SECRETS OF THE ICE AGE: Prehistoric Hunters and Their Art by Evan Hadingham

SECRETS OF THE ICE AGE: Prehistoric Hunters and Their Art

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Common sense, simplicity, and brevity reign in author/archaeologist Evan Hadingham's account of the life and times of Ice Age Homo sapiens--as deducible, primarily, from his art. The book opens with a short discussion of human evolution, the discovery of cave art, and the methods of archaeological analysis; then it dives into the controversy about the rise and fall of Neanderthal man. Is there a piece of the intelligent brute in us all or did our ancestors extinguish him without leaving a genetic trace? Cro-Magnon man, the modern form of Homo sapiens that replaced Neanderthal, is the focus of the rest of the book, especially as he lived during the Magdalenian times (16,000-9,000 B.C.) that are known for the vibrant cave paintings at Lascaux, Altamira, and other European sites. At each point Hadingham provides balanced appraisals of competing theories: Marshall Sahlins' view of hunter-gatherers as the original affluent society vs. the Hobbesian view of their existence which Hadingham favors; Fran‡ois Bordes' cultural interpretation of differences in stone tools vs. Lewis Binford's functional interpretation. Some of his own assertions will be disputed--that for instance, horses may have been bridled and reindeer semi-domesticated 20,000 years ago--but these are well-argued and properly qualified. Discussions of cave paintings, archaeological sites, and even publications are fresh and lively because Hadingham incorporates the most recent discoveries. The book ends with a short, sad chapter on the destruction of cave art by vandals, tourists, and nature. Good popular archaeology, appropriately illustrated--and especially timely now that the Ice Age Art exhibit is embarked on a national tour.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1979
Publisher: Walker