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Ancient Lives: An Introduction to Archaeology and Prehistory (5th Edition) Paperback – Sep 23 2011

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Product Description

About the Author

In This Section:


I. Author Bio

II. Author Letter



I. Author Bio


Brian Fagan is one of the leading archaeological writers in the world and an internationally recognized authority on world prehistory. He studied archaeology and anthropology at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, and then spent seven years in sub-Saharan Africa working in museums and in monument conservation and excavating early farming sites in Zambia and East Africa. He was one of the pioneers of multidisciplinary African history in the 1960s. From 1967 to 2003, he was professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he specialized in lecturing and writing about archaeology to wide audiences. He is now professor emeritus.


Professor Fagan has written six best-selling textbooks: Ancient Lives: An Introduction to Archaeology and Prehistory; In the Beginning; Archaeology: A Brief Introduction; People of the Earth; World Preh istory; and A Brief History of Archaeology–all published by Prentice Hall–which are used around the world. His general books include The Rape of the Nile, a classic history of Egyptology; The Adventure of Archaeology; Time Detectives; Ancient North America; The Little Ice Age; and The Great Warming. He is general editor of the Oxford Companion to Archaeology. In addition, he has published several scholarly monographs on African archaeology and numerous specialized articles in national and international journals. He is also an expert on multimedia teaching and received the Society for American Archaeology’s first Public Education Award for his indefatigable efforts on behalf of archaeology and education.



II. Author Letter


Dear Colleague:


I became an archaeologist by accident, in large part because of the stories told by my very first university instructor, Miles Burkitt. Miles was an institution at Cambridge University where I studied archaeology. His lectures were long on artifacts and short on sophistication. But he was a consummate storyteller—about fellow archaeologists and copying Stone Age cave art with the legendary French prehistorian Abbé Breul before World War I, among other things. He taught me that storytelling is central to good teaching.


I started teaching introductory archaeology at the University of California - Santa Barbara in 1967, to an audience of 300 students. Finding no suitable textbooks, I ended up writing Ancient Lives; a short book that combined both the basics of method and theory—how archaeology works—and the major developments of world prehistory. It has filled an important niche in the marketplace for instructors who want a course that combines the basics both of archaeology itself and of human prehistory. To my delight, it has been widely used in many colleges and universities as a first introduction to a complex subject that has an important role to play in today’s world. I’m proud that highly respected archaeologists first encountered archaeology through its pages!


Ancient Lives is a straightforward journey through the world of archaeology and prehistory, which covers the basics--I mean the basics. Its chapters answer fundamental questions. How do we find sites, excavate them, and analyze their finds? How do we date the past? How do we study ancient landscapes and settlement patterns? It also tells the story of the human past from the emergence of the first humans in East Africa well before 2.5 million years ago to the appearance of the world’s first pre-industrial civilizations in 3100 B.C. and afterward. It surveys the long span of human experience in the Old World, also in the Americas, attempting to tell the story of our remote past as a straightforward narrative, not just a list of artifacts and archaeological sites. Ancient Lives is user friendly, as jargon-free as possible, and designed for complete beginners. It can serve either as a one-shot introduction to the subject as part of general education, or a basis for taking additional courses later on.


This new fifth edition draws on the success of earlier editions, and plentiful encouragement from users and reviewers, as well as students. The basic approach is unchanged: produce a simple narrative of method and theory and human prehistory for beginners. I’ve updated examples throughout, added new information on human evolution, and brought in some exciting new discoveries, such as the Göbekli carvings in Turkey and the Lords of Sicán from coastal Peru. The illustrations have been completely refreshed and revised for this edition. Otherwise, this updated and improved edition continues a successful formula that has introduced thousands of students to the fascinating world of archaeology. Long may it continue to do so!


Please do let me know what you think of the new edition of Ancient Lives. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions about the book, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail at brian@brianfagan.com .


I look forward to hearing from you!


Best regards,


Brian Fagan


Professor Emeritus

University of California—Santa Barbara

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
Good information, Organization lacking Oct. 9 2012
By Josh S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This text is an excellent resource for the diverse and vast amount of information uncovered through archaeology, and a good introduction to the sites and study of archaeology. My biggest issue is the extent to which this introductory text goes into detail, but more importantly the organization. At times, the section titles seem to be placed haphazardly, and the text goes into detail where such is not required, like a professor who begins a topic and spends a half-hour in a tangent only marginally related. While I appreciate the information, the organization of the text, specifically within the chapters, makes it a challenge at times to remain on task to seeing the "big picture" or overall point.
Most interesting textbook May 10 2013
By Shelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book. It has really sparked my interest in archeology. The writer is a great storyteller, and I think that cinched it for me. Yes it is a textbook and has factual stuff...but being interlaced with storytelling of both the authors experiences and past scenarios kept me from being bogged down with academic details. As with most of my textbooks, I underline and write in the margins, and basically make it impossible to resell them. This one I am more than happy to keep around after the class is over.
Pretty easy read July 19 2014
By Raquel Avalos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tends to be redundant throughout the same chapter. Its 'vocabulary' words it bolds in each chapter can sometimes be brief mentions of an archaeological site rather than further context. There are some interesting boxes with more in-depth information on some sites. Pretty easy read, but could have more in-depth accounts on methods.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
perfect book Aug. 30 2012
By Liu Yuxiao - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It s an almost new book with a lower price than that in my school. I think i ll buy more book from here later.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Snoozer... Sept. 21 2014
By Hard Drive J - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the most boring texts I've ever read.