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Customer Review

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The archaeology book of the 1990s, September 5, 1999
This review is from: The Prehistory of the Mind: The Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion and Science (Paperback)
I read The Prehistory of the Mind when it first came out, and my copy has now been read several times. As a prehistoric archaeologist, I have found this the most exciting and richly stimulating book on archaeology that I have read during the 1990s. Steve Mithen brings together new ideas from evolutionary and developmental psychology, and produces a (controversial) theory of the evolution of the human mind. The great value of his book is that Mithen sets a theoretical sequence generalised from the work of the evolutionary psychologists into the context of the archaeological evidence, from the earliest hominids through to the emergence of our own species, Homo sapiens sapiens. He seeks to relate the mental capabilities of our hominid ancestors to the ways in which they made and used stone tools. His unfolding of the evolved abilities of the modern human mind against the archaeology, art, ritual human burials etc of the European upper palaeolithic period of 40,000 to 30,000 years ago provides a convincing and at last scientific theory to underpin the idea of the 'upper palaeolithic revolution' that a number of archaeologists and anthropologists have been talking about for some years. I think that this book will prove to have a decisive influence on the development of archaeological theory, and that it will inspire archaeologists to do a lot of thinking in quite new directions, seeking to derive much more information about the mental, psychological, cultural and social behaviour of prehistoric peoples from traditional archaeological data.
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