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The Construction of Prehistoric Ideation: Exploring the Universality-Idiosyncrasy Continuum

  • Alexander von Gernet (a1)

Extract

An understanding of prehistoric belief systems is made possible by the existence of constraints on variability in human ideation. These have generated regularities in the ethnographic record which may be located on a continuum ranging from assumed universality to virtual idiosyncrasy. While some regularities are engendered by ecological factors or psychophysiological invariants in the human species, others are clearly the result of specific culture-historical continuities. When the latter are shown to transcend significant spatiotemporal boundaries, they become useful in diminishing the uncertainty that often accompanies efforts to infer prehistoric cognition, ideation, or symbolic meanings

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