This thought-provoking collection of new research papers explores the extent of variation among hunting and gathering peoples past and present and the considerable analytical challenges presented by this diversity. This problem is especially important in archaeology, where increasing empirical evidence illustrates ways of life that are not easily encompassed within the range of variation recognised in the contemporary world of surviving hunter-gatherers. Put simply, how do past hunter-gatherers fit into our understanding of hunter-gatherers? Furthermore, given the inevitable archaeological reliance on analogy, it is important to ask whether conceptions of hunter-gatherers based on contemporary societies restrict our comprehension of past diversity and of how this changes over the long term. Discussion of hunter-gatherers shows them to be varied and flexible, but modelling of contemporary hunter-gatherers has not only reduced them into essential categories but has also portrayed them as static and without history. It is often said that the study of hunter-gatherers can provide insight into past forms of social organisation and behaviour; unfortunately too often it has limited our understanding of these societies. In contrast, contributors here explore past hunter-gather diversity over time and space to provide critical perspectives on general models of 'hunter-gatherers' and attempt to provide new perspectives on hunter-gatherer societies from the greater diversity present in the past.
1 The diversity of hunter-gatherer pasts: an introduction / Bill Finlayson and Graeme Warren
PART 1: PATTERNS OF DIVERSITY AND CHANGE
2 Expanding notions of hunter-gatherer diversity: identifying core organisational principles and practices in Coast Salish societies of the northwest Coast of North America / Colin Grier
3 Conceptualising subsistence in central Africa and the West over the longue durée / Kathryn M. de Luna
4 The end of hunting and gathering / Bill Finlayson
5 Okhotsk and Sushen: history and diversity in Iron Age Maritime hunter-gatherers of northern Japan / Mark J. Hudson
6 Comparative analysis of the development of hunter-fisher-gatherer societies of Tierra Del Fuego and the Northwest Coast of America / Jordi Estévez and Alfredo Prieto
PART 2: DIVERSITY, COMPARISONS AND ANALOGIES
7 Let’s start with our academic past: the abandoned ‘Vienna School’ and our hunter-gatherer pasts / Reinhard Blumauer
8 Experimental ethnoarchaeology: studying hunter-gatherers at the uttermost end of the Earth / Robert Carracedo-Recasens and Albert García-Piquer
9 Strangers in a strange land? Intimate sociality and emergent creativity in Middle Palaeolithic Europe / Penny Spikins, Gail Hitchens and Andy Needham
10 Making the familiar past: northwest European hunter-gatherers, analogies and comparisons / Graeme Warren
11 Hunter-gatherers in sub-tropical Asia: valid and invalid comparisons / Jana Fortier and Paul S. Goldstein
12 Archaeological dimensions of past and present hunter-fisher-gatherer diversity / Paul J. Lane
Bill Finlayson is Director of the Council for British Research in the Levant and works on the early Neolithic of southwest Asia, primarily undertaking fieldwork in southern Jordan at a number of Pre-Pottery Neolithic sites. He has been working to promote southwest Asian Neolithic heritage as an asset for local communities and tourism.
Graeme Warren is a professor in the School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Ireland, where he has worked since 2002. He is a specialist in the archaeology of hunter-gatherers, with a particular research interest in the Mesolithic of Europe. His major research projects have been in Ireland and Scotland.
"The book provides the reader with a global view of hunter-gatherers, and is an important contribution to our understanding of how prehistoric hunter gatherer societies may have functioned."
– George Nash, Current World Archaeology
"It was with some trepidation, therefore, that I agreed to review this volume [...] I need not have worried. The volume is entirely in the capable hands of archaeologists."
– Clive Gamble, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society