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Testing the Morphogenesist Model of Primary State Formation: The Zapotec Case

  • Charles S. Spencer
Chapter

Abstract

In this chapter, I take a macroevolutionary approach to primary state formation by conducting an empirical test of the morphogenesist model, the key postulates of which are that (1) chiefdoms and states are based on fundamentally different principles of administrative structure and optimal regulatory strategies and (2) the transition from chiefdom to primary state is an emergent, transformational process and not simply the result of continuous, incremental adaptation. I draw an analogy between this model of cultural transformation and the adaptive landscape approach to macroevolution pioneered by Sewall Wright in his shifting balance theory and further developed by George G. Simpson in his theory of quantum evolution. A key expectation of both approaches is that the system undergoing such a major evolutionary transformation for the first time must traverse a “valley” of relatively low adaptedness as it moves from a long-standing “peak” to a newly emergent peak on the adaptive landscape. I assess this expectation with data on the emergence of the Monte Albán state ca. 300 B.C. in Mexico’s Oaxaca Valley.

Keywords

Cultural Evolution Primary State Secondary State Adaptive Landscape Adaptive Peak 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of AnthropologyAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA

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