to
explore
in
greater depth
the
complexity
of architectural
expenditure
within an
evolutionary
perspective.
Added to this is the need for
greater methodological
re
finement. Since
archaeologists
do not excavate
energy
but rather the
material embodiments of
energy,
architecture must
accurately
be
translated into its
energetic equivalence, expressed
in standard units
of measurement that will
vary according
to the
analytic goals
of the
archaeologist.
A labor-time measurement is the most common unit of
energy
cost in
construction,
a
consequence
of its
integrity, accuracy,
and
accessibility through
either
ethnographical
or
experimental
timed
observations.
Specifically, person-days (p-d)
or
man-days (m-d)
are
most
commonly
used in the context of labor
costs, although
occa
sionally person-hours
or even
years may
be more
appropriate.
De
pending upon
the
goals
of
analysis,
the labor-time
figure may
be used
as is or
transformed into
labor,
with time held constant. In
addition,
this labor-time unit can be translated into actual
energy (i.e.,
kilo
calories
expended
as
heat)
via reference to
physiologic equivalence
tables
(Consolazio
et al.
1963;
Durnin and Passmore
1967;
Edholm
1967).
Such conversion
places
the
energy expended
in architecture
within the framework of total
energy
flow
through society,
one of
the
analytic possibilities
within the
energetic approach.
A more di
rect and
accurate,
albeit
logistically difficult,
means of
obtaining
ac
tual
energy
expenditure
in construction is
through
the measurement
of
respiration during
work
(Shimada 1978). Although
few researchers
are
likely
to use
such
a
technique,
the
figures
obtained should be
64 Elliot M. Abrams
highly accurate,
thus
providing guidelines
for the more indirect use
of
physiologic
tables.
Two sets of
independent
data are
required
in architectural
energe
tics:
(1)
architectural data
involving
volume of
materials, quality
of
workmanship
and number of
building episodes;
and
(2) energy
costs
per
task in the total
process
of construction. The first set of data is
the
product
of
archaeological reconstruction,
itself influenced
by
the
ethnographic
record.
Clearly
the
quantity
and
accuracy
of these data
directly
affect the confidence
assigned
to the
corresponding energe
tic
analyses.
Whether the researcher examines a total structure or
episodes
within a
single
structure
depends entirely upon
the re
search
goals,
resources,
and data
available,-
of course
only
similar
units of
analysis provide meaningful comparative
inferences.
The second set of data is obtained
through
timed observations of
work tasks in an
ethnographic setting ("natural" experiments),
through
timed observations of work within a
prepared setting ("con
trolled"
or
replicative experiments),
or
through
interviews with
workers who
previously
have
performed
the tasks in
question.
Each
technique
has its benefits and drawbacks. Neither of the two timed
observation methods
necessarily
leads to more accurate cost
data since both
depend
upon
similar
assumptions
between
compara
ble
past
and
present behaviors,- both, however, produce
more reli
able
data,
all
things being equal,
than do interviews. Often the re
searcher is forced to
rely upon
interview
data;
this should not be
considered
poor
data a
priori
but rather should be conceived of as
temporary,
to be
replaced
or
supported by
data obtained
through
timed observations.
The conduct of timed observations in natural
settings
is
by
and
large intuitive, guided by
common sense. Careful and
complete
de
scription
of
tasks, complemented by photographs, yields
labor costs.
Two
points, applicable
to both of the timed observation
contexts,
deserve
emphasis. First, large
work
efforts, complex
in their labor
components
and
personnel,
should be timed with each
specific
task
measured
as
discretely
as
possible.
For
example, observing
house
construction should
yield
not
only
the total cost of house construc
tion but also the labor-time
expended
in each
specific
task in house
construction.
Although possible
to control in a
timed, replicative
experimental setting,
this is often difficult to effect in a
natural set
ting.
It is
important
to
attempt, however,
since some costs in the
Architecture and
Energy
65
total
process
of construction will
likely
be
inappropriate
for a
variety
of reasons
(for example, building
wattle and daub walls with a metal
roof). Being
able to
replace
those
specific
costs
depends
upon
the
separate recording
of those tasks.
