Long-distance social networks existed in the past much before technology
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 12:29
  
Washington: Long-distance social networks existed long before the advent of the Internet, a new study has revealed.

The finding sheds light on the transformation of social networks in the late pre-Hispanic American Southwest and shows that people of that period were able to maintain surprisingly long-distance relationships with nothing more than their feet to connect them.

Led by University of Arizona anthropologist Barbara Mills, the study is based on analysis of more than 800,000 painted ceramic and more than 4,800 obsidian artifacts dating from AD 1200-1450, uncovered from more than 700 sites in the western Southwest, in what is now Arizona and western New Mexico.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Mills, director of the UA School of Anthropology, worked with collaborators at Archeology Southwest in Tucson to compile a database of more than 4.3 million ceramic artifacts and more than 4,800 obsidian artifacts, from which they drew for the study.

They then applied formal social network analysis to see what material culture could teach them about how social networks shifted and evolved during a period that saw large-scale demographic changes, including long-distance migration and coalescence of populations into large villages.

Their findings illustrate dramatic changes in social networks in the Southwest over the 250-year period between AD 1200 and 1450.

They found, for example, that while a large social network in the southern part of the Southwest grew very large and then collapsed, networks in the northern part of the Southwest became more fragmented but persisted over time.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Mills, director of the UA School of Anthropology, worked with collaborators at Archeology Southwest in Tucson to compile a database of more than 4.3 million ceramic artifacts and more than 4,800 obsidian artifacts, from which they drew for the study.

They then applied formal social network analysis to see what material culture could teach them about how social networks shifted and evolved during a period that saw large-scale demographic changes, including long-distance migration and coalescence of populations into large villages.

Their findings illustrate dramatic changes in social networks in the Southwest over the 250-year period between AD 1200 and 1450.

They found, for example, that while a large social network in the southern part of the Southwest grew very large and then collapsed, networks in the northern part of the Southwest became more fragmented but persisted over time.

ANI


First Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 12:27


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