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Preliminary Results from "the Role of Religious Institutions in Pre-Columbian America Data Analysis Project"

Author(s): Alexander Martin ; Felipe Sol

Year: 2016

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The past couple of decades have seen a marked rise in behavioral and social science research from evolutionary psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists looking to clarify what motivated the development and spread of religious institution throughout the world. These approaches tend to highlight the functional “prosocial” role that religion played in social development, citing its character as an integrative social device, as mitigator of external social stress, or as an enforcer of more efficient, cooperative, or regulatory social norms. Behavioral scientists frequently attempt to support these claims by testing them against present-day populations, but archaeology can talk directly to this discussion since its subject matter is explicitly the development of human behavior and its institutions over time, and its methodological tools were purposefully designed to investigate that topic through the long developmental sequence that behavioral scientists try to infer about based on modern test subjects. This presentation gives preliminary results on a multi-year data analysis project that explores how religious institutions evolved in various Pre-Columbian societies to validate or reject different prosocial explanations for the role of religion in human social development.

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Preliminary Results from "the Role of Religious Institutions in Pre-Columbian America Data Analysis Project". Alexander Martin, Felipe Sol. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403268)


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America