The notion of progress still bedevils our conception of prehistory, with human evolution persistently seen as a movement from inferior to superior, primitive to advanced, simple to complex. Timewalkers extricates prehistory from the myths and distortions created by this view of the past. By focusing on changes in behavior and stressing the deliberate human purpose our ancestors displayed in their migrations, Clive Gamble produces a fresh and frankly provocative synthesis of the archaeology of the last three million years. This new approach to human prehistory proceeds from a detailed study of global colonization rather than a conventional reassessment of fossil remains and stone tools. Gamble reconsiders the remarkable record of geographical expansion that began with the early hominids of sub-Saharan Africa who spread to new continents, to the marginal environments of desert and taiga, and to islands in the oceans and the Mediterranean. Through this astonishing dispersal of humans, which exceeds that of all other mammals, he traces calculated responses to variations in climate and environment. As he interprets these migrations in terms of behavioral change in a social and ecological context, Gamble offers a revealing critique of the attitudes of early European explorers, on which so much of nineteenth- and twentieth-century archaeology unquestioningly rested. Timewalkers makes the latest findings of prehistoric archaeology accessible in a readable, coherent form. Gamble's novel reinterpretation of this evidence, presented with wit and authority, enlarges and enlivens our understanding of human action and motivation in the distant past.
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Clive Gamble is Reader in Archaeology at the University of Southampton. He has been involved in archaeological fieldwork in Britain, Russia, Germany, Greece, Jordan, Alaska, and Australia.Review:
Any book by Clive Gamble is good news for those interested in a broader, integrated view of human evolution: it will be thoughtful, provocative, and enlightening. This latest volume is no exception. Written at least in part as a response to some of the hype surrounding the 500th anniversary of Columbus's voyage, it asks the question of why people have turned out to be almost everywhere on the globe...Gamble has set himself a considerable task in seeking to weave a coherent cloth from the threads of a multitude of disciplines and subdisciplines, from archaeology through physical anthropology and paleoenvironmental reconstruction to evolutionary theory...There is much food for thought here, and [Timewalkers] represents the kind of effort that must be made to integrate the massive amount of information that we now have about evolution in general and the development, and context of development, of our own species in particular. (Alan Turner Quarterly Review of Biology)
Clive Gamble picks up the project of interrogating academic explanations of the past...[His] study is impressive...The material of this book is exciting; Gamble has fruitfully appropriated the metaphors of other disciplines, literary studies in particular, for his own purposes. (Noel Elizabeth Currie Canadian Literature)
Why were people everywhere? Gamble offers an innovative look at how archaeologists use artifacts and human biological remains to answer this question and to describe how our human ancestors colonized the earth...[A] unique contribution. (Choice)
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