Diversity in hunter-gatherer technological traditions: mapping trajectories of descent with modification in Northeast California

Peter Jordan, Stephen Shennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent work has demonstrated that technological traditions can be considered as systems of information transmission that operate on the principle of ‘descent with modification’. In this paper we present an ethno-historical case-study of northeast Californian hunter–fisher–gatherers. Our goal is to understand the factors generating long-term diversity in local material culture, and we begin by investigating the extent to which branching and reticulation explain variation in four distinct technological traditions – basketry, cradles, ceremonial dress and earth-lodges. We then examine whether these four traditions have been transmitted in tandem, or are characterized by entirely different descent histories. The results for this particular case-study suggest that the first three traditions have been closely associated during branching descent, while the earth-lodges appear to have entirely distinct transmission histories. The general analytical framework presented in this paper is readily exportable to other world regions, where local case-studies may generate contrasting insights into historically-contingent patterns of cultural inheritance. Further studies examining potential co-transmission of technological traditions are strongly encouraged as a welcome addition to the cultural transmission literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-365
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Volume28
Issue number3
Early online date16 Jul 2009
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009

Keywords

  • cultural transmission
  • ethnogenesis
  • phylogenesis
  • technology
  • hunter-gatherers

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Diversity in hunter-gatherer technological traditions: mapping trajectories of descent with modification in Northeast California'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this