Second,
all
descriptions
of timed
observations must be
explicit.
If this method is
expected
to contri
bute to
archaeological research,
then researchers must be
absolutely
explicit
in
detailing
the conditions of timed
work, stating
both
strengths
and
ambiguities
of data collection.
Controlled
replicative experiments
too are
guided essentially by
common sense. Some fundamental rules in
conducting
such
experi
ments have been
clearly presented by
Coles
(1973, 1979), including
such
points
as
using
local and
prehistorically
available
materials,
using experienced workers, repeating tasks,
and
varying
workers. In
addition,
the time
spent during
work that is not
productive
time
should be timed
separately
but unless excessive should be included
in the total time
required
for that task. Thus time
spent taking
breaks,
unless
extreme,
should be considered
a
necessary component
of the natural work
process.
Several considerations
regarding
the
application
of the
energetic
method deserve mention. Metric
analyses
can be conducted on unex
cavated structures
(e.g.,
Arnold and Ford
1980), although
such
quan
tification
opens
the researcher to criticism based on
the
uncertainty
of volume and
quality
of materials
(Folan
et al.
1982).
Since
energetic
costs are not new data but rather a restatement of
existing
architec
tural
data,
their
accuracy
is
dependent
on the
quality
of this data
base. In
addition,
researchers
translating
architecture into
energy
must remember that these
figures,
once
derived,
do not
point
to obvi
ous answers but rather are
subject
to varied
interpretations
and
per
spectives.
We must not make the
epistemological assumption
that
dealing
with
energy
is somehow
a
priori
closer to truth.
An additional
problem
in the
application
of
energetic
costs of con
struction lies in the
comparability
of units of
analysis. Any analysis
of
specific
architectural features demands that similar units be com
pared.
For
example,
if a
single
structure
providing space
for both
residential use and
cooking
later evolved into
separate
residential
and kitchen
structures,
then a
comparison
of labor in residential con
struction must
incorporate
that
energy
expended
in
building
the
separate
kitchen. In
essence,
the
proper
unit of
analysis
should be
the total set of domestic structures
(residence, shrine, kitchen, etc.)
66 Elliot M. Abrams
rather than
solely
the residence. In
many analyses,
the basis for
selecting
architectural units should be their affiliation with
compar
able social
units,
since these
ultimately
are
the
subjects
of
analysis.
The
question
of
comparability
further must be considered in the
context of cross-cultural inferences
generated by energetic-architec
tural
analyses. Analyses
of architectural
change
conducted
on a
single
cultural
system justifiably
assume a certain
degree
of cultural
continuity
in the use of architecture as an
expression
of social status
or
power,-
such
analyses
offer
greater
confidence in
providing
relative
and absolute indices of cultural
complexity.
It is a
false
assumption,
however,
that all cultures
express
relations of
political power
and
status
similarly through
architecture. Factors such as different cul
tural
values,
historic
contexts,
and raw
materials,
as well as differen
tial formation
processes influencing recovery
and
preservation
(Schiffer 1983)
affect the architectural record and
integrity
of cross
cultural
comparisons.
These
possible deviating
factors should not
inhibit cross-cultural
comparisons
of
energy
since the relative struc
ture of
expenditure
should
provide insights
into the relative com
plexity
of various
sociopolitical organizations.
If
comprehensive
re
search reveals that architecture
simply
was
avoided as a reflector of
social
variations,
then some other material
objects
doubtless were
functional
equivalents,
and those
objects
rather than architecture
should be
investigated.
For these other
objects, then,
labor
input may
be their most
important
attribute.
Only
further
empirical
studies
will make clear the
potential
of architecture as an index in cross
cultural
analyses
of cultural
complexity.
Another
problem
concerns time.
