Evolutionary perspectives in archaeology: from culture history to cultural evolution

Stephen Shennan

in Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568308
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Evolutionary perspectives in archaeology: from culture history to cultural evolution

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This article demonstrates the role of evolutionary approaches in archaeology by focusing on four different topics that have long been of interest to archaeologists of virtually all theoretical persuasions. It examines how evolutionary theory can be used by presenting specific concrete examples. The four topics concern different but interrelated histories: of foraging adaptations, human populations, social institutions, and patterns in culture. Addressing these topics on the basis of archaeological data from an evolutionary point of view involves making use of several different strands from the range of complementary and sometimes conflicting evolutionary approaches to understanding human behaviour. There is a major distinction within evolutionary approaches to human behaviour between human behavioural ecology and those viewpoints that attach a significant role to culture, in particular, dual-inheritance theory.

Keywords: archaeology; evolutionary theory; foraging adaptations; human; populations; institutions; culture; behaviour; human behavioural ecology; dual-inheritance theory

Article.  6692 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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