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Theory and Methods in Archaeology and Prehistory
Written for complete beginners in a narrative style, Ancient Lives is aimed at introductory courses in archaeology and prehistory that cover archaeological methods and theory, as well as world prehistory.
The first half of Ancient Lives covers the basic principles, methods, and theoretical approaches of archaeology. The second half is devoted to a summary of the major developments of human prehistory: the origins of humankind and the archaic world, the origins and spread of modern humans, the emergence of food production, and the beginnings of civilization.
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In This Section:
I. Author Bio
II. Author Letter
I. Author Bio
Brian Fagan is one of the leading archaeological writers in the world and an internationally recognized authority on world prehistory. He studied archaeology and anthropology at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, and then spent seven years in sub-Saharan Africa working in museums and in monument conservation and excavating early farming sites in Zambia and East Africa. He was one of the pioneers of multidisciplinary African history in the 1960s. From 1967 to 2003, he was professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he specialized in lecturing and writing about archaeology to wide audiences. He is now professor emeritus.
Professor Fagan has written six best-selling textbooks: Ancient Lives: An Introduction to Archaeology and Prehistory; In the Beginning; Archaeology: A Brief Introduction; People of the Earth; World Preh istory; and A Brief History of Archaeology–all published by Prentice Hall–which are used around the world. His general books include The Rape of the Nile, a classic history of Egyptology; The Adventure of Archaeology; Time Detectives; Ancient North America; The Little Ice Age; and The Great Warming. He is general editor of the Oxford Companion to Archaeology. In addition, he has published several scholarly monographs on African archaeology and numerous specialized articles in national and international journals. He is also an expert on multimedia teaching and received the Society for American Archaeology’s first Public Education Award for his indefatigable efforts on behalf of archaeology and education.
II. Author Letter
I became an archaeologist by accident, in large part because of the stories told by my very first university instructor, Miles Burkitt. Miles was an institution at Cambridge University where I studied archaeology. His lectures were long on artifacts and short on sophistication. But he was a consummate storyteller—about fellow archaeologists and copying Stone Age cave art with the legendary French prehistorian Abbé Breul before World War I, among other things. He taught me that storytelling is central to good teaching.
I started teaching introductory archaeology at the University of California - Santa Barbara in 1967, to an audience of 300 students. Finding no suitable textbooks, I ended up writing Ancient Lives; a short book that combined both the basics of method and theory—how archaeology works—and the major developments of world prehistory. It has filled an important niche in the marketplace for instructors who want a course that combines the basics both of archaeology itself and of human prehistory. To my delight, it has been widely used in many colleges and universities as a first introduction to a complex subject that has an important role to play in today’s world. I’m proud that highly respected archaeologists first encountered archaeology through its pages!
Ancient Lives is a straightforward journey through the world of archaeology and prehistory, which covers the basics--I mean the basics. Its chapters answer fundamental questions. How do we find sites, excavate them, and analyze their finds? How do we date the past? How do we study ancient landscapes and settlement patterns? It also tells the story of the human past from the emergence of the first humans in East Africa well before 2.5 million years ago to the appearance of the world’s first pre-industrial civilizations in 3100 B.C. and afterward. It surveys the long span of human experience in the Old World, also in the Americas, attempting to tell the story of our remote past as a straightforward narrative, not just a list of artifacts and archaeological sites. Ancient Lives is user friendly, as jargon-free as possible, and designed for complete beginners. It can serve either as a one-shot introduction to the subject as part of general education, or a basis for taking additional courses later on.
This new fifth edition draws on the success of earlier editions, and plentiful encouragement from users and reviewers, as well as students. The basic approach is unchanged: produce a simple narrative of method and theory and human prehistory for beginners. I’ve updated examples throughout, added new information on human evolution, and brought in some exciting new discoveries, such as the Göbekli carvings in Turkey and the Lords of Sicán from coastal Peru. The illustrations have been completely refreshed and revised for this edition. Otherwise, this updated and improved edition continues a successful formula that has introduced thousands of students to the fascinating world of archaeology. Long may it continue to do so!
Please do let me know what you think of the new edition of Ancient Lives. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions about the book, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail at email@example.com .
I look forward to hearing from you!
University of California—Santa Barbara
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