Author: Felix Riede
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Abstract

At the time when archaeology emerged as a distinct academic discipline, references to Darwin's notions of descent with modification and natural selection were relatively common, especially amongst Scandinavian scholars. These references were, at times, remarkably explicit and became more regular following the publication of Darwin's key works in translation. Drawing on biographical and archival sources as well as on an analysis of the contemporaneous reception of these ideas this papers attempts to tease out some of the theoretical, methodological, and sociological factors that led, ultimately, to a more or less wholesale rejection of Darwinism in archaeology in the middle part of the 20th century. Whilst 19th-century scholars were trained in a range of disciplines and so able to work interdisciplinarily with ease, the increasing fragmentation of domains of enquiry and the parallel and rapid increase in the volume of scientific knowledge resulted in barriers to the integration of the social and evolutionary sciences. There remains much confusion about the remit and scope of an evolutionary analysis of material culture change. An undue focus on natural selection and a continued adherence to a typological view of material culture are particular barriers to a better and broader integration of evolutionary theory and archaeology. This historical analysis is presented in the hope of clearing up some of these misunderstandings and to contribute to a sharper definition of evolutionary archaeology.

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