To the Islands is a deeply personal memoir of archaeologist Steven Mithen's 25-year quest to uncover the world of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in the Western Isles - and an elegiac defense of archaeology as a lifelong passion. To the Islands recounts in fascinating detail the ongoing research Mithen has undertaken to reconstruct the lifestyles of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who lived in the Hebrides around 7000BC - before the rise of Neolithic farming communities. Mithen takes the reader on an epic journey which begins with the development of research plans leading to the discovery of Mesolithic sites, and follows their subsequent excavations. It comes to end with a visit to the Small Isles, where the author reflects on what he has achieved during over two decades of research in the Hebrides, and on the adventure still to come. Mithen's engaging, fluent and effortlessly erudite style keeps the book firmly accessible to the general reader of popular science, archaeology, history.
After taking a PhD in Archaeology at Cambridge in 1988, Steven Mithen became Professor of Early Prehistory at the University of Reading in 2000 where he is now a Pro Vice-Chancellor. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2004. He has extensively written on science for the general reader, as well as technical academic books. His most recent books, 'The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body' (2005) and 'After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000-5000BC' (2003) have been published in over ten different languages and received extensive critical praise.