Evolution of human ritual behavior


KUNDT Radek LANG Martin

Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Proposing an evolutionary model of the origin of ritual in the hominin lineage, we treat collective ritual as a complex signaling system that facilitates mutualistic cooperation. In our model, we first synthesize the literature dealing with hunter-gatherer ethnography and hominin archaeology and identify similarity signals, coalitionary signals, and signals of commitment to collective action as the main building blocks of the signaling system. Subsequently, we turn to primatology and paleoanthropology to trace these signals in both non-human primates and past hominins. Adding the proximate level to our analysis, we pinpoint distinctive neurocognitive mechanisms scaffolding the three types of ritual signals and track down their presence. Finally, we connect this evidence with the prevalent socio-ecological selective pressures for cooperative communication and suggest that by the arrival of H. Sapiens collective ritual already constituted important adaptation overcoming collective action problems.
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