THE THRESHOLD OF CIVILIZATION by

THE THRESHOLD OF CIVILIZATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A study of three ancient human clusters--a truly primitive hunting camp in Southern France, a settlement in Czechoslovakia which began to produce artistic expressions, and a Turkish society which achieved actual weaving and architecture. The first two were neolithic, the third paleolithic; none of them had the extensive agriculture which freed part of the population for specialized activities but each is striking. In a manner now uncommon among professional anthropologists, Fairservis takes human consciousness, not material developments, as his starting point--that is, the beginning of social advances. He differentiates the three settlements in terms of their ability to stay in one fixed place--signal of a society one step above the peripatetic hunters. This required secure local food sources, ways to cope with the seasons, and defenses against predators. Each of the three cultures mastered these challenges at a progressively higher level, and the Catal Hulyuk settlement in Turkey had a richness in symbolic expression and a heightened sense of time and space that corresponded to its achievements as a protocity. The three examples remain geographically and temporally separate, and it is impossible to specify the precise creative ideas that pushed each upward. However, Fairservis reminds us that human beings have been able to use their minds to reshape their environment and the scholarly presentation is impressive. Fairservis is acting curator of the Eurasian Anthropology Collections at the American Museum of Natural History and author of a number of books on Eastern and Middle Eastern anthropology.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1975
Publisher: Scribners