Three thousand, four
thousand years maybe, have passed and gone since human feet last trod the floor
on which you stand, and yet, as you note the signs of recent life around you –
the half-filled bowl of mortar for the door, the blackened`lamp, the finger-mark
on the freshly painted surface, the farewell garland dropped on the threshold –
you feel it might have been but yesterday.... Time is annihilated by little
intimate details such as these, and you feel an intruder. – Egyptologist
Howard Carter, notebook entry on Tutankhamun's tomb, November 26, 1922
Golden pharaohs, lost cities, grinning human
skeletons: Archaeology is the stuff of romance and legend.
Many people still think of archaeologists as
adventurers and treasure hunters, like Indiana Jones of Hollywood movie fame
seeking the elusive Holy Grail. Today, few, if any, archaeologists`behave like
Indiana Jones. They are scientists, not adventurers, as comfortable in an
air-conditioned laboratory as they are on a remote excavation. The development
of scientific archaeology from its Victorian beginnings, ranks among the
greatest triumphs of twentieth-century science.
Archaeology has changed our understanding of
the human experience in profound ways. A century ago, most scientists believed
humans were no more than 100,000 years old. Today we know that our origins go
back at least 5 million years. Our predecessors assumed the Americas were
settled in about 8000 B.C. and that farming began around 4000 B.C. New
excavations date the first Americans to at least 12,000 B.C. and the beginnings
of agriculture to about 10,000 B.C. Most important, archaeology has changed our
perceptions of ourselves, especially of our biological and cultural diversity.
Written by one of the leading archaeological writers in the world, Brian Fagan, University of California, Santa Barbara – in a simple, jargon-free narrative style – World Prehistory is a brief, well-illustrated account of the major developments in the human past (from the origins of humanity to the origins of literate civilization), ideal for those with no previous knowledge of the subject. State of the art in content and perspective, the book covers the entire world (not just the
Complete with extensive help with the
research process and Research Navigator, three exclusive databases of credible
and reliable source material, including EBSCO's ContentSelectTM Academic
Journal Database, The New York Times Search-by-Subject Archive, and Best
of the Web Link Library, Research Navigator helps students quickly and
efficiently make the most of their research time.
The sixth edition of
World Prehistory continues its tradition of providing an interesting,
jargon-free journey through the 5-million-year-old landscape of the human past.
Complete,`up-to-date, research based, yet succinct,
World Prehistory is for anyone interested in
archaeology, world prehistory, and human antiquity.
The Proto-Neolithic Cemetery in Shanidar Cave
by Ralph S. Solecki, Rose L. Solecki, & Anagnostis P.
Agelarakis (Texas A & M University
Anthropology Series: Texas A&M
Archaeologists the world over breathed sighs of relief in April of 2003 when it
was announced that of the three thousand artifacts looted from Baghdad's Iraq
Museum, the prehistoric skulls and bones recovered from Shanidar Cave, which
represented some of the earliest human ancestors found in the Middle East,
remained safe and untouched.
One of the real-life inspirations for Jean Auel's popular
1970s novel, The Clan of the Cave Bear, Shanidar Cave, discovered in 1951
by Ralph S. Solecki and his research team, lies nestled in the Baradost
Mountains about four hundred kilometers north of Baghdad and is the only
prehistoric cemetery site east of the Mediterranean.
Long-awaited by anthropologists,
The Proto-Neolithic Cemetery in Shanidar Cave systematically catalogs
the thirty-five human skeletons, 26 burials and associated funerary artifacts
excavated during the 1950s and 1960s. Other cave contents included stone tools,
bone tools, gastropod shells, and animal teeth, all offering new evidence about
the culture, agriculture, and trade of these people of the ninth millenium B.C.
Although Shanidar Cave lies out of the main trade routes, its inhabitants
maintained contact with distant areas in order to obtain obsidian, bitumen
adhesive, exotic stones for beads, and other material. Because of this,
cultural, social, economic, and religious customs were also being diffused
throughout the area, heralding the "Neolithic Revolution."
According to the authors, Ralph S. Solecki, professor
emeritus at Columbia University in New York City, Rose L. Solecki, research
associate at Columbia University and Anagnostis P. Agelarakis, professor of
Anthropology and director of the Environmental Studies Program at Adelphi
University, "This was a period of significant cultural change in the Near
East," ... and "thus adds a new geographic perspective to an
investigation long dominated by the data and findings from the more extensively
studied Levant area to the west. It also furnishes a new overview of the
prehistory of Mesopotamia. The human skeletal samples recovered from the
cemetery located to the rear of Shanidar Cave likewise represent a unique
population data set, providing new insights into the population of the Near East
at a time of transition from an earlier hunting and gathering way of life to a
full Neolithic one, dependent on domesticated plants and animals."
In addition to detailed diagrams, maps, figures, and tables
showing the layout and contents of Shanidar Cave, the authors compare these
prehistoric funeral practices with those of the Levant, discuss cultural
developments in the Near East, and analyze the Proto-Neolithic human condition
based on osteological research of bones and possible causes of death.
Shanidar Cave has been inaccessible to archaeologists since
1961 because of political developments in Iraq, and as events in the Middle East
currently stand, it's unlikely excavation work will resume even in the distant
future. At such a time, when even museums are victimized, the rare artifacts
described within the pages of
The Proto-Neolithic Cemetery in Shanidar Cave take on even greater value
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