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The Past in Perspective An Introduction to Human Prehistory

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  • Edition: 8th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2019-09-13
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Supplemental Materials

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Ideal for introduction to archaeology and world prehistory courses, The Past in Perspective: An Introduction to Human Prehistory, Eighth Edition, is an engaging and up-to-date chronological overview of human prehistory. Kenneth L. Feder introduces students to "the big picture"--the grand sweep of human evolutionary history--presenting the human past within the context of fundamental themes of cultural evolution. Feder's unique, refreshing, and accessible narrative personalizes the past and makes it relevant to today's students. Using a consistent chapter format--"Prelude, Chronicle, Issues and Debates, Messages from the Past, and Case Study Close-up"--Feder helps students master both what we know and what is still debated about the complex story of the human past.

Author Biography

Kenneth L. Feder is Professor of Anthropology at Central Connecticut State University. He is the author of several books, including Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology, Ninth Edition (2017), and Linking to the Past: A Brief Introduction to Archaeology, Second Edition (OUP, 2007).

Table of Contents

Each chapter includes a Chapter Overview, Summary, To Learn More, and Key Terms.


1. Encountering the Past
A Foreign Country
An Anthropological Perspective
An Ancient World
The Age of the Earth
A Wreck of a World
Noah's Flood
Equable and Steady Change
Fairy Stones?
John Frere's Discovery
More Stone Tools . . . and Bones
The Slow Agency of Existing Causes
Ancient Humans Revisited
Cultures Ancient and Changing
Charles Darwin and the Antiquity of Life
An Evolutionary Philosophy
The Mutability of Species
The Origin of Species
Human Evolution
Cultures Evolving
A New Catastrophism?
Our Modern View

2. Probing the Past
Epistemology: How We Know What We Know
The "Science" in the Study of the Past
Paleoanthropological and Archaeological Sites
How Sites Are Formed
How Sites Are Preserved
How Sites Are Found
How Information Is Recovered
Archaeology at a Distance: Noninvasive Methods of Data Collection
Analyzing Archaeological Data
How Artifacts Are Analyzed
How Ecofacts Are Analyzed
How Human and Prehuman Skeletal Remains Are Analyzed
Determining the Age of a Site or Specimen
Dating Techniques Based on Radioactive Decay
Dating Techniques Based on Biology
Dating Techniques Based on Radiation Damage
Dating by Measuring Paleomagnetism
The Ethical Archaeologist
Coping with Crap: Pseudoscience in Archaeology

3. African Roots
What Happened to the Apes at the End of the Miocene?
The First Hominins
Late Miocene Hominins
The Genus Australopithecus
Australopithecus afarensis
A Fork in the Hominin Road
The Ability to Make Tools
A Different Path-Homo
Oldowan Technology
The Fate of Homo habilis
What Were the First Steps in Hominin Evolution?
How Do We Know the Hominins Were Upright?
Is There Other Evidence for Bipedality?
Why Bipedalism?
The Upright Provider
The Upright Scavenger
The Efficient Walker
The Endurance Runner
Where Did the Idea for Stone Tools Come From?
Has Evolution Programmed Us to Be Killers?

4. The Human Lineage
Homo erectus
The Evolutionary Position of Homo erectus
Hominins Conquer the World
East Asia
Homo erectus: Ocean Explorer?
China and India
Southeast Asia: Hobbits?
A New Hominin Star
Where does Homo naledi fit in the story of human evolution?
The Age of Ice
The Oxygen Isotope Curve
Homo erectus: The Toolmaker
What Enabled the Geographic Expansion of Homo Erectus?
Control of Fire
The "Art" of Making Tools
Homo erectus art?
Raising Homo erectus
When Did Homo erectus Become Extinct?
We Are Everywhere and Culture Makes it Possible

5. The First Humans: The Evolution of Homo sapiens
Premodern Humans: Fossil Evidence
Premodern Humans: Cultural Evidence
The Neandertals
Morphological Evidence
Fossil Evidence
Neandertal Culture
Stone Tools
Symbolic Expression
Burial of the Dead
Anatomically Modern Homo Sapiens
Explaining the Evolution of Us
Consensus View
Consensus View
Stone Tools of Anatomically Modern Human Beings: Utilitarian Works of Art
Why are the Neandertals Extinct?
The Neandertals: A Separate Species
Human Beings: An Evolutionary Success Story?

6. Expanding Intellectual Horizons: Arts and Ideas in the Upper Paleolithic and Late Stone Age
New Ideas: Reflections of the Modern Human Mind
1. New and Improved Stone-Tool Technologies
2. New Hunting and Weapons Technologies
3. Broadening the Subsistence Base
4. Branching Out in Raw Materials and Developing New Technologies
5. New Uses for Plant Materials
6. The Acquisition of Raw Materials from a Great Distance
7. Larger Sites of Population Aggregation
8. Abundance of Nonutilitarian Objects
9. More Elaborate Burials
10. Symbolic Expression Through the Production of Art
A Revolution of Intellect: The Meaning of Upper Paleolithic Art
The Earliest Art: Australia and Africa
Upper Paleolithic Art in Europe
The Sound of Music
What Does the Art of the Upper Paleolithic Mean?
The Importance Of Living Long: The Grandmother Effect
Why Do We Destroy?

