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The Tale of the Axe

How the Neolithic Revolution Transformed Britain

David Miles


‘A powerful testimony to the value of archaeology in today’s world’ Brian Fagan


David Miles explores a period of great societal change through the most iconic artefact of its time, the polished stone axe. With a new Afterword considering the latest scientific research, Tale of the Axe vividly demonstrates how, in altering and manipulating their own landscape, our ancestors set us on the path to the world we live in now – a world we are changing in significant, accelerating and often unpredictable ways.


'Illuminating … As layered as the strata of an archaeological dig, this is a moving portrait of a people at a cultural and technological tipping point'

'Colourful and lively writing and an eye to current issues and idioms play their part … This is first-person scholarship at its most humane'
Literary Review

'[Miles] presents his scholarly findings with glints of good-humoured individuality which make his book pleasantly readable, even by lay persons'

'David Miles takes this archetypal artefact as a launchpad to explore a vast sweep of prehistory[…] with absorbing detail and an amiable turn of phrase … this new edition includes a thought-provoking afterword that brings the story up to date'
Current Archaeology

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 448 pp

Illustrations: 76

Publication date: 13 May 2021

ISBN: 9780500293874

Contents List

Preface • Prologue: A gift from the past • Part One: The Emergence of Humans • Part Two: The First Farmers • Part Three: Crossing the Water to Britain

About the Author

David Miles was the Director of the Oxford Archaeological Unit for many years, and worked on projects in Britain, France, Greece and the West Indies. In 1999 he became Chief Archaeologist at English Heritage, where he developed a maritime archaeology unit and a project to study the impact of slavery in England. He has written many books on archaeology, particularly on the Roman and Migration periods in Britain, and one on the origins of the British, The Tribes of Britain.

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