Phyletic Seriation of Experimentally Produced Anthropomorphic Figurines: An Exercise in Morphometric Analysis

Mihailo Radinović, Marko Porčić
2020 Zenodo  
In order to investigate aspects of cultural transmission in the laboratory, we conducted transmission chain experiments with anthropomorphic clay figurines. Forty participants, both novices and experts, were grouped intho four chains, and their task was to copy the figurine from the previous generation as best as they can. The first participant in each chain was presented with a model of figurine made of polymer clay with an instruction to reproduce it as well as she/he could using the same
more » ... rial. Then the figurine made by the first participant was used as a model for the second participant and so on until generation 10. Thus, four distinct lineages of figurines were produced, and our experiments showed the effect of accumulated copying errors on figurine appearance over generations. In this study, we explore the possibility of reconstructing the correct sequence of their making using phyletic seriation. With this goal in mind, we applied different approaches to describe their shape, and then observed the patterns of variability using multivariate statistics. Besides the frequently used attribute analysis, we applied geometric 2D landmark-based approach and Elliptic Fourier Analysis of outlines in order to record their variability. Despite numerous studies on anthropomorphic clay figurines, their appearance is seldom assessed and compared in quantitative manner, and this study will explore the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches for conducting phyletic seriation, and assessing similarities and dissimilarities in figurine shape.
doi:10.5281/zenodo.4013761 fatcat:wxt7riou2fbe7gsr65ujbaphey