The Archaeology of Human Ancestry: Power, Sex and Tradition, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Archaeology of Human Ancestry

Power, Sex and Tradition, 1st Edition

Edited by Stephen Shennan, James Steele


472 pages

Book Content Available Open Access*
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*Open Access content has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) license

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Human social life is constrained and defined by our cognitive and emotional dispositions, which are the legacy of our foraging ancestors. But how difficult is it to reconstruct the social systems and cultural traditions of those ancestors?

The Archaeology of Human Ancestry provides a stimulating and provocative answer, in which archaeologists and biological anthropologists set out and demonstrate their reconstructive methods. Contributors use observations of primates and modern hunter-gatherers to illuminate the fossil and artefactual records. Thematic treatment covers the evolution of group size; group composition and the emotional structure of social bonds; sexual dimorphism and the sexual division of labour; and the origins of human cultural traditions.

The Archaeology of Human Ancestry is an essential introduction to the subject for advanced undergraduates and researchers in archaeology and biological anthropology. It will also be used by workers in psychology, sociology and feminist studies as a resource for understanding human social origins.


'I found myself engaged, enraged, and sometimes elated in reading it, and often added exclamations, question marks, curses, and kudos in the margins. I warmly recommend that you interact with it yourself.' - H. Martin Wobst, Antiquity

'This, the offspring of the 1992 Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) conference, must rank, in its breadth and diversity, as one of the most stimulating books in recent years on the evolution of hominid and early human culture … It would be hard to come away from it without having been excited by some new thoughts or perspectives on the subjects covered.' - Journal of Human Evolution

'Most Palaeoanthropologists - not just archaeologists - will identify something of direct interest in this collection.' - The Archaeological Journal

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology