Cultural stasis and change in northern North America: A macroevolutionary perspective

Anna Marie Prentiss, Michael Lenert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Archaeologists have long recognized that some cultures persist for extraordinarily long periods with little change in the archaeological record. While the pattern of apparent cultural stasis is well known, it is significantly under-theorized in archaeology. In this chapter, we explore macroevolutionary theories of stasis and change in hunter-gatherer societies. We use these ideas to interpret the prehistoric record of the Eastern Arctic region with an emphasis on the long spans of stasis and punctuated change characterizing the Paleoeskimo period. Results of the study suggest that patterns of stasis will be affected by the internal structure of resource management strategies and broader ecological and social selective context. We recognize that while adaptive specialization could be highly successful in the short term, adaptive flexibility likely offered greater long-term advantages for groups living in arctic contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMacroevolution in Human Prehistory
Subtitle of host publicationEvolutionary Theory and Processual Archaeology
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781441906816
StatePublished - 2009


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