Price, T. Douglas. Europe Before Rome: A Site-by-Site Tour of the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages.

NY: Oxford University Press, 2013.

This volume, with its hundreds of glossy color photos, is just what it says it is: A survey of prehistoric Europe. But rather than a theoretical overview, it deals with a large number of very specific excavation sites, and what has been found in each, and what the finds mean. And it’s all very up-to-date.

It starts with the amazing site at Atapuerca, in northern Spain, where remains have been found ranging from more than a million years ago up to the Bronze Age. Then we meet the Neanderthals (with the latest evidence of how they were related to us, if at all), and we visit sites in Germany, France, and Croatia, with some thoughts on ancient DNA. Then on to the Paleolithic and the wide variety of finds across northern Europe, the origins and spread of agriculture, the introduction of polished flint axes, and the discovery of the body of Ötzi in the Italian Alps. Then there’s the age of the great megalithic constructions, from the Orkneys to Brittany to Stonehenge and Newgrange. The Bronze Age covers a variety of sites, from Knossos and Mycenae to Amesbury in England and Tanum in Sweden. Then comes the age of the Celts, the Germans, and the Scythians, with all the remains of their lush cultures, right up to the rise of Rome. Throughout, Price discusses the significance of these successive revolutions and how they are illuminated by the dozens of sites featured. Finally, there’s a forty-page, very current bibliography that should keep the interested reader busy for some time. This is a volume you can lose yourself in for months to come.

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