How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans

Book - 2010
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They survived by their wits in a snowbound world, hunting, and sometimes being hunted by, animals many times their size. By flickering firelight, they drew bison, deer, and mammoths on cavern walls- vibrant images that seize our imaginations after thirty thousand years. They are known to archaeologists as the Cro-Magnons-but who were they? Simply put, these people were among the first anatomically modern humans. For millennia, their hunter-gatherer culture flourished in small pockets across Ice Age Europe, the distant forerunner to the civilization we live in now.

Bestselling author Brian Fagan brings these early humans out of the deep freeze with his trademark mix of erudition, cutting-edge science, and vivid storytelling. Cro-Magnon reveals human society in its infancy, facing enormous environmental challenges from glaciers, predators, and a rival species of humans-the Neanderthals. Cro-Magnon captures the adaptability that has made humans an unmatched success as a species. Living on a frozen continent with only crude tools, Ice Age humans survived and thrived. In these pages, we meet our most remarkable ancestors.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2010.
ISBN: 9781608194056
Characteristics: xviii, 295 p., [8] p. of plates :,ill. (some col.), maps :,c25 cm.


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VaughanPLKelly May 26, 2017

Fagan writes for the non-specialists, and includes a number of imagined vignettes to describe what the life of early modern humans would have been like. It also includes some boxes to further explain some of the archaeological concepts and terms. However, I would have preferred more archaeology and fewer hypothetical descriptions.

Aug 23, 2015

This appears to be an attempt to discuss Cro-Magnon history for the non-scientist. It touches on some of the scientific methods used in archaeological study of the period. The difficulty here is that there is very little in the way of material goods to use in the archaeology. Imagine trying to coherently discuss our society when all you have to do it with are a gun, a barbecue fork, a golf club and an awl. The author does speculate, but he clearly identifies when this occurs and to my mind the speculations are plausible.

OhioEngineer Oct 31, 2014

This book is long on story-telling and short on facts. The author spends a great amount of time making up and telling stories of how Cro-Magnon families "could" have lived. If I had wanted this, I would have read one of Jean Auel's fiction books about early humans, which are much more entertaining.

On the other hand, Fagan spends very little time on actual facts: for example he spends only five minutes talking about radiocarbon dating, a very important subject when discussing early man, since almost all that we know is based upon artifacts that have been dated by this method.

Overall I expected much more from this book.

Jan 09, 2014

Fagan writes about how, where and when man jump starts his intelligence. How climate shaped our modern mind 75 thousand years ago.

Sep 30, 2011

Great read!

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