Before California : An Archaeologist Looks at Our Earliest Inhabitants / Edition 15

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Overview

Before California is the first comprehensive look at the history of the Golden State prior to the arrival of European settlers. Written by America's best known archaeological trade and textbook author, the book describes the process of settlement of the Pacific Coast by Paleo-Indians and the environmental and human transformations of the next 13,000 years, emphasizing themes of adaptation, interconnectedness, and spirituality. More than a rehashing of received wisdom, Fagan explores the controversies surrounding the first human settlement, then describes the first peoples to colonize the Pacific coast and offshore islands, their watercraft and fishing practices. The transformation from a gathering economy to acorn processing and hunting is highlighted, as is the increasing social complexity, gender differentiation, and intensification of intergroup conflict and trade. Individual chapters describe distinctive societies in widely contrasting environments—northwest salmon fishers, Bay area shell mound communities, Central Valley wetland villagers, desert foragers, and the sophisticated coastal societies of the Channel Islands region. Fagan also devotes a chapter to California's rock art, melding his description with wider cultural events. Calling upon a century of archaeological research, Fagan provides an jargon-free, well-illustrated account accessible to the general public interested in the early history and indigenous peoples of the state. Before California also makes an ideal textbook for courses in California history, archaeology, and native peoples.
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Editorial Reviews

