One time we arrived in Lucknow together, and Steve's luggage has been lost, so we spent the afternoon shopping for clothes for him. (He bought quite sensible clothes, while I opted for a rather louder shorts-- see below). Although we were both there for a conference on Lahuradewa and the origins of agriculture, and especially rice agriculture, our conversation strayed, as it often did, the small millets that constitute so much agricultural diversity, not just in India, but around the world. Steve's take was that the great potential of small-scale sustainable millet agriculture was largely overlooked by modern scholarship, in part because of bias towards interest in those large-grained cereals, that were both more easy to find archaeologically and more likely to support urban elites. This resulted in our joint attempt to call attention to millets in worldwide agricultural and archaeobotanical studies, published in Pragdhara 2008.
|KS Saraswat, Steve Weber, Dorian Fuller, Mukund Kajale visiting Lahuradewa excavations, Uttar Pradesh, Jan. 2006
|Steve Weber and Prof-Yo-Ichiro Sato (Kyoto, summer 2007).
Tragically over the pat couple of years he suffered from a degenerative illness. Despite this he was still intent on numerous research issues and ongoing projects when I saw him at a party and conference session in his honor at the SAAs in Vancouver, marked in part by the retrospective on Steve Weber the visionary written with Jade Guedes for the Journal of Ethnobiology. Steven generously passed on his many archaeobotanical samples to Jade, who had joined his department, and so the legacy of his research can be expected to continue to yield results for years to come.
One of my earlier interactions with Steve was when I had first started teaching in London and I had offered something of a critique to an article on "seeds of urbanism" that he published in Antiquity. And while our published debate might have read somewhat acrominously, he was nothing but supportive and even enthusiastic about discussions with a younger scholar about the finer points of interpretaing patterning in archaeobotanictal data. He insisted that we should distribution together both his original article, my critique and his reply at the South Asia Archaeological conference in Paris in the summer of 2001. He was so focused on moving the field in the positive direction that he took criticism as a positive. The discussions we began then lead on to many conversations on the value of different archaeobotanical samples based on inferences about how they formed. And he invited me to work with him on our first joint publication on "formation processes and Palaeoethnobotanical interpretation," perhaps super-ceded by his later critical review on Palaeoethnobotany. He was humble in his knowledge and a gentleman scholar. His example of putting the pursuit of archaeological knowledge first, before his ego, is an example I will continue to strive for.
He will be sorely missed. Below are some photos I could locate of him. Please do add your own comments thought and memories. I can add more photos if they are emailed to me.
|Steve Weber, Dr. Qashid Mullah, Dorian Fuller, above Kyoto (2007)
|Steve Weber at the 2009 conference "Origin of Rice Agriculture and its diffusion to SOutheast and East Asia", Kyoto, August 2009. [from which his publication on rice and millets in Thailand]
|Dorian Fuller, Steve Weber, Gao Yu, visiting historic Hangzhou (June 2011)
|Steve Weber with Dr Jin Guiyin touring Tianluoshan site, Zhejiang
|Visiting Tianluoshan Neolithic site, Zhejiang (Steve Weber at far right).