Although
we are
able to arrive at
labor costs
per structure,
we
rarely
know the duration of associated
physical
effort
(Sidrys 1978). Comparisons
of
energy,
of
course,
can
be made without
distinguishing
between labor and
time,
and total
costs are
quite
useful in
meeting
some research
goals. Deriving
labor
from
time, however,
does
require
some
accepted
estimate of the dur
ation of construction. This
problem
can be resolved for the
purposes
of
analysis by using
a standardized and consistent time as a de
nominator. If we are
quantifying
domestic
structures,
a standard
time of 60 or 100
days
is
justifiable. Agrarian
societies
typically
build
houses
during
a
single agricultural off-season,
thus
avoiding
schedul
ing
conflicts and
providing
the household with a critical
facility
as
soon as
possible (e.g.,
Redfield and Villa R.
1964; Vogt 1969).
Unlike
Architecture and
Energy
67
most
public
structures,
domestic structures are
typically
built for
more immediate use.
If a
length
of time for construction of
public
architecture is re
quired,
one can
respond
in
part by scrutinizing
the
ethnographic
literature to arrive at some reasonable amount of time. This admit
tedly
is not
particularly satisfying
or
verifiable
given
the enormous
range
of
possibilities. Perhaps only
detailed excavations of
large
structures
coupled
with Chronometrie
dating
for each
episode
of
con
struction will resolve some of the
ambiguities concerning large pub
lic architecture.
The final consideration is
perhaps
the most
serious, challenging
the
validity
of the
energetic
method. One of the
principal goals
of
architectural
energetics
is to elicit some
understanding
of the rela
tions of social
power
or social
inequality
as a
primary component
of cultural
complexity (R.
N. Adams
1975).
The
quantification
of
that
energy
is often based on
assumptions concerning
the
perform
ance and
organization
of
work,
itself a
component
of the broader
sociopolitical
structure that
we are
trying
to reconstruct.
Thus,
it
could be
argued
that such
analyses
are
tautologous and, worse,
self
fulfilling.
The researcher should bear in mind that decisions
concerning
the conduct of
replicative experiments
are
guided by
the archaeo
logical
record in its most
complete
sense.
Tools used in
replicative
timing experiments
should be fashioned after those recovered
archaeologically,
their function determined
through wear-pattern
or
comparable analyses.
Other
archaeological
data such as construction
worker's
quarters (Bierbrier 1982)
add confidence to decisions con
cerning
the
logistical
structure of work and size of the labor force.
Broadly
conceived
replicative experiments,
such as that conducted
by
Callahan
(1981), greatly
add to the refinement of how
buildings
were
constructed,
thus
reducing
the number of
methodological
assumptions.
In
many ways,
it is
appropriate
and
necessary
for feedback to exist
between
methodological assumptions
and
energetic
reconstructions.
The
ethnology
of construction
points
to rather distinct
patterns
of
scheduling (which may
narrow the
options
for duration of construc
tion
projects)
and the
organization
of labor
(Udy 1959).
These be
havioral and
systemic patterns
should be relied
upon heavily
in deci
sion
making concerning
the method of architectural
energetics.
68 Elliot M. Abrams
One central
point
of contention is that we never will know how
hard
people actually work,
that rate
being dependent
on various attri
butes of the
system,
such as
private ownership,
work
ethic,
numbers
and
organization
of
laborers,
and levels of
compulsion.
The use of a
broad
range
of
possible
labor costs
may
result in an
inability
to dis
criminate between
systems
of labor
organization. Clearly
the
only
solution is to
rely upon
standard rates of actual work derived from
ethnographical, experimental,
and
physiological
data. For
example,
Erasmus
( 1965)
determined that the
efficiency
of northern Yucatecan
workers
transporting heavy
loads
drops dramatically
after five hours.
One can assume that actual workers either ceased
moving
stones
after five
hours,
were less efficient at that
task,
or were
forced to
continue.
Regardless
of what one
decides,
the
figures
of labor-time
will not
change dramatically,
and if the
figures
of cost/task
are con
sistently applied,
the final totals will not
vary
to
any significant
de
gree.
