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Steele J.,University College London | Jordan P.,University College London | Jordan P.,University of Aberdeen | Cochrane E.,University College London | Cochrane E.,International Archaeological Research Institute Inc.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2010

Evolutionary approaches to cultural change are increasingly influential, and many scientists believe that a 'grand synthesis' is now in sight. The papers in this Theme Issue, which derives from a symposium held by the AHRC Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity (University College London) in December 2008, focus on how the phylogenetic tree-building and network-based techniques used to estimate descent relationships in biology can be adapted to reconstruct cultural histories, where some degree of inter-societal diffusion will almost inevitably be superimposed on any deeper signal of a historical branching process. The disciplines represented include the three most purely 'cultural' fields from the four-field model of anthropology (cultural anthropology, archaeology and linguistic anthropology). In this short introduction, some context is provided from the history of anthropology, and key issues raised by the papers are highlighted. © 2010 The Royal Society. Source

Halcrow S.E.,University of Otago | Harris N.J.,University of Otago | Tayles N.,University of Otago | Ikehara-Quebral R.,International Archaeological Research Institute Inc. | Pietrusewsky M.,University of Hawaii at Manoa
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2013

Many bioarchaeological studies have established a link between increased dental caries prevalence and the intensification of agriculture. However, research in Southeast Asia challenges the global application of this theory. Although often overlooked, dental health of infants and children can provide a sensitive source of information concerning health and subsistence change. This article investigates the prevalence and location of caries in the dentition of infants and children (less than 15 years of age) from eight prehistoric mainland Southeast Asian sites collectively spanning the Neolithic to late Iron Age, during which time rice agriculture became an increasingly important subsistence mode. Caries prevalence varied among the sites but there was no correlation with chronological change. The absence of evidence of a decline in dental health over time can be attributed to the relative noncariogenicity of rice and retention of broad-spectrum subsistence strategies. No differences in caries type indicating differences in dental health were found between the sites, apart from the Iron Age site of Muang Sema. There was a higher prevalence of caries in the deciduous dentition than the permanent dentition, likely due to a cariogenic weaning diet and the higher sensitivity of deciduous teeth to decay. The level of caries in the permanent dentition suggests an increased reliance on less cariogenic foods during childhood, including rice. The absence of a temporal decline in dental health of infants and children strengthens the argument that the relationship between caries and agricultural intensification in Southeast Asia was more complex than the general model suggests. Copyright © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Source

Kahn J.G.,College of William and Mary | Nickelsen C.,University of California at Berkeley | Stevenson J.,Asia Pacific College | Porch N.,Deakin University | And 3 more authors.
Holocene | Year: 2015

Archaeology’s ability to generate long-term datasets of natural and human landscape change positions the discipline as an inter-disciplinary bridge between the social and natural sciences. Using a multi-proxy approach combining archaeological data with palaeoenvironmental indicators embedded in coastal sediments, we outline millennial timescales of lowland landscape evolution in the Society Islands. Geomorphic and cultural histories for four coastal zones on Mo‘orea are reconstructed based on stratigraphic records, sedimentology, pollen analysis, and radiocarbon determinations from mid- to late Holocene contexts. Prehuman records of the island’s flora and fauna are described utilizing landsnail, insect, and botanical data, providing a palaeo-backdrop for later anthropogenic change. Several environmental processes, including sea level change, island subsidence, and anthropogenic alterations, leading to changes in sedimentary budget have operated on Mo‘orea coastlines from c. 4600 to 200 BP. We document significant transformation of littoral and lowland zones which obscured earlier human activities and created significant changes in vegetation and other biota. Beginning as early as 440 BP (1416–1490 cal. ad), a major phase of sedimentary deposition commenced which can only be attributed to anthropogenic effects. At several sites, between 1.8 and 3.0 m of terrigenous sediments accumulated within a span of two to three centuries due to active slope erosion and deposition on the coastal flats. This phase correlates with the period of major inland expansion of Polynesian occupation and intensive agriculture on the island, indicated by the presence of charcoal throughout the sediments, including wood charcoal from several economically important tree species. © The Author(s) 2014. Source

Cochrane E.E.,International Archaeological Research Institute Inc. | Cochrane E.E.,Center for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity | Lipo C.P.,California State University, Long Beach
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2010

Intricately decorated Lapita pottery (3100-2700 BP) was made and deposited by the prehistoric colonizers of Pacific islands, east of the main Solomon's chain. For decades, analyses of this pottery have focused on the ancestor-descendant relationships of populations and the relative degree of interaction across the region to explain similarities in Lapita decoration. Cladistic analyses, increasingly used to examine the evolutionary relationships of material culture assemblages, have not been conducted on Lapita artefacts. Here, we present the first cladistic analysis of Lapita pottery and note the difficulties in using cladistics to investigate datasets where a high degree of horizontal transmission and non-branching evolution may explain observed variation. We additionally present NeighborNet and phenetic distance network analyses to generate hypotheses that may account for Lapita decorative similarity. © 2010 The Royal Society. Source

Leppard T.P.,International Archaeological Research Institute Inc.
World Archaeology | Year: 2014

The spread of the Neolithic throughout Mediterranean Europe involved, at least to some degree, the physical movement of farmers westwards. This mobility has often been attributed to demographic or climatic factors, and long-term environmental changes of this type surely provided the backdrop against which subsistence practices and behavioral strategies developed. However, changing environmental parameters, while posing challenges to established Early Neolithic farming regimes, did not in and of themselves establish mobility and migration as self-selecting solutions to increased social pressure; we do not fully understand how these pressures were experienced at the level of the individual, the family or the village. This article suggests that embedded Early Neolithic cultural attitudes to subsistence and surplus - and in particular the tension between incentives to hoard and imperatives to share - rendered Early Neolithic communities fragile, with tendencies to fission. It is further argued that oscillations in drought frequency during the seventh millennium bc may have made mobility an increasingly attractive adaptive strategy in the face of intra-community tensions. Throughout, emphasis is placed on human responses to change as mediated through culturally specific circumstances. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis. Source

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