on 27 September 2012
What chance is there that the current picture of prehistory is true? The current orthodoxies are backed by so little evidence that the door has been left wide open for all kinds of fruitcakes with their theories of ancient astronauts, great goddesses and crystal skulls. Harper and Vered are not fruitcakes. What they have done is look again at the evidence from geology, biology and folklore, and come up with new and imaginative ideas about the behaviour of our ancestors.
Don't buy it expecting a dry academic tome with footnotes and bibliography. Let's leave that for the scholarly edition in twenty years' time. Instead it's a breathless and entertaining charge through the ranks of orthodoxy. I'm not saying it's all true - that would be statistically very unlikely - but if even 10% of their brilliant new ideas were correct this book is destined for classic status.
on 20 November 2012
Some traditional archeologists (TA) will hate this book. Why? Because TAs tend to have an obsession with death, priests and war, and anything they find that is not recognisable is called a Religious Artifact. In fact, there is an ever-mounting body of evidence to show that in many respects megalithic life was not that different from ours. i.e. while we hear stories of death and war, 99% of us are peacefully engaged in getting on with life and our jobs.
Megalithic jobs meant agriculture, farming, industry and trade. Trade was the thread that ties the whole of megalithic life together, and that trading network was spread over thousands of miles of Europe, by land and by sea. The British Isles was a home for industry even 5,000 years ago, as people came from all over Europe for highly valuable metals like tin, copper, silver and gold, which were mined and refined here before being exported in exchange for other trade goods. Stories of this megalithic culture became legend as far away as Greece and Egypt.
The authors of Megalithic Empire have done a great job of turning the TAs perspective on its head in a highly informative and entertaining way, with an emphasis on how people found their way around in an area before printed maps as we know them.
on 2 December 2015
I enjoyed Harper's previous book "the history of Britain revealed" a great deal as it met head on the dark age and "Celtic" myths of our history. It may have been over the top a bit but it concentrated on asking questions and raising hypothosis, which when read alongside Laycock and Oppenheimer created a picture of a very different British origin.
However this book asserts. Interesting questions are asked such as how did traders find there way about before maps and before a literate society but are then followed up with weird assertions backed by no evidence. It didn't help that ley lines make their (unwanted) appearance at the start of the book, or that it works its way to a bizarre climax insisting that ridgeways are the product of terraforming and pigeons don't fly away in town centres because thousands of years ago people bread them.
It would not have taken much effort to produce some evidence, for instance the assertion that cup and ring marked rocks displayed your position relative to major routes could have been accompanied by a map showing the distribution of these rocks and a suggestion of possible routes affected.
Another, that standing stones were mass produced in Brittany and exported to Britain would merely require an analysis of available rock types available in a locality and what was actually used locally !
So in summary a load of hogwash, perhaps even worse than Cunnliffe's Celtic from the West tosh; don't waste your money.