The Past in Perspective: An Introduction to Human Prehistory / Edition 4

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Ideal for Introduction to Archaeology and World Prehistory courses, and geared toward students with little-to-no previous coursework in the subject area, The Past in Perspective, Fourth Edition is an engaging, up-to-date, chronological introduction to human prehistory. Written in a conversational, appealing tone, Kenneth L. Feder introduces students to "the big picture"--the grand sweep of human evolutionary history, presenting the human past within the context of a series of fundamental themes of cultural evolution. His is a captivatingly written narrative of the trajectories of human development--and of the fascinating processes employed to reveal those trajectories.
The Past in Perspective distinguishes itself with a series of common headings across its chapters that help students to master the complex story of the human past. Each chapter includes the following headings: Prelude, Chronicle, Issues and Debates, Case Study Close-up, Visiting the Past, Summary, and To Learn More. These sections work together to paint a picture of human antiquity in vivid detail. Each chapter also includes a timeline of events and a listing of archaeological sites mentioned in the text.
This text is supplemented by a companion website (, which includes student resources (chapter summaries, multiple choice quizzes, glossaries, and flashcards), as well as instructor resources (PowerPoint slides and links to professional resources). The latter is also available on an Instructor's CD, along with an Instructor's Manual, which includes a Word-based test bank.
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Editorial Reviews

This accessible introduction to the human prehistoric past focuses on major themes of the human story, such as toolmaking and the impact of social complexity. Begins with the evolution of early hominids, traces the evolution of the modern human species, and follows paths humans took in the development of complex civilizations. Learning features include chapter overviews and opening anecdotes, boxes on unresolved issues and debates, and case studies of archaeological sites. Includes b&w and some color photos of sites and artifacts. The second edition places more emphasis on post-Pleistocene societies. The author is associated with Central Connecticut State University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195394306
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/17/2009
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 720
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth L. Feder is Professor of Anthropology at Central Connecticut State University. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Linking to the Past: A Brief Introduction to Archaeology, Second Edition (OUP, 2007); Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology (2010); and Human Antiquity: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology and Archaeology (2006).

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Encountering the Past
Chapter Overview Prelude A foreign country An anthropological perspective An ancient world
The Age of the Earth
A wreck of a world
Noah's Flood
Equable and steady change Ancient humans?
The Implications of Frere's Discovery
More Stone Tools . . . and Bones The slow agency of existing causes Ancient humans revisited
Cultures Ancient and Changing
Charles Darwin and the antiquity of life An evolutionary philosophy
The Mutability of Species
The origin of species
Human Evolution
The Human Factor Cultures evolving Our modern view Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 2: Probing the Past
Chapter Overview Prelude Epistemology: how we know what we know
The "Science" in the Study of the Past
Paleoanthropological and archaeological sites
How Sites Are Formed
How Sites Are Preserved How Sites Are Found How Information Is Recovered Analyzing archaeological data
How Artifacts Are Analyzed
How Ecofacts Are Analyzed How Human and Prehuman Skeletal Remains Are Analyzed Determining the age of a site or specimen
Dating Techniques Based on Radioactive Decay
Dating Techniques Based on Biology Dating Techniques Based on Radiation Damage Dating by Measuring Chemical Processes Dating by Measuring Paleomagnetism Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 3: African Roots
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle Miocene preface
Fossil Apes of the Miocene
Why the Study of Apes Is Relevant to the Study of Humanity What Happened to the Apes at the End of the Miocene?
The Irony of Extinction The first hominids
Late Miocene Hominids
The Genus Australopithecus Australopithecus afarensis A fork in the hominid road A forest of hominids A different path--homo habilis
The Ability to Make Stone Tools
Oldowan Technology The Fate of Homo habilis Issues and debates What were the first steps in hominid evolution?
How do we know the hominids were upright?
Is there other evidence for bipedality?
Why bipedalism?
The Upright Provider
The Upright Scavenger The Efficient Walker The Endurance Runner Were the early hominids hunters?
Where did the idea for stone tools come from?
What do we know about the early hominid brain?
What caused the proliferation of hominid species?
Rates of change in evolution Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 4: The Human Lineage
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle
Homo erectus
The Evolutionary Position of Homo erectus Hominids conquer the world
East Asia
Who Was the Hobbit?
