Macroevolution in Human Prehistory: Evolutionary Theory and Processual Archaeology / Edition 1

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Cultural evolution, much like general evolution, works from the assumption that cultures are descendent from much earlier ancestors. Human culture manifests itself in forms ranging from the small bands of hunters, through intermediate scale complex hunter-gatherers and farmers, to the high density urban settlements and complex polities that characterize much of today’s world.

The chapters in the volume examine the dynamic interaction between the micro- and macro-scales of cultural evolution, developing a theoretical approach to the archaeological record that has been termed evolutionary processual archaeology. The contributions in this volume integrate positive elements of both evolutionary and processualist schools of thought. The approach, as explicated by the contributors in this work, offers novel insights into topics that include the emergence, stasis, collapse and extinction of cultural patterns, and development of social inequalities. Consequently, these contributions form a stepping off point for a significant new range of cultural evolutionary studies.

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Editorial Reviews

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“This comprehensive volume on macroevolutionary theory is a recent attempt to revitalize evolutionism in archaeology. … The study of … memes facilitates the observation of cultural evolution. … this book is a significant and impressive contribution to evolutionary studies of cultural change, it propagates rhetoric inherent in this rigid perspective on dynamic variables like human behavior and the environment.” (Heather Kendall, The Midden, Vol. 43 (2), 2011)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441906816
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 10/2/2009
  • Edition description: 2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 516
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction.- Part 1: Issues in Macroevolutionary Theory. Proximate Causation, Group Selection, and the Evolution of Hierarchical Human Societies. Landscape Learning in Relation to Evolutionary Theory. "The Multiplication of Forms."- Part 2: Macroevolutionary Approaches to Cultural Change. The Emergence of New Socio-Economic Strategies in the Middle and Late Holocene Pacific Northwest Region of North America. Testing the Morphogenesist Model of Primary State Formation. The Neolithic Macro-(R)evolution.- Part 3: Cultural Diversification, Stasis, and Extinction as Macroevolutionary Processes. A Macroevolutionary Perspective on the Archaeological Record of North America. Cultural Stasis in Northern North America. Niche Construction, Macroevolution and the Late Epipaleolithic of the Near East.- Part 4: Macroevolutionary Theory in Archaeology - Macroevolutionary Theory in Archaeology. Material Cultural Macroevolution.
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