The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis and Human Origins: Archaeological Perspectives

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 84th Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM (2019)

This collection contains the abstracts of the papers presented in the session entitled "The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis and Human Origins: Archaeological Perspectives," at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The theoretical framework in which researchers examine and interpret data determines the primacy of questions posed and, ultimately, the knowledge produced. For archaeologists studying human origins, the interpretive structures that have historically guided inquiry are predictive models rooted in the Modern Synthesis and the conceptual perspective of "behavioral modernity." More recently, researchers in several disciplines have found the Modern Synthesis to be lacking in its explanatory power, particularly with relevance to the emergence and evolution of human culture. Proponents of a theoretical revision, coined the extended evolutionary synthesis (EES), argue for a broader framework of contemporary theory that places emphasis on the role of diverse and reciprocally interacting evolutionary forces (e.g., niche construction, developmental plasticity) and inheritance systems (i.e., genetic, ecological, material, cultural). This session will address what an alternative perspective means for framing paleoanthropological inquiry. In particular, we aim to discuss the possibilities and limitations of exploring the archaeology of human origins under a larger suite of theories encapsulated within EES.