It is critical that researchers avoid extremes that are
by
defini
tion
improbable
and thus of limited
analytic
value.
It should be added that the translation of architecture into meas
ured
energetic
effort is not a
prerequisite
for
productive
use of the
architectural data base. For
example,
studies
measuring
the
degree
of urbanization based
on the volume and
density
of architecture
may
be as
discerning
as those based
on the
energetic quantification
of
that architecture.
Although
the value of the
energetic approach
should be
clear,
the researcher must assess
through empirical testing
whether this method is most incisive in
answering
the
particular
research
question!s).
In
sum,
it is
argued
that standard rates of
work,
determined from
a wide
range
of sources and
consistently applied
to
architecture,
can
provide
useful estimates of total labor costs for architectural fea
tures. That there are factors that introduce
uncertainty
into the
method of
quantification only
serves as
encouragement
to collect
more
data,
both from behavioral and
archaeological
contexts. Fi
nally,
researchers should not be confounded
by
the
inability
to arrive
at absolute
energetic costs; reasonable,
standard estimates
may
be
the best we will
ever achieve and such estimates in fact are valuable
in a
comparative analytic
framework. That
they
do not
"ring
of
truth,"
to
paraphrase John
Coles
(1973:168), only aligns
them with
all other studies conducted within the scientific
epistemology
of an
thropological archaeology.
Architecture and
Energy
69
Case
Example:
The Late Classic
Maya
at
Copan,
Honduras
As a result of
nearly
a
century
of
archaeological research,
beginning
with Gordon
(1896)
and
Maudslay (1889-1902)
and con
tinuing
to the
present (e.g.,
Baudez
1983;
Sanders
1986;
Webster and
Fr?ter, 1989), Copan
stands
as one of the most studied Classic
Maya
centers in the southern Lowlands. A
primary
focus of research at
Copan,
as well as at other Classic
centers,
has been the
thorough
excavation of architecture.
Early efforts, involving widespread
clear
ing
and
trenching, targeted
the
largest
and most elaborate structures
in the Main Center
(e.g.,
Trik
1939).
Later efforts increased the sam
ple
of excavated architecture
by expanding
first into the residential
zones
adjacent
to the Main Center
(e.g., Willey
et al.
1978;
Webster
and Abrams
1983;
Sanders
1986)
and then into
relatively
remote
rural areas still within the domain of the
Copan polity (Webster
and
Gonlin, 1988).
As a
consequence
of this extensive
research,
the archi
tectural data from
Copan
allow
relatively
accurate volumetric
mea
surements for a wide
range
of
structures,
thus
making possible
a
variety
of
energetic analyses.
The architectural data from
Copan
are
largely
restricted to the Late Classic
period,
and thus
analyses
cur
rently
focus more
heavily
on
reconstructing
social relations
during
a
specific period
of cultural
development.
Associated with this sizable
data base
are
others, including features, inscriptions, art, artifacts,
ecofacts,
and
mortuary materials,
which
provide
an interactive ana
lytic
framework to
independently
assess and
guide
the reconstruc
tions
generated
from the
energetic analysis
of architecture.
The data on labor costs
per
task were obtained
primarily through
controlled
replicative experiments (Abrams 1984b;
Erasmus
1965)
and
through
timed observations of "natural" work activities
(Eco
nomic Commission for Asia and the Far East
1957). Very
few data
were obtained
through
interviews of
workmen,
an
acceptable
but
less reliable source of labor costs. A total of 21 tasks within the 4
operations
of
procurement, transport, manufacture,
and construc
tion were
quantified.
The costs of each task within these four
major
operations
of construction are
presented
in Table 2.1. The
applica
tion of these
costs,
collected in the
Copan Valley, Honduras,
to one
of the structures at
Copan,
is
presented
in Table 2.2. Since these
costs were determined in the
Copan Valley,
their
applicability
within
70 Elliot M. Abrams
Table 2.1.
Labor Costs for
Operations
and Tasks in Construction
(from
Abrams 1984b:
190).
