Becoming Human: Innovation in Prehistoric Material and Spiritual Culture

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Overview

The Upper Palaeolithic era of Europe has left an abundance of evidence for symbolic activities, such as direct representations of animals and other features of the natural world, personal adornments, and elaborate burials, as well as other vestiges that are more abstract and cryptic. These behaviours are also exhibited by populations throughout the world, from the prehistoric period through to the present day. How can we interpret these activities? What do they tell us about the beliefs and priorities of the people who carried them out? How do these behaviours relate to ideologies, cosmology, and understanding of the world? What can they tell us about the emergence of ritual and religious thought? And how do the activities of humans in prehistoric Europe compare with those of their predecessors there and elsewhere? In this volume, fifteen internationally renowned scholars contribute essays that explore the relationship between symbolism, spirituality, and humanity in the prehistoric societies of Europe and traditional societies elsewhere. The volume is richly illustrated with 50 halftones and 24 color plates.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a collection of well-written, thoughtful and thought-provoking papers with many good references for students and researchers to follow up." -Natalie T. Uomini, PaleoAnthropology
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521734660
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Colin Renfrew (Professor Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn) is Emeritus Disney Professor and Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at Cambridge University. He is the author and editor of a large number of publications, including Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice, with Paul Bahn, which is one of the standard textbooks on the subject.

Iain Morley is Research Fellow of Darwin College and Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at Cambridge University. The author of numerous articles in academic journals and books, he is also co-editor, with Colin Renfrew, of Image and Imagination: A Global Prehistory of Figurative Representation.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction Colin Renfrew; 2. Prologue: the emergence of symbolic thought: the principal steps of hominisation leading towards greater complexity Henry de Lumley; Part I. African Origins, European Beginnings and World Prehistory: 3. The origins of symbolism, spirituality & shamans? Exploring Middle Stone Age material culture in South Africa Christopher Henshilwood; 4. Neanderthal symbolic behaviour? Jane Renfrew; 5. Identifying ancient religious thought and iconography: problems of definition, preservation and interpretation Paul Taçon; 6. Situating the creative explosion: universal or local? Colin Renfrew; Part II. Approaches to 'Art and Religion': 7. The roots of art and religion in ancient material culture Merlin Donald; 8. The archaeology of early religious practices: a plea for a hypothesis-testing approach Francesco d'Errico; 9. Out of the mind: material culture and the supernatural Steven Mithen; 10. Of people and pictures: the nexus of Upper Palaeolithic religion, social discrimination and art David Lewis-Williams; 11. Music and ritual - parallels and practice, and the Upper Palaeolithic Iain Morley; Part III. The European Experience: 12. Materiality and meaning-making in the understanding of the Palaeolithic 'arts' Margaret Conkey; 13. Sticking bones into cracks in the Upper Palaeolithic Jean Clottes; 14. Cognition and climate: why is Upper Palaeolithic cave art almost confined to the Franco-Cantabrian region? Paul Mellars; Part IV. Reflections on the Origins of Spirituality: 15. Interdisciplinary perspectives on human origins and religious awareness Wentzel Van Huyssteen; 16. Innovation in material and spiritual culture: exploring conjectured relationships Keith Ward.
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