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This book is the archaeologists' response to Merlin Donald's 1991 book, "Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition." Donald's book established a developmental framework for understanding modern human cognition. The final stage, in particular, is of interest to archaeologists. It is this stage, the development of "External Symbolic Storage," which is the focus of the volume edited by Renfrew and Scarre. A chapter by Donald abstracts the ideas from the 1991 book, and expands on them, so a reading of the earlier book is not necessary to appreciate the ideas in this volume (though I would recommend the 1991 book, which is a very interesting read). The other chapters present archaeological examples of "external symbolic storage," ranging from cave art to Chinese burial practices. Archaeologists with an interest in symbols, information storage and retrieval, or memory, will find this book useful and thought-provoking.
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