After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000-5000 BC

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Harvard University Press
Publish Date
6.12 X 9.18 X 1.3 inches | 2.02 pounds
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About the Author

Steven Mithen is Professor of Early Prehistory and Pro-Vice Chancellor for International and External Affairs at the University of Reading. Having originally studied at the Slade School for Fine Art, he has a BA degree in Archaeology (Sheffield University), an MSc in Biological Computation (York University) and a PhD in Archaeology (Cambridge University). He was appointed a lecturer at the University of Reading in 1992, where he has since served as Head of the School of Human and Environmental Sciences (2003-2008) and Dean of the Faculty of Science (2008-2010) prior to his present appointment as a Pro Vice Chancellor. He directs archaeological fieldwork projects in Western Scotland, where he is attempting to reconstruct Mesolithic settlement patterns, and in southern Jordan where he is excavating the early Neolithic village of WF16 in Wadi Faynan. In addition to such archaeological research, he has sought to develop interdisciplinary approaches to the past by integrating archaeology with theories and methods from the environmental and cognitive sciences. He is the author of several books including The Prehistory of the Mind (1996), After the Ice (2003), The Singing Neanderthals (2005) and To the Islands (2010), and editor of The Early Prehistory of Wadi Faynan (2007, with Bill Finlayson) and Hunter-Gatherer Landscape Archaeology (2000). Steven Mithen was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 2003.


The author successfully achieved his goal of presenting a great deal of information about a pivotal point in our history in a thorough and easily digestible manner...This successful compilation of human history from 20,000-5,000 BC should not be overlooked as a key reference and welcome addition to any library of an interested novice, undergraduate student of prehistory, or seasoned archaeologist looking for a well written synthesis.--John D. Rissetto "Paleoanthropology "
This massive and clever book opens modern scholarship about the distant past to nonspecialists. Buyers of this book will get their money's worth. It comes with a generous supply of maps and pictures of artifacts and digs, some of which are in color...Erudite and also quirky, Mithen summarizes the work of contemporary archaeologists, often by recounting his own visits to archaeological sites and drawing on insights from recent research on paleoclimates and human genetics...This impressive book stands out as the new standard work.--David M. Fahey "The Historian "
Mithen did a huge amount of research to produce this curiously encyclopedic work. The book is empirically authoritative but quirkily postmodern...[A] truly provocative and ambitious work...After the Ice is a book that should be read and then exasperatingly argued about...And it does evoke the real excitement of doing Stone Age archaeology (from the digging to the debating the meaning of the finds): the passion to learn that has driven so many prehistorians and dreamers.-- (02/27/2004)
Using an unorthodox narrative device, Mithen explores why, how, and where farming displaced hunting and gathering. Mithen conjures John Lubbock, an English author of a once-popular 1865 history of the Stone Age, and sends him back in time to visit dozens of excavation sites around the world as they appeared when inhabited. Lubbock's transcontinental perambulations permit Mithen (a practicing archaeologist who describes his digs in Scotland) to underscore one causal factor in the agricultural revolution: the fluctuations of climate at the end of the last Ice Age. Weather, sea level, and zones of plant and animal life changed dramatically in the 15,000 years of Lubbock's walkabout, and Mithen explains how environmental volatility is scientifically known as he sketches Lubbock observing the various 'living' human communities that have been uncovered. A successful marriage of fact and imagination.-- (09/10/2004)
The resulting floods, spread of forests and retreat of the deserts set up the planet we know today. Mithen's exhaustive explanation of how human beings began living in small, mobile groups and then permanent villages and the resultant creation of civilisation is a big tale that's worth staying with.-- (06/05/2004)
With the help of a fictional guide dubbed John Lubbock, modeled after a Victorian naturalist who wrote a popular book called Prehistoric Times, Mithen embarks on a vivid tour of the warming world as it emerged from the last ice age. In the process, he lends a you-are-there immediacy to an era in which humans invented farming, settled in towns, and created civilization as we know it.-- (01/01/2005)
By the end of this rich and multilayered book, I was dazzled and hungry for more. Mithen has succeeded where other archaeologists have failed: He transports the reader back into the past, showing evocatively how humans adapted to 15,000 years worth of environmental change.-- (03/01/2005)
In an ambitious undertaking, archaeologist Mithen describes 15,000 years of ancient history from 20,000 to 5,000 B.C....Mithen explores how studying the abrupt transition between the ice age and a period of global warming could provide clues to the effects of climate changes going on today.-- (03/05/2005)
After the Ice offers a fascinating whirlwind tour of an underappreciated segment of human history...The prose is lively and evocative as Mithen unfolds a compelling story...The cumulative effect of this book should be a profound new appreciation of a largely unknown and crucially important period of our past. If you want to find out what you don't know about the grand sweep of human history, there is not a better place to start.-- (05/01/2005)