Review by Tom Siegfried
Human vision is a curious sense, providing the brain with information about the external world, but not interpreting it. Vision provides only raw data; the brain’s innate Photoshop software constructs a visual reality that depends on how the brain has learned to comprehend what it sees. In other words, thinking and seeing are not separate. So when Wells writes about how ancient Europeans “saw the world,” he means that both literally and figuratively — how they saw the world, and how they thought about it, as reflected in the objects they made.
Wells focuses on temperate Europe (north of the Mediterranean) from about 2000 B.C. to Rome’s conquest of those areas (roughly 50 B.C. to A.D. 50). Historical knowledge about those ancient Europeans is based mostly on Roman sources. Consequently, Wells contends, much of that history is misleading. He relies on archae