The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New

The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New

by Peter Watson


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In The Great Divide, acclaimed author and historian Peter Watson explores the development of humankind between the Old World and the New, and offers a groundbreaking new understanding of human history.

By 15,000 BC, humans had migrated from northeastern Asia across the frozen Bering land bridge to the Americas. When the last Ice Agecame to an end, the Bering Strait refilled with water, dividing America from Eurasia. This division continued until Christopher Columbus voyaged to the New World in the fifteenth century.

The Great Divide compares the development of humankind in the Old World and the New between 15,000 BC and AD 1,500. Combining the most up-to-date knowledge in archaeology, anthropology, geology, meteorology, cosmology, and mythology, Peter Watson’s masterful study offers uniquely revealing insight into what it means to be human.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061672460
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/25/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 603
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Peter Watson has been a senioreditor at the London Sunday Times, a New York correspondentof the London Times, a columnist for theLondon Observer, and a contributor to the New YorkTimes. He has published three exposés on the world ofart and antiquities, and is the author of several booksof cultural and intellectual history. From 1997 to 2007he was a research associate at the McDonald Institutefor Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge.He lives in London.

Table of Contents

Author's Note: The Aztecs 'as evil as Nazis' vii

Maps xi

Introduction: 15000 BC-AD 1500: A Unique Period in Human History xxi

Part 1 How the First Americans Differed from Old World Peoples

1 From Africa to Alaska: The Great Journey as Revealed in the Genes, Language and the Stones 3

2 From Africa to Alaska: The Disasters of Deep Time as Revealed by Myths, Religion and the Rocks 23

3 Siberia and the Sources of Shamanism 48

4 Into a Land Without People 56

Part 2 How Nature Differs in the Old World and the New

5 Rings of Fire and Thermal Trumpets 81

6 Roots v. Seeds and the Anomalous Distribution of Domesticable Mammals 105

7 Fatherhood, Fertility, Farming: 'The Fall' 116

8 Ploughing, Driving, Milking and Riding - four things that never happened in the New World 139

9 Catastrophe and the (All-Important) Origins of Sacrifice 149

10 From Narcotics to Alcohol 165

11 Maize: What People Are Made Of 180

12 The Psychoactive Rainforest and the Anomalous Distribution of Hallucinogens 193

13 Houses of Smoke, Coca and Chocolate 213

14 Wild: the Jaguar, the Bison, the Salmon 226

Part 3 Why Human Nature Evolved Differently in the Old World and the New

15 Eridu and Aspero: the First Cities Seven and a Half Thousand Miles Apart 249

16 The Steppes, War and 'a new anthropological type' 271

17 The Day of the Jaguar 300

18 The Origins of Monotheism and the End of Sacrifice in the Old World 324

19 The Invention of Democracy, the Alphabet, Money and the Greek Concept of Nature 358

20 Shaman-Kings, World Trees and Vision Serpents 381

21 Bloodletting, Human Sacrifice, Pain and Potlatch 413

22 Monasteries and Mandarins, Muslims and Mongols 444

23 The Feathered Serpent, the Fifth Sun and the Four Suyus 467

Conclusion: The Shaman and the Shepherd: The Great Divide 499

Appendix 1 The (Never-Ending) Dispute of the New World 523

Appendix 2 (Available online): From 100,000 kin groups to 190 Sovereign States: Some Patterns in Cultural Evolution 547

Notes and References 549

Sources for Figures 585

Index 587

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