Pictorial reconstructions of ancient human ancestors have twin purposes: to make sense of shared ancestry and to bring prehistory to life. Stephanie Moser analyzes the close relationship between representations of the past and theories about human evolution, showing how this relationship existed even before a scientific understanding of human origins developed. How did mythological, religious, and historically inspired visions of the past, in existence for centuries, shape this understanding? Moser treats images as primary documents, and her book is lavishly illustrated with engravings, paintings, photographs, and reconstructions.
In surveying the iconography of prehistory, Moser explores visions of human creation from their origins in classical, early Christian, and medieval periods through traditions of representation initiated in the Renaissance. She looks closely at the first scientific reconstructions of the nineteenth century, which dramatized and made comprehensible the Darwinian theory of human descent from apes. She considers, as well, the impact of reconstructions on popular literature in Europe and North America, showing that early visualizations of prehistory retained a firm hold on the imagination-a hold that archaeologists and anthropologists have found difficult to shake.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 28 g
Dimensions: 248 x 171 x 21 mm
"A well-illustrated look at the quest for our own genesis."* College and Research Libraries News *
"Moser introduces a new element: the impact of visual imagery in the domain of science. Moser argues, quite correctly, that visual images play a far more influential role in shaping thought than written texts.... Scientists as well as humanists and social scientists should all read this book."-- Joan M. Vastokas, Trent Univeristy * Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology *
"Moser makes a strong argument for the enduring nature of long-held visual icons in the depiction of early humans. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate collections."* Choice *
"What a delight to browse through this carefully prepared, beautifully illustrated volume!... This is altogether a fine volume, breathing visual life into this too-often-neglected aspect of scientific communication."* American Scientist *
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