Book review essay: The New Stone Age – 1550

 “The New Stone Age inNorthern Europe” by John M. Tyler

The book “The New Stone Age inNorthern Europe” by John M. Tyler is a thoroughly written research, concerning different sides of life during the New Stone Age. The era was called so, because people began to use stone tools and instruments. The turn from hunting and gathering to farming was a great achievement, which allowed people settle together in large groups. Food and shelter now was in abundance, which helped people start developing other aspects of life. People began to think of world around and formed their religious beliefs.

This book is detailed and well-written, owing the experience of the author. Nevertheless he was not a specialist in this sphere, that’s why he probably relied on the knowledge of other researchers. The book is divided into twelve chapters, the most captivating of which are those dealing with life of people during this age. The chapter “Neolithic industries” describes inventions and activities of ancient people. The main characteristic was cattle-raising, which gradually replaced other hunting. It was a further step to civilized life. Neolithic era is characterized by the diversity of culture in different regions.

The author claims that in many aspects modern civilization can be related to the Neolithic era. The knowledge of them will be valuable for historians and sociologists, as the New Stone Age has left a great number of materials to decipher and investigate. These include stone monuments in many European countries, agricultural tools, pottery, bones of animals, clothes and ornaments. All these elements show us the development of Neolithic people, from exchanging the patterns to migration and trade. The study of pottery still can’t give us clear chronology, although it is likely to help in future. This book contains valuable information about Neolithic customs, traditions and life styles. It is a summary of investigations, concerning relations between people during this period. The author confesses that today’s knowledge is not complete and clear yet. That’s why the author intended this book for students who would be curious to learn some facts, get interested and continue to make more discoveries and suggestions. For this, the author prepared a wide list of books in the bibliography. By reading them, one would reject some ideas and accept the others. In this way, the work on this topic is supposed be more efficient and productive.

But I think that the book ofTyleris intended not only for students, historians and sociologists, but also for general people, who are interested in the history of human development on its early stages. The author gives a detailed description of cultural and technological development, and highlights aspects which distinguish this era from Paleolithic and Mesolithic ones. One of such aspects, for example, is the domestication of wild animals and plants.

This era was a turn to food-production, not just gathering, and is characterized by the rise of urban civilization.

I think that the author tried to answer the question why the Neolithic era is so significant. First of all humans turned to a new life style, which brought considerable changes in the social organization. People began to live in tribes. The author also examines the reasons for such a turn in human history. First of all it began after the last retreat of glaciers. As a result people began to lead a settled way of life, staying in one place for longer periods of time. People arranged farms for cultivating crops. They built wooden houses with sharp roofs, and produced clothes from leather and other materials. Other goods were made of horns and bones. As I’ve mentioned, the author paid much attention to the Neolithic religion and customs, related with it. Leaders of early communities were buried in accordance with religious rituals, most of which are now lost. But the graves themselves were a good source of knowledge about the Neolithic society on the whole. Important community leaders were buried in special narrow burial-mount, or tumulus.

Finally I’d like to emphasize that among all the achievements of New Stone Age, the megaliths (“huge stones”) are the most impressive. They were found in many corners ofEurope, and were connected with either religious rituals, or entertainment. Massive stones (or sometimes wood) were installed in special places on the whole continent. John M. Tyler doesn’t give a thorough description of these achievements, but it is well-known that the most famous of them was Stonehenge inWiltshire,England. It is supposed to be finished in 2000-1500 B.C. Such megaliths prove that people of Neolithic era were not savage barbarians. They were civilized and intellectually developed. The tombs are the most widely spread kinds of megaliths. There were found nearly 50,000 of them on the European continent.

In conclusion I’d like to say that the book of John Tyler aimed to show how important it is to reconstruct the phases of human prehistoric life. Although it is extremely difficult to follow the chronology, and the more we live, the more mysteries are left behind, it important to refer to the past in order to understand human development.

The skillfully written book of John Tyler will help to understand the New Stone Age ”“ a considerable period in human evolution.

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