Abstract

"Prehistory" itself had a prehistory, and it includes the early inquiries through the disciplines (or protodisciplines) of mythology, philology, ethnography, anthropology, archaeology, and especially, following Enlightenment "conjectural history," through investigations of the peoples of the New World. But it was in the nineteenth century that prehistory (Vorgeschichte, préhistoire, preistoria) emerged in its own right. This essay reviews the major nineteenth-century efforts by an international community of Scandinavian,French,German,English,and American scholars--especially archaeologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, and "anthropogeographers"--to establish "the antiquity of man" and, reinforced further by evolutionary theory, to give a new shape, periodization, and global reach to the study of world history. Thus prehistory was joined to the Western historiographical tradition in the search for a global perspective and a new "grand narrative" to encompass the divisive interpretations of national histories and the invidious one of the old Eurocentric and Euromorphic history.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8050
Print ISSN
1045-6007
Pages
pp. 17-36
Launched on MUSE
2003-02-10
Open Access
No
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