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Witzel, Michael, 1943-
The origins of the world's mythologies / E.J. Michael Witzel
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2012
book jacket
Location Call Number Status
 3rd Floor  BL312 .W58 2012    AVAILABLE
Subject(s) Mythology
Mythology -- History
Physical Description xx, 665 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm
Note Includes bibliographical references (p. 581-624) and index
Contents 1. Introduction : What is myth, and how do we study and compare it? ; Definition of myth and its study in the past ; Comparative mythology ; Laurasian mythology ; Earlier explanations of myth ; Ur-forms, history, and archaeology-- 2. Comparison and theory : Theory and practice of comparisons ; Reconstructing Laurasian mythology ; Enhancing the reconstruction ; Reconstructing the Laurasian mythological system and inherent problems ; Structure and content in some macro-areas of Laurasian mythology ; Some objections to the approach of historical comparative mythology -- 3. Creation myths: the Laurasian story line, our first novel : Primordial creation ; Father Heaven, Mother Earth ; Separation of heaven and earth, the prop ; Creation of land ; The demiurge or trickster ; Generations, four ages, and five suns ; The creation of humans ; Descent of "noble" lineages ; The flood ; Heroes ; The final destruction -- 4. The contributions of other sciences: comparison of language, physical anthropology, genetics, and archaeology : Linguistics ; Physical anthropology ; Genetics ; Archaeology ; Other items of comparison ; Conclusions resulting from the comparison of the sciences involved -- 5. The countercheck: Australia, Melanesia, and sub-Saharan Africa : Possible ways to countercheck ; Beyond Laurasia ; Gondwana mythologies ; Individual Gondwana myth types and their common characteristics ; Secondary influences on Gondwana mythology ; Conflicting myths in Gondwanaland ; Counterchecking Laurasian mythology based on Gondwana mythology -- 6. First tales: Pan-Gaean mythology : Beyond Laurasia and Gondwana ; Our first tales -- 7. Laurasian mythology in historical development : Late Palaeolithic religion ; Changes from the Late Palaeolithic to state societies ; Dating Gondwana and Laurasian mythology -- 8. Outlook : The meaning of Laurasian mythology ; Beyond Laurasia, Gondwana, and Pan-Gaea ; Epilogue
Summary "This remarkable book is the most ambitious work on mythology since that of the renowned Mircea Eliade, who all but single-handedly invented the modern study of myth and religion. Focusing on the oldest available texts, buttressed by data from archeology, comparative linguistics and human population genetics, Michael Witzel reconstructs a single original African source for our collective myths, dating back some 100,000 years. Identifying features shared by this "Out of Africa" mythology and its northern Eurasian offshoots, Witzel suggests that these common myths--recounted by the communities of the "African Eve"--are the earliest evidence of ancient spirituality. Moreover these common features, Witzel shows, survive today in all major religions. Witzel's book is an intellectual hand grenade that will doubtless generate considerable excitement--and consternation--in the scholarly community. Indeed, everyone interested in mythology will want to grapple with Witzel's extraordinary hypothesis about the spirituality of our common ancestors, and to understand what it tells us about our modern cultures and the way they are linked at the deepest level." --Book cover
NOTE 537547

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