New York: The Viking Press, 1976. — 272 p. — SBN 670-13058-3.To the Europeans who first encountered North America, the world's third largest continent seemed a mysterious, empty land, with no history. For centuries to follow, the achievements of its aboriginal population remained in the shadows, overlooked by explorers, colonists, and historians alike. But what they missed has now been remarkably recovered by the diligent investigations of modern archaeology, and indisputable evidence of the great contributions that the American Indians have made to the cultural history of the world is presented in this engrossing volume. Who were the earliest men to reach America and what did they find? Professor Dean Snow unravels this story from the first scattered bands, thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, to the discovery of the last prehistoric man, who died in the twentieth century, marooned out of time in a civilization not his own. A diverse array of culture is seen against a backdrop of the great regions of North America. Prehistoric peoples of the Eastern Woodlands constructed elaborate burial mounds and giant earthen effigies of birds and serpents; their town-dwelling descendants were also farmers of the Great Plains before the advent of the Spanish mustang in historical times turned the region into a hunting ground for mounted warriors. Beyond the Rockies, Indians ofthe Desert West tamed their harsh environment with impressive irrigation works and built spectacular cliff-top dwellings against marauding nomads. Their crafts—painted ceramics, etched shells, coiled basketry—were matched by those of tribes in the neighboring Far West, where ecological diversity threw up many cultures, each with its own rituals and mythologies. By contrast, the prehistoric peoples of the vast Arctic and Subarctic were forced to concentrate on means of survival, and their resourcefulness over thousands of years culminated in the elaborate Eskimo tool-kit that greatly impressed early European explorers. Professor Dean Snow, Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Albany, draws these themes together into a captivating narrative which is complemented by Werner Forman's vivid photographs and numerous maps and charts.
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