The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE (New Oxford World History)
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To be human is to be curious. And one of the things we are most curious about is how we came to be who we are--how we evolved over millions of years to become creatures capable of inquiring into our own evolution.
In this lively and readable introduction, renowned anthropologist Ian Tattersall thoroughly examines both fossil and archaeological records to trace human evolution from the earliest beginnings of our zoological family, Hominidae, through the appearance of Homo sapiens to the Agricultural Revolution. He begins with an accessible overview of evolutionary theory and then explores the major turning points in human evolution: the emergence of the genus Homo, the advantages of bipedalism, the birth of the big brain and symbolic thinking, Paleolithic and Neolithic tool making, and finally the enormously consequential shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies 10,000 years ago. Focusing particularly on the pattern of events and innovations in human biological and cultural evolution, Tattersall offers illuminating commentary on a wide range of topics, including the earliest known artistic expressions, ancient burial rites, the beginnings of language, the likely causes of Neanderthal extinction, the relationship between agriculture and Christianity, and the still unsolved mysteries of human consciousness.
Complemented by a wealth of illustrations and written with the grace and accessibility for which Tattersall is widely admire, The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE invites us to take a closer look at the strange and distant beings who, over the course of millions of years, would become us.
communications, and health and medicine. The New Oxford World History presents local histories in a viii Editors’ Preface global context and gives an overview of world events seen through the eyes of ordinary people. This combination of the local and the global further deﬁnes the new world history. Understanding the workings of global and local conditions in the past gives us tools for examining our own world and for envisioning the interconnected future that is in the making. Bonnie G. Smith
highly unlikely that they ever pursued anything larger than small prey. With the possible exception of the robusts they all probably had broadly similar lifeways. But it is hard to avoid the impression that these various different types of australopiths were busily exploring the options offered by the range of new habitats made available by the climatic changes affecting their continent. We can thus look upon the multiplicity of australopith species as the outcome of a set of evolutionary
distinctively modern human morphology (body form). But in all of these cases either the fossils are fragmentary, their morphology cannot be exactly determined, or their dating is uncertain. A better combination of clear morphology and reliable early dating comes from the Levant, speciﬁcally Israel, which lies in an area often Both of these skulls from the cave of Jebel Qafzeh, in Israel, date to more than 90,000 years ago. But while the skull on the right is structured like a fully modern Homo
developing their own local traditions, maybe even speaking their own dialects. Over the course of the Upper Paleolithic, the Cro-Magnons’ heyday between about 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, archaeologists recognize four major cultural traditions in Europe, each marked by its own characteristic expressions and named for the particular site at which it was ﬁrst identiﬁed. Each tradition lasted a longer or shorter period depending on location, but broadly they can be described as follows. The
longish arms, and somewhat curved hands and feet, to tall, striding bipeds resembling our own species. This change was evidently an abrupt one. There are no known intermediate forms between the archaic and modern body structures, so it would seem that the latter appeared on the scene rather suddenly. We don’t know exactly what genetic changes were involved in the shift from one body type to 14 The World from Beginnings to 4000 bce the other, but molecular and developmental geneticists are