Regional patterns

William H. Isbell, Helaine I Silverman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


When early anthropologists faced the bewildering diversity of peoples reported by Europeans during their age of discovery, scholars explained the behavioral differences in terms of evolutionary schemes that grouped cultures with similar principles of kinship, economic production, or political authority together into broad evolutionary stages. Subsequently, when anthropologists in the United States responded to demands to organize descriptions of hundreds of Native American cultures in some meaningful way, they formulated the culture area, a concept that sprang from ethnographic field experience(Kroeber 1939; Wissler 1917). It posited that peoples living in proximity to one another and inhabiting more or less similar environments tended to share many aspects of culture in common. The culture area concept benefited from the best of the ideas about cultural diffusion so popular in European geography, and at the continental level the culture areaapproach reapplied much earlier thinking about cultural evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAndean Archaeology III
Subtitle of host publicationNorth and South
EditorsWilliam H Isbell, Helaine Silverman
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)0387289399, 9780387289397
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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