Although it has been suggested that stylistic variation is “neutral” in the sense that it has no effects on economic or reproductive success, recent studies have used neutral theory as translated to an archaeological context to document departures from neutrality that indicate social uses for style. Kohler et al. (2004) quantified the similarity over time of ceramic styles among sites in Northern New Mexico, and compared it with a neutral model. They found that conformist transmission accompanied population aggregation under competition. The next research steps are to (1) determine the spatial scales within which conformity is most striking, which will by inference demarcate the sizes and locations of the groups within which social action problems are being solved; and (2) transport the method to SW Colorado to compare the groups identified through this method with the clusters of households (“communities”) that emerge through agent-based modeling and with those identified directly from the archaeological record. IPEM Fellows will be encouraged to participate in both endeavors.
Submitted by Tim Kohler on September 10, 2008 - 4:53pm
Area 1: Statistical phylogenetics and cultural transmission