Prehistoric Fiction Writers and Readers Campfire discussion

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Good Places to Research

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message 1: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Daniell | 14 comments I found myself doing a lot of research before I started writing, and I know you all did too. The novella I'm writing has to do with Neanderthals. I found a lot of great info. at this blog, and there is a lot of information there on paleoanthropology, genetics, and evolution in general. I've seen other sites mentioned here, and I hope I'm not repeating something. What are other good places to research?


message 2: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Daniell | 14 comments Sorry, I didn't put in where to go. www.johnhawks.net. I also posted this on Facebook.


message 3: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 72 comments Great source! Thanks


message 4: by Kiyya (last edited Nov 08, 2014 03:35PM) (new)

Kiyya | 19 comments I studied quite a bit of palaeoanthropology at university, so that makes it a bit easier to write stories set in this era, but there is a lot of information out there. Wikipedia's articles on neanderthals are not too bad (just bear in mind that it's wikipedia and some bits might be a bit out of date). It's important to look for when the information was published, i.e. in the last 10 years or so.

Erik Trinkaus is a researcher into neanderthals who springs to mind, I'm not sure if he has a blog though.

I did a couple of online courses on human evolution at EdX and Coursera as well. I don't know if these are still running or are re running but they're well worth looking into, both were run by university professors, one of them by John Hawks.

The New Scientist is a good magazine that has quite a few articles on human evolution and neanderthals.


message 5: by Kiyya (new)

Kiyya | 19 comments Also, the main thing IMO with neanderthals, is that they were highly intelligent and there's some evidence that some cave paintings were done by them and other symbolic/artistic things - earlier theories said they couldn't do this, even earlier studies said they couldn't speak and were much less intelligent than Homo sapiens. Recent research suggests they were almost or equally as clever as us. They also looked after vulnerable members of their group (look up Shanidar 1 if you haven't already).

If you've been reading John Hawks's blog then you'll already know that though... just mentioning it because the old brutish/stupid neanderthal stereotype is a pet peeve of mine.


message 6: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Daniell | 14 comments Thanks for the leads, Kiyya. I did the onine Coursera course with John Hawks last summer. It was fascinating. I've started taking Nature magazine which has good articles about early peoples and also Neanderthals but not in every issue. I'll check out The New Scientist. And you're right about the last 10 years. So much info. is just coming out.

Thanks again!


message 7: by Mary (new)

Mary Black (goodreadscommarysblack) | 134 comments For North America, Your state may have a local archaeology society. If so, join them. Some groups host conferences and workshops that are invaluable. See the website for the Society for American Archaeology, then find the Council of Affliated Societies for a long list.


message 8: by Kiyya (new)

Kiyya | 19 comments The new scientist have a publication out, "the human story" which is all about human evolution, there are lots of articles about neanderthals and many others on archaeology, palaeoanthropology and anthropology. It's part of their "the collection" series. I've just received my copy of it. Thought I'd recommend it in case you or anyone else is interested.


message 9: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Daniell | 14 comments I've checked out the New Scientist web site, and I read some of the interesting articles there that were available. I'm going to subscribe as an early Christmas present to myself. Ha! I couldn't find the collection series mentioned though-I probably just need to look around more or maybe New Scientist will provide that info. Thanks again for letting us know about it.


message 10: by Ishtar (new)

Ishtar Watson (emberofanewworld) | 97 comments I wrote this as a reply to a similar thread in another group, but I realized that it would likely be of some use in this thread, too. Let me know if you need any clarity on any of these ideas! =)

Ember of a New World by Tom Watson
Ember of a New World
(And yes, I advertise my goofy book everywhere lol)

I wrote a Prehistoric book (working on a sequel, so not a series yet). Ember of a New World.
It's set in the year 5500 BCE (7500 years ago). The culture involved is the Linear Pottery Culture (Linearbandkeramik) which flourished from between 6000 BCE to 4000 BCE, depending on your exact cultural definitions.

The idea was to frame a story around the transient period between the Neolithic and Mesolithic periods. At this point you have the start of really crude farming (slash and burn and nearly no special farming skills) and hunter-gatherer.

Here are the main methods I used in my research:

1. Read hundreds of peer-reviewed research documents from field researchers in anthropology. I get access to online publications through my alumni program, but you can also just buy access to university libraries. Take a $200 course at a local community college and you can have access, normally.

2. Contact researchers are universities/colleges. I spent a long time discussing food with a doctor of anthropological dietitian lol She explained how me how diet worked at the time and where food and nutrients came from. Tip!!! If you want good results, tell them that you are tired of reading historically inaccurate stuff and you wan

3. Do everything the cave folk did. Eat their diet, make their clothing and tools, use them. I spent several days in the woods using only the gear that the people in my book had (and an MP3 player lol). Nothing really gets you into it like living it!

4. Study currently existing tribal society and see how they live. Try the Yap or Himba people. Great reference!

5. Check museums for artifacts. If you contact the curator and ask, you can often gain access to larger collections than actually are presented.

6. SUPER IMPORTANT - Research every food, plant, animal in the book! You might have ten websites claiming a certain animal is from the place you are using, but a zoologist might show you that they only were introduced 5,000 years ago! I found dozens of "indigenous" creatures and plants which were not in Europe during my time setting.

7. Find the oldest translated language from the group which your people came from. Find a later translated version. Find the modern version. Now, take what they say in our words and translate to the newest version. Translate that to the older version, then the oldest.

So... you person lives in what is now Germany. They use the word for boat. Find the Norse word and the modern German word, as well as the archaic and ancient Germanic versions, as well as the proto indo European root words. Put them on paper and observe commonalities and changes in the wording. Use this to "see" the way the language progressed (including outside influence) and construct a calculated word approximating what the unknown earlier word might have been.
This is the hardest part and took me years lol


Tip! Do not observe the modern culture you are using. They changed (most likely) too much to be of much use and will make for cliché references.


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Prehistoric Fiction Writers and Readers Campfire

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