Before civilization: the radiocarbon revolution and prehistoric Europe

by Colin Renfrew

Paper Book, 1973



Call number

GN803 .R46 1973


New York, Knopf; [distributed by Random House] 1973.


The refinement of radiocarbon dating using the information form tree-ring counts has raised serious doubts about the accepted theoretical frameowkr of European prehistory. Monuments in Central and Western Europe have proved to be considerably older than their supposed Near-Eastern forerunners, and the record must be almost completely rewritten in the light of these new dates. Before Civilsation is a preliminary attempt to do this with the help of analogies from more recent and well-documented primitive societies. The more glaring inconsistencies in the old theory are re-examined and Professor Renfrew shows convincingly how the baffling monuments of prehistoric Europe, like Stonehenge, could have been built without recourse to help from the 'more civilized' Near East.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member edwinbcn
Although the first six chapters (130 pages) are rather specialised and technical, they do form the basis for a very convincing and interesting second part of the book, I found the second part of the book (Chapt seven ff) especially very interesting because of its approach to prehistory by comparing
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the life of prehistoric man with life in a number of primitive or disappeared civilisations, thus offering possible explanations for developments in Europe. Besides Bronze Age Britain, I much enjoyed the sections on Malta, Crete, Easter Island, Tahiti and the North American Hopi Indian.
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Original publication date


Physical description

292 p.; 25 cm


0394481933 / 9780394481937



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