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Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery [Hardcover]

Mike Parker Pearson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
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Book Description

7 Jun 2012
Our knowledge about Stonehenge has changed dramatically as a result of the Stonehenge Riverside Project (2003-2009), led by Mike Parker Pearson, and included not only Stonehenge itself but also the nearby great henge enclosure of Durrington Walls. This book is about the people who built Stonehenge and its relationship to the surrounding landscape. The book explores the theory that the people of Durrington Walls built both Stonehenge and Durrington Walls, and that the choice of stone for constructing Stonehenge has a significance so far undiscovered, namely, that stone was used for monuments to the dead. Through years of thorough and extensive work at the site, Parker Pearson and his team unearthed evidence of the Neolithic inhabitants and builders which connected the settlement at Durrington Walls with the henge, and contextualised Stonehenge within the larger site complex, linked by the River Avon, as well as in terms of its relationship with the rest of the British Isles. Parker Pearson's book changes the way that we think about Stonehenge; correcting previously erroneous chronology and dating; filling in gaps in our knowledge about its people and how they lived; identifying a previously unknown type of Neolithic building; discovering Bluestonehenge, a circle of 25 blue stones from western Wales; and confirming what started as a hypothesis - that Stonehenge was a place of the dead - through more than 64 cremation burials unearthed there, which span the monument's use during the third millennium BC. In lively and engaging prose, Parker Pearson brings to life the imposing ancient monument that continues to hold a fascination for everyone.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (General list, Trade Division); First Edition edition (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085720730X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857207302
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 129,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'From 2003 to 2009, the archaeologist Mike Pearson led the Stonehenge Riverside Project that studied Stonehenge… His book is a detailed account of that archaeological survey, expressed in a genial style that invigorates the story of the groundwork' --Iain Finlayson, The Times

'The book describes one of the outstanding archaeological projects of recent years. It is accessible, original, carefully researched and important. But, above all, it is exciting' --Richard Bradley, Reading University

About the Author

Mike Parker Pearson is a Professor of Archaeology at Sheffield University. He is an internationally renowned expert in the archaeology of death and also specialises in the later prehistory of Britain and Northern Europe and the archaeology of Madagascar and the western Indian Ocean. He has published 14 books and over 100 academic papers.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A con 13 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Superb book BUT I ordered it thinking that it was a new and updated version of his previously published book on Stonehenge only to find that it was only a different title and presentation of the cover to go to the USA market. Was a bit of a con!! Should have had this made clear in the adverts
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having read other reviews of this book, I was unsure whether or not to buy it.

In this book, Professor Parker-Pearson uses an easy going style to describe the sequence of events which led to recent discoveries in the last few years. Focusing not just on the monument but its surrounds and other relevant locations, the book takes care to explain how and why recent investigations took place. New discoveries are recorded in some detail together with short descriptions of existing knowledge and a useful revision of the established time-scale for the monument's construction: The attention to describing new information leads to a slightly dis-jointed approach, which was probably unavoidable given the breadth of sources; but compensated for by the enthusiasm which runs through the book.

Overall, the book is different from other works on Stonehenge because of the concentration on providing the latest information, from a variety of investigation projects, in an easily digestible form.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 29 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Firstly, I should state that I am no archaeologist, but I do hold a keen interest in Stonehenge and its people.
For me, this book is excellently written in a style that is authoritative, extremely informative, yet entertaining to read.
In fact, I polished it off in less than a week!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By Big Jim TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an interesting and very readable account of recent archaelogical discoveries at or near Stonehenge and the quarries in Wales and elsewhere connected with the stones. As such it doesn't pay much heed to any mystical connotations to the henge and instead concentrates on evidence gleaned from the new digs. The reason I would say get the book rather than the kindle edition is the large number of drawings, maps and plans don't reproduce well on the kindle and they are often integral to one's understanding of the material. I would also say that the author's unfussy style can't really extend the potential readership of this book beyond those interested in solid history and/or archaelogy so the lay reader may find some of this quite dull. The words solid and dependable apply to this book rather than exciting and exhilarating hence only 4 rather than 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarship for the layman 12 April 2014
By henros
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a superb review of the latest findings from the Stonehenge region (with the emphasis on "region"), together with an interpretation of these findings, all expressed as a technical report but with every term explained for those unfamiliar with the language. Extremely readable, with interspersed anecdotes and personal experiences and, where appropriate, conflicting views of the evidence.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb read - worth every penny 13 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Every age gets the Stonehenge it wants/deserves/needs.

