Cultural macroevolution results from a complex interplay between human socio-ecological action and the transmission of packages of information. Niche construction theory helps us to frame the often complex relationships between human actions and their ecological contexts within an evolutionary context. In this chapter, we offer an approach to cultural macroevolution that combines tenets of niche construction and evolutionary anthropology. We apply the approach to the Epipaleolithic of the Near East in order to address the complex processes of cultural evolution preceding the development of Neolithic farming communities. Results of the study suggest that the Epipaleolithic was characterized by short periods of emergent cultural variation punctuating longer term stability. The short-lived diversification events may have played important roles in developing core elements crystallized later in the Neolithic period.
|Title of host publication
|Macroevolution in Human Prehistory
|Subtitle of host publication
|Evolutionary Theory and Processual Archaeology
|Springer New York
|Number of pages
|Published - 2009