Procurement
Tuff: 750
kg/p-d
Earth: 2.6
m3/p-d
Water: 10 L/12 seconds
Grass: 15
cargas (150 kg)/p-d
Wood:
13, 44, 66,
and 88
minutes/p/treea
Cobbles: 7200
kg/p-d
Transport
P-D/m3
=
[L/(Q
x
H)]
x
pl/V
4-
1/V']b
Manufacture
Dressed
masonry:
1
m3/11.6p-d
Rough-cut
cobbles: 1
m3/1.16
p-d
Sculpture: simple:
70 minutes/375
cm2;
complex:
370 minutes/550 cm2
Plaster: 8.25 m3/362
p-d
=
1
m3/43.9
p-d
Beams: 1.0 m2
prepared
surface/8.3
p-h
Construction
Substructural fill: 4.8
m3/p-d
for
finely-placed
fillc
Superstructural
fill: 4.8
m3/p-d
Dressed
masonry
walls: .8
m3/p-d
Cobble
retaining
wall: .8
m3/p-d
Cobble-c?sc?/o sub-flooring:
9.6
m2/p-d
Plastering:
10
m2/p-d
Champas:
P-D
=
[2.95
+ .16
(AREA)]
+ 5
Grass roofs: P-D
=
2.95 + .16
(AREA)
Perishable walls: P-D
=
-11.14 + 1.23
(AREA)
Key:
a. The 4 different costs of
cutting
trees
correspond
to 4
categories
of tree
diameter and hardness.
b. L
=
distance to materials
(km); Q
=
capacity
of container
(m3);
V
=
kilometers traveled
per hour,
unloaded
(a
constant of
5);
V
=
kilometers traveled
per hour,
loaded
(a
constant of
3);
H
=
hours of
work
per day (a
constant of
5) (modified
from Gonlin
1985).
c. The
presence
of
finely-placed
fill?fill which
required
more care and thus
time?depends
on the
height
of the substructure.
Architecture and
Energy
71
Table 2.2.
Labor Costs for Structure
9N-83, Copan.
(Numbers
are in
person-days.)
Procurement
Tuff:
Earth:
Water:
Wood:
Cobbles:
Sub-total:
Transport
Tuff:
Earth:
Water:
Wood:
Cobbles:
Plaster:
Sub-total:
407.3
93.5
1.5
28.7
43.5
574.5
1,664.0
1,233.5
8.8
23.0
240.0
352.9
3,522.2
Manufacture
Masonry:
Plaster:
Beams:
Sculpture:
Sub-total:
1,061.4
1,084.3
8.1
1.8
2,155.6
Construction
Substructural fill: 23.8
Substructural
masonry:
40.0
Superstructural
fill: 12.4
Superstructural masonry:
74.4
Cobble surface: 15.0
Plaster: 8.2
Sub-total: 173.8
TOTAL:
6,426.1 person-days
Note: Structure 9N-83 was a
relatively large
residential structure in
Group 9N-8,
located
approximately
1 km east of the Main Center.
Complete clearing
and
trenching
revealed a
masonry superstructure
of 5 rooms
resting
on a 2 m
high
masonry
substructure. All raw materials were
quantified.
The substructural fill was
composed
of 44
percent rock,
56
percent
earth. Of the
rock,
60
percent
was
tuff,
40
percent
was limestone. From
replicative experiments involving
the
cutting
of
tuff,
it was determined that
dividing
the volume of dressed tuff
masonry by
.55
yielded
the volume of
quarried
tuff.
significantly
different techno-environmental
settings
remains an
empirical question.
The first set of
analyses
focused on
assessing
the structure of the
sociopolitical hierarchy
at
Copan,
couched within a model of ranked
lineage corporate
units
(Kurjack 1974;
Sanders
1981, 1989).
