Around 12,000 years ago, the course of human history changed forever when hunter-gatherer communities in western Asia made a dramatic lifestyle change, switching from foraging to farming. It was the beginning of the Neolithic revolution: a cultural phenomenon that swept across Europe to reach Britain c.4,000 BC. The Neolithic ‘package’ included domestication of plants and animals, pottery, building settlements and monuments, and the technological leap forward that was the polished stone axe. David Miles takes this archetypal artefact as a launchpad to explore a vast sweep of prehistory, from the emergence of Homo sapiens out of a diverse array of early hominins to the first flickerings of the Bronze Age, with absorbing detail and an amiable turn of phrase. The Tale of the Axe was first published in 2016, but in just five years our understanding of the Neolithic has greatly expanded. This new edition includes a thought-provoking afterword that brings the story up to date, summarising recent discoveries and exciting scientific advances.
The Tale of the Axe: how the Neolithic revolution transformed Britain, David Miles, Thames & Hudson, £14.99, ISBN 978-0500293874. Review by CH.
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