Material culture will be formally assessed in terms of its variability over time in order to test precise models of cultural change and cultural selection. This will give us a unique opportunity to evaluate whether what is currently believed to be a “transition culture” is best represented by a model of gradual change from previous phases, or if it reflects a dramatic turnover in the most popular or widespread cultural markers. In addition, patterns of cultural change will be linked to environmental variables and subsistence strategies (e.g., faunal exploitation and raw material procurement). More specifically, for each class of available material culture (i.e., lithic tools, bone tools, ornaments, engravings and pigments) we will develop systematic indexes that allow us to consistently observe diachronic change in the same diagnostic trait within each site and across different sites. Data will then be used to test explicit hypotheses of the mechanisms of cultural change and cultural adaptation in the context of interest by means of methods developed in population genetics.
Research team and Collaborators involved in WP5: