added by archaeologs In a general sense, the whole way of life of man as a species. In a more specific usage, it is the learned behavior, social customs, ideas, and technology characteristic of a certain people or civilization at a particular time or over a period of time (such as Eskimo culture). In this sense, a culture is a group of people whose total activities define what they represent and are transmitted to others in the group by social (mainly linguistic) - as opposed to genetic - means. Culture includes the production of ideas, artifacts, and institutions. In a more restricted sense (as in the term 'blade culture') culture signifies the artifacts or tool- and implement-making tradition of a people or a stage of development. Similar or related assemblages found in several sites within a defined area during the same time period, considered to represent the activities of one specific group of people is a culture. Cultures are often named for a particular site or an artifact. The word 'culture' in archaeology means a collection of archaeologically observable data; it is defined as the regularly occurring assemblage of associated artifacts and practices, such as pottery, house-types, metalwork, and burial rites, and regarded in this sense as the physical expression of a particular social group. This usage is especially associated with Gordon Childe, who popularized this concept as a means of analyzing prehistoric material. Thus the Bandkeramik culture of Neolithic Europe is an hypothesized social group characterized by its use of a particular type of pottery, houses, etc. The term, in reference to the specific elements of material culture, is most often used in the Old World.
added by archaeologs As used by archaeologists, the term has two separate meanings. In the more general sense it refers to everything that man does that derives from ‘nurture rather than nature’ (V.G. Childe), that is, behaviour that is learned rather than genetically controlled. An alternative definition of culture in this sense is man’s ‘extra-somatic means of adaptation’ (L. Binford). The second and more restricted use of the term refers to an assemblage of artefacts and other traits (e.g. house plans or burial rites) that regularly occur together within a restricted area and are thought to represent the physical remains of a particular group of people. Cultures are usually named after either a type site (e.g. StarCevo culture) or after a characteristic artefact (e.g. Linear Pottery culture). The use of the concept of cultures was popularized by Childe and it is still widely used today, although there is considerable controversy over the nature of the social groups that they are thought to represent.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983