Patterns in Prehistory: Humankind's First Three Million Years / Edition 5

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Patterns in Prehistory takes an in-depth look at humankind's first three million years. From the origins of early hominids several million years ago to the evolution of the first great states and civilizations, this comprehensive survey of world prehistory also confronts important philosophical issues about the study of the past. The author reflects on the archaeological methods and theories of the 1960s and 70s while reviewing the methodological revisions of the 80s and 90s, relating the archaeological data from hundreds of sites to the great questions of prehistorical change. He focuses on the four great transformations in the history of our genus: the evolution of "culture" itself; the first appearance of "us," Homo Sapiens; the evolution of agriculture; and the first appearances of cultural and social "complexity" in the form of the great civilizations of antiquity. Thoroughly revised and updated, this fourth edition incorporates the most recent archaeological discoveries and addresses the insights and limitations of the new wave of "post-processual" or "cognitive" archaeology.

The second edition of this comprehensive review of world prehistory is more compact and even easier to use.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Solid, well-written, up-to-date, authoritative....The overall control of the literature is excellent, and the theoretical perspective is one congenial to that of most American archaelogists. It will continue to set a standard matched by few of its rivals."--American Antiquity (on the previous edition)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195169287
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/2/2006
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 619,621
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Washington
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Table of Contents

Chapters 1-15 end with a Summary and Conclusions.
Chapter 1. Prehistory, History, and Archaeology
What Are Archaeologists Looking For? (The Meaning of the Past)
Archaeology as the Reconstruction of Extinct Cultures and Their Histories
Archaeology as a Body of Theories and Methods for Explaining the Past
A Short History of Attempts to Understand the Past
Chapter 2. Fundamentals of Archaeology
Archaeologists and the Practice of Archaeology
The Basic Data of the Past
Analyses of the Past
Dating the Past
Chapter 3. The Origins of Culture
The Problem of Cultural Origins
The Nature of Culture
The Ecological Context of Cultural Origins
Models of Cultural Origins
Chapter 4. The Origins of Homo sapiens sapiens
Human Evolution and Radiation: 1.8 million to Circa 300,000 Years Ago
Homo sapiens: Models of Origins
The Middle to Upper Paleolithic Period
Human Colonization of the World: Circa 30,000-10,000 Years Ago
Chapter 5. The First Americans
Routes for the Initial Colonization of the Americas
Evidence for the First Americans
Early Paleoindian Economies
Chapter 6. The Origins of Agriculture
Agriculture, Domestication, and Sedentary Communities
Hypotheses About the Origins of Domestication, Agriculture, and Sedentary Communities
Early Domestication and Agriculture: The Post-Paleolithic Background
The Origins of Domestication, Agriculture, and Sedentary Communities in Southwest Asia
Other Old World Domesticates
Agricultural Origins in the New World
Chapter 7. The Evolution of Complex Societies
Social Complexity and Human Values
Traditional Sociocultural Typologies
Contemporary Approaches to Sociocultural Typology
The Archaeology of Complex Societies
Explaining the Evolution of Civilizations: The Search for Causes
Chapter 8. Origins of Complex Societies in Southwest Asia
The Ecological Setting
Fundamentals of the Southwest Asian Archaeological Record
The Neolithic Origins of Southwest Asian Civilization
Initial Cultural Complexity
Early States: The Uruk and Jemdet Nasr Periods
The Early Dynastic Period
Southwest Asia After 2350 B.C.
Chapter 9. The Origins of Complex Societies in Egypt
The Ecological Setting
Early Egyptian Agriculture
The Predynastic Period
The Archaic, Old Kingdom, and First Intermediate Periods
The Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Periods
The New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Periods
Ancient Egyptian Art and Thought
Egyptian Writing and Literature
Who Were the Ancient Egyptians?
Chapter 10. The Evolution of Complex Societies in the Indus Valley
The Ecological Setting
The Neolithic Background to South Asian Cultural Complexity
The Neolithic-Urban Transition
Early Harappan Culture
Mature Harappan Civilization
The Decline of Harappan Civilization
Chapter 11. The Evolution of Complex Societies in China
The Ecological Setting
Early Farmers
Regional Neolithic Developments in North China
Early Complex Chinese Societies
Erh-li-t'ou Culture
Shang Civilization and Its Contemporaries
Early Imperial China
Chapter 12. Later Complex Societies of the Old World
Temperate Europe
A Brief Overview of Other Later Old World Complex Societies
Colonization of the Western Pacific Islands
Chapter 13. The Evolution of Complex Societies in Mesoamerica
The Ecological Setting
Early Mesoamerican Farming
The Archaeological Record of Early Complex Mesoamerican Societies
The Archaeological Record of Mesoamerican States in the Valleys of Mexico and Oaxaca
The Maya
Postclassic Mesoamerica
The Spanish Conquest
Chapter 14. The Evolution of Complex Societies in Andean South America
The Ecological Setting
Early Hunters and Gatherers
The Agricultural Basis of Andean Civilization
The First Complex Societies in Andean South America
The Early Horizon
The Early Intermediate Period: Early States
The Middle Horizon: Competing States
The Late Intermediate Period: Early Empires
The Late Horizon: The Imperial Transformation
The European Conquest
Chapter 15. Early Cultural Complexity in North America
The Ecological Setting
The North American East
The North American Southwest
Chapter 16. Prehistory in Perspective
Our Intellectual Heritage
Lessons of Prehistory
The Future of Archaeology
Art Credits

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