Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind

Colin Renfrew

Introduced by Professor Alice Roberts

A brilliant overview of prehistory by a ‘towering influence’ in archaeology.

Published price: US$ 62.95


Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind

Defined as the span of our time on Earth before written records, prehistory covers most of human existence. In this concise study, Colin Renfrew presents us with a brilliant overview of his discipline. Two centuries ago the notion of prehistory did not exist: many European scholars believed, following Biblical calculations, that the Earth was created in 4004 BC

Production Details

Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind book

Bound in cloth.

Set in Sabon.

264 pages.


24 pages of colour and black & white plates.

Book size: 9½" x 6¼".

‘a towering influence in archaeology’

In the first half of this work, Renfrew shows how the belief that the Earth was created in 4004 BC was gradually overturned by archaeology, geology and, of course, Darwinism in the 19th century, and the radiocarbon ‘revolution’ in the 20th. The second half examines prehistory itself, and the problems and issues that confront the discipline today. Foremost of these is the sapient paradox – in other words, the huge time lag between the emergence of Homo sapiens over 150,000 years ago and the appearance of the first civilisations tens of millennia later. In trying to solve this puzzle, Renfrew points to the importance of a cognitive archaeology that aims to trace the development of the human mind. Through this, we can understand more clearly the great milestones in the human journey.

‘A considerable triumph’

Described by the New Scientist as ‘a towering influence in archaeology’, Professor Renfrew is a Senior Fellow in archaeology at the McDonald Institute at Cambridge University. In her introduction Professor Alice Roberts, anthropologist and paleopathologist, describes Renfrew’s view of prehistoric archaeology as an ‘intellectual adventure’. This edition contains a rich selection of outstanding images: aerial photography of early settlements in the Americas, a bronze vessel from the Shang dynasty of China and perhaps the earliest-known human portrait: a figure modelled in lime plaster from Jordan, c. 7200 BC. The binding features a design based on ‘River Avon Mud Hand Circles’ by Richard Long, one of Britain’s leading contemporary artists, reproduced here by his kind permission.


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Review by Blackie on 1st Apr 2018

Text: Illustrations: Binding: Rating: 5/5

"A book that is much more than it seems. Handsomely, but simply bound, elegant but weighty as the subject, an appealing visual text and interesting photographs to illustrate certain points but more tha..." [read more]

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