Synopses & Reviews
Africa has the longest record - some 2.5 million years - of human occupation of any continent. For nearly all of this time, its inhabitants have made tools from stone and have acquired their food from its rich wild plant and animal resources. Archaeological research in Africa is crucial for understanding the origins of humans and the diversity of hunter-gatherer ways of life. This book provides an up-to-date, comprehensive synthesis of the record left by Africa's earliest hominin inhabitants and hunter-gatherers. It combines the insights of archaeology with those of other disciplines, such as genetics and palaeoenvironmental science. African evidence is critical to important debates, such as the origins of stone toolmaking, the emergence of recognisably modern forms of cognition and behaviour, and the expansion of successive hominins from Africa to other parts of the world. Africa's enormous ecological diversity and exceptionally long history also provide an unparalleled opportunity to examine the impact of environment change on human populations. African foragers have also long been viewed as archetypes of the hunter-gatherer way of life, a view that is debated in this volume. Also examined is their relevance for understanding the development and spread of food production and the social and ideological significance of the rock art that many of them have produced.
"...probably the best available survey of prehistoric Africa. Recommended." --Choice
"It is apparent that this book represents an impressive scholarly achievement...Without a doubt this is an important book." --Graham Connah, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
A synthesis of the record left by Africa's earliest inhabitants combining archaeology, genetics and palaeo-environmental science.
This book provides an up-to-date, comprehensive synthesis of the record left by Africa's earliest hominin inhabitants and hunter-gatherers. It combines the insights of archaeology with those of other disciplines, such as genetics and palaeoenvironmental science.
About the Author
Lawrence Barham is Professor in the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. A scholar of the evolution of symbolic behaviours, he is the author of The Middle Stone Age of Zambia and co-author of Human Roots: Africa and Asia in the Middle Pleistocene. Barham serves on the Council of the British Institute in Eastern Africa and is editor of the journal Before Farming: The Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers.Peter Mitchell is Professor of African Archaeology at the University of Oxford and Tutor and Fellow in Archaeology at St Hugh's College, Oxford. He is the author of The Archaeology of Southern Africa and African Connections: Archaeological Perspectives on Africa and the Wider World, as well as co-editor of Researching Africa's Past. Mitchell is Honorary Secretary of the British Institute in Eastern Africa and a member of the editorial boards of several leading journals, including Antiquity, World Archaeology and the South African Archaeological Bulletin.
Table of Contents
1. Introducing the African record; 2. Frameworks in space and time; 3. First tool users and makers; 4. Early Pleistocene foragers; 5. Mid-Pleistocene foragers; 6. Transitions and origins; 7. The Big Dry: the archaeology of marine isotope 4-2; 8. Hunting, gathering, intensifying: the mid-Holocene record; 9. Foragers in a world of farmers; 10. The future of the first Africans' past.