Mapping Our Ancestors

Overview

Much of what we are comes from our ancestors. Through cultural and biological inheritance mechanisms, our genetic composition, instructions for constructing artifacts, the structure and content of languages, and rules for behavior are passed from parents to children and from individual to individual. Mapping Our Ancestors demonstrates how various genealogical or "phylogenetic" methods can be used both to answer questions about human history and to build evolutionary explanations...

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Overview

Much of what we are comes from our ancestors. Through cultural and biological inheritance mechanisms, our genetic composition, instructions for constructing artifacts, the structure and content of languages, and rules for behavior are passed from parents to children and from individual to individual. Mapping Our Ancestors demonstrates how various genealogical or "phylogenetic" methods can be used both to answer questions about human history and to build evolutionary explanations for the shape of history.

Anthropologists are increasingly turning to quantitative phylogenetic methods. These methods depend on the transmission of information regardless of mode and as such are applicable to many anthropological questions. In this way, phylogenetic approaches have the potential for building bridges among the various subdisciplines of anthropology; an exciting prospect indeed. The structure of Mapping Our Ancestors reflects the editors' goal of developing a common understanding of the methods and conditions under which ancestral relations can be derived in a range of data classes of interest to anthropologists. Specifically, this volume explores the degree to which patterns of ancestry can be determined from artifactual, genetic, linguistic, and behavioral data and how processes such as selection, transmission, and geography impact the results of phylogenetic analyses.

Mapping Our Ancestors provides a solid demonstration of the potential of phylogenetic methods for studying the evolutionary history of human populations using a variety of data sources and thus helps explain how cultural material, language, and biology came to be as they are.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As the various contributors to [Mapping Our Ancestors] make perfectly clear, the application of evolutionary theory to cultural change cannot simply borrow from biological evolution. Cultural transmission is qualitatively different from genetic transmission and requires different concepts and principles, which cannot be borrowed but must be developed by archaeologists, anthropologists, and linguists. Among the differences between cultural and genetic transmission are the presence of horizontal as well as vertical inheritance, the greater propensity for neutral variation, the much higher probability of reticulation (or hybridization), and a more fluid scale at which evolution can occur. While much work remains to be done, the various contributors have made great strides in identifying these problems and suggesting ways they might be resolved. The various articles are not just abstract theorizing but practical attempts to grapple with these issues. After reading this book, how an evolutionary theory of culture might look becomes clearer."—James K. Feathers, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington "These engaging essays help point the way to a new, exciting four-field anthropology, grounded in the use of evolutionary theory and phylogenetic methods to make and evaluate inferences about what happened in human history for archaeological, linguistic, biological, and ethnological data."—Fraser D. Neiman, Monticello "As the various contributors to [Mapping Our Ancestors] make perfectly clear, the application of evolutionary theory to cultural change cannot simply borrow from biological evolution. Cultural transmission is qualitatively different from genetic transmission and requires different concepts and principles, which cannot be borrowed but must be developed by archaeologists, anthropologists, and linguists. Among the differences between cultural and genetic transmission are the presence of horizontal as well as vertical inheritance, the greater propensity for neutral variation, the much higher probability of reticulation (or hybridization), and a more fluid scale at which evolution can occur. While much work remains to be done, the various contributors have made great strides in identifying these problems and suggesting ways they might be resolved. The various articles are not just abstract theorizing but practical attempts to grapple with these issues. After reading this book, how an evolutionary theory of culture might look becomes clearer."—James K. Feathers, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington "These engaging essays help point the way to a new, exciting four-field anthropology, grounded in the use of evolutionary theory and phylogenetic methods to make and evaluate inferences about what happened in human history for archaeological, linguistic, biological, and ethnological data."
—Fraser D. Neiman, Monticello "AS an anthropological method, phylogenetic mapping is still a relatively new method that is in its infancy. Studying this topic has value because it may hold a key to the future of anthropological studies in determining transmission of culture. Phylogenetic mapping is a creative method that allows for a new way to interpret data as well as giving rise to new hypotheses for understanding culture change.....The focus on the relationships of biology, culture change, and knowledge transmission over time and across space are core anthropological concerns impacting every subfield. To understand the complexities of using phylogenetic mapping, one must have a solid four field background. Thus, this highly technical book is most relevant for archaeologists, bioarchaeologists, and historical linguists."
—Maria R. Roti, Anthropology and Aging Quarterly
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Mark Collard is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia, Stephen J. Shennan is a professor and director of the Institute of Archaeology at the University College London.

Carl P. Lipo is assistant professor of anthropology at California State University in Long Beach. Michael O'Brien is professor of anthropology and director of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Missouri.

Niles Eldredge is a curator in the department of invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History, and adjunct professor at the City University of New York.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
1 Cultural phylogenies and explanation : why historical methods matter 3
2 What is a culturally transmitted unit, and how we find one? 19
3 Cultural traits and linguistic trees : phylogenetic signal in East Africa 33
4 Branching versus blending in macroscale cultural evolution : a comparative study 53
5 Seriation and cladistics : the difference between anagenetic and cladogenetic evolution 65
6 The resolution of cultural phylogenies using graphs 89
7 Measuring relatedness 109
8 Phylogenetic techniques and methodological lessons from bioarchaeology 119
9 Phylogeography of archaeological populations : a case study from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) 131
10 Tracking culture-historical lineages : can "descent with modification" be linked to "association by descent"? 149
11 Cultural transmission, phylogenetics, and the archaeological record 169
12 Using cladistics to construct lineages of projectile points from Northeastern Missouri 185
13 Reconstructing the flow of information across time and space : a phylogenetic analysis of ceramic traditions from prehispanic Western and Northern Mexico and the American Southwest 209
14 Archaeological-materials characterization as phylogenetic method : the case of Copador pottery from Southeastern Mesoamerica 231
15 The spread of Bantu languages, farming, and pastoralism in sub-equatorial Africa 249
16 Are accurate dates an intractable problem for historical linguistics? 269
17 Afterword 299
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