The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE

The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE

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by Ian Tattersall
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[L]ucid and insightful prose...[A]n excellent introduction to a part of history that most historians skip over due to its remoteness in time, the complexity and the changing nature of the evidence, and the difficulty of the science it takes to understand it...[A]n extremely well presented and at time engaging history of the exploration of our evolutionary origins." —World History Connected

"A lucid and at times elegant introduction to the complex field of evolutionary theory.... Tattersall takes the reader on a lively and readable romp through the eons of hominid history.... Ian Tattersall's masterful treatment of early human evolution represents an auspicious point of departure for Oxford's new series on world history."—The Journal of World History

"Contributes without doubt to provide a better understanding of academic research in this field."—Elizabeth Do Lam, Teaching History

Publishers Weekly

Tattersall (Becoming Human), a curator in the anthropology division of the American Museum of Natural History, uses fossil and archeological records to examine the seven (or so) million years from the dawn of the Hominidae, the family that includes humans, to the gradual development of agriculture and permanent settlements. His topic is huge and his pages are few, but this overview will give readers a sense of the current thinking in the field. Tattersall discusses the characteristics that separate Homo sapiensfrom extinct hominids, concluding that the gulf between us and our closest relative opened up when our enlarged brains gave rise to symbolic reasoning. Asserting that hominid evolution is more complex than previously thought and that the idea of a linear progression of species is far too simplistic, Tattersall presents mitochondrial DNA evidence that we are not directly related to Neanderthals and declares, "We are not the result of constant fine-tuning over the eons, any more than we are the summit of creation." Finally, he explains the techniques used to interpret the physical evidence of evolutionary processes. This is an elegant, if brief, introduction to a complex field. 20 b&w illus. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195167122
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
02/01/2008
Series:
New Oxford World History Series
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 6.30(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Ian Tattersall is curator at the Anthropology Department of the American Museum of Natural History and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University & CUNY Graduate School

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The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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