How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans

Book - 2010
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Cro-Magnons were the first fully modern Europeans?not only the creators of the stunning cave paintings at Lascaux and elsewhere, but the most adaptable and technologically inventive people that had yet lived on earth. The prolonged encounter between the Cro-Magnons and the archaic Neanderthals and between 45,000 and 30,000 years ago was one of the defining moments of history. The Neanderthals survived for some 15,000 years in the face of the newcomers, but were finally pushed aside by the Cro-Magnons' vastly superior intellectual abilities and cutting-edge technologies, which allowed them to thrive in the intensely challenging climate of the Ice Age.
What do we know about this remarkable takeover? Who were the first modern Europeans and what were they like? How did they manage to thrive in such an extreme environment? And what legacy did they leave behind them after the cold millennia? The age of the Cro-Magnons lasted some 30,000 years?longer than all of recorded history. Cro-Magnon is the story of a little known, yet seminal, chapter of human experience.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2010.
ISBN: 9781596915824
Characteristics: xviii, 295 p., [8] p. of plates :,ill. (some col.), maps :,c25 cm.


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There have been new scientific discoveries about Neanderthals and their relationship to Cro Magnons since this book was written. I hope the author will update his writings. Otherwise, the book is interesting and easy to read.

VaughanPLKelly May 26, 2017

Fagan writes for the non-specialists, and includes a number of imagined vignettes to describe what the life of early modern humans would have been like. It also includes some boxes to further explain some of the archaeological concepts and terms. However, I would have preferred more archaeology and fewer hypothetical descriptions.

Aug 23, 2015

This appears to be an attempt to discuss Cro-Magnon history for the non-scientist. It touches on some of the scientific methods used in archaeological study of the period. The difficulty here is that there is very little in the way of material goods to use in the archaeology. Imagine trying to coherently discuss our society when all you have to do it with are a gun, a barbecue fork, a golf club and an awl. The author does speculate, but he clearly identifies when this occurs and to my mind the speculations are plausible.

OhioEngineer Oct 31, 2014

This book is long on story-telling and short on facts. The author spends a great amount of time making up and telling stories of how Cro-Magnon families "could" have lived. If I had wanted this, I would have read one of Jean Auel's fiction books about early humans, which are much more entertaining.

On the other hand, Fagan spends very little time on actual facts: for example he spends only five minutes talking about radiocarbon dating, a very important subject when discussing early man, since almost all that we know is based upon artifacts that have been dated by this method.

Overall I expected much more from this book.

Jan 09, 2014

Fagan writes about how, where and when man jump starts his intelligence. How climate shaped our modern mind 75 thousand years ago.

Sep 30, 2011

Great read!

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