John Hawks as started a series of review posts on William Burroughs’ Climate Change in Prehistory: The End of the Reign of Chaos. His first post largely reflects his own concerns at the intersection of genetics and archaeology. That issue is itself abnormally interesting. John used the following quotation from Burroughs’ book as a point of departure for his comments.
It is often easier to write with confidence on fast-developing and relatively new areas of research, such as climate change and genetic mapping, than to review the implications of such new developments for a mature discipline like archaeology. Because the latter consists of an immensely complicated edifice that has been built up over a long time by the painstaking accumulation of fragmentary evidence from a vast array of sources, it is hard to define those aspects of the subject that are most affected by results obtained in a completely different discipline. Furthermore, when it comes to many aspects of prehistory, the field is full of controversy, into which the new data are not easily introduced. As a consequence, there is an inevitable tendency to gloss over these pitfalls and rely on secondary or even tertiary literature to provide an accessible backdrop against which new developments can be more easily projected.
The concerns raised in this quotation extend will beyond prehistory. It’s not only prehistory that is full of controversy and it is becoming clear that climate change impacted the Levant during the Bronze and Iron Ages.
So I need to add this book to my ever-growing reading list. The good news is that I will live well into my second century before I complete everything on my list!