Origins and Revolutions: Human Identity in Earliest Prehistory

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521677493
ISBN-10: 0521677491
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Origins and Revolutions is an effervescent read that skillfully challenges many of the sacred cows of archaeology. It is rich and deep in the philosophical acumen and attention to social theory for which Gamble is known. He also writes with an admirable sense of humour and irony; he knows how to join humanistic flair with empirical rigour at the dig."
-Robert N. Proctor, Stanford University, Nature

"[Gamble] offers archaeologists of all theoretical persuasions a new way to examine the past, one that is sure to intrigue us for some time to come."
-Pamela R. Willoughby, University of Alberta, Canadian Journal of Archaeology

"... dense with provocative ideas, fresh points of view, an intellectual background that ranges far and wide between academic disciplines and schools of thought ... this book should be read by professionals and graduate students as an eye-opener to alternative narratives of human evolution ... an intriguing book ..."
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Book Description

Gamble examines how changing identities can be understood and charts the prehistory of innovations. Theoretically innovative and supported with in-depth case-studies, this important and challenging book will be essential reading for every student and scholar of prehistory.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (April 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521677491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521677493
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,931,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jake Keenan on March 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got much more than I expected. Gamble works in archaeology but takes some of the latest ideas to bring the subject to today's cutting edge. He attempts three basic efforts roughly paralleling the three sections of the book. He first demolishes the easy storylines of what has passed as prehistoric "revolutions" such as the Neolithic as being pretty much along the lines of magic bullet theories where first we had X (fill in the blank: big brains, language, agriculture, etc.) and then we had significant jumps to people who looked surprisingly close to ... us. The historical connections within European archaeology to various ideologies and cultural preconceptions don't get neglected in his critique.

Then he turns in the second section to his serious rebuilding of archaeology by emphasizing the need to bring the people back into the artefacts. And for this he turns very productively to material culture studies and many of the thinkers who are testing the waters of material agency. Sometimes his language can seem a little convoluted, but the ideas are rich, well illustrated, given many examples from many excavations throughout prehistory, and convincing. Just listing his ideas for how people used objects and tools gives a feel for the way he brings artefacts into people-using forms: sets and nets, enchainment and accumulation, containers and instruments, consuming and fragmenting, additive and reductive technologies, planning depth and tactical depth and curation (maintaining technology over time), and childscape within habitscape. His use of the studies of others who have recreated individual archaeological sites for the manufacture of blades and flakes in the use of flint to apply these concepts brings life to the imagined activities uncovered in these studies.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Augustus T. White on September 8, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Here's a sample paragraph:

"Exactly how archaeologists classify a chipped stone as a core is not, however, my main concern. It is enough to appreciate that cores are the result of both fragmentation, knapping a nodule of raw material, and the consumption of those fragments that is structured in a social technology by accumulation and enchainment. Cores are also a good example of a material metaphor where the body provides an understanding of the skills and technique involved. The outer covering of a stone nodule is called the cortex, from the Latin for bark, and has a skin-like appearance. As flakes and blades are detached from the nucleus, or core, they are described in terms of two different faces (Figure 7.2), ventral (front) and dorsal (back). The terms proximal and distal are applied to the head and the foot of both cores and flakes as determined by the origin of the force applied, a geographical proxy for the knapper herself (Figure 7.4). The act of fragmenting is spoken of as leaving scars on the core's surface. These are ridges and hollows that can on occasion be re-fitted to the struck fragments. It is the convex and concave shapes of the surfaces that makes the cores in a PCT both instrument and container (Table 7.4)."

He's using modern word games to create a metaphor in order to reconstruct the thought process of a Paleolithic crafter. He then uses these insights to play additional word games with high-level conceptual metaphors of 'instrument' and 'container.' Some of this is very perceptive, but it's an extended prose poem, not science. Exactly how poets classify a chipped stone is not my main interest.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Raf Uru on November 18, 2014
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Excelent!!
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By rkt on November 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
Quite good but dated
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