This in
itself is a
departure
from
many
other studies that have used labor
costs of structures
only
from
major
centers as
indices of cultural
complexity
within
a
typologie
framework
(e.g.,
Erasmus
1965;
Coe
1968). Willey
and Leventhal
(1979)
first established
a
five-level hier
72 Elliot M. Abrams
archy
of
sociopolitical
statuses based
primarily
on
the number and
size of structures in
courtyard units,
later substantiated
by
Hendon's
(1987)
artifact
analysis.
As an initial
application
of the
energetic ap
proach, energetic
costs for structures within
courtyards
on
four of
these
levels, representing
various co-resident social
units,
were
quan
tified. It was determined that residential
courtyards
of
primarily
masonry
structures embodied 725
p-d, 3,226 p-d, 16,243 p-d,
and
33,726 p-d
of
energy, representing
each of the four levels
(Abrams
1984b;
Gonlin
1985).
A rural
type
1
courtyard
was estimated to em
body
205
p-d (Gonlin 1985), complementing
the
pattern
of
increasing
energy expenditure
within
courtyards. Despite
the limited
sample,
these
energetic figures
confirm the hierarchic
ordering
of
courtyards
and
methodologically improve upon
those more
general
measures of
social status and
power
based
on
number, size,
and
quality
of archi
tecture.
Further, they provide
the basis for more detailed
analyses
of
the
sociopolitical organization
at this Late Classic center.
The
sample
of structures then was
expanded
to include the
highest
level of social status
represented by
a
royal
residence in the Main
Center
(Abrams 1984b, 1987).
The
energetic
assessment of Structure
10L-22 made
possible
the
comparison
of
energy
in
single
residential
structures across the entire social
spectrum.
It was shown that rural
commoner residences of wattle and daub
required
between 50 and
100
p-d,
that
masonry
residences within the dense urban barrios
re
quired
from
approximately 1,000 p-d
to
5,000 p-d (8,000 being
a
maximum),
and that the
royal palace required roughly 30,000 p-d.
These
relatively
discrete clusters of
energy suggested
a three-tiered
hierarchy
of social and
political
statuses within Late Classic
society,
possibly
indicative of an
early
stratified state
system (e.g., Wright
and
Johnson 1975).
Further
sociopolitical complexity
is
suggested by
the
range
of labor costs within the two lower levels
(excluding
for
now the
upper
level with a
sample
size of
one).
The commoner resi
dence did not reflect
a wide
range
of
costs, suggesting
a
lower
degree
of social differentiation and
inequality
among
commoners. The
range
of costs in residences within the urban
barrio, however,
was
relatively wide, varying by
several thousand
person-days.
This
sug
gests
a
greater disparity
in access to social and
political power among
these
residents, supported by energetic-architectural
data fromTikal
(Arnold
and Ford
1980)
and inherent in the criteria for the
Willey
Leventhal
typology.
Further
analysis
of these urban barrios should
reveal the factors
underlying
this broad status variation.
Architecture and
Energy
73
The tentative
pattern
of
increasing
social
inequality
within
stratified
societies,
discussed
above, suggested
that increases in resi
dential
expenditures
above the
average
should
precede expansion
below the
average,- thus,
we should
see
residences
reflecting
a
higher
quality
of life
prior
to those
reflecting
a
condition of
poverty.
The
above
energetic
data
on
residential architecture
clearly
reflect
a
higher
standard of
living
for some
households,
concomitant with
their
greater
access to basic
resources.
However,
the data do not
suggest
the
presence
of substandard
housing
that would indicate a
"lower class."
Thus,
the social structure at
Copan
and
perhaps
other
Maya
centers
incorporated
elements of stratification but
appears
not
to have
developed
this
system
of social relations to its extreme.
Hypothetically,
there
may
have existed economic and
sociopolitical
institutions that militated
against
this increase in social
inequality,
consistent with the model
depicting
social relations in
early
strati
fied states as
being organized largely
within
corporate
kin units
(San
ders and Webster
1978).
