This massive and clever book opens modern scholarship about the distant past to nonspecialists. Buyers of this book will get their money's worth. It comes with a generous supply of maps and pictures of artifacts and digs, some of which are in color...Erudite and also quirky, Mithen summarizes the work of contemporary archaeologists, often by recounting his own visits to archaeological sites and drawing on insights from recent research on paleoclimates and human genetics...This impressive book stands out as the new standard work.--David M. Fahey "The Historian "
A fantastic voyage through 15,000 years of history that laid the foundations for civilisation as we know it by award-winning science writer Steven Mithen.
From the Inside Flap
20,000 BC - THE PEAK OF THE LAST ICE AGE. The atmosphere is laden with dust; deserts, glaciers and ice sheets have greatly expanded and sea levels dramatically fallen, joining landmasses together and exposing extensive coastal plains. The world is an inhospitable place; large areas are uninhabitable and where a living can be made, people exist in small mobile groups, facing high mortality and the very real threat of extinction. But these people live on the brink of seismic change - 10,000 years of climate change culminating in abrupt global warming that will usher in a fundamentally different human world. This won't be the first time that human populations have faced global warming, but their new responses will be quite different to anything that has occurred before. Now, rather than merely adapting and adjusting their lifestyles as their ancestors had done, the nature of human society will be completely transformed. After the Ice is the story of this momentous period: one in which a seemingly minor alteration in temperature could bring anything from the spread of lush woodland to apocalyptic floods - and one that contains the origins of civilisation itself. For, by its close, dogs, sheep and cattle had been domesticated; rice, wheat and cotton were being harvested; permanent villages and towns had sprung up, supporting specialist craftsmen, priests, chiefs and newly developed religious beliefs. Indeed, even those who did not adopt farming and continued to live as hunter-gatherers had radically changed the way they lived. Drawing on the latest cutting-edge research in archaeology, human genetics and the environmental sciences, Steven Mithen takes the reader on a sweeping global tour, bringing this world vividly back to life. Part history, part science and part time travel, After the Ice is breathtaking in its scope - an evocative, original, gripping yet intimate picture of minds, diverse cultures, lives and landscapes through 15,000 years that laid the foundations of the modern world.
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From the Back Cover
Steven Mithen is Professor of Early Prehistory and Head of the School of Human and Environmental Sciences at the University of Reading. He studied subjects ranging from fine art to computer science at the Universities of London, Sheffield and York, before specialising in archaeology at Cambridge. Since moving to the University of Reading in 1992, he has directed excavations in western Scotland and southern Jordan, used computer simulation for archaeological research and become a leading figure in the development of 'cognitive archaeology'. His previous books include Thoughtful Foragers: A Study in Prehistoric Decision Making (1990), The Prehistory of the Mind (1996), Creativity in Human Evolution and Prehistory (1998) and Hunter-Gatherer Landscape Archaeology (2000).
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About the Author
Steven Mithen is Professor of Early Prehistory and Head of the School of Human and Environmental Sciences at the University of Reading.