Unbiased Cultural Transmission in Time-Averaged Archaeological Assemblages

14 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2012

See all articles by Mark E. Madsen

Mark E. Madsen

Department of Anthropology; University of Washington

Date Written: April 9, 2012


Unbiased models are foundational in the archaeological study of cultural transmission. Applications have assumed that archaeological data represent synchronic samples, despite the accretional nature of the archaeological record. I document the circumstances under which time-averaging alters the distribution of model predictions. Richness is inflated in long-duration assemblages, and evenness is “flattened” compared to unaveraged samples. Tests of neutrality, employed to differentiate biased and unbiased models, suffer serious problems with Type I error under time-averaging. Finally, the time-scale over which time-averaging alters predictions is determined by the mean trait lifetime, providing a way to evaluate the impact of these effects upon archaeological samples.

Keywords: cultural transmission, archaeology, Wright-Fisher model, time-averaging

Suggested Citation

Madsen, Mark E., Unbiased Cultural Transmission in Time-Averaged Archaeological Assemblages (April 9, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2037622 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2037622

Mark E. Madsen (Contact Author)

Department of Anthropology ( email )

Box 353100
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

HOME PAGE: http://depts.washington.edu/anthweb

University of Washington ( email )

Seattle, WA 98195
United States

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