The labor
requirements
in residential structures also were trans
lated into the number of laborers
only, reflecting
the differential abil
ity
to recruit labor across social statuses. Based
on a
standard time
denominator of 60
days
for each
operation,
it was
determined that
the
royal palace required
about 400
conscripted
workers whereas the
largest
structure in the
adjacent
urban
barrio,
Structure 9N-82
center,
required
137 drafted
workers,
and the commoner
required
only
2 to 5 laborers. These
figures suggest
a model of hierarchical
labor
recruitment,
the ruler able to recruit from the entire
polity,
possibly
within the context of
a form of corv?e
system,
the inter
mediate elite
capable
of
drawing
sufficient labor from
a
social
corpo
rate
group
or
subdivision of the
polity
in a more
festive or social
context,
and the commoner
drawing exclusively
from a
familial net
work of
reciprocal relationships (Abrams, 1989).
This reconstruction
of labor recruitment
systems speaks directly
to the
question
of social
inequality
and the
degree
of
development
of social
power.
Research
addressing
the
changing pattern
of
political power
rela
tions
during
several centuries of the Classic Period has been ad
dressed
by
Cheek
(1985, 1986), although
the lack of
middle-range
theory linking large public
architecture with
political power
and
symbolic expression
accentuates the
preliminary
nature of this im
portant
research.
Comparing
estimates of labor
expended
in
building
architecture in the Great Plaza at
Copan during periods
of substantial
74 Elliot M. Abrams
systemic growth,
Cheek was able to chart the relative
ability
of rul
ers to amass and direct labor for construction of
public
architecture.
His research
suggests that,
from A.D. 350
through
A.D.
700,
con
struction was
steady
or
slightly decreasing.
A dramatic increase in
construction lasted until about A.D.
800,
followed
by
an
equally
sharp
decrease in construction. Soon
after,
the Main Center was
abandoned
(Cheek 1986:53).
These data confirm
previous
reconstruc
tions that
place
social
inequality
at its
peak during
the Late Classic
Period, suggest
a
long period
of relative
political stability during
the
Early
Classic
Period,
and establish
an
architectural-energetic
founda
tion for future
analyses.
The
comparative
cost of residential architecture within
Mayan
polities
further serves as an
index of the
degree
of urbanization
(e.g.,
Arnold and Ford
1980).
The
Copan
data indicate
quite clearly
that
status was correlated with
proximity
to the Main Center.
Although
a
range
of architectural costs are
dispersed throughout
both the
urban barrios and the rural
landscape,
cumulative architectural
expenditures
in the Main Center were
significantly higher
than in
the urban barrios and costs in the urban barrios were
greater
than in
the rural zones. The
energetic
data lend
support
to the vast settle
ment data from
Copan,
which also
suggest
that the
process
of
popula
tion nucleation was
active,
albeit still at a rather
preliminary stage
of
development (Fr?ter 1988).
The
energetics
of architecture
can be used further to estimate the
number of
specialists
involved in the construction
process, reflecting
the
degree
of economic
specialization,
or
minimally
one
aspect
of
socioeconomic
differentiation,
construction
process.
This
analysis
focused
necessarily
on a
relatively large
structure?Structure 10L
22?located in the Main Center of
Copan.
Based on the
quantifica
tion and division of total
energy
into workers
per task,
it was deter
mined that
very
few full-
or
part-time specialists
were
required
in
the construction
process (Abrams 1987).
Most workers
were
proba
bly conscripts
from the various social
corporate
units
obligated
to
contributing
labor to the central
authority, complementing
the
re
sults of the
analysis
of labor recruitment
systems.
This conclusion
of limited economic
specialization
is bolstered
by
similar
energetic
analyses
of obsidian tool manufacture
(Mallory 1984), ground
stone
production (Spink 1983),
and stelae
carving (Abrams 1984a).
All
quantify
the labor costs of
production
in relation to the uselife of
that
particular
artifact
and,
in
conjunction
with the architecture
Architecture and
Energy
75
analysis,
concur that few
specialists
were created
by
the economic
system,
further
supporting
the model of
lineages
as
organizers
and
controllers of
production
and
perhaps
even
inhibitors to the eco
nomic division of labor.
