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Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind

Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind

Paperback

By (author) Colin Renfrew

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Prehistory covers human existence before written records, i.e. most of human existence. But it also refers to the discipline through which we scrutinize prehistoric times. PREHISTORY begins by looking at the discovery of a remote human past 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; radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis. Renfrew 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 on landmark monuments such as the Egyptian pyramids, the Valley of the Kings, Stonehenge and the sacrificial burial pyramids at Teotihuacan in Mexico. The book closes with a fascinating chapter on the transition from Prehistory to History, on early writing systems.

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Author information

Professor Lord Renfrew was born in 1937 in Stockton-on-Tees. He was Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge University 1981-2004, where he is now director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. A Fellow of the British Academy, he has won numerous international medals and prizes and was made a life peer in 1991. He is known for his work on the radiocarbon revolution, the prehistory of language, archaeo-genetics and the prevention of looting on archaeological sites. He has led many excavations, especially in Macedonia and Greece.

Review quote

A wonderfully concise and authoritative summary of research into this enormous subject SUNDAY TELEGRAPH