My Pagan Ancestor Zuri
By imagining how our ancestors lived back in the Neolithic period, the author follows the life of Zuri, a woman who leaves her hunting-gathering tribe to enter a farming community. Contrasting this ancient way of life is the author's current one in a city not so far from the famous site of Stonehenge, in Christchurch, England which makes for interesting reading. This book made me think about how our ancestors might have lived and how they adapted to the environment around them. I didn't know that much about the environment in Dorset before reading this, but it was interesting to learn that the coastal and riverine environment was likely what lead neolithic people to the site, much as it has led current residents who enjoy the climate and scenery. Of course, we can imagine that Zuri had more to do than enjoy the view. Life must have been hard for early man, who may have lived no longer than thirty years. And it is a pity that we know so little about them.
Who knows how much knowledge these people accumulated and transmitted to others in the area. By imagining how Zuri approached rituals, mythology, and everyday events, Mr. West makes the reader think more about early life in Dorset. For example, these people likely had a diet rich in marine life and later with the adaptation of farming practices, more primary forms of grains where included. This is in striking contrast to our overly processed diets of today. Plus, West suggests their diets might not have been as bland as we might imagine. It is also fascinating to think about the differences in things as simple as our eyesight. Until Mr. West pointed it out, I hadn't considered that those early humans may have been able to see more than us because they lived purely by the light of the sun and moon and spent much more time outdoors in total darkness than we ever do today.
Overall, this was a well written book, and more interesting than I had anticipated, making me think a lot about how our ancestors might have lived.
Thanks to Chronos Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.