Culture History, Cultural Anthropology, and Cultural Evolution


By the late 1940s and early 1950s, culture history was fully operational. Methods for controlling the formal dimension—sorting artifacts into types that permitted the measurement of time—had been perfected to such a degree that some types attained the status of index fossils and marked rather small chunks of the time-space continuum. Others had somewhat greater distributions and were useful in frequency seriation and percentage stratigraphy. The spatial dimension could be monitored with such units because they were founded largely on homologous similarity and were, therefore, the result of transmission. The time dimension, too, had become not only analytically visible using percentage stratigraphy and frequency seriation but was also brought into sharp focus, first by dendrochronology and later by radiocarbon dating. The goals of culture historians to document the development of cultures in particular places had been met by the late 1920s and early 1930s, and methods to do so had been formalized and axiomatized. Similarly, while previous efforts had been made to account for particular cultural sequences, by the late 1940s and early 1950s attempts were regularly being made to interpret the revealed documentation of culture development, and various axioms were formalized to help with this task.


Cultural Evolution Archaeological Record Culture History Cultural Anthropology Cultural Unit 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1997

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