Stylistic change as a self-organized critical phenomenon: An archaeological study in complexity

R. Alexander Bentley, Herbert D.G. Maschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Archaeologists can learn from models of evolution as a self-organized critical phe- nomenon. Self-organized critical systems are large, interactive systems that orga- nize into a critical state where minor events can trigger chain reactions. Such sys- tems demonstrate power-law distributions in the size of changes, or “avalanches,” that occur. The theory of self-organized criticality is important in that it implies that the evolution of complex systems may be driven more by interactions between agents than by external events or natural selection. Stylistic changes may be exam- ples of avalanches of interconnected events. Evidence for self-organized criticality is shown for stylistic evolution in historical pottery styles from New York State and is used to evaluate the nature of a prehistoric pottery typology from the Southwest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-66
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Volume8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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