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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Cultural transmission (CT) describes the myriad processes whereby information is transmitted from a transmitter to a recipient. Much empirical and modelling research suggests that there are many different pathways and biases through which such information is transmitted. In particular, the content, context, and mode of the transmission can structure variation over time and space in resulting information at a population level. These ideas can be applied to the archaeological record of all societies, but we explore how these ideas might inform specifically on hunting and gathering groups. CT theory suggests that hunter-gatherers, due to their smaller population sizes and simpler social structure, should be characterized by a more limited range and generally more simple material technologies, but display broader variation about a particular mean type, than other more densely populated societies. This article exemplifies some of these processes with two case studies from the North American Great Basin.

Keywords: cultural transmission, hunter-gatherers, information, archaeological record

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