Neolithic  book cover
1st Edition


ISBN 9780415364140
Published August 6, 2007 by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

This excellent introductory textbook describes and explains the origins of modern culture– the dawn of agriculture in the Neolithic area.

Written in an easy-to-read style, this lively and engaging book familiarises the reader with essential archaeological and genetic terms and concepts, explores the latest evidence from scientific analyses as varied as deep sea coring, pollen identification, radiometric dating and DNA research, condensing them into an up-to-date academic account, specifically written to be clear even the novice reader.

Focusing primarily on sites in southwest Asia, Neolithic addresses questions such as:

  • Which plants and animals were the first to be domesticated, and how?
  • How did life change when people began farming?
  • What were the first villages like?
  • What do we know about the social, political and religious life of these newly founded societies?
  • What happened to human health as a result of the Neolithic Revolution?

Lavishly illustrated with almost a hundred images, this enjoyable book is an ideal introduction both for students of archaeology and for general readers interested in our past.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to the Neolithic  Box: Preservation at the Swiss Lake Villages  2. The Genetics of Domestication  Box: Natural Selection and the Peppered Moth  3.  Archaeological Evidence for Domestication  Box: Evidence of Domestication at Abu Hureyra  4. Plant Domestication  Box: The Domestication of Maize  5. Animal Domestication  Box: Dogs and Cats  6. Architecture Box: Monumental Architecture  7. Pottery  Box: Jomon Pottery  8. Diet and Disease  Box: Ceramics and Cooking  9. Power and Prestige  Box: War  10. Technology and Trade  Box: Women's Work  11. Art and Religion  Box: The Monumental Statues from 'Ain Ghazal'  12. What Caused the Neolithic Transition?  Appendix I: A Note about Dates in the Book  Appendix II: Geographical Place Names  Appendix III: Sites Mentioned in the Text

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Susan Foster McCarter holds a degree in Mediterranean prehistory from Brandeis University.  For almost twenty years she has been a member of the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University.  She also teaches art history and archaeology at York College of Pennsylvania.


"McCarter (Johns Hopkins) presents a broad-brush synthesis of the transition of  humanity from hunters and gatherers to farmers, focusing on the Near East. She weaves her discussion throught a tremendous amount of archaeological discovery, drawing from the significant sites and events and the theories that have been used to explain them. ... She includes a listing of the important archaeological sites, a glossary of important terms, and a bibliography of the more accessible publications for the reader. Well illustrated and engagingly written, this is an excellent introductory text for college-level courses in world archaeology." -- CHOICE June 2008, Vol 45 (R. B. Clay, University of Kentucky)