The
quantification
of
a
greater
number and
range
of structures
will better test the conclusions drawn for
Copan,
as well as add to
the number of
possible analyses.
It is
hoped
that this case has exem
plified
the
range
of architectural
analyses possible
within
an
energe
tic framework. Similar
analyses
at other
Maya
centers and of other
data bases
undoubtedly
will refine
our reconstruction of
increasing
complexity
of this
particular
cultural
system and,
more
importantly,
will also
provide anthropologists
with
empirical analyses by
which
to better
study
the
complexity
of the
process
of cultural evolution.
Conclusions
The
principal goals
of this
chapter
have been to
provide
epistemological, ethnological,
and
methodological support
and
jus
tification for the
application
of
energetics
to
architecture,
the under
lying goal being
that of
encouraging
further research in architectural
energetics. Only
the
gains
made
through
continued efforts will deter
mine whether the latter
goal
in fact has been achieved. It was
argued
that
energy,
as an attribute of
architecture,
is
empirical,
cross-cultur
ally valid,
and
verifiable,
and thus
particularly
valuable in
compara
tive
analyses
of architecture. A
general pattern
of
increasing energe
tic
expenditure
concomitant with
increasing
social differentiation
and
inequality
was
described, supported by ethnographical
and ar
chaeological
data.
Finally,
the method and
application
of the
energe
tics of architecture in an
archaeological
context were
presented,
illustrating
the
viability
and
analytic
value of such an
approach.
Several
gaps
remain to be filled
by
continued research in architec
tural
energetics. Clearly
we need first to
conceptually
refine the
sys
temic
relationship
between architectural construction and
energy
in
a
range
of cultural
settings. Middle-range
theories
linking
the archi
tectural remains with behavioral
systems
must be
pursued.
Ethno
graphic analogues considering
labor
systems
and
sociopolitical
con
texts must be tested. In
short,
we
need far more
ethnography
and
ethnology
of construction if we are to increase the
analytic potential
of this or
any
other
energetic perspective
and method.
76 Elliot M. Abrams
In
addition,
if the variables of social
inequality
and differentiation
are to have
an
impact
on further studies of the
process
of cultural
complexity, greater
refinement of the reflection of these variables in
the
archaeological
record is needed. The
ability
to
identify
and distin
guish
these related variables
represents
a critical element to further
research.
Equally important
is the need to
expand
the data base
on
labor
costs. Erasmus'
(1965)
data from northern Yucatan are
excellent,
and
I
rely
on some of those data in
my
own calculations. Labor costs
may
vary considerably given
different
physical
environments and tech
nologies, however,
and we must add to and refine the
body
of
con
struction labor costs.
Replicative experiments, easy
and
relatively
inexpensive
to
conduct, might
be considered a standard
part
of
ar
chaeological
field research. A
compilation
of labor costs sensitive to
cultural and environmental variations
eventually may
be
produced,
serving
as a reference for continued
energetic analyses.
The combined effect of
expanded
models and
energetic
data will
increase
archaeologists' ability
to reconstruct diachronic
patterns
of
institutional
change.
Architecture is a
culturally important artifact,
and can
play
a central role in such studies. Future efforts
charting
and
then
explaining
the increase in cultural
complexity, particularly
in
the context of hierarchic
societies, undoubtedly
will add to our un
derstanding
of the
complexities
of the
process
of cultural evolution.
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank Andrew
Christenson,
Richard
Diehl,
AnnCorinne
Fr?ter,
Barbara
Price,
William T.
Sanders,
Arthur
Saxe,
Michael
Schiffer,
David
Webster,
and Richard Yerkes for
kindly
and
thoughtfully contributing
to this
paper.
The
Copan
data were col
lected
during
the
Proyecto Arqueol?gico Copan,
Phase
II,
which was
directed
by
William T. Sanders and David
Webster,
and
kindly
made
available
by
the Instituto Hondureno de
Antropolog?a
e Historia. All
errors contained within
are
distinctly my
own.
Architecture and
Energy
77
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