Event: PIZZA TALK: Initial Conditions for Biocultural Evolution in China: Understanding the Relationship Between Genetic Selection and Archaeological Remains

Date & Time

January 29, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Contact Information

Sumiji Takahashi
Phone 310-825-4169


Fowler A222 (Seminar Room)

Event Type

Pizza Talk

Event Details


Dr. Ryan Nichols

Associate Professor 

Dept. of Philosophy

Cal State Fullerton


The purpose of this paper is to preliminarily explain the initial conditions and key forces from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, and pre-Imperial periods that contributed to distinctive features of subsequent Chinese culture, and to do so in accordance with an explicit model of cultural transmission. The paper opens with discussion of a small suite of genes supporting neurotransmitter function, genes that were selected in Continental East Asians. Second, Paleolithic climate, rainfall, plant domesticates, and physical ecological factors, principally of the Yellow River and North China Plain area, are reviewed with respect to their influence on early settlers and their social ecology. This focus fuels the third section too. In it I discuss the kinship structure, political organization, warfare, and religion of these Neolithic settlers. Fourth, the onset of cultural trends during the Shang and Zhou periods are discussed in terms of the initial conditions described above. By-products of this discussion include the identification of lacunae in a well-known model of cultural transmission, and the provisioning of the cultural evolutionary research community with a template, a draft template, for analytical application of theory to a historical population that explicitly considers Paleolithic and Neolithic genetic selection.