Measurement and meaning of archaeological diversity Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/zp38wh73v

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  • Archaeologists use diversity as one way of characterizing their assemblages. Diversity refers to both the number of artifact classes present (richness) and the proportional representation of classes (evenness). Numerical diversity indices measure one or both components. Archaeologists use assemblage diversity to infer behavior of prehistoric cultures. Archaeological inferences about behavior occur at two levels of analysis: (1) micro-scale analyses in which diversity is an attribute of artifactual assemblages, and (2) macro-scale analyses in which diversity is an attribute of the culture. This study evaluates theories used to justify behavioral inferences based on macro-level diversity of material culture. Assumptions about behavior made on the basis of the diversity of archaeological assemblages are compared with information about behavioral diversity drawn from ethnographic sources. The ethnographic analysis considers four macro-scale models that establish archaeological correlates for systemic cultural behaviors. All the models infer behavioral diversity from artifactual diversity. They are: (1) a group size model that relates artifactual diversity to population density, (2) a niche width model that relates archaeological diversity to subsistence practices, (3) a complexity model that relates archaeological diversity to social organization, and (4) a stress-response model that relates archaeological diversity to systemic perturbation. Four behavioral variables from the Human Relations Area Files Standard Cross-Cultural Sample are recoded to represent each behavioral diversity model. The results of a rank-order correlation procedure indicate that the behaviors associated with group size, niche width, complexity, and stress-response basically occur independently of one another in culture groups. This finding validates the archaeological approach which uses functionally-specific systemic behavior sets. Archaeological sites often do not yield the artifactual and contextual data to use behavioral models. The generalized diversity of artifactual forms is interpreted therefore as diversity of many behavioral responses. A general diversity variable (the sum of the four individual behavioral variables) produces the list of sample cultures ranked by generalized diversity. Because the diversity concept is not drawn from anthropological theory, archaeologists frequently interpret generalized diversity in terms of ecological or evolutionary models. The data show that biological models of diversity do not explain the general diversity rankings. The direct analogic application of theoretical biological diversity models to explain behavioral diversity needs reassessment in terms of ethnographic observations. Archaeologists should work towards building a distinctly anthropological theory which accommodates a generalized concept of behavioral diversity.
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