Homo erectus: Ocean Explorer?
China Europe The age of ice
The Oxygen Isotope Curve
Homo erectus: the toolmaker Subsistence Issues and debates Did the pleistocene cause the evolution of homo erectus?
What enabled the geographic expansion of homo erectus?
Control of Fire The "art" of making tools The mystery of the missing handaxes Raising homo erectus
When did homo erectus become extinct?
Stability or change?
Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 5: The First Humans: The Evolution of Homo sapiens
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle Premodern humans: Fossil evidence
Asia Europe Premodern humans: Cultural evidence The neandertals
Morphological Evidence
Fossil Evidence Neandertal culture
Stone Tools
Subsistence Compassion Symbolic Expression Burial of the Dead Anatomically modern homo sapiens
An African Source
Explaining the evolution of us The replacement model The multiregional model A middle ground Issues and debates Replacement or continuity?
What We Would Expect on the Basis of the Replacement Model
What We Would Expect on the Basis of the Multiregional Model What We Would Expect on the Basis of the Middle Ground Testing the Implications of Replacement and Continuity Replacement or Continuity?
Why were the neandertals replaced?
Neandertal nation
Could Neandertals Talk?
Did Neandertals Worship Cave Bears?
Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 6: Expanding Intellectual Horizons: Art and Ideas in the Upper Paleolithic
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle An intellectual great leap forward: The late stone age and upper paleolithic
Blade Technology
Broadening the Subsistence Base Larger Sites of Aggregation Branching Out in Raw Materials Abundance of Nonutilitarian Objects Use of Exotic Raw Materials More Elaborate Burials Production of Art A revolution of intellect: The meaning of upper paleolithic art
The Earliest Art: Australia and Africa
Upper Paleolithic Art in Europe Figurines Issues and debates Is there a gap between the evolution of anatomically modern humans and the development of modern intelligence?
What does the art of the upper paleolithic mean?
Was the paleolithic "a man's world"?
The importance of living long: The grandmother effect Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 7: Expanding Geographical Horizons: New Worlds
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle The settlement of greater australia
Paleogeography in the Western Pacific
The Road to Sahul The Discovery of Greater Australia The earliest occupation of greater Australia
The Archaeology of Sahul
Willandra Lakes The spread through Australia
The Australian Interior
Tasmania Greater Australia: A broad range of adaptations East into the pacific
A Pacific Islander "Age of Exploration"
Pacific Geography Pacific Archaeology Why the Pacific Islands Were Settled Coming to America The source of los indios
When did the first migrants arrive?
When Was Beringia Exposed and Open for Travel?
When Was Eastern Siberia First Inhabited?
What Is the Age of the Earliest New World Sites?
The first human settlement of america
One If by Land
Two If by Sea Alaska
Denali and Nenana
Clovis 290
Clovis Technology
The Clovis Advantage Clovis Subsistence First Skeletons Issues and debates What other kinds of data can contribute to solving the riddle of the first americans?
Linguistic Diversity
Genetic Diversity Could native americans really have come from europe instead of asia?
Who--or what--killed the American and Australian megafauna?
Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 8: After the Ice: Cultural Change in the Post-Pleistocene
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle Europe
Mesolithic Subsistence Patterns
Diversity and Regionalization Trade in the European Mesolithic Innovation in the Mesolithic North america
Regionalism in the New World Archaic
Koster: Emblem of the Archaic A Diverse Set of Adaptations Asia Australia South america Africa Issues and debates Was the mesolithic only a "prelude"?
Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 9: The Food Producing Revolution
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle Humans taking the place of nature: artificial selection Why agriculture?
Environmental Change
Cultural Evolution Population Growth An Accident A Multitude of Reasons Archaeological evidence of human control of plant and animal species
Size Seed Morphology Osteological Changes Population Characteristics The Near East
Late Pleistocene Foragers in the Near East
The Origins of a Sedentary Life: The Natufian The First Agriculturalists A Model of the Shift to a Food-Producing Way of Life in Southwest Asia Mesoamerica
The First Agriculturalists in the New World
The Tehuacán Valley The Cultural Sequence at Tehuacán Primitive Maize-But Not the First Maize The Shift to Domesticated Foods Among the People of Tehuacán A Model of the Shift to a Food-Producing Way of Life in Mesoamerica Africa
Neolithic Culture Complexes in Africa
A Chronology of Food Production Neolithic Cultures South of the Sahara East Asia
Chronology of Food Production in China
Food Production in Southeast and Northeast Asia Europe
The Shift to Agriculture in Southeast Europe
The Shift to Agriculture in Southern Europe The Shift to Agriculture in Western Europe North America
Indigenous Domestication North of Mexico
The Appearance of Maize in the Eastern Woodlands The American Southwest South America
Three Regional Neolithics
Animal Domestication in South America Cotton Issues and debates How was domestication accomplished?
