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What is the CECD? 
The CECD is an AHRC funded research group dedicated to examining the evolutionary underpinnings of human cultural behaviour, past and present. more>

Page Title - projects
Phase 1: Cultural innovation and transmission: Project 008
What factors affect evolution of craft skills?

SUPERVISOR: - Stephen Shennan

Mark Lake (Institute of Archaeology, University College London)
Stephen Shennan (Institute of Archaeology, University College London)
Dr. Rob Hosfield

PROJECT FUNDING: Project 8 was scheduled to start in January 2004; project 13 was scheduled for January 2003. Project 8 and 13 were both 50% Centre PDRA funded and have now been combined to make a 100% PDRA funded project, funded by the CEACB grant, lasting 12 months. Dr Rob Hosfield was appointed after advertisement and interview and began work on 1 March 2004.

This project involves a detailed examination of the processes that produce variation in artefacts and the implications of those processes. The project follows on from an initial ethnographic survey of the way in which craft skills are learned, and also from a recently-published broad scale analysis of the factors affecting a variety of cultural attributes. The ethnographic data collection will lead to the development of specific models of the factors affecting various aspects of artefact morphology which will be tested by the subsequent statistical analysis, examining relations between artefact variation and patterns of adaptation, diffusion, and linguistic and genetic distance. Our initial prediction is that only technical skills which have significant effects on inclusive fitness will show adaptive convergence between distant cultural lineages, and that they will tend to represent an optimal solution to a given adaptive problem; the majority of the variation is predicted to relate to patterns of descent based on learning largely from parents and other close relations of the senior generation. The application of methods which have the capacity to distinguish between these different factors in affecting artefact variation will provide results with wide implications for all archaeological studies of morphological variation in artefacts.