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The Past in Perspective

An Introduction to Human Prehistory

Sixth Edition

Kenneth L. Feder

Publication Date - June 2013

ISBN: 9780199950737

592 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $92.95

A narrative of human prehistory that personalizes the past and makes it relevant to today's students


Ideal for introduction to archaeology and world prehistory courses, The Past in Perspective: An Introduction to Human Prehistory, Sixth Edition, is an engaging and up-to-date chronological overview of human prehistory. Kenneth L. Feder introduces students to "the big picture"--the grand sweep of human evolutionary history--presenting the human past within the context of fundamental themes of cultural evolution. Written in a refreshingly accessible voice, this unique narrative personalizes the past and makes it relevant to today's students. Using a consistent chapter format--"Prelude, Chronicle, Issues and Debates, and Case Study Close-up"--Feder helps students master both what we definitely know and what is still debatable about the complex story of the human past.

New to this Edition

  • * An expanded discussion of techniques in the discovery, analysis, and interpretation of archaeological sites (Ch. 2)
  • * A new section on archaeological ethics
  • * Updated coverage of the earliest human settlement of the Pacific and in the New World (Ch. 7)
  • * A new "Issues and Debates" discussion: Was the Development of Civilization a Good Thing? (Ch. 10)
  • * Updated treatment of the Indus Valley and the development of the state in ancient China (Ch. 11)
  • * An expanded presentation of the Inca, including a new "Case Study Close-up" on child sacrifice (Ch. 13)
  • * A new "Case Study Close-up" (Ch. 14) that focuses exclusively on North America

About the Author(s)

Kenneth L. Feder is Professor of Anthropology at Central Connecticut State University. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology (2010); Linking to the Past: A Brief Introduction to Archaeology, Second Edition (OUP, 2007); and Human Antiquity: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology and Archaeology (2006).

Previous Publication Date(s)

November 2010
April 2009
January 2003


"The approach of The Past in Perspective is extremely effective for introductory courses. The author stays neatly on topic, providing concise, well-written overviews of the most crucial information and issues, and giving crisp summations of recent discoveries and current debates. Feder's approach to paleoanthropology and archaeological knowledge is the most effective I have seen for introducing students to the deep history of human origins."--Mark A. Rees, University of Louisiana-Lafayette

"I really like the 'Issues and Debates' feature. It demonstrates that archaeology is not a magical science that has every answer to the questions of antiquity and allows students to see that science proceeds in fits and starts, with a lot of debate about the interpretation of archaeological materials. It also allows for students to bring their own ideas to the issues at hand."--Dean H. Wheeler, Glendale Community College

"I find Feder's writing style one of the most engaging and student-friendly of any current, comparable text on the market. More importantly, so do my students. Every semester I ask students to evaluate the text, and over the years they have voted overwhelmingly in favor of retaining the book, because of their favorable response to his writing style."--Jim G. Shaffer, Case Western Reserve University

Table of Contents


    1. Encountering the Past
    2. Probing the Past
    3. African Roots
    4. The Human Lineage
    5. The First Humans: The Evolution of Homo sapiens
    6. Expanding Intellectual Horizons: Arts and Ideas in the Upper Paleolithic and Late Stone Age
    7. Expanding Geographic Horizons: New Worlds
    8. After the Ice: The Food-Producing Revolution
    9. Roots of Complexity: The Origins of Civilization
    10. An Explosion of Complexity: Mesopotamia, Africa, and Europe
    11. An Explosion of Complexity: The Indus Valley and China
    12. An Explosion of Complexity: Mesoamerica
    13. An Explosion of Complexity: South America
    14. An Explosion of Complexity: North America

    Evolutionary Epilogue
    Hominin Cheat Sheet