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Reconciling material cultures in archaeology with genetic data requires robust cultural evolutionary taxonomies

Riede, F; Hoggard, C; Shennan, S; (2019) Reconciling material cultures in archaeology with genetic data requires robust cultural evolutionary taxonomies. Palgrave Communications , 5 , Article 55. 10.1057/s41599-019-0260-7. Green open access

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Abstract

The analysis of ancient genomes is having a major impact on archaeological interpretations. Yet, the methodological divide between these disciplines is substantial. Fundamentally, there is an urgent need to reconcile archaeological and genetic taxonomies. However, traditional archaeological taxonomies are problematic because they are epistemologically weak and often laden with undue assumptions about past ethnicity and demography—they are a hindrance rather than a help in such a reconciliation. Eisenmann and colleagues have recently tackled this issue, offering a palette of potential solutions that circumvents traditional archaeological culture labels. We welcome renewed attention to nomenclature but take issue with such recent work that favours systems of taxonomic assignment for genomic groups that either do not include archaeological information at all or retain traditional cultural taxonomic categories. While superficially pragmatic, these administrative solutions do not address the substantive issues that the topic raises. We here present the argument that the only analytically viable solution to aligning genetic and cultural nomenclature is to conceptualise material culture as underwritten by a system of information transmission across generations that has similar structural properties to the genetic system of information transmission. This alignment facilitates the use of similar analytical protocols and hence allows for a true parallel analysis. Once culture change is also understood as an evolutionary process, a wealth of analytical methods for reconciling archaeological and genetic clusters becomes available.

Type: Article
Title: Reconciling material cultures in archaeology with genetic data requires robust cultural evolutionary taxonomies
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1057/s41599-019-0260-7
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-019-0260-7
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Anthropology, Archaeology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100343
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