Tuesday, September 12, 2006
One of the stranger effects of the events of 9/11 was its stoking to a passion what had been my mild, abiding interest in the prehistory of the British Isles and Ireland. Looking back at my book collection, I see that many of my purchases in the fall of 2001 were of volumes dedicated to megalithic monuments and the reconstruction of culture in the absence of enduring words. I eventually taught a graduate seminar on the topic, Fantasies of the Aboriginal.
Today through the BBC I came across AHOB, or the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project. The site well documents the seven unsuccessful attempts to colonize Britain, beginning c. 700,000 years ago (settlers at Pakefield in Suffolk) through the eighth and only permanent settlement 12,000 years ago. The story this site tells is built not upon the bones of dead settlers (very few human remains have been discovered), but through their tools and other leavings.