New PDF release: A companion to archaeology

By J L Bintliff

ISBN-10: 0470998601

ISBN-13: 9780470998601

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Sample text

And has persisted (perhaps with some modifications) in different groups after migrations separated them The Coherence of Cultural Traditions As Clarke pointed out (see above), the through-time reality of cultural traditions, whether at the level of individual artefacts and artefact types, or at the level of ‘‘cultures,’’ depends on continued patterns of correlation between the elements of the entity concerned. Clearly, there will be different factors leading to the maintenance or disintegration of these diachronic patterns of correlation between sets of attributes characterizing a particular artefact type, or between practices in different areas of life.

People can alter the way they do things quite unwittingly. In many circumstances this will not matter. If one person unwittingly decorates a pot in a slightly different way from the norm, this will not make any difference at all if there are many potters, unless some at least begin to deliberately copy the innovation. In other circumstances though, copying error can make a difference. For example, if a small number of elders carry out an initiation ceremony at relatively rare intervals then, as their memories fade, with relatively few people to check against, change can be quite rapid through this process alone.

In other circumstances though, copying error can make a difference. For example, if a small number of elders carry out an initiation ceremony at relatively rare intervals then, as their memories fade, with relatively few people to check against, change can be quite rapid through this process alone. This seems to be the process responsible for the rapid divergent evolution of ritual reported by Barth (1987) for the Mountain Ok. The result over time is a cultural drift process which has no other cause than successive erroneous copying among small numbers of people who are not in a position to keep it in check.

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A companion to archaeology by J L Bintliff


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