American Archaeology
Famed archaeologist Brian Fagan has produced a captivating and readable account of the first 12,000 years of California history....Students of California history will find Before California a welcome addition to the history of the Golden State.
San Francisco Chronicle
In his fascinating, even topical new look at the archaeology of California, UC Santa Barbara anthropology professor Brian Fagan gets on our good side from the outset. He knows that most general readers will probably approach his book out of interest in California, rather than in archaeology. Wisely then, Before California takes early and frequent pains to reassure us that Fagan has far more than potsherds and milling stones on his mind. Right from the beginning, the tone is smart and layman-friendly, with parallels to modern California neither forced nor ignored.
Oxbow Book News
This sweeping history of early California, which covers almost 13,000 years of settlement and colonisation, is written with the widest possible readership in mind and, as such, it avoids jargon and more specialized fields...The result is an intelligent and well-presented archaeological assesment of the evidence for California's environment and peoples through the millennia.
Archaeology Odyssey
Using artifacts, anthropological studies and tree-ringing sequences, archaeologist Brian Fagan explains the changing gender roles, climactic shifts and trading patterns that shaped the lives of the Golden State's first inhabitants.
California Coast and Ocean
In this highly readable and enlightening book, archaeologist Brian Fagan bridges the gulf that separates today's Californian's from their predecessors....Anyone who wants to understand California needs to read this book. Fagan is an eminent scholar, and he did not sacrifice scientific knowledge for the sake of readability. Instead, he has asked big questions, then cut through the arcane to tell us, broadly, what is known, what can be surmised, and what is still being debated. It's all woven into a story that makes history come alive.
— RG
The California Territorial Quarterly
This is a detailed, very solid, overview of California Arcaeology, with scads of illustration and all of the bells and whistles of scholarship—ends-notes, bibliography, index.
CHOICE
Fagan explains dramatic changes in regional culures and populations while also recognizing their continuity and intensive interaction...Authoritative and written in a narrative style, the book is often enhanced with vivid scenarios based on material evidence and reasonable speculation...Highly recommended.
— K.A. Dixon (emeritus), California State University, Long Beach
Choice
Fagan explains dramatic changes in regional culures and populations while also recognizing their continuity and intensive interaction...Authoritative and written in a narrative style, the book is often enhanced with vivid scenarios based on material evidence and reasonable speculation...Highly recommended.
— K.A. Dixon (emeritus), California State University, Long Beach
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 23, 2003 - Donald Johanson
Brian Fagan is one of those rare scholars who has made a determined and successful effort to bring the excitement of archaeology to the public. A widely respected archaeologist and author of some 30 books, he provides us, in Before California, with a tour of the Golden State long before the decimation of its native peoples began in the 18th and 19th centuries. Combining his far-reaching knowledge of archaeology with a unique ability to synthesize information from diverse fields, Fagan presesnts an informative rendering of California's past...Before California is crammed with fascinating archaeological details, but rather than simply recounting 'the facts,' Fagan successfully intertwines [the] main threads that serve to organize this wide-ranging foray onto California's past.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online, Oct. 2003 - Terri Castaneda
The first comprehensive guide to California archaeology and prehistory designed for a general audience... few authors have undertaken such a monumental book project...for more than a quarter century [Fagan] has been doing the difficult and under-appreciated work of translating often turgid and inaccessible scholarship into highly readable books that recruit undergraduate majors to the discipline in droves and bolster public support for archaeological research and preservation...he brings his readers along as equals, on what is clearly his own voyage of discovery...Before California is a welcome addition to the popular literature on California history and culture. It fills an obvious gap on the shelves of public libraries, bookstores, secondary schools and museum gift shops.
Rock Art Research, Vol. 20, No. 2, 2003 - Professor Walter J. Bowyer
In his most recent book, Before California, Brian Fagan offers an entertaining synopsis of California's archaeology that highlights creative human adaptation to an ever-changing environment...[Fagan is] well qualified to write the first book-length synopsis of California archaeology in almost twenty years. Thus, Before California fills a lacuna in the literature, and Fagan's entertaining style will appeal to many...he enjoys telling stories and he does it well...Before California binds together an interesting array of facts with narratives that emphasise 'the flexible ingenuity' by which ancient Californians adapted to 'harsh, never predictable environments.' To scholars, it offers an up-to-date synopsis of California's archaeology in a single package...appropriate for modern Californians interested in a readable synopsis of their state's archaeology.
California Coast & Ocean - RG
In this highly readable and enlightening book, archaeologist Brian Fagan bridges the gulf that separates today's Californian's from their predecessors....Anyone who wants to understand California needs to read this book. Fagan is an eminent scholar, and he did not sacrifice scientific knowledge for the sake of readability. Instead, he has asked big questions, then cut through the arcane to tell us, broadly, what is known, what can be surmised, and what is still being debated. It's all woven into a story that makes history come alive.
CHOICE - K.A. Dixon (emeritus)
Fagan explains dramatic changes in regional culures and populations while also recognizing their continuity and intensive interaction...Authoritative and written in a narrative style, the book is often enhanced with vivid scenarios based on material evidence and reasonable speculation...Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759103740
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 15
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,011,475
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Fagan is the best-known popular writer on archaeology in the United States, author of two dozen books and several leading textbooks in archaeology. He is professor of anthropology at University of California, Santa Barbara.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 The Archaeologist's Tale Chapter 2 A Stream of Time (Before 12,000 BC to AD 1542) Part 3 Beginnings (Before 11,200 to c. 2,500 BC) Chapter 4 First Footprints (Before 11,200 BC to c. 9,000 BC) Chapter 5 The First Coastal Settlement (11,000 to 6,500 BC) Chapter 6 The Mainland: A World of Milling Stones (9,500 to 2,500 BC) Chapter 7 The Dolphin Hunters (c. 6,500 to 2,500 BC) Part 8 The Web of Interconnectedness (c. 2,500 to 1,500 BC) Chapter 9 A Changing World (c. 2,500 to 1,500 BC) Chapter 10 The Seductive Glass Chapter 11 The Realm of the Supernatural Chapter 12 Art on the Rocks Part 13 A Crowded World (c. 1,500 BC to AD 1542) Chapter 14 The Northwest: Dugouts and Salmon Chapter 15 San Francisco Bay: A Landscape of Mounds Chapter 16 Central Valley and Foothills Chapter 17 The South and Southeast: Coast, Hinterland, and Desert Chapter 18 Santa Barbara Channel: The World of the Tomol Chapter 19 Entrada Chapter 20 Notes and References
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