For November’s 'Recommended Read', two distinguished colleagues from our Archaeology Advisory Board provide their thoughts on a comprehensive collection of essays released in 2017, The Exploitation of Raw Materials in Prehistory: Sourcing, Processing and Distribution. Between them, Dr Vladimir Doronichev and Dr Liubov Golovanova have around 75 years of experience in the study of Prehistoric Archaeology.
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Vladimir has worked as Director of the Laboratory of Prehistory, an autonomous non-profit organisation in St. Petersburg, since 1999. He has co-directed fieldwork with Liubov at numerous sites in the Caucasus, and has been the Principal Investigator in research projects supported by grants from the Russian Humanities Scientific Foundation, the Fulbright Program, and the National Geographic Society, amongst others. The results of his research have been reported at Harvard University, the University of California in Berkeley, the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, and Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Since defending her PhD thesis in 1986, Dr Liubov Golovanova’s career has followed a similar trajectory. In 1999, she became the Deputy Director and Researcher at the Laboratory of Prehistory, where she has worked ever since. She has published more than 200 papers in Russian, English and French in a number of prestigious journals such as Science, Nature, the Journal of Human Evolution, the Journal of World Prehistory, and L’Anthropologie.
The volume they’ve chosen to review, The Exploitation of Raw Materials in Prehistory: Sourcing, Processing and Distribution, edited by Telmo Pereira, Xavier Terradas, and Nuno Bicho, merges archaeology, anthropology, geology, geography, physics and chemistry to reconstruct the complexities of past human behaviour.
The multidisciplinary reach of the collection is highlighted in Vladimir and Liubov’s review, which you can read below:
“The Exploitation of Raw Materials in Prehistory is of interest not only for experts in prehistory, but will be stimulating as a kind of guide for all academics and scholars involved in studying the primitive societies and human survival strategies of the past, as well as for all readers who are interested in the lives of people in the Stone Age. The expansive collection of forty-three essays written by a large corpus of specialists from different countries in Europe, America and Africa, and studying various periods of prehistory affords the reader an in-depth view on the exploitation of stone and other non-organic raw materials in the Stone Age, providing details for a comprehensive understanding of specific scientific issues of this large research field.
The innovative approach that was applied by the editors is based on an intimate merging of archaeological, anthropological, geological, geophysical, and geochemical data to reconstruct human social behaviour, economy, technology, and ecology, and ultimately show the social and mental complexity of various human populations and cultural groups in the Stone Age. The book gathers original, up-to-date research results in the field of human exploitation of stone and other non-organic raw materials in prehistory, starting from the Middle Palaeolithic of Israeli and Russian plains, up to the Iron Age in Europe and the Near East, and ending with the late prehistoric people of North and South America.
Most of the chapters in the collection present modern methodological and analytical approaches that are applied to the study of issues related to human procurement and exploitation of stone used for manufacturing of stone tools and producing blanks for tools. In addition, some of the essays presented are devoted to the investigation of ochre used by prehistoric people as mineral pigments, to the techniques of bead making from various kinds of stone, and to the technology and manufacture of stone cooking slabs, grinding stones, and Neolithic pottery. The book ultimately shows how the data acquired from studies of various non-organic raw materials help to identify traits of past human behaviour, such as cognition, territoriality, social organisation, adaptation to natural environments, and technology.”
You can purchase the text or learn more about it by clicking here.