A Journey Into our Restless Past
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'Lucid, poetic and fascinating' ALICE ROBERTS
'Engaging, authoritative and full of fascinating stories of the past' RAY MEARS
'A gentle, personal and very readable book' JULIA BLACKBURN AUTHOR OF TIME SONG
'A triumph!' JAMES CANTON, AUTHOR OF THE OAK PAPERS
'I loved this book' FRANCIS PRYOR
On paths, roads, seas, in the air, and in space – there has never been so much human movement. In contrast we think of the past as static, 'frozen in time'. But archaeologists have in fact always found evidence for humanity's irrepressible restlessness. Now, latest developments in science and archaeology are transforming this evidence and overturning how we understand the past movement of humankind.
In this book, archaeologist Jim Leary traces the past 3.5 million years to reveal how people have always been moving, how travel has historically been enforced (or prohibited) by people with power, and how our forebears showed incredible bravery and ingenuity to journey across continents and oceans.
With Leary to show the way, you'll follow the footsteps of early hunter-gatherers preserved in mud, and tread ancient trackways hollowed by feet over time. Passing drovers, wayfarers and pilgrims, you'll see who got to move, and how people moved. And you'll go on long-distance journeys and migrations to see how movement has shaped our world.
Dr Jim Leary is an archaeologist at the University of York and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He has directed major excavations across Britain, including Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, the largest Neolithic monument in Europe. A passionate walker, much of his research is centred on the way people moved around in the past.
Engaging, authoritative and full of fascinating stories of the past. This book shows that life is not centred on hearth and house, as we are so often told, but is shaped by relentless movement, along tracks and trails. By focusing on mobility, Jim Leary has managed to reanimate the past, revealing the hidden but vital contribution that migration has always made to the shaping of the worldRay Mears
A gentle, personal and very readable book that gives life to the dynamic sequence of activity, effort and extraordinary determination that makes up our human pastJulia Blackburn, author of Time Song
I loved this book. It's a highly readable account of how and why people have moved around on the surface of the earth, across land and sea … What makes this book so special is that everything is discussed within the context of life at the time: who were using the paths or the boats and why were they doing it? Most importantly it is so relevant to us today, as we try to steer our way
Francis Pryor, archaeologist and author
through times of increasing instability
Archaeologists have a superpower: time travel. Their digs show us cold hearths and colder graves, but as Jim Leary shows in this gripping read, the past was hot-blooded and alive with the movement of people who loved and laughed as we do. Yet history and archaeology are written as though humans and our creations are fixed, frozen entities: screenshots of past lives, not videos. Our ideas of our origins, history and ourselves today must all change, and those new ideas are not only more exciting, but tell us more about both our past and our future. They are also trueJohn Harrison, award winning travel writer
Jim Leary takes us into the little explored realm of ancient movement. We walk with hominins and Neanderthals, explore deep caves, herd cattle, and become pilgrims, ocean voyagers and long-distance walkers. Leary is a passionate walker, who combines science with his first-hand experience and observation out and about. This beautifully written, entertaining essay melds personal experience with archaeological and historical wisdom. The result is a truly remarkable and original book that thinks profoundly about the past. Read this and be inspired!Brian Fagan, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California and author
A book about the movements of humans could be a little dull, don't you think? Well, not a bit of it. Jim Leary's archaeological passion is "paths over pyramids" and Footmarks is as lively and entertaining an exploration of human wanderings as you could ever hope to read. It links our colourful and complex history to how we live today, clearing up a few notable misconceptions along the way. This compelling, highly original book will change the way you think about landscape and our place within it Ian Carter, author of Human, Nature
Engaging and impassioned, Footmarks is an enchanting stroll through the deep history of human wanderings across the world. This book will delight and entice all who muse on the ways in which we have ever walked upon this earth. A triumph!James Canton, author of The Oak Papers
Footmarks takes us on a magnificent voyage tracing the fascinating history and restless patterns of human movement. Leary explores the many ways archaeology can reveal the dynamism of past lives and the way in which we both make and are made by the paths we take. Brimming with detail yet written lightly and with unashamed affection, this delightful book shows how we are all part of a vast, whirling dance that's been going on for millenniaRebecca Wragg Sykes, author of Kindred
Leary awakes in the reader the desire to walk, to wander, to meander and ponder. With charm, wit and warmth, we are led through an alternative archaeology, one where movement and mobility take precedence over settlement and sedentism. Thought-provoking and sustained by a depth of knowledge of human cultures, Footmarks reminds us that the restless journey and some of the most meaningful experiences along its path leave no trace but the imprints where feet have troddenAlex Langlands, author of Craeft
Archaeological writing at its best: lucid, rational and deeply woven with the real lives of real people from the past. You'll never think about – or walk around – historic sites the same way againMary-Ann Ochota, broadcaster and anthropologist
Footmarks is a joy. A dance with our predecessors, through settings that feel by turns intimate and familiar, then questing and bold. By animating the ancient past Leary reminds us that far from being distant observers of the ancient past, we are a product of it, in both spirit and substanceAmy-Jane Beer, naturalist and author of The Flow
Lucid, poetic and fascinating – a beautiful journey through time and across diverse landscapes. From ancient hominin footprints to hollow ways, from cattle drovers to pilgrims, Leary explores how journeys make us humanAlice Roberts, anatomist, author and broadcaster
A touching, illuminating and fascinating book. Leary is a great guide through our restless historyRob Cowen, author Common Ground
An engrossing tour of the ways in which "people have moved over millions of years" … This is a trip worth taking.Publishers Weekly