9780674892033 / 0674892038

Timewalkers The Prehistory of Global Colonization


Publisher:Harvard University Press



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About the book:

The notion of progress still bedevils our conception of prehistory, with human evolution persistently seen as a movement from inferior to superior, primitive to advanced, simple to complex. Timewalkers extricates prehistory from the myths and distortions created by this view of the past. By focusing on changes in behavior and stressing the deliberate human purpose our ancestors displayed in their migrations, Clive Gamble produces a fresh and frankly provocative synthesis of the archaeology of the last three million years. This new approach to human prehistory proceeds from a detailed study of global colonization rather than a conventional reassessment of fossil remains and stone tools. Gamble reconsiders the remarkable record of geographical expansion that began with the early hominids of sub-Saharan Africa who spread to new continents, to the marginal environments of desert and taiga, and to islands in the oceans and the Mediterranean. Through this astonishing dispersal of humans, which exceeds that of all other mammals, he traces calculated responses to variations in climate and environment. As he interprets these migrations in terms of behavioral change in a social and ecological context, Gamble offers a revealing critique of the attitudes of early European explorers, on which so much of nineteenth- and twentieth-century archaeology unquestioningly rested. Timewalkers makes the latest findings of prehistoric archaeology accessible in a readable, coherent form. Gamble's novel reinterpretation of this evidence, presented with wit and authority, enlarges and enlivens our understanding of human action and motivation in the distant past.

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