The Domestication of Wheat
From Teosinte to Maize Beans The Nature of Artificial Selection The remarkably modern cuisine of the ancient world Neolithic nutrition Was agriculture the "worst mistake in the history of the human race"?
Implications of the neolithic: The roots of social complexity Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 10: The Roots of Complexity: The Origins of Civilization
Chapter Overview Prelude The construction of stonehenge Imagining stonehenge Chronicle Simplicity and complexity
The Origins of Complexity
Why Complexity?
A revolution in subsistence, A revolution in society
A Neolithic Base for Big Men
From Big Men to Chiefs Complexity's earliest traces in the old world
Çatalhöyük Mesopotamia: Land Between the Rivers The Roots of Complexity in Southwest Asia Complexity's earliest traces in the new world
The Olmec
South America Issues and debates Is complexity inevitable?
Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 11: The Flowering of Civilization in the Old World: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Pakistan
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle The evolution of the state The character of civilization
Food Surplus
Large, Dense Populations Social Stratification A Formal Government Labor Specialization Record Keeping Monumental Works The geography of civilizations Mesopotamia
Accelerating Change: The Ubaid
The Role of Irrigation Power Invested in the Temple Mesopotamia's First Cities: The Uruk Period The Beginning of the Written Record Egypt of the pharaohs
The Egyptian Neolithic
Hierakonpolis First Writing First Pharaoh The Flowering of Egypt The Pyramid Age Oher Arican civilizations The Indus Valley civilization
Neolithic Cultures
Flood Control and Civilization in the Indus Valley Cultural Convergence Cities of the Indus The Indus Script
"A Peaceful Realm"
Issues and debates Why did state societies develop?
Conflict Models
Integration Models Many Paths to Civilization Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 12: The Flowering of Civilization in the Old World: China, Southeast Asia, and Crete
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle The civilization of ancient China
The Lung-shan Culture
Acceleration Toward Civilization The Shang Civilization Minoan Crete
The Rediscovery of Minoan Crete
Who Were the Minoans?
The Temple at Knossos The Eruption on Thera The Khmer kingdom
The Roots of Angkor
Funan Chenla The Khmer Angkor Wat Issues and debates Why were the elites of state societies so conspicuous in their consumption?
Was Minoan Crete Atlantis?
Case study close-up The terra-cotta army of the first emperor of the Qin dynasty Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 13: An Explosion of Complexity: New World: Mesoamerica
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle The maya
Maya Writings
Peak of the Maya Teotihuacán
Teotihuacán History
A Monumental City Residences of Teotihuacán's Citizens The Reach of Teotihuacán The Aztecs Issues and debates Why did the Maya collapse?
Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 14: An Explosion of Complexity: New World: South America
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle Moche Empires: Tiwanaku Empires: Wari Empires: Sicán and Chimu Empires: The Inca
The Inca Military Empire
A State Without Writing?
The End of the Inca State Issues and debates Why do civilizations collapse?
Causes of Collapse
The Role of Environment in Collapse Collapse: A Multiplicity of Causes Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Chapter 15: The Diversity of Complexity: Ranked Societies in the Old and New Worlds
Chapter Overview Prelude Chronicle Complexity in prehistoric America north of Mexico
The Development of Complexity
The Mississippian Temple Mound Builders Cahokia The American southwest
Mogollon Ancestral Puebloan Northwest coast of North America Great Zimbabwe
The Glory of Zimbabwe
Issues and debates Is the state inevitable?
The myth of the mound builders What happened to the ancestral puebloans?
Case study close-up Visiting the past Summary To Learn More Key Terms
Evolutionary Epilogue
Chapter Overview Past perspectives, future directions
The Human Adaptation
From Stone Tools to Star Trek Many Pathways Key Terms Glossary References Index

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