11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great ideas, mixed execution,
This review is from: Inside the Neolithic Mind: Consciousness, Cosmos and the Realm of the Gods (Hardcover)Before I begin, let me make my bias explicit. I took a masters in Archaeology focusing on psychedelic art in prehistory. In that respect, David Lewis-Williams is one of my heroes and it seems like a no-brainer that the core theories underpinning this book are valid. I don't think you'll need the same kind of academic background as me to understand this book, although a dictionary will definitely be handy in places (I had to look up at least one word every chapter!). Now that's out the way, let me do the review.
Inside the Neolithic Mind sets out on a bold premise: that similarities in religions can be explained by the physical wiring of the human mind. It presents a clear and well articulated explanation of the fundamental structure of religion and a compelling argument for the art of megalithic Europe being derived from altered states of consciousness.
However, Inside the Neolithic Mind ultimately fails to deliver on all its goals. The authors have tried to come up with a theory that can be applied to every society. The problem is its broad application is hampered by lack of evidence. If every unexplained archaeological discovery can be interpreted in the light of altered states of consciousness, how exactly are we supposed to know when we are interpreting it correctly? The authors are silent on this question. It relegates much of the book (particularly the parts dealing with the origins of farming in the near east) to a `nice story' rather than a `compelling argument.' But I'd still implore you to read this book. Every archaeologist, historian, anthropologist and anyone with religious beliefs of any kind, should be aware of what makes us tick.