There are many varying theories that have and are proposed for "why Stonehenge was built" and we are all entitled to our views. No one wil have the complete answer but this comes very close to an integrated logical interpretation.

Parker-Pearson based upon an a ethnographic analogy suggesteed by Ramilisonina (with the Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP) team) combine many lines of scientific investigation and interpretation to present a complex yet well argued explanation of when, why and how this iconic monument was built. Most importantly it explains what the monument was used for. Stonehenge is placed within its landscape - a palimpsest of ritual activity since the early Mesolithic. M P-P also follows scientific practice by predicting features prior to excavation - eg. the links to the R.Avon.

Archaeological texts can be very dry but this is NOT. It is as if you are sitting across a pub table listening to M P-P tell the story of his investigations with SRP over the last years. Time flies by as you read and I fell asleep several times in the early hours desparate to read the next chapter. He has managed to organise this book in a very readable manner combining accurate hard science with interpretaion and a great narrative style. If you ever get the chance to hear him lecture take it. M P-P acknowledges and welcomes that this interpretation is open to review but at present it provides the best approximation for understanding this location.

Other reviewers have provided details. (There is only one negative reviewer - but I would respectfully suggest that this is a 'rather biased' view of a competing concept). Not that I would deride this concept - I just cannot afford c.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just a new dust cover on an old book (which I already have) not a new or even updated book. Complete waste of money - straight into the charity shop
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Format:Hardcover
This book is a highly readable summary of the work of the Stonehenge Riverside Project's SRP work between about 2004 and 2011. It should be pointed out that, although MPP does a fair amount of explaining of basic terms, it is not the best place to start if you don't know anything at all about Stonehenge, as it assumes a certain amount of knowledge and discusses things that are the same age nearby as well as the monument itself. The lack of good maps is a real shame.

And it's a real shame because this book is fascinating, summarising the work of the SRP in an easily readable (if not beautiful) way and making a pretty convincing case for large-scale collaborative archaeology as opposed to the more individual techniques used by earlier Stonehenge archaeologists. Ideas are put forward, discussed, pits are dug and the ideas tested.

MPP also makes a pretty good case for his ideas as well, in summary making a good case for a 3000 BC Stonehenge and riverside `henge' of bluestones (before the 2500 BC Stonehenge we all know), for the unroofing of at least one wooden circle, for human transport of bluestones from Wales and for the `ritual closure' nature of henge earthworks in general. Where he tends to slip up here is his belief that something can be proved true, and this is particularly true of his pet model, the Realm of the Ancestors and the Realm of the Living. Sadly, he can only ever make a case that it's reasonable.

Whatever, I found myself much more impressed by his collaborative approach than by Ian Hodder's work at Catal Hoyuk. His arguments were generally sensible. I also was rather charmed that an archaeologist had been dragged into the usual stuff about units of measurement. It just goes to show that giving a person with lots of ideas a real chance to test those ideas brings out the best in them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Stonehenge book
I bought this book because my niece in Australia will be visiting Stonehenge with us in October and I wanted to have some appropriate facts at my disposal when talking about the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mrs. Kaye E. Elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars stonehenge
i am interested in neolithic society, and especially stonehenge. it has been difficult to this time to find
a solid source of information on the subject. Read more
Published 8 months ago by William B. Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars Good job Mr. Pearson!
Great and quick service! And I couldn't be more satisfied with the book itself!

Not only does this book present the necessary facts, background knowledge and theories to... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Janni
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear account for a general readership
This an excellent account of recent findings about Stonehenge and its environs. It is clearly written and covers all aspects of the developing culture in the area. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Euan C. Fyfe
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the American edition, not a new edition
This is the American edition of "Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery" (the UK edition, publ Simon & Schuster 2012; paperback came out 2013). Read more
Published 9 months ago by bigreader
5.0 out of 5 stars Stonehenge is not a henge
One may have thought that Stonehenge had attracted all the attention required to fill any gaps in its history, but one of the many stories to emerge from Mike Parker Pearson's... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mick Read
4.0 out of 5 stars OK with reservations
A comprehensive summary of work of the Stonehenge Riverside Project in recent years. Somewhat heavy going for the un-initiated and a few descriptive diagrams could have helped... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ray(T)
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much fantasy
This book is a profound disappointment. Written in a chatty style, and presumably aimed at the lay person with no specialist archaeological knowledge, it does serve to bring one... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Brian
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