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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: Spatial dimensions of cultural evolution: Project 023
Modelling the evolution of genetic and cultural traits

Lee Hazelwood (Archaeology, University of Southampton)
James Steele (AHRC CECD, Institute of Archaeology, University College London)
Tim Sluckin (School of Mathematics, University of Southampton, University of Southampton)


Archaeologists have long been aware that cultural similarities in space and over time can be produced by three mechanisms: population expansion or migration, adoption-diffusion, or independent parallel innovation. Recently, interpretations of spatial clines in gene frequencies and in language variation have tended to be interpreted as the product of population expansion or migration. However, such gene frequency clines can also be the product of in situ natural selection, while patterns of language diversity produced by local adaptation or by stochastic factors can also mimic the patterns expected from migration-expansion. We need to explore systematically how far different processes can produce similar spatial distributions of genes, of languages, or of artefacts. This project, which will provide significant underpinning for other projects of the Centre, will involve development of simulation modelling tools for generating such distributions on realistic surfaces. Such tools will enable us to generate sets of observed outcomes from a range of input values, with a range of mechanisms for trait frequency variation. We can then use such distributions (where the underlying processes that led to them are known) to test our existing methods of phylogenetic reconstruction and comparative inference.

Hazelwood, L. and Steele, J (2004).
Spatial dynamics of human dispersals: constraints on modelling and archaeological detection. Journal of Archaeological Science. Vol 31:669-679.
Hazelwood, L. and Steele, J (2003).
Colonizing new landscapes: archaeological detectability of the first phase. In: M Rockman & J Steele (eds.) (ed\s) Colonization of Unfamiliar Landscapes: the Archaeology of Adaptation. London: Routledge. 203-221.