Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Diffusionism

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.

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