The treatment of cultural symbolism within anthropology has hitherto focused almost exclusively on the internal structure of symbolic systems rather than on their temporal dynamism. The contributors to this volume build toward a unified theory of cultural evolution, using innovative methodologies and interpretive strategies drawn from a variety of disciplines to trace the persistence and transformation of particular forms of verbal and non-verbal symbolization over time and space. These comparative analyses demonstrate the evolutionary importance of the abstract pattern continuity that underlies surface transformations in particular symbol systems. The contributors treat symbolic meaning not as simple reference but as a complex product of the human capacity to classify and communicate experience. This approach has produced a dynamic tool for better understanding the past and interpreting the present.
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