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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 2: Theme B - Cultural and linguistic diversity: Project B009
Comparing reticulate and phylogenetic models of cultural evolution

SUPERVISOR: - Cochrane

Ethan Cochrane (International Archaeological Research Institute, Inc.)

PROJECT FUNDING: Cards Against Humanity
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Are particular cultural evolutionary sequences best explained by phylogenetic or reticulate modes? To answer this question scholars often apply phylogenetic methods to data sets and determine the strength of phylogenetic signals using, for example, permutation tail probability (PTP) tests, or algorithms such as Neighbor-Net. In a complementary fashion, this project investigates the use of reticulate methods based on social network analysis to explain similarities across populations. Social network analyses can depict similarities as results of transmission, mediated by factors such as population distribution, geography, and a host of additional population characteristics (e.g., language). Social network analyses will be conducted on language and material culture data sets from Melanesia with results compared to phylogenetic analyses of the same data.

This project has effectively examined the strengths and limitations of cladistic analyses of material culture by examining both ceramic decoration and monumental architecture data sets. Cochrane and Lipo (in press) used a variety of cladistic and network techniques to examine the population structure of colonizing groups in the Remote Pacific as evidenced through Lapita ceramics. Their analyses indicated that phylogenesis does not adequately explain ceramic decorative similarities during colonization of Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Fiji-West Polynesia, but that a great degree of horizontal transmission may better account for these similarities. Cochrane (2009) in a conference presentation to the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology applied similar techniques to the stone temples of Polynesia (marae, heiau, tohua, and ahu) and noted that, here too, similarities in architecture across archipelagos were not explained by branching evolution, but more likely were a product of continuted cultural transmission between island groups during the centuries of temple construction. A book chapter by Cochrane (2009) also examines some of the competing evolutionary theoretical models in contemporary cultural evolutionary science. . An edited book by Cochrane and Gardner (in press) compares various applicaions of evolutionary theory in archaeology along with post-modern approaches.

Cochrane, E. E., and A. Gardner (eds.) (2011).
Evolutionary and Interpretive Archaeologies: a discussion. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek.
E. Cochrane and C. Lipo (2010).
Phylogenetic analyses of Lapita decoration do not support branching evolution or regional population structure during colonization of Remote Oceania . Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (B). Vol 365:3889-3902 .
Cochrane, E.E (2009).
Evolutionary Explanation and the Record of Interest: Using Evolutionary Archaeology and Dual-Inheritance Theory to Explain the Archaeological Record. In: S. J. Shennan (ed.) (ed\s) Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution. University of California Press. 113-132.