Chapter

The history of prehistory

Chris Gosden

in Prehistory: A Very Short Introduction

Second edition

Published in print June 2018 | ISBN: 9780198803515
Published online June 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780191841705 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780198803515.003.0002

Series: Very Short Introductions

The history of prehistory

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  • Prehistoric Archaeology
  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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‘The history of prehistory’ explains how the idea of prehistory arose gradually between the 16th and early 19th centuries in Europe and America, growing large and influential through debates about evolution in the mid-19th century. National and personal identities were problematical, but deeper issues of identity surfaced through 19th-century debates that have never gone away. At the beginning of the 20th century, an alternative set of views emphasized the local specificity and integrity of human cultures. Today, our questions have shifted away from why some people did not ascend to the top rung of the ladder of progress and towards how people created worlds for themselves that made internal sense.

Keywords: agriculture; Franz Boas; Vere Gordon Childe; Charles Lyell; Neolithic; pottery

Chapter.  5224 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology ; Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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