Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 364–384 | Cite as

Modeling Mechanisms of Cultural Diversity and Ethnicity in Hunter–Gatherers

  • F. del CastilloEmail author
  • J. A. Barceló
  • L. Mameli
  • F. Miguel
  • X. Vila


This paper aims to analyze the emergence of ethnicity and cultural differentiation in hunter–gatherer groups, using computer simulation methods. The existence of differences and similarities between populations has long been a major topic of investigation for archaeologists, who have traditionally used material culture as a means to identify different human groups. Today, this approach is perceived as being too simplistic. However, in the absence of satisfactory models, it often continues to be assumed as valid. In this paper, we present a preliminary model and its computer implementation to predict how hunter–gatherer societies interacted and built cultural identities as a consequence of the way they interacted. Our starting point for such analysis assumes the definition of ethnicity as the production and reproduction of group identity among members of a community, resulting from restricted cooperation flows. Results are compared with ongoing ethnoarchaeological research of Patagonian hunter–gatherers.


Ethnicity Social simulation Hunter–gatherers Patagonia 



Special thanks are due to J.A. Cuesta (Universidad Carlos III-Madrid) and J.M. Galán and J. I. Santos (Universidad de Burgos) for their important contribution in designing parts of the algorithm and its computer implementation. This research has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, through grant no. HAR2012-31036 awarded to J.A. Barceló and Project CSD2010-00034 «Social and environmental transitions: simulating the past to understand human behavior (SimulPast)» (CONSOLIDER-INGENIO 2010 program by Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, see: Vilà acknowledges financial support from grant ECO2008-04756 (Grupo Consolidado-C) from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and from grant SGR2009-0578 of the Generalitat de Catalunya. F. J. Miguel Quesada also acknowledges the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation financial support from grant no. CSO2012-31401 (R+D+i project). We acknowledge suggestions made by reviewers and these volume editors. In any case, authors are responsible for any mistakes or misunderstandings that may remain in the text.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. del Castillo
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. A. Barceló
    • 1
  • L. Mameli
    • 2
  • F. Miguel
    • 3
  • X. Vila
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PrehistoryUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del VallèsSpain
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsUniversity of GironaGironaSpain
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del VallèsSpain
  4. 4.Faculty of EconomicsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del VallèsSpain

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