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Adopting a new technology in the Bronze Age - Examining the transmission and adoption of ceramic innovations in Western Anatolia and the Aegean using a cultural evolutionary framework

Alam, Christina; (2024) Adopting a new technology in the Bronze Age - Examining the transmission and adoption of ceramic innovations in Western Anatolia and the Aegean using a cultural evolutionary framework. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

During the Bronze Age, novel cultural traits were transmitted between potters in the Aegean, including pottery-making techniques that ethnographic research suggests were most often taught from parents (or other close relatives of the parental generation) to offspring. Following a phase of slow adoption, they were rapidly adopted in the context of palace and elite-consumed pottery. I investigate how geography, population size, and community-level factors such as elite demand affected innovation adoption using cultural evolutionary theory and simulation models. Isimulate trait transmission through a network and explore both ‘toy’ and ‘realistic’ models. Using toy models, I describe the dynamics emerging from the assumptions of the model, which incorporates the effects of travel costs, the local rate of innovation adoption (LRA, which could represent multiple factors affecting the local rate, e.g., a measure of elite control over local adoption or the presence of social boundaries affecting inter-group adoption), population size, and random trait loss. Their outputs suggest that relative population clustering affects the shape of the adoption curve and that different combinations of travel costs, LRA, and population density result in spatial diffusion propagating along different types of wavefronts. ‘Realistic’ models are run on networks reflecting the Aegean’s interesting geography, consisting of two land masses connected by an archipelago, with natural coastal and inland topographies that create relatively isolated sub-populations; they additionally incorporate the effects of different landscape types and the location of the innovation’s origin. Their outcomes are quantitatively compared to empirical adoption curves for the potter’s wheel innovation and suggest that the location of origin can determine the shape of the curve, especially its position on the East – West axis defined by the landmasses of Greece and Anatolia. The study showcases the potential of simulation modeling for addressing questions about cultural transmission using archaeological data. It shows that abstract models with empirically supported assumptions can be informative, even when the empirical data are recorded at varying levels of granularity and originate from a scholarly tradition that might otherwise inhibit large-scale quantitative approaches.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Adopting a new technology in the Bronze Age - Examining the transmission and adoption of ceramic innovations in Western Anatolia and the Aegean using a cultural evolutionary framework
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2024. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10188234
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