Genes, Memes and Human History: Darwinian Archaeology and Cultural Evolution [Hardback]

Stephen Shennan (Author)

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ISBN: 9780500051184 | Published by: Thames and Hudson | Year of Publication: 2002 | Language: English 304p, 47 b/w illus

Genes, Memes and Human History


As biological information is passed through genes, so cultural information is passed through what Richard Dawkins has termed `memes'. In this theoretical but readable study, Shennan explores the potential for a neo-Darwinian evolutionary approach to some of the major concerns and issues within archaeology in recent times. Drawing on the work of Richard Dawkins as a stimulus, Shennan reviews the concept of memes as applied to animal behaviour and critiques their role in relation to human populations. Arguing that archaeologists are currently struggling with a lost past, this study reinforces what should be the prime concern of archaeology - to search for valid knowledge and to seek to make sense of long-term patterning and material culture. Shennan puts forward a framework to this end and applies it to looking at how humans exploit resources, population histories, the transmission of cultural traditions, male-female relationships and social evolution, competition and warfare.

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