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The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age Hardcover – 25 Jan 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: The Free Press (25 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684855801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684855806
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 2.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,782,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Plate I shows one side of the well-known Palette of Narmer, from Hierakonpolis, Upper Egypt, now in the Cairo Museum. Read the first page
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 6 April 2001
Format: Paperback
By bringing together evidence from archaeology, ancient history, linguistics and anthropology, the author argues that the inventions, achievements and discoveries of prehistoric times have all but been edited out of popular accounts of human history. The work investigates art, language, symbolic activity, writing, musical instruments, astronomy, mathematics, artifacts & tools, surgery & medicine, ceramic technology and mining. Rudgley provides convincing evidence that the current division between history & prehistory is artificial and faulty.

He describes how Stone Age explorers discovered all the world's land masses, presents strong evidence for writing before 5000 BC and for mathematical, medical and astronomical science as well as tool-making and mining long before the Sumerians. Much evidence of sophisticated cultures exists from the Neolithic (about 10 000 years ago), in Europe, the Near East & Japan. Tracing the human story from the cusp of history back to the earliest known artifacts, he shows that the making of rugs, dental drilling, mining, pyrotechnology and accountancy among others, were all known in this period.

But not only that - the other "ideological wall" placed at about 40 000 BC is also being shown up to be highly dubious as many anomalous cases of earlier symbolic and artistic activities are coming to light. I found chapters 2 - 5, on language & writing, of particular interest as it deals with the work of inter alia Colin Renfrew, Dolgopolsky, Greenberg, Ruhlen & Starostin, including macrofamilies like Eurasiatic, Nostratic, Dene-Sino-Caucasian and the search for the mother tongue Proto-Human or Proto-World.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Foggers on 20 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well put together read, which commences with a stimulating consideration about just what we mean by "civilisation". Rudgley illustrates these initial points with reference to the grave robbing habits of so-called scientists of the West, and reminds us that human remains are still being held in prestigious centres of learning around the world - though some campaigns by indigenous peoples have seen these being returned.

The book draws on a range of disciplines, such as anthropology, archeology, medicine (a stunning account of trepanning; the practice of making a hole in the skull, with evidence of good survival rates) technologies, (drilling and mining) linguistics and maths.

Some of his material is quite densely written and needs careful consideration to follow his arguments, and as other reviewers have said, some his assertions (e.g. about writing) are less well argued. However, overall he offers a compelling range of evidence that dismantles some of the long held ideas about the human race, and the concept of civilisation, what is is and when it "started".

To summarise, if you are a person with huge curiosity about our ancestors and you have always doubted that "civilisation" just suddenly sprang into being with the start of the Egyptian dynasty, this book is a highly informative, extensively illustrated and stimulating read. Great fodder for brain.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 April 1999
Format: Hardcover
Rudgley's book is fine until it, without real justification or analysis, adopts the premise that vaious markings found amongst archaeological sites in Europe predating 3500BC constitute writing. No indepth analysis is propounded to support this. The contention is simply not justified in the way it needs to be, and the practice is very disappointing for a purportedly good book on the subject of stone age cultures. For me, Rudgley's credibility was undermined at this point. Surely we can appreciate the sophistication of stone age cultures, in any case, without having to believe that they had writing? To rely so strongly on that contention for his argument that stone age cultures deserve more respect and recognition than they have received is to, unfortunately, risk weakening it in my view.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 May 1999
Format: Hardcover
I remember with pain my introduction in Grade School to Geography. My readings since then have given me much pleasure to learn of wider horizons. The more I learned the more I became convinced that Homo-Sapiens-Sapiens (as we now call them) didn't acquire intelligence in 4000 BC. Curiosity it seems to me (and as someone said "playfulness")is a characteristic of H-S-S. The FoxFire books of the American Apalachians showing the engenuity of people in a primitive environment was not a sudden flower- ing any more than that intelligance suddenly appeared 6000 years ago. It appears now that we may begin getting a more even consideration of the real beginnings of "Civilization".
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Iset TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 7 Mar 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll keep this short and concise, in contrast to this book which, although slimline, made for a surprisingly laborious slog of a read. Why was the book laborious? Well, although Rudgley presents plenty of interesting raw data about Stone Age evidence for technologies and inventions usually accredited to the rise of urban settlement (writing, art, ceramics, medicine etc.), he also frequently deviates from the main topic on lengthy tangents in which he pits the aforementioned evidence against a perceived conservative majority view in denial of it. Except that such outmoded conservatism hasn't been prevalent or generally widespread in the academic community for some decades, so Rudgley's essentially knocking down a straw man. There were occasions when on one page Rudgley would write about the many eminent established archaeologists uncovering new evidence and presenting new interpretations that support his arguments, and then on the very next page he would once again be talking about a stuck-in-the-mud majority again. I must confess that, by the time I hit the halfway mark in this book, I had taken to skimming over the parts where Rudgley went off on these tangents, and just intensively reading the actual information and data presented and making up my own mind, which actually tends to support Rudgley's hypotheses for early origins of "civilised" traits, but Rudgley's constant argument against an opposing view that really isn't there, or at least exists only on the fringe of the academic community, left a slightly sour taste in the mouth.
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