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Style and Function: A Fundamental Dichotomy

Robert C. Dunnell
American Antiquity
Vol. 43, No. 2, Contributions to Archaeological Method and Theory (Apr., 1978), pp. 192-202
DOI: 10.2307/279244
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/279244
Page Count: 11
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Style and Function: A Fundamental Dichotomy
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Abstract

Our understanding of the archaeological record has been developed under the culture history paradigm. Its fundamental structure is shown to be stylistic; this characteristic, coupled with historical factors, is seen as the major reason why evolutionary processes have not been extensively employed in explaining cultural change. Consideration of an evolutionary approach suggests that such processes as natural selection have considerable explanatory potential, but it is also suggested that a substantial segment of the archaeological record is not best understood in terms of adaptation. The potential of an evolutionary approach cannot be realized without making a fundamental distinction between functions, accountable in terms of evolutionary processes, and style, accountable in terms of stochastic processes.

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