Darwin and Archaeology: A Handbook of Key Concepts

By Gary M. Feinman; John P. Hart et al. | Go to book overview

Foreword

Gary M. Feinman

In the anglophile scholarly world, the intellectual roots of evolutionary studies (including Darwinian approaches), anthropology, and archaeology are closely intertwined, extending back in their academic heritage for roughly a century and a half. Nevertheless, the appropriate and most scientifically productive relationships between these intellectual domains and the future agendas for them remain unresolved and a matter of significant current discussion and debate (e.g., Barton and Clark 1997; Gould 1997a, 1997b; Maschner 1996; Sanderson 1990; Spencer 1997; Wilson 1998). In this encyclopedic volume, key evolutionary constructs and concepts are explored to reflect on and clarify the potential for Darwinian evolutionary perspectives to inform and help chart a more synthetic course for contemporary anthropological archaeology.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I confess that I have never really considered myself a Darwinian archaeologist, nor has a reading of this set of papers caused me to have a midnight conversion. Yet as an anthropological archaeologist working in a natural history museum, who has interests in evolution, history, and change, it is impossible to remain dispassionate in regard to the central issues and questions raised in this text. After all, one day recently, the popular media trumpeted “academic warfare” (Shulevitz 2001) between scientific and humanistic intellectual streams in American anthropology, while practically the next day it speculated on the relationship between a simpler-than-expected human genetic code and the diversity that we recognize in our species (Karow 2001). With such pivotal and contemporary debates at stake, my aim here is to provide a somewhat critical commentary on the diverse range of theoretical perspectives offered in this compendium, while endeavoring to define a productive common

-vii-

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Darwin and Archaeology: A Handbook of Key Concepts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Table of Key Words xv
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Adaptation 15
  • References 26
  • Chapter 3 - Biological Constraints 29
  • References 46
  • Chapter 4 - Cause 49
  • References 65
  • Chapter 5 - Classification 69
  • Chapter 6 - Complexity 89
  • Chapter 7 - Culture 107
  • References 123
  • Chapter 8 - Descent 125
  • Chapter 9 - History 143
  • Chapter 10 - Individuals 161
  • References 180
  • Chapter 11 - Learning 183
  • References 198
  • Chapter 12 - Models 201
  • Chapter 13 - Natural Selection 225
  • Chapter 14 - Population 243
  • About the Contributors 257
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