Archaeology takes the long view: that is one of the things that distinguishes it from history. Many of us (prehistorians in particular) deal with dates ending in multiple zeros that can easily confuse the uninitiated. The spans of time are vast, the evidence challenging and the pace of change, for much of that timescale, seemingly very slow. How far that impression is caused by taphonomy—the further back we look, the less there is to go on—and how far by the conservative nature of small-scale societies is a good question. There is no doubt about the gathering pace of change as we approach the present, however, and that is hardly surprising given the ballooning size of human populations. Twenty-first-century technology does not make us cleverer, but there are more of us around to invent things.
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