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4.3 out of 5 stars9
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 1 September 2008
If you have an interest on the origins of man and the early civilisations of Europe, then this book should already have a space on your shelf. Brilliantly edited by Barry Cunliffe, the one time professor of European Archaeology at Oxford; this book gives you an insight into the development of human society in Europe from 700,000 Years ago, up until the age of the Vikings.
In short, it is an amazing guide to several millennia of prehistory and early history. The book's chapters cover subjects such as:

1. The Peopling of Europe, 700,000-40,000 Years before the Present.
2. The Upper Palaeolithic Revolution.
3. The Mesolithic Age.
4. The First Farmers.
5. The Transformation of Early Agrarian Europe: The later Neolithic and Copper Ages, 4500-2500 BC.
6. The Palace Civilisations of Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece, 2000-1200 BC.
7. The Emergence of Elites: Earlier Bronze Age Europe, 2500-1300 BC.
8. The Collapse of Aegean Civilisation at the end of the Late Bronze Age.
9. Reformation in Barbarian Europe, 1300-600 BC.
10. Iron Age Societies in Western Europe and Beyond, 800-140 BC.
11. Thracians, Scythians, and Dacians, 800 BC-AD 300.
12. The Impact of Rome on Barbarian Society, 140 BC-AD 300.
13. Barbarian Europe, AD 300-700.

Each chapter is written by an expert on the subject, so we have Barry Cunliffe on Celtic culture, Andrew Sherratt on the Neolithic, and so on.
Because the chapters are often written by different authors, the book often varies in quality, as some sections are slightly better written than others. For instance I found the first chapter by Clive Gamble an interesting read, but I found a few others slightly dry and plodding. That said, the book makes up for this in the sheer wealth of information and facts it provides. The book has many maps, diagrams, charts and graphs, which helps explain the development of such things as tools, or the changes in European vegetation and enviroment.

The book's text is also accompanied by excellent photographs, both black and white and colour. These display photographs of archaeological sites or finds. They compliment the book very well.

Overall, this is a brilliant book, but it certainly isn't for absolute beginners, unless they are brave. The book does have it's downsides in that it can be difficult for the layperson at times. That said, a worthy read for those who'd like to know how civilisation first emerged in Western Europe.
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on 31 July 2003
I am currently studying Archaeology at University and this book was very helpful when researching information regarding prehistoic Europe. It is very detailed and informative and has many examples and case studies. It is an all round textbook but irrespective of this it would appeal to those who are simply interested in the history of Archaoelogy such as the Stone Age and studying the development of humans from homo erectus to modern day man. Its emphasis is on history rather than scientific methods and principle although there are naturally aspects of this as this is an inherent vital part in Archaeology.
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on 9 March 2011
Information about our ancestors always interest me.This book contains
a lot of information and is interesting and easy to understand and read.
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on 11 September 2012
There were fewer illustrations that I expected from an Illustrated History, but each chapter is written by an expert and gives a good overview. Doesn't go into enough depth for a degree course essay, but made a very good starting point and from an interest point of view, was very good.
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on 3 December 2012
Concise and precise overview written by outstanding scholars. As can be expected from Oxford University Press, a quality product suitable for graduate and post-graduate students no the discerned reader.
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on 1 August 2011
This is an attractive looking book with chapters on what interested me by good authorative writers.

However, I failed to spot when ordering that the book was first issued as a paperback in 1999 and then reissued in 2001. I can see no evidence of updating and all of the references and recommended books are from before this publication date.

An awful lot has happened in archaeology since then and this book does not reflect any of it.

If you were just interested in British early history I would recommend Timothy Darvill's "Prehistoric Britain".
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on 9 February 2014
Just outstanding, a magnificent work of scholarship but utterly accessible. A joy.
Just be warned, you get hooked and want to read the lot at once.
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on 9 August 2013
Shame it wasn't more nicely presented; and the text is a little dated - but good enough, as is what it claims to be. Colour would be nice.
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on 9 December 2015
perfect
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