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Chapter 8 - Climate, creativity and competition: evaluating the Neanderthal ‘glass ceiling’

Davies, William (2012) Chapter 8 - Climate, creativity and competition: evaluating the Neanderthal ‘glass ceiling’ In, Elias, Scott (eds.) Origins of Human Creativity and Innovation. Amsterdam, NL, Elsevier pp. 103-128. (Developments in Quaternary Science, 16). (doi:10.1016/B978-0-444-53821-5.00008-7).

Record type: Book Section


This paper evaluates the degree to which Neanderthal creativity and innovation can be analysed like that of Homo sapiens. Ethnographic data (modern Homo sapiens) and heuristic models are proposed for testing against the Neanderthal record, and the key role of mobility in the generation and spread of novel traits is examined in detail. It is argued that change should not be assumed to be progressive and inevitable, and that once originated, it will not necessarily persist thereafter. Scales of analysis and of innovatory change (artefactual, temporal and spatial) are evaluated, as these are crucial to our understanding of how novel traits might be selected and developed. Mobility and duration of interaction can be expected to affect the iteration, type and intensity of innovation and the transmission of novel traits. Contrary to some recent research, it is argued that effective population levels in themselves are not responsible for the intensity of transmission and development of innovations, but rather that the structure and type of social networks within groups of differing levels of mobility are more important. Until c.50-45 ka BP, the proposed ephemeral, effectively-closed social network structure of Neanderthal society acted against the extended spatio-temporal transmission of novel traits, resulting in periodic cycles of (re-)invention and extinction events, with little opportunity for cumulative development of innovations.

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Published date: August 2012
Keywords: neanderthals, scales, innovations, social networks, weichselian, mobility, cultural virus theory
Organisations: Archaeology


Local EPrints ID: 341081
ISBN: 9780444538215
PURE UUID: 270d347e-724b-4123-8476-448f4eb17025

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Date deposited: 13 Jul 2012 08:32
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 05:39

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Author: William Davies
Editor: Scott Elias

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