By Andrew Shryock
With Timothy Earle, Gillian Feeley-Harnik, Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Clive Gamble, April McMahon, John C. Mitani, Hendrik Poinar, Mary C. Stiner, and Thomas R. Trautmann
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Extra resources for Deep history : the architecture of past and present
Awareness of a time before antiquity became acute only in the nineteenth century, as the Darwinian revolution displaced the widely shared belief that the world was only 6,000 years old. The new age that suddenly opened up before Eden, dividing the human past into long and short chronologies, soon became the object of systematic study. Yet deep time seemed impervious to the methods of conventional historical writing, a state of affairs captured in the word coined to describe this newly remote past: prehistory.
The deep time of a discipline is not a specific date range or era: it is simply the earliest period to which the discipline pays attention. 6 Ma) to the origins of agriculture. Among historians, the deep time of the discipline is located in Greco-Roman antiquity. Though the Paleolithic and the ancient world are dramatically offset in absolute time, each provides the bedrock that supports disciplinary narratives. The middle layers of the cake are given over to the archaeology of complex societies and, among historians, to the study of “early modern” societies.
The entire span of time may come together in teaching: in the grand sweep of general anthropology, say, or in survey courses of world history. In their own research, however, most scholars limit their work to a single chronological layer and feel ill-equipped to move beyond this layer. In the great age of historico-anthropological writing of the nineteenth century, authors like Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Lewis Henry Morgan, and Edward Tylor ranged across vast reaches of human history, producing conjectural arguments characterized by spectacular vision and very little in the way of hard evidence.
Deep history : the architecture of past and present by Andrew Shryock