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The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe (Oxford Illustrated Histories) [Paperback]

by Barry Cunliffe
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 24, 2001 0192854410 978-0192854414 New Ed
Ranging from the earliest settlements through the emergence of Minoan civilization to the barbarian world at the end of the Roman Empire, this extraordinary volume provides a fascinating look at how successive cultures adapted to the landscape of Europe. In synthesizing the diverse findings of archeology, Barry Cunliffe and a team of distinguished experts capture the sweeping movements of peoples, the spread of agriculture, the growth of metal working, and the rise and fall of cultures, blending superb detail with ornate illustrations.
For centuries, we knew little of the European civilizations that preceded classical Greece or arose outside of the Roman Empire, beyond ancient myths and the writings of Roman observers. Now the most recent discoveries of archeology have been synthesized into one exciting volume. Featuring hundreds of stunning photographs, this book provides the most complete account available of the prehistory of European civilization.

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Editorial Reviews


`takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the development of Western culture -- a definitive study.' Oxford Times

About the Author

Barry Cunliffe is Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford. The author of over 40 books, including The Ancient Celts, published by Oxford University Press, he has served as President of the Council for British Archaeology and the Society of Antiquaries, and is currently a member of the Ancient Monuments Board of English Heritage.

Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Illustrated Histories
  • Paperback: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; New Ed edition (May 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854414
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly but generally readable May 6, 2001
I believe this is designed to be a college textbook, but I found my self fascinated by it. As with any text, readibility is sometimes sacrificed for scholarly accuracy, and rightly so, I suppose. But I found enough life in the text to make this a compelling read, given the breadth of the topic and the depth in which it is examined. I also found the illustrations to be directly relative to the text, which does not always happen, even in college texts. Of course, to get really into a book like this, one has to have an inborn interest in the topic. It's not going to be for everyone, and that is why I gave it three stars instead of four. Still, I found the book to be a satisfactory combination of hard scholarship and general interest history to make my want to keep my copy. My only complaint is that, not knowing European geography as I would like to, it was difficult to follow many of the detailed discourses about the different tribal movements from place to place. Perhaps more maps would help. In the end, it's hard, scholarly history, but if that's your thing, it's a keeper.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly work September 19, 2002
This book was written by a large team of authors, each of whom wrote a particular chapter. I assume, therefore, that they have special expertise in that particular period or subject, and although this work may be a little too dry and scholarly for some, I found it provided excellent coverage and that it was still readable. The book benefits from recent research which the chapter authors discuss, and the illustrations are excellent, with the many pictures of artifacts, works of art, and grave excavations that I hadn't seen before in other works being probably the most striking thing about the book. Also, I would like to compliment the author of the excellent and very detailed discussion of copper and bronze metallurgy, where he discusses the advantages of two-piece castings of hand-axes in the later Bell-Beaker culture using arsenical copper, which aids both hardness and castability, which was very interesting. And in general, the dicussions of archaeological finds relating to improvements in cultural artifacts such as pottery making, metallurgy, weapons, and building techniques are one of the major strengths of the book. Overall, a worthwhile read although possibly a little too dry and technical for many people, and actually, I would give it 4.5 stars if I could.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As interesting a treatment as prehistory gets February 20, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe faces a Herculean task: to provide readable access to a delicate phase of history that is not easily comprehended - due to it's ever-shifting time boundaries - and the fact that, for much of prehistory, concepts and conclusions are chiefly formed from conjecture, due to a lack of fluid factual historical data.

Such it succeeds in doing formidably. At the time of writing the reviewer is still only at the chapter dealing with Reforming Barbaric Europe at the end of the Bronze Age (9). So far, the read has been mostly accessible to this undergraduate student, even if, on one or two of the initial chapters, a lot of technical language, and language related to biology and plants, made understanding harder. A complaint would have to fall on a perceivable lack of maps, especially in the initial chapters dealing with events taking place in the Continent. Many German towns or villages, and other places, will possibly escape the average reader (wikipedia had to be heavily used). There are some maps included, but these are certainly insufficient.

In broad strokes, except for the chapter by Sherratt on the Later Neolithic and Copper Ages, where a regional description of the different material remains is the order of the day which in this particular case makes for an extremely dull read, the articles tend to be concise, written in fluid prose, and thus provide an enjoyable reading experience.

Let us not forget the peculiar character of this delicate period, that of prehistoric and protohistoric Europe (the book covers prehistory from the Lower Paleolithic to a final chapter on Barbaric Europe (AD 300-700)), that, safe for the true enthusiast, is quite alien and hard to relate to for the rest of us.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of the period April 7, 2005
This book is a great work on the subject and makes an excellent companion to Barry Cunliffe's "The Ancient Celts".

It contains a wealth of information and many readers would benefit from a reread or by using a pencil to make notations in the margins yet the contributors are brilliant in condensing material which might be found impenetrable to the average reader. A great introduction. It is informative yet not dry. It is an overview but not breezy.

I highly recommend.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dry dry dry, but not bad June 25, 2001
This book is very dry in writing style (even though there are multiple authors) but is nevertheless a worthwhile read. The illustrations are the best part, showing many interesting artifacts from early human history. It would have been better if the authors had excercised more judgement and selection. Many sections seem to be summaries of academic research reports without any clear significance to the lay reader.
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