Date: Thu, 6 Jul 1995 09:25:24 -0500
Sender: H-NET List for World History <>
From: Pat Manning <>
Subject: Civilization and the Stone Age

Civilization and the Stone Age

By Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University, 6 July 1995

Let me begin by saying that Dennis Williams' comment on holocausts was a very good one. I know that he was agreeing with me :-) but he was a little more rigorous in establishing his philosophical foundations.

But my chief purpose in writing is to comment on David Christian's note, in which he says we must take the stone age seriously. I absolutely agree. But two points arise from this.

1) Most historians will not want to do this, not only because it goes against their training, but because they perceive it as being in someone else's bailiwick (the anthropologists'?) where they will not necessarily be welcome.

2) Where does such material go? I would heartily agree that it does belong in world history courses. I myself have begun my survey of “Ancient Civilizations” with the solidification of the earth and a quick survey of the the last few billion years, just to give my students a little perspective. Do they get a complete timeline of earth's history anywhere else in their education? I don’t know.

Even if these problems are solved, it is not easy to figure out how to integrate a really long perspective into our teaching. If I spend more than two or three lectures on pre-Neolithic Revolution history in “Ancient Civilizations,” then a great deal of other stuff will be missed. If a great deal of time in a world history course is devoted to the first 200,000 to 1,000,000 years of human history, what else of pressing and more recent concern must be left out?

Or do we all become anthropologists?

Steve Muhlberger
Nipissing University
North Bay, Ont.