Origins and Revolutions: Human Identity in Earliest Prehistory

Origins and Revolutions: Human Identity in Earliest Prehistory

Clive Gamble

Language: English

Pages: 366


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In this innovative study Clive Gamble presents and questions two of the most famous descriptions of change in prehistory. The first is the 'human revolution', when evidence for art, music, religion and language first appears. The second is the economic and social revolution of the Neolithic period. Gamble identifies the historical agendas behind 'origins research' and presents a bold new alternative to these established frameworks, relating the study of change to the material basis of human identity. He examines, through artefact proxies, how changing identities can be understood using embodied material metaphors and in two major case-studies charts the prehistory of innovations, asking, did agriculture really change the social world? This is an important and challenging book that will be essential reading for every student and scholar of prehistory.

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were constructed from material culture, rather than spoken language, and moreover where the actions of the body had comparable weight to the accomplishments of the brain. Tools always solved problems such as how to cut up a rhino or carry water. Our cleverness in this regard is usually presented as the triumph of intelligence over an external environment whose very capriciousness is the stimulus for selection to progress our technology. Here I am arguing for something different and definitely

critiques in many disciplines, including archaeology, of the Cartesian system of how we understand the world. The unification is necessary to achieve what I hope will be a fresh understanding of why things changed in the past, based on a different appreciation of the material evidence. The point I do carry forward from the Cartesian system is that our bodies are a social technology. But they are also, as the anthropologist Marcel Mauss insisted, techniques. Bodies are material projects comparable

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