8 de marzo de 2016

Mind the network: Rock art, cultural transmission, and mutual information

I. Caridi, V. Scheinsohn, in Cultural Phylogenetics Concepts and Applications in Archaeology, Interdisciplinary Evolution Research 4, L. Mendoza Straffon, ed.  (Springer, 2016)

Decorative patterns have long been considered suitable for determining descent, since they are categorized as homologous and adaptively neutral. Rock art, for its part, has often been left aside due to a lack of chronological control. In this paper, we propose a way to treat rock art in order to track Cultural Transmission Paths by means of motif distribution using Northwestern Patagonia as a case study. We present a theoretical and methodological framework for modeling Cultural Transmission Archaeological Paths by constructing a Mutual Information Network between motifs, identifying clusters and defining their associated Site Networks. The results allow us to suggest a hypothetical nuclear region, well known and transited by hunter-gatherers, with few connections to the more distant parts of the study area. This pattern may be related to Patagonia’s population models and fit the suggestion from other fields of inquiry that a sparsely connected and not unnecessarily complex network will be robust enough to sustain information flux.