Material assemblages (cultures in an archaeological sense) are often equated with past social groups (cultures in a sociological sense). There are many problems with such equations. Cultures are difficult to define, cultural identities overlap, and culture forms are dynamic and changeable. Important social divisions are often obscured by cultural uniformity and, conversely, important connections may cut across cultural differences. A relationship between material assemblages and past social groups is, nonetheless, a reasonable and necessary working hypothesis in archaeological research. Without it, given that archaeology is the study of the past through material remains, we could make very little progress of any kind. But to equate material assemblages with “races” is an altogether different matter.
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