Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ancient Farming by Peter J. Reynolds

Shire is a wonderful archaeology and history publisher in Oxford, England. Initially an independent publisher, they are now owned by Osprey Publishing. Just as Osprey Publishing's books are gateway to military history, Shire introduces readers to daily life with titles such as Celtic Coinage, Roman Dress Accessories, Villages in Roman Britain, etc. The offerings in the Shire Archaeology series are only 5.75 x 8.25 in., and less than 100 pages. Although small, these books are authored by leading scholars in their fields.

The expert in Iron Age farming was the late Peter Reynolds. His recently reprinted, Ancient Farming, is the perfect place to start your research into the life of the pre-Roman Celts. His experimental archaeology at Butser Ancient Farm lead to insights not found in traditional archaeology. For example, digging up bones tells us what kind of animals lived on an Iron Age British farm, but Dr. Reynold's observations of actually raising the descendants of these animals informs us as to how the livestock were kept and how that could affect choices made by the ancient farmer.

Chapter Contents:
1. Introduction
2. Nature of Evidence - an explanation of the sources for our knowledge
3 The Sequence of Development - the history of ancient peoples' transition from hunter/gatherers to farmer society
4 Farming - Growing, storing and using plants. Raising and making use of animals
5 The Farming Year - typical farm work by season
6 Conclusion

A compliment to Ancient Farming, is another book by Dr. Reynolds, Iron-Age Farm: The Butser Experiment, published by Colonade Books, British Museum Publications, Ltd. 1979.6x9 in., 112 pages. It covers the same information, with the addition of chapters on Iron Age buildings and structures. The text deals specifically with the experimental archaeology done at the Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire, England, with general implications for farming in Iron Age Britain as a whole.

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