We, modern humans, are one of the youngest species on the planet. For our first hundred millennia we survived as hunters and foragers, moving about the land, following seasonal resources. It was only some ten thousand years ago that we domesticated plants and animals, thereby transforming our settlements, social relationships, diet and beliefs.
Focusing on the British Isles, David Miles explores this period of societal change – the Neolithic, or ‘New Stone Age’ – using the most iconic artifact of its time, the polished stone axe, as a guide to the revolution that changed the world. Mixing anecdote, ethnography and archaeological analysis, Miles vividly demonstrates how the archaeology on the ground reveals to us the evolving worldview of a species increasingly altering their own landscape; settling down together, investing in agricultural plots, and collectively erecting massive ceremonial monuments to cement new communal identities.
As a direct result of the invention, and intensification, of agriculture, the planet has entered the Anthropocene, or the ‘age of humanity’: an era in which we are changing the world around us in significant, accelerating and often unpredictable ways. Our ancestors set us on the path to the modern world we live in; now seven billion humans must face the challenges ahead.