The Nature of Humanness

Jonathan Marks

in The Oxford Handbook of Archaeology

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199271016
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

The Nature of Humanness

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  • Classical Studies
  • History and Theory of Archaeology



This article gives an analysis of the nature of humanness in archaeology. It discusses the record of human divergence from the apes, the hidden record of becoming human, and the concept of human nature as an Aristotelian legacy. It suggests that the most problematic aspect of human nature is the implicit dichotomy between the innate or instinctual, on the one hand, and the acquired or learned, on the other. It describes how archaeology and ethnography have combined to demonstrate the considerable impact of cultural factors upon the human expression of social, ecological, and life-history variables that are regularly tallied for other species by ecologists.

Keywords: human nature; archaeology; Aristotelian legacy; ethnography; cultural factors; life-history variables

Article.  7508 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; History and Theory of Archaeology

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