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The Memory Code: Unlocking the Secrets of the Lives of the Ancients and the Power of the Human Mind Hardcover – 2 Feb 2017

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (2 Feb. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782399054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782399056
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.2 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Dr Kelly has developed an intriguing and highly original account of the purpose of Stonehenge, Avebury and other stone monuments; the depth and breadth of her research, and the experimental experience she has brought to her study, command respect and invite serious attention. -- Ros Cleal, author of STONEHENGE IN ITS LANDSCAPE This is an exquisite thesis. Dr Lynne Kelly provides a perfectly rational explanation of ancient monuments as "memory spaces" where non-literate man could memorise pragmatic knowledge crucial to survival. -- Dominic O'Brien, World Memory Champion Takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the past and around the world... An engaging and exciting read. -- Iain Davidson, Emeritus Professor, University of New England

Book Description

This ground-breaking new book reveals the powerful ancient memory technique that solves the mystery behind monuments like Stonehenge, which have for so long puzzled archaeologists.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I discovered this book a few days ago when YouTube recommended a video in which the author, Lynne Kelly, gave an hour or so lecture based on it. It is a popularisation of her PhD thesis. I was so impressed by the lecture that I downloaded the Kindle edition of the book straight away.

An Australian, Kelly argues that, based on the evidence of Australian aboriginals, along with other ethnographic evidence, pre-literate societies worldwide must have had a huge amount of detailed factual knowledge regarding their environment: its fauna and flora and their uses, its geography and also something of its history. This knowledge was carried in the heads of the elders, who were dedicated to its accurate preservation and to its transmission to their successors.

The colossal amount of memorisation involved was possible because the information was cast in ways that were best suited to the human mind: encoded in songs, stories, dances etc. Memorisation was further helped by an association technique that linked particular items of knowledge with particular places and objects. Similar methods are used by memory champions today.

One implication of this idea is that the knowledge of elders gave them power, meaning that early societies were not egalitarian. Another is that a lot of what academics have understood as being religious in nature in early societies was primarily about remembering essential information; likewise those artefacts that have been seen as early art.

Over half the book is concerned with the idea that some of the best known prehistoric monuments, starting with Stonehenge, were basically concerned with the remembering of factual knowledge in general: during the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lynne Kelly's meticulous work and breakthrough ideas are right now showing themselves to be very valid indeed, with the recently publicised findings at Gobeki Tepe. This is incredibly well researched and I must say, a very rewarding read. Five stars.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though I am still reading this book I am impresses by its depth. Much, much to think about here.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this author's previous book "Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory and the Transmission of Culture" with much interest and excitement, though prehistory is not my field (disclosure: Roman history and archaeology for me, and I am a librarian so I have a special interest in the storage of and access to knowledge) Kelly's new suggestions for pragmatic uses of monuments like Stonehenge, rock art and sacred objects of the Yolngu of northern Australia, and the sites of Poverty Point and Chaco Canyon in the US are well-researched, well-argued and well-supported. I direct anyone interested to the excellent reviews of it by Dr William Hall or Tony Smith on this site. This book though is written for the academic or scholarly reader - to propose her hypothesis and open it for further testing, discussion and application to even more sites and objects currently seen as 'mysterious' or 'enigmatic'. 'The Memory Code' is an excellent introduction to this new field of study for the general reader interested in human prehistory or archaeology or anthropology. I read it with just as much interest, and with as much reward, as I found reading 'Knowledge and Power'. It will reveal with the same scholarly insight, but with fewer footnotes, fascinating information about the ways in which oral societies store the knowledge that is vital to their survival. In oral cultures, knowledge is power and the keepers of knowledge are powerful. In Indigenous cultures, around the world. the deepest levels of knowledge are held and then passed on, by elders who received it in the same ways themselves. By learning the star maps, and the songlines and the patterns on sacred objects our remote ancestors also encoded the vast knowledge necessary to survive in their world - the stuff we now access in books or on the internet. I heartily recommend it to general readers willing to engage with their subject. When you've finished it - consider reading its big sibling!
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