Prehistoric Religion: A Study in Prehistoric Archaeology

Prehistoric Religion: A Study in Prehistoric Archaeology

Prehistoric Religion: A Study in Prehistoric Archaeology

Prehistoric Religion: A Study in Prehistoric Archaeology

Excerpt

In the considerable literature on prehistoric archaeology that has accumulated in recent years, covering almost every aspect of the subject, so far as I am aware there has been no attempt in this country to bring together and interpret in a single volume the available material relating specifically to religious phenomena. There have been and are, of course, many excellent and quite invaluable regional studies which describe and discuss much of the data in particular areas and cultures -- indeed but for them the present volume could not have been produced. There are also a number of works on various aspects of prehistory in general, directly or indirectly bearing on evidence analysed and reviewed in this book to which reference frequently has been made in its compilation, as will be seen from the footnotes and bibliographies. Nevertheless, for some time, and especially when the subject was discussed at a conference of the Prehistoric Society at the London University Institute of Archaeology in 1953, and at the meeting of the British Association at Bristol in 1955, it has seemed that an investigation of the field as an organized whole should be undertaken in the light of the evidence now at hand.

In opening such an inquiry an initial problem was to decide how the term "prehistoric" should be interpreted, and what should be the terminus ad quem. To have drawn the line at the invention of the art of writing would have excluded all consideration of the texts, documents, and inscriptions written or carved on prehistoric or protohistoric tombs, temples, stelae or tablets which, particularly for this investigation, constitute an all-important source of information, not only for contemporary belief and practice but also for their more remote background. The main purpose, however, of a study of Prehistoric Religion must be an examination of the discipline in its earliest manifestations prior to the recording of events in written documents in sufficient quantity to make possible a precise determination of their occurrence, chronology and significance through the . . .

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