Message #328: From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Subject: Does Being Numerate Matter in Understanding the Spatial Patterning of the American Southwest? Date: Thu, 10 Oct 96 15:12:00 MST Encoding: 86 TEXT You may remember the SASIG message of 08 May 96 wherein SWA reported: "....Anthropologists take note of immigration patterns, so check this out. Forbes says that the Chinese strive to populate California's San Gabriel Valley to become doubly lucky in the 818 area code, eight being a very lucky number for the Chinese. Pacific Bell plans to add a 626 area code in the area, and the Chinese community is in uproar! People are suing the phone company to stop the proposed change. Forbes wryly notes that Pac-Bell will at least avoid area codes using the number four ( in Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese, the number four [pronounced "sa"] sounds like the word for "death" ). " The October 10, 1996 edition of the Wall Street Journal carries an interesting article titled "Moving In -- Influx of Immigrants Adds New Vitality to Housing Market." This WSJ article continues a thread similar to the earlier Forbes reporting: "....ROWLAND HEIGHTS, Calif. - Among the hundreds of new homes in the hilltop subdivision of Vantage Pointe here, there isn't a single street address ending with the numeral 4. Nobody here wonders why. Almost all buyers are Chinese immigrants, most from Taiwan. As they consider plunking down $300,000 or more for a house, they want to avoid the unlucky number, whose sound in Chinese is a homonym for the word death. [Developers] have hired Chinese speakers as salesmen, brought in Buddhist monks to bless the subdivisions, and instructed their architects to redesign the houses for maximum buyer appeal. What is most distinctive about the Chinese buyers, though, is their strict adherence to the principles of 'feng shui,' an elaborate set of Chinese principles of design. Stairways angle away from the front door so the owner's luck won't run away....most Chinese won't buy a house situated at a "T" junction in a subdivision, because the location is believed to lure bad luck or even death. In addition, there are Chinese beliefs about the lucky number 8 or the unlucky number 4. In...(the Chinese)... subdivisions, some buyers.....add up the digits in their prospective new address and pronounce the results unlucky. (The developer) gladly goes to city hall, and for about $150 gets a new number. ...Fountains are abundant here, since running water symbolizes prosperity in the logic of feng shui. The builder initially worried that a giant water tank on the peak of the hill would be an obstacle to selling houses. No problem, it turns out. Being near that much water was vastly appealing, and the houses sold quickly." [SASIG Ed. note -- Related links: http://www.homesforsale-socal.com/sg/areamap/sba/716/sg716.htm and http://www.sheahomes.com/scal/ ]. Like other well-written publications, WSJ and Forbes may be good sources for the generation of anthropological and archaeological research questions. The anthropological observations in WSJ stimulate imagination and raise interesting implications for general behavior, and thus, SWA asks:
A thoughtful contribution of text describing your SW archaeological observations and experience in these matters is most welcomed. Thank you.
- Are there elaborate sets of principles of design among the various prehistoric and historic cultural groups inhabiting the Southwest?
- Do such principles obtain among extant cultural groups, and, can these principles be retrodicted using an direct-historic approach?
- How is such information revealed by the archaeological record of the American Southwest?
- Have Southwestern archaeologists considered such cultural phenomena in studying the design, use and spatial patterning of prehistoric communities?
- Does being numerate in a specific cultural system's cosmography matter to an archaeologist's understanding and interpretation of spatial patterning in the American Southwest ?
- Hoe does our system of cosmography skew our interpretations of the archaeological remains of other cultural groups?