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China and Inner Asia
In Session: DNA Evidence and China Studies
3: Likely Selective Forces in the Continental East Asian Paleolithic/Neolithic Transition
Monday, March 22, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
California State University, Fullerton, United States
Key features of the physical and social ecologies in the Upper Paleolithic are likely to have led to a state of affairs in which the ratio of social to individual learning increased. Around the Paleolithic/Neolithic transition, it is well-understood that settlers of Continental East Asia acquired a suite of genes through the forces of gene-culture co-evolution and that several of these genes were products of selection (rather than drift or other forces). But other researchers' remarks as to how these genes, or at least the most important of them, resulted from this environment are yet to be integrated. This paper tentatively pieces together information from the research of archaeologists, cultural evolutionary researchers, and geneticists in an effort to better understand early East Asian cultural evolution. In it the author discusses features of the Upper Paleolithic including effects of the last glacial maximum and extremely long-lived cultural continuity, and also features of the Neolithic including effects of hierarchical social organization, between-group conflict, environmental stability, and population bottlenecks. The paper even more tentatively draws some conclusions about pressures for sociality among continental East Asian settlers. Limitations of the paper and the work that it draws upon are discussed.