Saturday, April 09, 2016

Population size fails to explain evolution of complex culture

There is a growing consensus among archaeologists and anthropologists that the size of a population determines its ability to develop as well as to maintain complex culture. This view is however severely compromised by a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by a research team including technology philosopher Krist Vaesen of the Eindhoven University of Technology.

Archeologists observe a fairly sudden appearance of behavioural modernity, such as complex technologies, abstract and realistic art and musical instruments, some 40,000 years ago, in the Later Stone Age. For decades archeologists and antropologists are looking for an explanation for these and other 'cultural revolutions', and in this way finding the origin of human culture. Since ten years or so the predominant theory says the driving factor would be growing population numbers.

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