7. Expanding Geographic Horizons: New Worlds
The Settlement of Greater Australia
Paleogeography in the Western Pacific
The Road to Sahul
The Discovery of Greater Australia
The Earliest Occupation of Greater Australia
The Archaeology of Sahul
Willandra Lakes
The Spread through Australia
The Australian Interior
Greater Australia: A Broad Range of Adaptations
East into the Pacific
A Pacific Islander "Age of Exploration"
Pacific Geography
Pacific Archaeology
Coming to America
The Source of Los Indios
When did the First Migrants Arrive?
When Was Eastern Siberia First Inhabited?
When Was Beringia Exposed and Open for Travel?
An Ice-Free Corridor
The First Human Settlement of America
Coastal Sites
First Skeletons
A Contested Consensus
Denali and Nenana
Clovis Technology
Clovis Subsistence
Into the Arctic
Why Were the Pacific Islands Settled?
Could Native Americans Really Have Come from Europe Instead of Asia?
Who--or What--Killed the American and Australian Megafauna?
The Tragedy of Extinction

8. After the Ice: The Food-Producing Revolution
Mesolithic Subsistence Patterns
Diversity and Regionalization
North America
Regionalism in the New World Archaic
Koster: Emblem of the Archaic
South America
The Shift from Food Collection to Food Production
Humans Taking the Place of Nature: Artificial Selection
Archaeological Evidence of Human Control of Plant and Animal Species
Seed Morphology
Osteological Changes
Population Characteristics
The Near East
Late Pleistocene Foragers in the Near East
The First Agriculturalists
The First Agriculturalists in the New World
The Shift to Domesticated Foods Among the People of the Tehuacán Valley
The Greatest Native American Contribution to Food
A Chronology of Food Production
Neolithic Cultures South of the Sahara
Chronology of Food Production in China
Food Production in South Asia
Food Production in Southeast and Northeast Asia
Domestication in Central Asia
The Shift to Agriculture in Western Europe
North America
Indigenous Domestication North of Mexico
The Appearance of Maize in the Eastern Woodlands
The American Southwest
South America
Three Regional Neolithics
Animal Domestication in South America
How Was Domestication Accomplished?
The Domestication of Wheat
From Teosinte to Maize
The Remarkably Modern Cuisine of the Ancient World
Why Agriculture?
A Multitude of Reasons
Implications of the Neolithic: The Roots of Social Complexity
Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

9. Roots of Complexity: The Origins of Civilization
The Construction of Stonehenge
Imagining Stonehenge
Simplicity and Complexity
The Development of Complexity: Before Agriculture
A Revolution in Subsistence, A Revolution in Society
From Rank Societies to Chiefdoms
Complexity's Traces in the Old World
Mesopotamia: Land Between the Rivers
The Roots of Complexity in Southwest Asia
Complexity's Traces in the New World
The Olmec
South America
Why Does Complexity Develop in the First Place?
Messages from the Past
Are Complexity and Inequality Inevitable?

10. An Explosion of Complexity: Mesopotamia, Africa, and Europe
The Evolution of the State
The Character of Civilization
Food Surplus
Social Stratification
Labor Specialization
A Formal Government
Large, Dense Populations
Record Keeping
Monumental Works
The Geography of Civilizations
Accelerating Change: The Ubaid
The Role of Irrigation
Power Invested in the Temple
Mesopotamia's First Cities: The Uruk Period
The Beginning of the Written Record
Egypt of the Pharaohs
The Egyptian Neolithic
First Writing
First Pharaoh
The Flowering of Egypt
The Pyramid Age
Other African Civilizations Beyond Egypt
Great Zimbabwe
The Glory of Zimbabwe
Minoan Crete
The Palace at Knossos
Who Were the Egyptians?
Who Were the Minoans?
Were the Pyramids Built by Slaves?
Why Did State Societies Develop?
Conflict Models
Integration Models
Many Paths to Civilization
The One-Percenters: The Ancient Roots of Inequality

11. An Explosion of Complexity: The Indus Valley and China
The Indus Valley Civilization
Flood Control and Civilization in the Indus Valley
Cultural Convergence
Cities of the Indus
The Indus Script
"A Peaceful Realm"
The Civilization of Ancient China
The Lung-shan Culture
Acceleration toward Civilization
The Shang Civilization
Why Were the Elites of State Societies So Conspicuous in their Consumption?
The Universality of Human Genius
The Terra-Cotta Army of the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty

12. An Explosion of Complexity: Mesoamerica
The Maya
Seeing the Maya Through the Trees
Maya Writing
Peak of the Maya
Who Were the Rulers of Copán?
The Grandeur that was Copán
Post-Classic Reorganization
Teotihuacán History
A Monumental City
The Teotihuacan Jaguars
Residences of Teotihuacán's Citizens
The Reach of Teotihuacán
Monte Albán
The Aztecs
Feeding Hungry Gods
Why did The Maya Collapse?
What does "Collapse" Even Mean?
Messages from the Past

13. An Explosion of Complexity: South America
Empires: Tiwanaku
Empires: Wari
Empires: Chimu
Empires: The Inka
Inka Royalty
Inka Agricultural Infrastructure
How Did the Inka Support Their Economic System?
The Inka Military Empire
A State Without Writing?
The End of the Inka State
Complexity in Ancient Amazonia
Puma Punko: Spaceport of the Ancient Aliens?
Why do Civilizations Collapse?
Cry for the Children

14. An Explosion of Complexity: North America
Complexity in Prehistoric America North of Mexico
The Development of Complexity
The Mississippian Civilization
The American Southwest
Ancestral Puebloan
The Lost World of Chaco Canyon
Rich and Powerful, Even in Death
All Roads Lead to-and From-Chaco
The Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde
Coast of North America
What Happened to the Ancestral Puebloans?
Time Traveling: You Can Visit the Past

Evolutionary Epilogue

Civilization Chronology
Map of Civilization
Hominid Species Glossary

Supplemental Materials

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