Cultural transmission and innovation in archaeology

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This chapter focuses on theories of cultural transmission and innovation in anthropological and archaeological frameworks. We discuss the differences between diachronic and synchronic perspectives in the history of innovation studies and their importance to a better understanding of cultural phenomena and processes of culture change. We present an overview of the major theoretical terms and concepts used to identify and define cultural evolution processes. These include cultural mutation, drift, and inertia, the forces that influence the transmission of cultural variants, such as pedagogy, guided variation and various forms of transmission biases, as well as evolutionary selection processes. We evaluate three case studies drawn from the literature to illustrate how contemporary anthropological archaeology can aid in operationalizing our observations and interpretations of cultural evolution processes at different scales in both the ethnographic present and the archaeological past.
Original languageDanish
Title of host publicationHandbook of evolutionary research in archaeology
EditorsAnna Marie Prentiss
Place of publicationCham
Publication year2019
ISBN (print)978-3-030-11117-5
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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