Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-546b4f848f-w58md Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-05-30T22:41:03.425Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

5 - Evolutionary Archaeology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2014

Bruce G. Trigger
Affiliation:
McGill University, Montréal
Get access

Summary

Few of us can observe such indications of the habits and physical condition of the earliest inhabitants of this island [Britain] as are afforded by the remains of their rude dwellings, and by the rude implements occasionally found, without a sense of thankfulness that our lot has been mercifully cast in times of improved knowledge, of advanced civilization, and more refined habits.

earl of devon, “Inaugural Address” at Exeter Congress, 1873, Archaeological Journal 30 (1873), p. 206

A shared commitment to an evolutionary approach promoted a close alignment between prehistoric archaeology and ethnology in western Europe and the United States beginning in the 1860s. In Europe, the foundation for this alignment was the belief in unilinear cultural evolution forged a century earlier by Enlightenment philosophers. It was accepted that arranging modern cultures in a series from simplest to most complex illustrated the earlier stages through which the most advanced cultures had developed in prehistoric times. French and British Palaeolithic archaeologists did not try harder to elucidate the past using archaeological data because their commitment to unilinear evolutionism led them to believe that ethnology revealed almost everything they wished to know about prehistoric times.

In the United States, where it was assumed that relatively little cultural evolution had occurred in prehistoric times, archaeology, ethnology, physical anthropology, and linguistics had begun by the 1840s to be regarded as different branches of anthropology, which was identified as the study of American indigenous peoples.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Evolutionary Archaeology
  • Bruce G. Trigger, McGill University, Montréal
  • Book: A History of Archaeological Thought
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813016.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Evolutionary Archaeology
  • Bruce G. Trigger, McGill University, Montréal
  • Book: A History of Archaeological Thought
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813016.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Evolutionary Archaeology
  • Bruce G. Trigger, McGill University, Montréal
  • Book: A History of Archaeological Thought
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813016.006
Available formats
×