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Mapping Evolutionary Histories of Oceanic Mythology: Can Phylogenic Methods Applied to Creation Myths Increase Our Understanding of Prehistoric Migrations?

Author(s): Lorena Craig

Year: 2017

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Summary

This study seeks to understand the means of dissemination of oral cultural traditions of Oceania across time and geographic space. I hypothesize evolutionary trees produced from analysis of creation myths provide a means to infer prehistoric migrations routes. Additionally, creation myths and language have parallel evolutionary history and form a combined set of core cultural traditions. In order to test these hypotheses, creation myths, selected from the earliest recorded versions from Oceania, will be analyzed using quantitative methods from the biological sciences. Results from phylogenetic methods and other statistical analysis of data sets will demonstrate that in the case of language and creation myths, evolutionary processes of culture traditions can be intertwined. Moreover, by using data from other fields such as linguistic, genetics, archaeology, ethnology, and physical anthropology, the validity of using mythology as a proxy for migration can be measured. In a broader sense, phylogenetic studies, like this one, will provide new insights into evolutionary processes of sacred oral traditions and understanding of the evolutionary dynamics between multiple cultural traditions. Additionally, I propose this research will add to existing studies of prehistoric migration in Oceania, and provide a model for similar research in other regions.


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Mapping Evolutionary Histories of Oceanic Mythology: Can Phylogenic Methods Applied to Creation Myths Increase Our Understanding of Prehistoric Migrations?. Lorena Craig. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429224)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17027

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