Imatge de l'autor
17+ obres 1,642 Membres 26 Ressenyes 1 preferits

Sobre l'autor

Steven Mithen is Professor of Early Prehistory and Head of the School of Human and Environmental Sciences at the University of Reading.

Obres de Steven Mithen

Obres associades

The Oxford Illustrated Prehistory of Europe (1994) — Col·laborador, algunes edicions378 exemplars
The Oxford Handbook of Language Evolution (2012) — Col·laborador — 19 exemplars


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Steven Mithen has really gone out of his way to give a global view of a very early period in human history. He zooms in on more than 50 places, literally spread all over the world, places where remarkable archaeological finds have been done that give us more insight into the impressive evolution that mankind went through between 20,000 and 5,000 BC. Roughly speaking, this comes down to the transition from a life as a hunter-gatherer to a farmer and even city dweller.

Mithen has put an enormous amount of information into this book, and also provides the latest state of the art of archaeological research, at least at the time of publication in 2003. He also outlines cleverly what is still hotly debated, such as for example on whether agriculture has spread through migration, or through acculturation. Mithen has even managed to include the first results of the historical-genetic research of modern humans, but of course his book came too early for the groundbreaking new knowledge that paleogenetics (the genetic research on fossil remains) now yields. In that sense, this book is slightly outdated.

But… there are very big downsides to this book. Mithen has tried to reach a large audience with this book, and he does so by sending a time traveler to visit the more than 50 archaeological sites in their original time. This is so clumsily done that the author completely misses target. Unfortunately, because of these and several other missteps I really cannot recommend this book, despite Mithen's best efforts. See also the review in my History account on Goodreads:
… (més)
bookomaniac | Hi ha 12 ressenyes més | Jun 27, 2021 |
This book was the great breakthrough of the British archaeologist Steven Mithen (° 1960). He published it in 1996 and it immediately caused a stir in archaeological circles, but also far beyond. Indeed, Mithen was quite ambitious. He puts forward a bold hypothesis about how the human mind very gradually evolved, from about 2.5 million years ago to the great cognitive leap sometime between 100 and 50,000 years ago. Mithen makes extensive use of theories from the psychological sciences, but uses them to create his own view, which he tries to substantiate as much as possible with concrete archaeological findings. Out of necessity, his theory remains highly speculative, but it does offer an interesting, reasonably plausible explanation for the emergence of the "modern mind". And unlike many other developmental psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers, he is at least making an attempt to fit in the empirical material. But it remains a theory of a very speculative nature, and by now, probably outdated. More on that in my History account on Goodreads:… (més)
bookomaniac | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | Jan 26, 2021 |
I picked up this book in the hopes of learning about what mischief humans got up to on all the continents after the ice age (20 000 BC) until the event of civilization (5000 BC) via archaeological, genetic and linguistic evidence. Well, this book just didn't do it for me. I read approximately half the book and had to stop. Instead of a science/history book, the author wrote an annoying historical fiction novel with the odd bit of archaeological findings thrown in.

The author has a habit of describing what he thinks life might be like at various places at various points in history, but he isn't always clear to differentiate between the information based on archaeological evidence and what is essentially the author's speculation. In addition, the presence of an extremely annoying, silly and distracting fictional, time-travelling anthropologist ghost gimmick acting as eye-witness is included everywhere. This fictional character was amusing int he first two chapters, but after that I kept hoping some neolithic shaman would exorcise him.

This annoying fictional character wonders around the prehistoric world in no particular order, other than dealing with each continent at a time. This random wondering in time and space makes for jumbled and confusing reading, especially since no additional timeline diagram was provided. In addition, many of the sites discussed in the book have similar findings and everything eventually blurres into one big smudge. Pictures or diagrams would have been useful to differentiate these sites from one another.

In between the historical fiction accounts are jumbled-up, brief and rather vague archeological descriptions of selected sites, but genetic and linguistic evidence is mostly ignored, or currently outdated (the book was published in 2004).

What facts I managed to pick out of what I read of this book were interesting, but the writing style was confusing, messy and after a while, rather boring. I just couldn't keep my interest in this book going any further and decided to find something else to read.
… (més)
ElentarriLT | Hi ha 12 ressenyes més | Mar 24, 2020 |



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