This is not a book for the idly curious. But for those looking to understand  what it means to be human, fundamental concepts discussed in this book – like the Theory of Mind  (What exactly is “symbolic thought,”  anyway?)  – provide an answer.

Nuggets:

  • This is NOT a “nuggety” book. It is filled with fine glinting grains, carefully linked concepts that build to a pot of gold. Not sound bite material.
  • The concept of co-evolution – where human development shifted from primarily changes in the gene pool to taking place primarily in the increasing complexity of of our social systems, behavior and culture.
  • The key to inequality is worldly goods, and its association of things of high value with people of high rank, concepts nonexistent in egalitarian non-sedentary groups.
  • Archeogenetics, evolutionary psychology, cognitive archeology, archeoastronomy, historical linguistics, ethnoarcheology…we are in a scientific Age of Exploration, where those going where no man has gone before discover someone else already there who has a radically different point of view. When they get together, they make really interesting music.

Take Away:

What is really going on? In our heads, in our relationships, and in the extended web that makes up our world from our communities to the international family of nations? On the surface, the socioeconomic world we inhabit is so complex, we can’t hope to change or even understand it. We need a Unified Field Theory of Mind! Cognitive archeology provides a window on the underlying forces flowing from our primitive ancestors through us to animate our world.