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PerreaultBrantingham-JAA-2011

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Mobility-driven cultural transmission along the forager–collector continuumIntroductionModelling the forager–collector continuumThe forager–collector model and the archaeological recordMobility and cultural transmissionRates of cultural transmission vary non-linearly with the number of foraging movesMobility-driven cultural transmission resembles a Poisson processRates cultural transmission decrease as the inverse of the square root of the number of foraging movesDiscussionAcknowledgmentsReferencesMobility-driven cultural transmission along the forager–collector continuumCharles Perreault⇑, P. Jeffrey BrantinghamDepartment of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, 341 Haines Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095, United Statesarticle infoArticle history:Received 9 April 2010Revision received 15 September 2010Available online 26 November 2010Keywords:Hunter–gatherersLogistic mobilityLevy flightCultural transmissionHuman evolutionLithicsPoisson processMean-squared displacementCentral place foragingabstractHunter–gatherers mobility regimes are often treated as discrete adaptive strategies. Here we present amodel of forager mobility which treats collectors and foragers as two ends of a continuous spectrum.We show that a mobility regime can be situated along this spectrum by specifying the number of foragingmoves a group makes before returning to its home base. The model allows us to explore the behaviouralspace between forager (i.e. residential mobility) and collector (logistical mobility) adaptations. We dis-cuss the heuristic value of the model by showing how it can be used to make testable predictions aboutthe impact of mobility strategies on archaeological measures such as occupation intensity and raw-material transportation distance. We then use the model to investigate the impact of mobility on ratesof cultural transmission. We show that mobility-driven cultural transmission may be equivalent to aPoisson process and that the time it takes for a cultural behaviour to be transmitted between two mobilegroups is optimized when the mobility regime is somewhere between pure forager and pure collectorsadaptations. In addition, we find that rates of cultural transmission decline in a very regular way, asthe inverse of the square root of the number of moves made before returning to home base. This suggeststhat there is a mechanistic connection between the mean-squared displacement of hunter–gatherers inspace and the transmission of cultural traits.Ó 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.IntroductionFew ideas in hunter–gatherer archaeology have been as enduringas Binford’s (1980) contrast between foragers and collectors. In thisseminal paper, Binford described hunter–gatherer subsistence sys-tems in terms of two organizational components, ‘‘mapping-on’’and ‘‘logistic’’ strategies, and hunter–gatherer adaptations in termsof two idealized types. Foragers solve the adaptive challenge ofacquiring resources by mapping-on, both spatially and temporally,to resource distributions. This is accomplished through residentialmoves, which bring the entire foraging group directly to targeted re-source patches. By contrast, collectors occupy the same central place,or home base, for long periods of time and send small task groups tocollect and bring back resources to camp. These two subsistencestrategies have long been assumed to lead to predictable patterningof the archaeological record. For example, central place sites pro-duced by collectors should be more intensively occupied and displaya greater range of inter-site variability than those produced by for-agers (Beck et al., 2002; Lieberman and Shea, 1994; Surovell,2009; Zeanah, 2004). Binford has described the forager–collectormodel as a graded series of settlement system from simple to com-plex (Binford, 1980: 12). In practice, however, no attempt has everbeen made to develop a formal model to describe the whole spec-trum of human mobility from central-based to free-wanderingforaging. Given the fact that mobility is one of the main behaviouralstrategies by which human hunter–gatherers adapt to the temporaland spatial distribution of resource in their environment (Binford,1980; Cashdan, 1992; Kelly, 1995; Marlowe, 2005), the risk of notexploring such model is that much of the potential variability inhunter–gatherer adaptations goes unrecognized.The contributions of this paper are two fold. First, we develop aspatial model of mobility which fully describes the forager–collector continuum and allows us to explore the behaviouralspace between forager and collector adaptations. We discuss thearchaeological relevance of the model by reviewing briefly howthe different mobility regimes it generates impact typical archaeo-logical measures such as lithic raw-material transport patterns andthe intensity of site occupation (Brantingham, 2003; Surovell,2009). Second, we focus on how mobility topologies affect ratesof cultural transmission between groups. Specifically, we explorethe simplest possible scenario of social transmission betweentwo foragers occupying a bounded, but spatially continuous envi-ronment. Given different mobility strategies, ranging from collec-tor to forager, we ask how long it takes for a cultural trait to betransmitted from one foraging group to the other. We are inter-ested in specifying whether any particular mobility pattern maxi-mizes rates of cultural transmission and, if so, what form doesit take. Analyzing the distributions of the times before cultural0278-4165/$ - see front matter Ó 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2010.10.003⇑Corresponding author. Fax: +1 310 206 7833.E-mail addresses: [email protected] (C. Perreault), [email protected] (P.J.Brantingham).Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 30 (2011) 62–68Contents lists available at ScienceDirectJournal of Anthropological Archaeolo gyjournal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jaatransmission occurs, we show that all mobility regimes distributedalong the forager–collector continuum lead to transmission ratesreminiscent of a Poisson process. We discuss the implications ofthis apparent mathematical regularity for understanding mobil-ity-driven cultural transmission.Modelling the forager–collector continuumHunter–gatherer mobility can be minimally described by thenumber of moves n a foraging group makes before returning to acentral place. We are intentionally vague about the size and


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