978-0-500-05118-4 / 9780500051184

Genes, Memes and Human History: Darwinian Archaeology and Cultural Evolution


Publisher:Thames & Hudson



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About the book:

What is the history of human populations? How are cultural traditions maintained and changed over time? Why did people destroy their environments in the past and were they ever conservationists? What led to the emergence of marked social inequalities? These are some of the questions that this text addresses and answers, in an application of neo-Darwinian evolutionary ideas to the human past. Stephen Shennan opens with the study of human behaviour, as acted upon by natural selection, and goes on to demonstrate that the same ideas can be applied to human societies, not just through the genes but through what Richard Dawkins has called "memes", units of cultural information which are passed on in our second inheritance system, culture. The book ranges from life history theory to game theory, and from the origins of farming to the collapse of societies.

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