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Highly Recommended Reading
2008 Apr 02

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'After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000 - 5,000 BC'
by Steven Mithen


After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000 - 5,000 BC

Drawing on the latest research in archaeology, human genetics, and environmental science, 'After the Ice' takes the reader on a sweeping tour of 15,000 years of human history. If you have enjoyed the Bradshaw Foundation's 'Journey of Mankind' Genetic Map, this is a 'must read'.

Steven Mithen brings this world to life through the eyes of an imaginery modern traveller - John Lubbock, namesake of the great Victorian polymath and author of 'Prehistoric Times'. With Lubbock, readers visit and observe communities and landscapes, experiencing prehistoric life - from aboriginal hunting parties in Tasmania, to the corralling of wild sheep in the central Sahara, to the efforts of the Guila Naquitz people in Oaxaca to combat drought with agricultural innovations.

The 'Lubbock' device is clever. With a guide, you can hear the voices, smell the fires. You experience rather than simply read. It reminded me strongly of being led by a very worthy guide - Dr Jean Clottes - through Chauvet Cave in 2005.

The other clever, and poignant, aspect of this book is that Mithen explores how studying the abrupt transition between the ice age and a period of global warming could provide clues to the effects of climate changes going on today.

Nina Jablonski states that 'by the end of this rich and multilayered book, I was dazzled and hungry for more. Mithen has succeeded where other archaeologists have failed: he transports the reader back into the past, showing evocatively how humans adapted to 15,000 years worth of environmental change.' And as Lawrence Guy Straus points out, the book 'evokes the real excitement of doing Stone Age archaeology - from the digging to the debating the meaning of the finds.'

Steven Mithen is Professor of Early Prehistory and Head of the School of Human & Environmental Sciences at the University of Reading.

'After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000 - 5,000 BC'
by Steven Mithen
Originally published: London: Weidenfed & Nicolson, 2003
ISBN 0-674-01999-7 [pbk.]

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