Although we usually think of technology as something unique to modern times, our ancestors began to create the first technologies millions of years ago in the form of prehistoric tools and weapons. Over time, eight key technologies gradually freed us from the limitations of our animal origins.
The fabrication of weapons, the mastery of fire, and the technologies of clothing and shelter radically restructured the human body, enabling us to walk upright, shed our body hair, and migrate out of tropical Africa. Symbolic communication transformed human evolution from a slow biological process into a fast cultural process. The invention of agriculture revolutionized the relationship between humanity and the environment, and the technologies of interaction led to the birth of civilization. Precision machinery spawned the industrial revolution and the rise of nation-states; and in the next metamorphosis, digital technologies may well unite all of humanity for the benefit of future generations.
Synthesizing the findings of primatology, paleontology, archeology, history, and anthropology, Richard Currier reinterprets and retells the modern narrative of human evolution that began with the discovery of Lucy and other Australopithecus fossils. But the same forces that allowed us to integrate technology into every aspect of our daily lives have also brought us to the brink of planetary catastrophe. Unbound explains both how we got here and how human society must be transformed again to achieve a sustainable future.
Technology: “The deliberate modification of any natural object or substance with forethought to achieve a specific end or to serve a specific purpose.”
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About the Author
Richard L. Currier earned his BA and PhD in social and cultural anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and taught anthropology at Berkeley, the University of Minnesota, and the State University of New York. He coauthored a ten-volume series on archeology for young adults and published numerous articles in scholarly journals and mainstream magazines. A pioneer in the design and development of interactive learning technologies, Currier has won numerous awards for his work. He lives in Oceanside, California.
Table of Contents
1 The Primate Baseline: Tools, Traditions, Motherhood, Warfare, and the Homeland 1
2 The Technology of Spears and Digging Sticks: Upright Posture and Bipedal Locomotion 29
3 The Technology of Fire: Cooking, Nakedness, and Staying Up Late 55
4 The Technologies of Clothing and Shelter: Hats, Huts, Togas, and Tents 81
5 The Technology of Symbolic Communication: Music, Art, Language, and Ethnicity 106
6 The Technology of Agriculture: Permanent Villages and the Accumulation of Wealth 139
7 The Technologies of Interaction: Ships, Writing, the Wheel, and the Birth of Civilization 167
8 The Technology of Precision Machinery: Clocks, Engines, and Industrial Society 201
9 The Technology of Digital Information: The World Wide Web of Human Interaction 240
10 Our World at the Brink: Is Humanity Drifting Toward a Planetary Catastrophe? 266