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Phylogenetic analysis shows that Neolithic slate plaques from the southwestern Iberian Peninsula are not genealogical recording systems.

García Rivero D, O'Brien MJ - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: The lack of testing is often justified by invoking the opinion that the slippery nature of past human symbolism cannot easily be tackled by the scientific method.The analysis reported here demonstrates that this is not the case, even when the most supportive data and techniques are used.This would entail a cultural system in which plaque design was based on a fundamental core idea, with a number of mutable and variable elements surrounding it.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Prehistory and Archaeology, University of Seville, Seville, Spain.

ABSTRACT
Prehistoric material culture proposed to be symbolic in nature has been the object of considerable archaeological work from diverse theoretical perspectives, yet rarely are methodological tools used to test the interpretations. The lack of testing is often justified by invoking the opinion that the slippery nature of past human symbolism cannot easily be tackled by the scientific method. One such case, from the southwestern Iberian Peninsula, involves engraved stone plaques from megalithic funerary monuments dating ca. 3,500-2,750 B.C. (calibrated age). One widely accepted proposal is that the plaques are ancient mnemonic devices that record genealogies. The analysis reported here demonstrates that this is not the case, even when the most supportive data and techniques are used. Rather, we suspect there was a common ideological background to the use of plaques that overlay the southwestern Iberian Peninsula, with little or no geographic patterning. This would entail a cultural system in which plaque design was based on a fundamental core idea, with a number of mutable and variable elements surrounding it.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Fifty-percent majority-rule consensus tree from exercise 2, sample 3.The tree, which uses weighted characters but unordered character states, has a CI of 0.594, an RI of 0.658, and an RC of 0.391. When generated by PAUP, the tree was unrooted, but it subsequently was rooted with class 146 to resolve the topology in favor of Lillios's hypothesis. Numbers at nodes are bootstrap values.
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pone-0088296-g006: Fifty-percent majority-rule consensus tree from exercise 2, sample 3.The tree, which uses weighted characters but unordered character states, has a CI of 0.594, an RI of 0.658, and an RC of 0.391. When generated by PAUP, the tree was unrooted, but it subsequently was rooted with class 146 to resolve the topology in favor of Lillios's hypothesis. Numbers at nodes are bootstrap values.

Mentions: We next created four trees per exercise and sample—three consensus trees (strict, semistrict, and 50% majority rule) and a bootstrap tree (Table 5). The result was 64 trees (16×4). We then reduced the number of trees to two in order to focus on those that best fit the expectations of Lillios's hypothesis (Table 6). Those two trees come from exercise 2 (sample 3)—termed the “2/3 tree” (Fig. 6)—and exercise 4 (sample 2)—the “4/2 tree” (Fig. 7). Both are 50% majority-rule trees [80]; the 2/3 tree was unrooted, and the 4/2 tree was rooted. When PAUP* creates rooted trees, it sets polarity—the direction of character-state change—using outgroups selected by the analyst. The 4/2 tree (Fig. 7) was rooted using class 21 (Table 5), the class in the sample that displayed the highest number of presumed ancestral states in Lillios's hypothesis. When PAUP* creates unrooted trees, its default is to start with the first taxon in the input list and build from there. PAUP* constructed the 2/3 tree using class 1 as a starting point. After examining the tree, however, we went a step further in favoring the hypothesis. We swapped class 146 for class 1 because it is another class that displays all or most of the presumed ancestral states in Lillios's hypothesis. The CI, RI, and CR remained unaffected.


Phylogenetic analysis shows that Neolithic slate plaques from the southwestern Iberian Peninsula are not genealogical recording systems.

García Rivero D, O'Brien MJ - PLoS ONE (2014)

Fifty-percent majority-rule consensus tree from exercise 2, sample 3.The tree, which uses weighted characters but unordered character states, has a CI of 0.594, an RI of 0.658, and an RC of 0.391. When generated by PAUP, the tree was unrooted, but it subsequently was rooted with class 146 to resolve the topology in favor of Lillios's hypothesis. Numbers at nodes are bootstrap values.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3928193&req=5

pone-0088296-g006: Fifty-percent majority-rule consensus tree from exercise 2, sample 3.The tree, which uses weighted characters but unordered character states, has a CI of 0.594, an RI of 0.658, and an RC of 0.391. When generated by PAUP, the tree was unrooted, but it subsequently was rooted with class 146 to resolve the topology in favor of Lillios's hypothesis. Numbers at nodes are bootstrap values.
Mentions: We next created four trees per exercise and sample—three consensus trees (strict, semistrict, and 50% majority rule) and a bootstrap tree (Table 5). The result was 64 trees (16×4). We then reduced the number of trees to two in order to focus on those that best fit the expectations of Lillios's hypothesis (Table 6). Those two trees come from exercise 2 (sample 3)—termed the “2/3 tree” (Fig. 6)—and exercise 4 (sample 2)—the “4/2 tree” (Fig. 7). Both are 50% majority-rule trees [80]; the 2/3 tree was unrooted, and the 4/2 tree was rooted. When PAUP* creates rooted trees, it sets polarity—the direction of character-state change—using outgroups selected by the analyst. The 4/2 tree (Fig. 7) was rooted using class 21 (Table 5), the class in the sample that displayed the highest number of presumed ancestral states in Lillios's hypothesis. When PAUP* creates unrooted trees, its default is to start with the first taxon in the input list and build from there. PAUP* constructed the 2/3 tree using class 1 as a starting point. After examining the tree, however, we went a step further in favoring the hypothesis. We swapped class 146 for class 1 because it is another class that displays all or most of the presumed ancestral states in Lillios's hypothesis. The CI, RI, and CR remained unaffected.

Bottom Line: The lack of testing is often justified by invoking the opinion that the slippery nature of past human symbolism cannot easily be tackled by the scientific method.The analysis reported here demonstrates that this is not the case, even when the most supportive data and techniques are used.This would entail a cultural system in which plaque design was based on a fundamental core idea, with a number of mutable and variable elements surrounding it.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Prehistory and Archaeology, University of Seville, Seville, Spain.

ABSTRACT
Prehistoric material culture proposed to be symbolic in nature has been the object of considerable archaeological work from diverse theoretical perspectives, yet rarely are methodological tools used to test the interpretations. The lack of testing is often justified by invoking the opinion that the slippery nature of past human symbolism cannot easily be tackled by the scientific method. One such case, from the southwestern Iberian Peninsula, involves engraved stone plaques from megalithic funerary monuments dating ca. 3,500-2,750 B.C. (calibrated age). One widely accepted proposal is that the plaques are ancient mnemonic devices that record genealogies. The analysis reported here demonstrates that this is not the case, even when the most supportive data and techniques are used. Rather, we suspect there was a common ideological background to the use of plaques that overlay the southwestern Iberian Peninsula, with little or no geographic patterning. This would entail a cultural system in which plaque design was based on a fundamental core idea, with a number of mutable and variable elements surrounding it.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus