|Like so many highly
imaginative children, I became fascinated by Greek mythology as a early age, a
fascination that soon expanded to encompass both contemporary
fantasy and ancient history. But for a long time I accepted the
standard 20th century notion that fantasy and history were two very
separate things and that the sense of wonder I found in myths and fairy
tales had never actually existed in real life.
That iron wall of separation began to weaken in the 1970's and 80's, as the idea took hold that our prehistoric ancestors had been more inventive, more exploratory, and more consciously innovative than had ever been acknowledged. But it's only in the last few years that it's become possible to associate this amazing creativity with their having lived in a realm of the imagination that had more in common with present-day fantasy stories than with the sober reconstructions of the archaeologists.
A few of the items listed below go back to 2004, when I was first coming to this realization, and are primarily concerned with refutng the old 20th century prejudices. Most, however, are part of an ongoing project that I began in 2009 to reframe the early history of our species in new 21st century terms.
Once upon a time, the world was emptier than it is now, and our ancestors wandered through it freely, lured onward by the prospect of marvels just beyond the next hill. Those days are long gone, but their spirit remains in our dreams, in our stories, and in the very languages we speak.
The Late Paleolithic
The Invention of the Neolithic:
The Later Neolithic and the Birth of Civilization: