Archaeology: How important are evolutionary approaches to the study of archaeology? Introduction Evolutionary approaches or theories have had a significant role in understanding archaeology and its theories ever since the establishment of the discipline. The concept of modern evolutionary thought in archaeology was seen within the discipline itself and various experts in the field of archaeology and antiquarianism have accepted the impact of evolutionary approaches and theories to archaeology…
Body Evolutionary approaches to archaeology were seen through the theories of Gordon Childe, Julian Steward, and Leslie White. Through the evaluation of the original elements of Classical cultural evolutionism, the Historical school, the Functionalist Approach, and the neo-evolutionary theory were established (Eddy, 1991). With the work of Childe, the idea of revolutions in human economy and how it can be fulfilled through an evolutionary response was also established (Eddy, 1991). Steward’s concern was based on establishing how evolution is set within parallel lines which are based on varying environmental changes. White also discussed that universal evolution can be blamed on the technical usage of energy (Garbarino, 1977). These theories highlighted the importance of the environment as a means of supporting cultural evolution (Giacobbe, n.d). The cultural ecology theory of Steward included the observation of the environment and how such environment impacts on technology. ...
Steward’s theories on multilinear evolution also had a significant impact on evolutionary approaches. Such concept secured various theories in different cultural manifestations. In so many ways, these theories were a rich and dynamic fount of knowledge where the range of global cultural differences were understood based on reasonable strategies and ideas (Willey and Sabloff, 1980). Leslie White believed that cultural evolution was also a valid theory. White discussed that the issues which classical evolutionists have encountered while implementing theories were based on standard measures in cultural change (Garbarino, 1977). He also indicated that such measurement must be based on universal concepts covering all societies and different levels of development. His theory was labelled as neo-evolutionism and his ideas were expanded and reformulated; and it later opened the door to New Archaeology founded on evolutionary theory and thought (Garbarino, 1977). The ideas of White and Steward and New Archaeology were bridged through the work and ideas of Elman Service and Marshall Sahlins. These theorists were among the first to admit how cultural evolution is very much related to biological evolution (Wenke, 1981). They established the idea of universal evolution in relation to the manifestation of human culture. They also pointed out that not all cultures go through the same stages as discussed by White. Sahlins and Service (1960) pointed out that the biological and cultural evolution shifted in different directions at one and the same time and they believed that evolution leads to diversity and the progression of certain adaptations. These two theorists further indicate that diversity causes changes which then lead to new forms and new ...
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