Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind by Colin Renfrew

‘A considerable triumph’ Sunday Telegraph MHM

Introduced by Alice Roberts
24 pages of colour and black & white plates
Published 5 September 2013, £29.95

Two centuries ago the notion of prehistory did not exist: many European scholars believed, following biblical calculations, that the Earth was created in 4004 BCE. In his ground-breaking work, Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind, Professor Colin Renfrew, Senior Fellow in Archaeology at the McDonald Institute of Cambridge University, shows how this belief was gradually overturned by archaeology, geology and of course Darwinism, in the 19th century, and the radiocarbon ‘revolution’ in the 20th.

The Folio Society is publishing a striking illustrated edition of Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind which Professor Alice Roberts, anthropologist and paleopathologist, describes as an ‘intellectual adventure’ in her newly commissioned introduction. This edition contains a rich selection of outstanding images: aerial photography of early monuments in the Americas, bronzes from the Shang dynasty, and perhaps the earliest known human portrait: a figure modelled in lime plaster from Jordan, circa 7200 BCE .

Defined as the span of our time on Earth before written records, prehistory covers most of human existence.  Examining this period presents immense challenges – not just because of the lack of documentation, but because our view of the past is continually changing.  Renfrew explores the problems and issues that confront the discipline today, and highlights the importance of a cognitive archaeology that aims to trace the development of the human mind. In this concise study of prehistory, Renfrew presents us with a brilliant overview of his field.