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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The unknown past, 29 Dec 2008
This review is from: Lost Civilisations Of The Stone Age: A Journey Back to Our Cultural Origins (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.

I would like to refer interested readers to the books of long-range linguists like Dr. Joseph Greenberg (Language in the Americas, The Eurasiatic Language Family), Merritt Ruhlen (On the Origin of Languages: Studies In Linguistic Taxonomy), Alan Bomhard (Indo-European and the Nostratic Hypothesis) & Sprung From Some Common Source edited by Sydney M. Lamb.

A widespread token system was used over a vast area for accounting purposes, starting in 8000 BC. A series of signs on objects discovered In the Balkans that predate Sumerian writing suggest there was an Old European Alphabet. At least 50 signs are common to it and Cretan Linear A. Rudgley often refers to the work of Marija Gimbutas - sometimes questioning her conclusions - in exploring the origins of script-like symbols in Europe. Various investigators of the cave art of the Upper Paleolithic, like Forbes & Crowder, Lartet, Jones, Piette and Viré, regarded certain symbols as examples of writing. There are similarities between sign inventories from the Ice Age to historical times & from China to Spain.

Lost Civilisations Of The Stone Age is lavishly illustrated with figures, plates and a map of language families, and there's an extensive bibliography, lists of plates & figures and index where page numbers for illustrations are indicated by italics. This well-researched, well-written book perhaps occasionally provides too much technical detail for the casual reader but always remains thought-provoking. Books of interest that deal with related matters are Stone Age Soundtracks by Paul Devereux, Civilization One by Christopher Knight and Europe's Lost Civilization by Peter Marshall.
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