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First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies 1st Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631205661
ISBN-10: 9780631205661
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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the AAP PSP Award for Archaeology and Anthropology 2005

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year

Peter Bellwood - 2006 SAA Book Award - The Society for American Archaeology annually awards a prize to honor a recently published book that has had, or is expected to have, a major impact on the direction and character of archaeological research, and/or is expected to make a substantial contribution to the archaeology of an area.

"Do not be misled by the humble title of Bellwood's book ... this volume stands alone in its scope and depth ... No student of anthropology, irrespective of subfield, should leave this book unread. It is and will remain one of the most important anthropological volumes of the 21st century." Choice<!--end-->

"This book is a superb advertisement for archaeology as part of a multidisciplinary approach to the problem of how, where, and why our ancestors settled to plough and pasture." Times Higher Education Supplement

“Bellwood is not afraid to challenge the established orthodoxy. This is a stimulating and thought-provoking assessment of one of the most important questions in archaeology today.” Peter Bogucki, Princeton University

“This wonderful book is a fascinating treasure-house of information about human history since the origins of agriculture. It deserves to be a standard reference for archaeologists, linguists, geneticists, and anthropologists interested in the formation of the modern world.” Jared Diamond, University of California, Los Angeles; author of Guns, Germs, and Steel

“A tour de force of historical anthropology. Rarely does one encounter a book with the sweeping historical scope of Peter Bellwood’s convincing worldwide synthesis of agricultural origins and population dispersals.” Patrick Kirch, University of California, Berkeley

“Global in its scope, Peter Bellwood’s First Farmers boldly correlates the spreads of early farming with episodes of human population and language dispersal. It offers a powerfully coherent perspective, which challengingly sets one of the great themes of human history in a new and simplified vision.” Colin Renfrew, University of Cambridge

"Bellwood is a master at summarising complex information... the real strength of this volume is that it will make accessible to students such a wide range of data and interpretations." New Book Chronicle

"Unlike many books, Bellwood's represents the cogent unfolding of a complex argument that draws on disparate types of information ... It is certainly the most scholarly, single-authored review of global agricultural origins on the market." Austrlian Archaeology

"The book certainly contains a good deal of interesting data and analysis." Anthropology in Action

Book Description

First Farmers offers readers an understanding of the origins and histories of early agricultural populations in all parts of the world and will be of interest to all readers of human variation and large-scale patterns in human history. Using data from archaeology, comparative linguistics, and biological anthropology, the book covers developments within the past 12,000 years in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas. First Farmers examines the reasons for the multiple primary origins of agriculture, looks at relations between hunter-gatherers and farmers, and addresses issues of agricultural adoption, the origins and dispersal histories of language families, and the dispersal histories of biological populations. It offers discussion of regional agricultural origins in and dispersals out of these areas: the Middle East, central Africa, China, New Guinea, Mesoamerica and the northern Andes. The linguistic survey covers the origins and dispersals of major language families such as Indo-European, Austronesian, Sino-Tibetan, Niger-Congo and Uto-Aztecan.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (November 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780631205661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631205661
  • ASIN: 0631205667
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Bellwood, an archaeologist specializing in Austronesian populations, has compiled a vast body of evidence from archaeology, linguistics, and genetics, and synthesized it into a very readable book about the origin and dispersal of the Neolithic.

Bellwood is known for his view that the major language phyla of the contemporary world are most likely to be descended from the languages spoken by peoples who first developed agriculture. Since agricultural populations grow faster than foraging populations, and since much evidence shows that agriculture is not readily adopted by foragers, it appears that the Neolithic dispersal was largely a phenomenon of migration, in which the first farmers carried their languages and genes with them.

The book is full of detail, presenting a nuanced view of the Neolithic as it developed in five or six origin areas, and then dispersed outward. Technical concepts, such as "glottochronology," are explained without much fuss. Most of the genetic data has been collected within the past decade, and casts an intriguing light on the movements of people in prehistoric times.
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Format: Paperback
The hype for this book is somewhat misleading. It is above all, a reference for students interested in who is saying what in which papers, than an overview of farming.
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