Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 724–749

The Role of Nondeclarative Memory Systems in the Inference of Long-Term Population Continuity


DOI: 10.1007/s10816-013-9175-6

Cite this article as:
Thulman, D.K. J Archaeol Method Theory (2014) 21: 724. doi:10.1007/s10816-013-9175-6


Recent theoretical work on the transmission of cultural behavior has focused on how and why information is transmitted. Less work has been done on the particular behaviors being transmitted. Here, I argue that the kind of behavior being transmitted can have a greater effect on the conservation of behavior than how or why the behavior was transmitted. Specifically, behaviors such as motor skills and habits, which are stored in nondeclarative memory, are more likely to be conservatively maintained over longer periods of time than declarative memories, which include easily changeable ideas and plans. Thus, behaviors, as manifested in artifact traits, are more or less likely to be maintained over time depending on where in the memory systems they are remembered. In sum, not all artifact traits have equivalent value when interpreting the spatial and temporal distribution of artifact traits.


Memory systems Learning theory Population continuity Motor skills Basketry Lithic analysis 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.University ParkUSA

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