Historical approach to anthropology
in the midtwentieth century that emphasized the transmission of items from culture
from one place to another rather than the temporal development
of culture(s). Diffusionists attempted to explain the appearance of pyramids in Egypt, Central America, and southeast Asia as manifestations of a single invention
, rather than independent inventions
in diverse people. Coined by German geographer Friedrich Ratzel (1844-1904), the term
and the approach are no longer considered of major theoretical importance.