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  • Ancestors

  • A Prehistory of Britain in Seven Burials
  • By: Alice Roberts
  • Narrated by: Alice Roberts
  • Length: 13 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (83 ratings)

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Summary

An extraordinary exploration of the ancestry of Britain through seven burial sites. By using new advances in genetics and taking us through important archaeological discoveries, Professor Alice Roberts helps us better understand life today.

We often think of Britain springing from nowhere with the arrival of the Romans. But in Ancestors, pre-eminent archaeologist, broadcaster and academic Professor Alice Roberts explores what we can learn about the very earliest Britons, from burial sites and by using new technology to analyse ancient DNA.

Told through seven fascinating burial sites, this groundbreaking prehistory of Britain teaches us more about ourselves and our history: how people came and went and how we came to be on this island. It explores forgotten journeys and memories of migrations long ago, written into genes and preserved in the ground for thousands of years.

This is a book about belonging: about walking in ancient places, in the footsteps of the ancestors. It explores our interconnected global ancestry, and the human experience that binds us all together. It’s about reaching back in time, to find ourselves and our place in the world.

©2021 Alice Roberts (P)2021 Simon & Schuster UK

Critic reviews

"This is a terrific, timely and transporting book - taking us heart, body and mind beyond history, to the fascinating truth of the prehistoric past and the present." (Bettany Hughes)

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What listeners say about Ancestors

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great overview of field, pity about the politics

Loved the discussions of key digs such as Cheddar Man, Amesbury Archer et al. Roberts gives the background to each find and the repercussions of such. When she stuck to tbese I loved it. Maybe it is the zeitgeist, but I also felt that too much time was given to issues relating to identity politics. Whole sections on fluid gender, why we mustn't get too attached to our ancestors lest we be racist, etc. felt like padding. We don't need these lectures every 5 minutes.

7 people found this helpful

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Fascinating book

Amazing that something that happened so long ago can be so gripping today. Alice Roberts is brilliant.

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Brilliant

A beautifully read book. Telling the story of our place in this land. Great.

1 person found this helpful

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The Migration And Lives Of Our Ancestors

Thoroughly enjoyable descriptions of ancient people, their lives and what remains of their dead. All the more entertaining because Dr Roberts narrates it herself.

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Noice

Excellent as always Prof Roberts Knockin it out of the park like boom. Also read Tamed

1 person found this helpful

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preachy, patronising

I love programmes like Digging up Britain. The author is a very good TV personality with qualifications and a CV to boot. The author is a great advocate an inspiration to understand human history.

That said...moving into writing a book is a big disappointment. I felt as if I was reading/listening to a students end of year paper. lots of cross references, some prejudiced views about gender (which I am sure our ancients didn't consider or care about). Some trashing of archaeological methods and theories. Yes, modern folk always know better.
In my opinion this a a book trying to demonstrate its academic authority but failing miserably.

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wonderful book

I loved listening to Alice read her book, with her enthusiasm and knowledge it made it so interesting and I learned so much about the past. I really recommend it.

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Brilliant

An easy to read, fascinating book. Roberts bravely gives her stance on important subjects, and is a good narrator.

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Shame about the lectures

I've recently listened to a number of books about human history, and this book brought these matters together and included the British Isles in the history.
I noted a small number of references to the climate in the paleolithic era, both of which gave the lie to the Green propaganda about climate change in the recent past, but these matters were not commented on. Instead, we got lectured about how our ancestors were probably not racist, that there are a range of genders, and that being a humanist is the only way.
These lectures detracted from the very interesting and informative details from the archaeology.

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utterly brilliant as always.

as always Dr Roberts is superb. her enthusiasm is infectious & her ability to bring history to life is fascinating

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  • James
  • 26-06-21

Current narrative

The coverage of up to date knowledge of ancient Britain in regard to archeological and DNA evidence is fascinating. The author however cannot help but intersperse this with long digressions of some feminist, gender and historical perspectives that can currently be found being pushed on many humanities faculties. Finding a mirror in a probable male grave somehow leads to a lecture on current leftist gender views and the statement that there may be five or more genders? Another example is the description of how there was an almost complete replacement of people’s in Britain with the new peoples exhibiting identifiably different DNA, physiology and culture. That all leads into a lecture on racism and how anyone not agreeing is a racist. Yet one definition of race is “A race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society.”
Confusing, it’s almost as if she if arguing against herself or was it necessary to make such statements to get published?
Other than that it’s an interesting listen.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan Ross
  • 13-07-21

Love the concept

It was I good idea for a book but the author rambled off topic too many times and the audio defects really ruined it for me