Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind
Prehistory covers human existence before written records, i.e. most of human existence. But it also refers to a field of study, the discipline ... Show synopsis Prehistory covers human existence before written records, i.e. most of human existence. But it also refers to a field of study, the discipline through which we scrutinize prehistoric times. This book begins by looking at the gradual discovery only 150 years ago of a remote human past going back tens of thousands of years and the subsequent dramatic growth of the study of prehistory: early archaeology; geology; Darwin's ideas of evolution; cave paintings; fossil discoveries of human ancestors; museums and collections; and then in the 1950s radiocarbon dating and, in the 1980s, DNA analysis. Colin Renfrew then looks at current issues and problems in prehistory. He challenges the conventional assumption of an all-important 'human revolution' 40,000 years ago - when Homo sapiens first appeared in Europe - and suggests that the key developments were much later. The author's case-studies range widely, from Orkney to the Balkans, from the Indus Valley to Peru, from Ireland to China, and provide fresh insights even on such landmark monuments as the Egyptian pyramids and the Valley of the Kings, Stonehenge and the sacrificial burial pyramids at Teotihuacan in Mexico. The book ends with a fascinating chapter, the transition from Prehistory to History, on early writing systems.