Ancestors: A prehistory of Britain in seven burials

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Ancestors: A prehistory of Britain in seven burials

Ancestors: A prehistory of Britain in seven burials

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At one point Roberts memorably describes excavating Beaker pottery, like that found in the grave of the Amesbury Archer.

The book's highlight is the 20-30-some page chapter survey regarding the salient, significant, bigger picture that the site represents. This is a subject about which she has been involved as broadcaster and author for many years and about which she is both authoritive and a great communicator. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Photograph: Christopher Jones/Alamy View image in fullscreen Bryn Celli Ddu, a Neolithic passage tomb on Anglesey. Life was a state of existence with a disease, bad teeth, crippling, broken bones healed and unhealed (the Hunter of Amesbury had lost his knee cap and recovered with a horribly crippled leg), heavy burden bone scars.But in Ancestors, anthropologist, broadcaster and academic Professor Alice Roberts explores what we can learn about the very earliest Britons, from burial sites and by using new technology to analyse ancient DNA.

Detailed archaeology – trowel work – as well as historical imagination are still essential to understanding the past. Studies of DNA from other Beaker graves in Germany show ancestry from the Eurasian steppe and migration clearly played a major role in establishing Beaker culture. But in Ancestors , pre-eminent archaeologist, broadcaster and academic Professor Alice Roberts explores what we can learn about the very earliest Britons, from burial sites and by using new technology to analyse ancient DNA. For the deep history/archaeology diver, there's nothing like experiencing the landscape to focus the mind's eye.Alice has been a Professor of Public Engagement with Science at the University of Birmingham since 2012. Professor Alice Roberts is an academic, author and broadcaster, specialising in human anatomy, physiology, evolution, archaeology and history. Although Roberts does draw on genomic evidence to show the migration of peoples in prehistory, what is so fascinating about this book is the way it weaves together scientific and cultural interpretation.

Remains have disappeared, as it would happen after 2 world wars and before the invention of 'archaeology'. Linguistic gender is the way that words are tied together by categorising the things they represent, thus nouns are tied to pronouns by gender, and both are tied to adjectives in many European languages. The language of the Beaker People was a variant of Proto-Indo-European, which had two linguistic genders -- animate and inanimate. One thing that did surprise me that Alice Roberts did not mention particularly when talking about women warriors and even gender fluidity was the Scythians as she does mention the Yamnaya culture "“Yamnaya (from the Russian for pits: yama) and has long been recognised to have connections with the Bell Beaker phenomenon in western Europe. This is a detailed and richly imagined account of the deep history of the British landscape, which brings alive those “who have walked here before us”, and speaks powerfully of a sense of connectedness to place that is rooted in common humanity: “we are just the latest human beings to occupy this landscape”.In the 20th Century, society was largely defined by a division into male and female, and property ownership was the key to social class. Obvious books to read if you enjoyed this, would be Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. The author delivers several of the best summaries I've seen regarding the Beaker People, Arras culture, genetics and isotope analysis, and the long-term implications of 100,000-some years of migrations and retreats. For example, one chapter revolves around the ways in which the presence of Stonehenge has distorted our theories about the surrounding landscape -- every settlement turns into "where the builders of Stonehenge lived"; even Mesolithic remains are evaluated in the context of their proximity to Stonehenge!

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