Evolution of Early Thule Material Culture: Cultural Transmission and Terrestrial Ecology

Anna M. Prentiss, Matthew Walsh , Thomas A. Foor

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We investigate how evolution proceeds across multiple scales considering culture as species, hierarchically integrated systems, assemblages of many coherent units, and collections of ephemeral entities in order to examine the nature of Early Thule cultural evolution with reference to material culture and adaptive strategies. Results suggest that harpoon heads evolved via cultural transmission processes with little impact from terrestrial ecological context. In contrast, characteristics of architectural features, stone tool assemblages, and combined architecture and stone tools displayed evidence for significant effects of both cultural transmission and select measures of ecological context. There is no evidence that evolution was ‘evoked’ by ecological context alone.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Ecology (New York)
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)633-650
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Early Thule expansion
  • Inuit peoples
  • Cultural evolution
  • Cultural transmission
  • Cultural phylogenetics
  • North American Arctic

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