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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Structure and Dynamics

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The Structure and Dynamics eJournal welcomes articles, book reviews, data, simulations, research material, and special issues that examine aspects of human evolution, social structure and behavior, culture, cognition, or related topics. Our goal is to advance the historic mission of anthropology in the broadest sense to describe and explain the range of variation in human biology, society, culture and civilization across time and space. Submissions of databases, software tutorials, programs, and teaching materials are welcomed, as are communications on research materials of interest to a wide variety of science and social science researchers, including networks, dynamical models, and complexity research and related genre.


Persistent Cultures: Miskitu Kinship Terminological Fluidity

Kinship is understood dynamically and processually but kinship terminologies are remarkably stable idea systems. They provide cultural continuity over time and are more resistant to modification than many types of cultural instantiations. Miskitu speakers in Nicaragua, however, have adopted new kin terms that appear to have fundamentally changed the idea system used to generate their kin terms historically. The shape of the changes that have occurred in Miskitu kin terminologies over time are the result of powerful economic, political and social forces introduced, in part, as a consequence of the geography of Mosquito Coast economies, migrations and political processes. We argue that the current use of kin terms is atypically hybrid and is not the result of a single, algebraically derivable idea system. Rather than negating the validity of mathematical approaches to kinship terminologies, the case of Miskitu kinship terminology suggests that core idea systems, although subject to change over time, move between informationally economical forms adapted to socioeconomic changes.

Evaluating Settlement Structures in the Ancient Near East using Spatial Interaction Entropy Maximization

We explore settlement structures and hierarchy found in different archaeological periods in northern, specifically the Khabur Triangle (KT), and southern Mesopotamia (SM) using a spatial interaction entropy maximization (SIEM) modeling and simulation method. Regional settlement patterns are investigated in order to understand what feedback levels for settlement benefits, or incentives, and abilities to move or disperse between sites in a landscape and period could have enabled observed settlement structures to emerge or be maintained. Archaeological and historical data are then used to interpret the best results. We suggest that in the Late Chalcolithic (LC) and first half of the Early Bronze Age (EBA), the KT and SM appear to have comparable urban patterns and development, where settlement advantage feedbacks and movement are similarly shaping the two regions for those periods. Within period variations, such as restrictions to population diffusion or movement in the EBA, are possible. In the KT during the Middle Bronze Age (MBA), multiple centers begin to emerge, suggesting a lack of social cohesion and/or political fragmentation. This is similar to SM in the MBA, but we also see the emergence of a single, dominant site. In the Iron Age (IA), movement in the KT likely becomes the least constrained in all assessed periods, as socio-political cohesion facilitates this process, with small sites now the norm and dominance by one state over the region is evident. For the same period in SM, a single site (Babylon) obtains significant settlement advantages relative to its neighbors and easy movement enables it to become far larger in size and likely socially, economically, and politically dominant. Overall, the results demonstrate that the method is useful for archaeologists and social theorists in allowing them to compare different archaeological survey results, with varied spatial dimensions and diachronically, while providing a level of explanation that addresses empirical settlement patterns observed.

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