Cultural Evolution in Archaeology

Author(s): Peter Richerson

Year: 2015


Models of cultural evolution aim at a process level understanding of cultural change and gene-culture coevolution. The micro level foundations of these models can be tested in the lab and field on living populations and, in favorable circumstances, with fine-grained archaeological data. Macro scale problems can only be studied by fitting models to historical and archaeological data that can resolve patterns on time scales of a century or more. Progress in two areas in particular are contributing to making this project feasible. First, improvements in dating resolution and increases in the spatial and temporal resolution of the archaeological record are making it possible to generate high quality quantitative databases that resolve the longer time scales. Second, increased computing power and improvements in statistical methods allow us to fit competing evolutionary models directly to this data.

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Cultural Evolution in Archaeology. Peter Richerson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395369)