Cladistics and Archaeology

Cladistics is a method used in biology and paleobiology to establish phylogeny: what produced what and in what order. It is a very specific method, developed in Germany in the 1950s and currently the primary phylogenetic method in the world. Cladistics has also been applied to such fields as historical linguistics and manuscript history. If things evolve in a nonrandom way, they may be appropriately studied using this method.

In Cladistics and Archaeology, Michael O’Brien and Lee Lyman explore the application of cladistics to archaeology by considering artifacts as human phenotypic characters. Their fundamental premise is that particular kinds of characters (style, artifact type, tool) can be used to create historically meaningful nested taxa. Further, they argue that this approach offers a means of building connections and 'life histories' of archaeological artifacts.

In order to make a potentially difficult topic more readily comprehensible, the authors have organized the book as something of a primer. Cladistics and Archaeology includes many figures to illustrate basic concepts, as well as a case study that shows a step-by-step application of cladistics to archaeology.

Michael J. O'Brien is associate dean and professor of anthropology at University of Missouri, Columbia.

R. Lee Lyman is professor of anthropology at University of Missouri, Columbia.

Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Foreword by Robert D. Leonard

PART I. Phylogenetic Analysis
1. Introduction
2. Evolutionary Taxonomy and Phenetics: Two Approaches to Classification and Phylogeny
3. Cladistics: An Alternative Approach to Phylogeny

PART II. Cladistics in Archaeology
4. Constructing Cultural Phylogenies
5. Taxa, Characters, and Outgroups
6. Trees and Clades
7. Character-State Tracking

PART III. For the Future
8. Concluding Remarks


Praise and Reviews:

This book demonstrates a novel approach for studying the conditions, causes, contingencies, and context within which technological change can arise."—José Luis Lanata, University of Buenos Aires