Author(s): Marco Milella

Year: 2015


Questions about the timing and modalities of the evolution of care-giving behaviors have a direct impact on our understanding of human cultural evolution and early social dynamics. Hypotheses on care-giving behaviors in Prehistory are usually developed on skeletal evidences documenting survival to seriously debilitating conditions. However, a theoretical framework to test these hypotheses is still missing. Therefore, we propose a model for care-giving behaviors in Prehistory starting from data on hunter-gatherers societies. Due to their ecology and social organization hunter-gatherers represent a good proxy of early humans’ social systems. Accordingly, we postulate that by isolating factors correlated to social support in those communities it is possible to build a theoretical reference for reconstructing similar behaviors in Prehistory. To this aim, we collected a large body of ethnographic data on environmental, demographic, social, and epidemiological variables characterizing various small-scale societies. These data are then compared through network analysis and multidimensional scaling with data on social cohesion and care-giving behaviors. Results, though stressing the complex nature of care-giving behaviors, evidence a suite of factors (environmental and demographic) relevant in predicting care-giving attitudes in the past. Altogether, our study demonstrates the usefulness of a model-based approach for testing biocultural hypotheses in Prehistory.

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Cite this Record

MODELING CARE IN PREHISTORY THROUGH AN ANALYSIS OF HUNTER-GATHERERS SOCIAL SYSTEMS.. Marco Milella. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395734)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;