Evolving Complexity And Environmental Risk In The Prehistoric Southwest

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Cultural behavior exhibits many of the features of complex adaptive systems, but is in some ways distinctive. Cultural complexity is enigmatic, improbable, and difficult to maintain. It constrains behavior, limits understanding of processes, and imposes economic burdens. The advantages of complexity are modified by human cognition and limited by economic and environmental costs. This book explores in detail how and why prehistoric Southwestern societies changed in complexity, and thus offers important new ...

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Overview

Cultural behavior exhibits many of the features of complex adaptive systems, but is in some ways distinctive. Cultural complexity is enigmatic, improbable, and difficult to maintain. It constrains behavior, limits understanding of processes, and imposes economic burdens. The advantages of complexity are modified by human cognition and limited by economic and environmental costs. This book explores in detail how and why prehistoric Southwestern societies changed in complexity, and thus offers important new perspectives on the evolution of culture.The papers discuss the factors that made prehistoric Southwesterners vulnerable to an arid environment, and their strategies to lessen risk and stress. The topics of the book link Southwestern data to fields such as economics, climatology, and evolutionary theory. In addition to a readership of archaeologists and anthropologists, this volume will be of interest to specialists in these related fields and to those concerned with complex adaptive systems and the work of the Santa Fe Institute.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction: Prehistoric Societies as Evolving Complex Systems 1
Demography Environment, and Subsistence Stress 25
Notes on Economic Uncertainty and Human Behavior in the Prehistoric North American Southwest 57
Hunting, Gathering, and Health in the Prehistoric Southwest 79
Technological Strategies Responsive to Subsistence Stress 107
Risk, Anthropogenic Environments, and Western Anasazi Subsistence 145
The Calculus of Self-Interest in the Development of Cooperation: Sociopolitical Development and Risk Among the Northern Anasazi 169
Risk, Reciprocity, and the Operation of Social Networks 197
Variability in Food Production, Strategies of Storage and Sharing, and the Pithouse-to-Pueblo Transition in the Northern Southwest 223
Models and Frameworks for Archaeological Analysis of Resource Stress in the American Southwest 251
Index 267
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