Becoming Human: Innovation in Prehistoric Material and Spiritual Culture

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The Upper Palaeolithic era of Europe has left an abundance of evidence for symbolic activities, such as direct representations of animals and other features of the natural world, personal adornments, and elaborate burials, as well as other vestiges that are more abstract and cryptic. These behaviours are also exhibited by populations throughout the world, from the prehistoric period through to the present day. How can we interpret these activities? What do they tell us about the beliefs and priorities of the people who carried them out? How do these behaviours relate to ideologies, cosmology, and understanding of the world? What can they tell us about the emergence of ritual and religious thought? And how do the activities of humans in prehistoric Europe compare with those of their predecessors there and elsewhere? In this volume, fifteen internationally renowned scholars contribute essays that explore the relationship between symbolism, spirituality, and humanity in the prehistoric societies of Europe and traditional societies elsewhere. The volume is richly illustrated with 50 halftones and 24 colour plates.