When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth

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9780691127743: When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth

Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don't exist? Strange though they sound, however, these "myths" did not begin as fiction.


This absorbing book shows that myths originally transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies. Geologists' interpretations of how a volcanic cataclysm long ago created Oregon's Crater Lake, for example, is echoed point for point in the local myth of its origin. The Klamath tribe saw it happen and passed down the story--for nearly 8,000 years.


We, however, have been literate so long that we've forgotten how myths encode reality. Recent studies of how our brains work, applied to a wide range of data from the Pacific Northwest to ancient Egypt to modern stories reported in newspapers, have helped the Barbers deduce the characteristic principles by which such tales both develop and degrade through time. Myth is in fact a quite reasonable way to convey important messages orally over many generations--although reasoning back to the original events is possible only under rather specific conditions.


Our oldest written records date to 5,200 years ago, but we have been speaking and mythmaking for perhaps 100,000. This groundbreaking book points the way to restoring some of that lost history and teaching us about human storytelling.

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From the Back Cover:

"A fascinating read. This book points the way to how truths can be found even in myths."--Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of The Mind's Past

"A fascinating read. This book points the way to how truths can be found even in myths."--Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of The Mind's Past

"Rarely have I read a book so avidly and with such pleasure. The Barbers have captured the vital signs of the mythmaking process, in a revolutionary study. This is a novel and convincing way to look at mythology."--Adrienne Mayor, author of The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times

"I read this idiosyncratic and engaging work in its entirety in just two sittings, finding it nearly impossible to put down. The Barbers give intriguing explanations of how and why we construct and transmit myths and how we may unpack these 'off-the-wal'' stories to reveal essential information about such natural phenomena as volcanic eruptions."--Joshua T. Katz, Princeton University

"This book offers a comprehensive account of why myths are the way they are. Drawing in part on cognitive science and on historical evidence as to real events, it presents a broad and informative selection of the myths themselves, raising questions and suggesting answers that cognitive scientists will find interesting."--Michael C. Corballis, author of From Hand to Mouth

From the Inside Flap:

"A fascinating read. This book points the way to how truths can be found even in myths."--Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of "The Mind's Past"

"Rarely have I read a book so avidly and with such pleasure. The Barbers have captured the vital signs of the mythmaking process, in a revolutionary study. This is a novel and convincing way to look at mythology."--Adrienne Mayor, author of "The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times"

"I read this idiosyncratic and engaging work in its entirety in just two sittings, finding it nearly impossible to put down. The Barbers give intriguing explanations of how and why we construct and transmit myths and how we may unpack these 'off-the-wal'' stories to reveal essential information about such natural phenomena as volcanic eruptions."--Joshua T. Katz, Princeton University

"This book offers a comprehensive account of why myths are the way they are. Drawing in part on cognitive science and on historical evidence as to real events, it presents a broad and informative selection of the myths themselves, raising questions and suggesting answers that cognitive scientists will find interesting."--Michael C. Corballis, author of "From Hand to Mouth"

Le informazioni nella sezione "Su questo libro" possono far riferimento a edizioni diverse di questo titolo.

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Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Paul T. Barber
Editore: Princeton University Press, United States (2006)
ISBN 10: 0691127743 ISBN 13: 9780691127743
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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don t exist? Strange though they sound, however, these myths did not begin as fiction. This absorbing book shows that myths originally transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies. Geologists interpretations of how a volcanic cataclysm long ago created Oregon s Crater Lake, for example, is echoed point for point in the local myth of its origin. The Klamath tribe saw it happen and passed down the story--for nearly 8,000 years. We, however, have been literate so long that we ve forgotten how myths encode reality. Recent studies of how our brains work, applied to a wide range of data from the Pacific Northwest to ancient Egypt to modern stories reported in newspapers, have helped the Barbers deduce the characteristic principles by which such tales both develop and degrade through time.Myth is in fact a quite reasonable way to convey important messages orally over many generations--although reasoning back to the original events is possible only under rather specific conditions. Our oldest written records date to 5,200 years ago, but we have been speaking and mythmaking for perhaps 100,000. This groundbreaking book points the way to restoring some of that lost history and teaching us about human storytelling. Codice libro della libreria AAH9780691127743

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Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Paul T. Barber
Editore: Princeton University Press, United States (2006)
ISBN 10: 0691127743 ISBN 13: 9780691127743
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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don t exist? Strange though they sound, however, these myths did not begin as fiction. This absorbing book shows that myths originally transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies. Geologists interpretations of how a volcanic cataclysm long ago created Oregon s Crater Lake, for example, is echoed point for point in the local myth of its origin. The Klamath tribe saw it happen and passed down the story--for nearly 8,000 years. We, however, have been literate so long that we ve forgotten how myths encode reality. Recent studies of how our brains work, applied to a wide range of data from the Pacific Northwest to ancient Egypt to modern stories reported in newspapers, have helped the Barbers deduce the characteristic principles by which such tales both develop and degrade through time.Myth is in fact a quite reasonable way to convey important messages orally over many generations--although reasoning back to the original events is possible only under rather specific conditions. Our oldest written records date to 5,200 years ago, but we have been speaking and mythmaking for perhaps 100,000. This groundbreaking book points the way to restoring some of that lost history and teaching us about human storytelling. Codice libro della libreria AAH9780691127743

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Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Paul T. Barber
Editore: Princeton University Press, United States (2006)
ISBN 10: 0691127743 ISBN 13: 9780691127743
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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don t exist? Strange though they sound, however, these myths did not begin as fiction. This absorbing book shows that myths originally transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies. Geologists interpretations of how a volcanic cataclysm long ago created Oregon s Crater Lake, for example, is echoed point for point in the local myth of its origin. The Klamath tribe saw it happen and passed down the story--for nearly 8,000 years. We, however, have been literate so long that we ve forgotten how myths encode reality. Recent studies of how our brains work, applied to a wide range of data from the Pacific Northwest to ancient Egypt to modern stories reported in newspapers, have helped the Barbers deduce the characteristic principles by which such tales both develop and degrade through time.Myth is in fact a quite reasonable way to convey important messages orally over many generations--although reasoning back to the original events is possible only under rather specific conditions. Our oldest written records date to 5,200 years ago, but we have been speaking and mythmaking for perhaps 100,000. This groundbreaking book points the way to restoring some of that lost history and teaching us about human storytelling. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780691127743

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, 2006. PAP. Condizione libro: New. New Book. Shipped from UK in 4 to 14 days. Established seller since 2000. Codice libro della libreria WP-9780691127743

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, 2006. PAP. Condizione libro: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. THIS BOOK IS PRINTED ON DEMAND. Established seller since 2000. Codice libro della libreria IQ-9780691127743

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Descrizione libro Condizione libro: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Codice libro della libreria 97806911277430000000

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, 2006. PAP. Condizione libro: New. New Book. Delivered from our UK warehouse in 3 to 5 business days. THIS BOOK IS PRINTED ON DEMAND. Established seller since 2000. Codice libro della libreria IQ-9780691127743

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Descrizione libro 2006. Paperback. Condizione libro: NEW. 9780691127743 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Codice libro della libreria HTANDREE01145685

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