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PDF 2.29 MB
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7551/978-0-262-33027-5-ch028
Pages 130–137
First published 20 July 2015

Environmental Factors and the Emergence of Cultural – Technical Innovations

Peter Andras

Abstract

Environmental factors that determine ecological niches, for example natural boundaries formed by mountains, rivers, deserts, contribute to the speciation among animals. Similar factors have been proposed to be important for the emergence of cultural and technical innovations in human populations in the pre-state stages of societies. Here we describe a social simulation aimed to investigate this issue. The simulation uses two environmental features, mountain ridges and the fertility of the land. The results show that indeed these environmental factors matter for the emergence of successful innovative populations. The defenses provided by mountain ridges facilitate the emergence of many populations with moderately successful innovations. The fertile lands are where the populations with the most successful innovations emerge, however in most cases these populations can trace their origins to innovative populations emerging under the defense of mountain ridges. This simulation study provides experimental support for the relatively speculative theories about the importance of environmental factors for the emergence of cultural and technical innovations.