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The Death of Prehistory

Peter R. Schmidt and Stephen A. Mrozowski


Since the eighteenth century, the concept of prehistory was exported by colonialism to far parts of the globe and applied to populations lacking written records. Prehistory in these settings came to represent primitive people still living in a state without civilisation and its foremost index, literacy. Yet, many societies outside the Western world had developed complex methods of history-making and documentation, including epic poetry and the use of physical and mental mnemonic devices. Even so, the deeply engrained concept of prehistory — deeply entrenched in European minds up to the beginni ... More

Keywords: prehistory, colonialism, history-making, literacy, poetry, mnemonic devices, West, archaeology, human history

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199684595
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015 DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199684595.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Peter R. Schmidt, editor
Professor of Anthropology and African Studies, University of Florida

Stephen A. Mrozowski, editor
Director, Fiske Center for Archaeological Research, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Boston

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1 The Death of Prehistory

Peter R. Schmidt and Stephen A. Mrozowski

Part I Histories of Prehistory

Part II Perspectives Arising Out of Africa and India

4 Routes to History

Jonathan R. Walz

Part III Perspectives Arising Out of the Americas

8 History Interrupted

Rosemary A. Joyce and Russell N. Sheptak

13 Sacred Mesas

Joseph R. Aguilar and Robert W. Preucel

14 Conclusion

Stephen A. Mrozowski and Peter R. Schmidt