From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–This plump, densely packed compendium presents a comprehensive overview of human settlement and experience in Europe from its beginnings to about the period of the Roman conquest of the western regions. Obviously, such an enormous span of time is crammed with cultural development, the rise of new technologies, and dramatic changes in the realm of agriculture. Even the landscape and weather patterns were in flux as massive glaciers formed and retreated. Since this all occurred in a period prior to written history, McIntosh has used archaeological evidence to focus on what anonymous individuals and societies have left behind in the form of arts, crafts, husbandry, technology, and other such artifacts. While the table of contents can be used as an outline, the extensive index leads to the details. Thematic chapters are broken down into smaller and smaller units, such as Economy, leading to Domestic Animals, leading to Pigs. The black-and-white illustrations range from photos to archaeological drawings to artists' renderings. The material can be dense and rather dry, and the volume's textbook appearance may well daunt casual readers or inexperienced researchers. An almost overwhelming bibliography is appended, and suggestions for further reading based on this list are generously strewn throughout the text. Inordinately detailed, this is a gold mine for serious students absorbed in both sweeping topics and focused minutiae. Complex and comprehensive, but not for the faint of heart.–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
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According to the introduction, the purpose of Handbook to Life in Prehistoric Europe
is "to give some account of what is known or surmised about" the artifacts and monuments of prehistoric Europe and their makers--their industry and crafts, their settlements, their mythology and religion, their health and medicine, the food they ate, the warfare they practiced, and more. Coverage begins in 7,000 BCE, when agricultural communities began appearing in southeastern Europe, and follows the historical trail to 100 BCE, when most of Europe came under Roman hegemony.
The volume is organized in 11 topical chapters, beginning with "Geography of Ancient Europe," which is divided into subtopics on "The Mediterranean," "The Mountains," "Temperate Europe," "The Atlantic Facade and the North Sea," "The Far North," and "Environmental Change." Examples of the other 10 chapters include "The Development of Europe," "Economy," "Trade and Transport," and "Death and Burial." Black-and-white illustrations accompany some of the material, and each of the chapters ends with a list of references for each subtopic. Full bibliographic detail is not included there but in the bibliographical section near the end of the volume, along with a chronology and a list of relevant museums. Given the book's topical arrangement, the 29-page index is invaluable for finding specific information not revealed in the table of contents.
Handbook to Life in Prehistoric Europe is part of the nine-volume Handbook to Life set, which also includes Handbook to Life in the Aztec World (2005), Handbook to Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan (2005), and Handbook to Life in Renaissance Europe (2005), among others. It is recommended for academic and large public libraries where other volumes in the series have been popular. Jerry Carbone
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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