Further Reading

Recommended reading list provided by Philip M. Williams:

English Heritage: Avebury by Caroline Malone

English Heritage Avebury by Caroline Malone book review Commentary on Dr. Caroline Malone's English Heritage: Avebury
Upon visiting Avebury years ago I purchased the English Heritage: Avebury. It has been an indispensible source book. The Neolithic Era has left scant evidence of the necessities of life, so we must speculate. I may not agree with some of the book's assumptions. The disagreement is slight. It is mostly a matter of perspective. Regardless, English Heritage: Avebury is a great source. Read more...

English Heritage: Stonehenge by Julian Richards

English Heritage Stonehenge by Julian Richards Book ReviewCommentary on Julian Richards' English Heritage: Stonehenge
There are many books on Stonehenge, but few have the visual impact of The English Heritage Stonehenge by Julian Richards. Essentially, Stonehenge is a visual experience. It was all about vision when it was built, and it is all about vision now, around five thousand years later. The front cover of the 1996 edition is perfect for illustrating the conundrum of Stonehenge, because it is a photograph taken from where most of us have never been. That photo reveals the modern highway clipping it close, thus leaving Stonehenge visually clouded from the ground, and visually undisturbed from the air. Read more...

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature
by Steven Pinker

The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker book reviewCommentary on Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought.
This is a book to read more than once if one wishes to glean, wring, reap, tease out or harvest its bounty. The first time through will drive the reader to distraction, for Pinker goads one to precise word choice. The housekeeper may shake a rug. The thief may shake a leg. The dancer may shake, rattle and roll, yet nobody shakes up Linguistics more pleasurably than Professor Pinker. Read more...

The First Word by Christine Kenneally

The First Word by Christine Kenneally book reviewCommentary on Christine Kenneally's The First Word
If one lacks the time to learn from all the books about all the origins of all the languages of the world, The First Word is an alternative read. One suspects that Christine Kenneally read most of those volumes before she wrote her own three hundred page summary. She commands the subject with reassuring thoroughness. Better yet, she shows admirable restraint in balancing linguistic creationists against linguistic evolutionists, contentious partisans in the world of academe. Fair play and fair writing is her mantra. Let the reader decide. Kenneally's time frame is so vast, that that minor linguistic dispute is like watching competing roads vanish to a point in the distance. Read More...

Time, Tools, and Measurements on the Occasion of Nova's Program on Stonehenge A Builder's Amplification by Philip M. Williams

NOVA confronts the enigma of how a prehistoric social organization can produce sophisticated construction of such simplicity. In the world of construction the most difficult to get right is the simple. The ornate may hide faults. The simple is exposed. Only the most agreeable proportions, perfectly executed, result in a thing of beauty, or a building of import. Simple might evolve out of genius, or result from an evolution of structure. NOVA remains baffled, and no wonder, for that grand circle of massive stones rivals the Great Sphinx in the ambiguity of its meaning. Stonehenge was built and grew in complexity during the Late Neolithic Era in Britain, an era before the written word. The absence of a written record of its function, or even an artistic record, adds to its mythic status. It confounds the passer-by with its engineering expertise. Read more...

Stonehenge, Avebury, Silbury Hill: A Meditation on Function by Philip M. Williams

Stephen Jay Gould, in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory reiterates the following.
As a general structural principal, applicable across a full range of natural phenomena, from cosmology to human social organization, complex systems can usually collapse catastrophically, whereas the construction of such functional intricacy can only occur by sequential accumulation - a pattern I have called "the great asymmetry" (Gould, 2002, p 1145).
Stonehenge, Avebury, and Silbury Hill fit the pattern of great asymmetry. Each site reveals a complex social organization. Each site collapse was catastrophic, and remains a source of no little speculation. Their structural intricacy occurred only because of sequential accumulation. Read More...

Poetry by Philip M. Williams

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