Pick an archaeological culture, region, site, assemblage or artifact type and describe it in detail. Section one of your paper should address the “culture history” (including relevant geographical and ecological information)
1) Pick an archaeological culture, region, site, assemblage or artifact type and describe it in detail. Section one of your paper should address the “culture history” (including relevant geographical and ecological information) of the society, region or site you chose to study “Time, space and form” should be your relevant topics for the first section.
When was the material deposited? Where was the material deposited? What was the material that was recovered?
How was it found, by whom and under what conditions?
This section of your paper allows you to present the “raw data” that will be explained in the next two sections.
2) Discuss the relevant “natural,” social and cultural processes that were in effect at the time and in the place you described in part 1. Aspects of the culture such as environmental adaptation, economy, political interaction, trade and exchange and so forth are the topics of interest for this section.
Why do the materials take the particular form that they do and not some other form?
Be sure to consider aspects of taphonomy, preservation and other site formation processes, as well as the important cultural processes, in this section. What does the context of discovery allow us to know about the material that we might not know without it?
The phrase “diffusion of innovation” refers to the process describing how an innovation (e.g., a new idea, information, disease, or technology) spreads over time among the entities in a population (Rogers, 1995). Starting from the seminal work of Ryan and Gross (1943), a large number of studies, in many contexts and disciplines, have investigated how individual, societal, cultural, economic and technological factors influenced the speed and character of diffusion.
Most of these studies and corresponding theories of innovation diffusion (Ryan and Gross, 1943; Beal and Bohlen, 1955; Coleman et al., 1966; Valente, 1995) are based on the premise that social networks play a critical role in driving the diffusion of innovation in addition to other factors, such as geographical proximity and entity attributes.
Within archaeology, innovation diffusion is considered to be one of the basic mechanisms of cultural transmission as it describes the way novel traits or practices spread between individuals in a population.
While the archaeological record spans time periods of sufficient length to investigate diffusion processes, the incompleteness and lack of temporal precision of archaeological data present many challenges for understanding the specific mechanisms and factors responsible for innovation diffusion.
Some classic examples of diffusion of innovation in archaeology include studies on the spread of farming (Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza, 1971), hunting technologies (Bettinger and Eerkens, 1999; Jordan, 2014; Fort, 2015; Buchanan et al., 2017), pottery technology (Eerkens and Lipo, 2014), architectural technology (Östborn and Gerding, 2015, 2016), and the adoption of artifact styles (Dethlefsen and Deetz, 1966; Davis, 1983; Scholnick, 2012).
These studies describe diffusion by analyzing the distributions of one or more traits in space and time using a variety of methods, such as seriation, typology, and agent-based and spatial modeling.
They explain observed distribution patterns of cultural traits in the archaeological record by processes such as migration, exchange, contacts and geographical proximity and point out that the tendency to adopt a particular trait is dependent upon a range of complex and potentially interlaced factors and processes operating at multiple scales (Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman, 1981).
The special issue on “Social Boundaries and Networks in the Diffusion of Innovations,” recently published in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory (Roux and Manzo, 2018), also emphasizes that diffusion mechanisms act at multiple levels and stresses the importance of network ties in explaining the spread of an innovation.
Specifically, the papers in this special issue investigate and discuss whether social theories, network analysis methods and agent-based modeling could be applied to study the spread of innovations when partial information at different levels of analysis are available.
In the present study, we introduce event history analysis as a method to investigate the ways different factors facilitate the flow of cultural information in past societies when detailed historical records are available.
Using royal rituals inscribed on Classic Maya monuments (Munson et al., 2016), we trace the diffusion of these cultural practices with event history models to investigate how the empirical network structure and other exogenous factors contributed to the spread of diverse dynastic traditions in Classic Maya society.
Moreover, we point out that the goals of social network analysis complement the fundamental objectives of cultural evolutionary (CE) research developed in anthropology and archaeology over the last three decades (Shennan, 2011).
A common goal of social network analysis is to use the network structure to explain certain outcomes such as the adoption of an innovation, the transmission of a certain practice or behavior, or the selection of a stylistic trait (Rogers, 1995; Valente, 1995; Borgatti et al., 2009; Rivera et al., 2010; Brandes et al., 2013).
At its core, cultural evolutionary theory provides a framework to explain patterns of variation in the material record (Boyd and Richerson, 1985).
Although it is surprising there has not been more crossover between these research domains, this paper demonstrates that there are significant parallels and important contributions to be made.