The World From Beginnings To 4000 Bce, Paperback book

The World From Beginnings To 4000 Bce[Paperback]

by Ian Tattersall

4.50 out of 5 (1 ratings)

Oxford University Press Inc 
Publication Date:
21 February 2008 
History: Earliest Times To Present Day 


This book narrates the story of human biological and cultural evolution, from the earliest beginnings of our zoological family Hominidae, through the emergence of Homo sapiens, to the Agricultural Revolution. It concludes with a brief overview of the subsequent diversification of cultural and technological traditions in all the areas our species inhabits. A particular focus is on the pattern of events/innovations in human biological and cultural evolution, which have tended not to proceed in lockstep. Prior to the emergence of Homo sapiens innovations of this kind were generally sporadic, and rare; since that event their frequency has been steadily increasing. Tattersall draws on his own research to demonstrate that the history of humankind has not been one of a singleminded struggle from primitiveness to perfection, but has rather been one of trial and error, of evolutionary experimentation that as often ended in failure as in success. In the process he thoroughly examines both the fossil and the archaeological records that document our human prehistory. All human beings have a thirst to know where they came from, whether as individuals or as a species. This book responds to this desire for knowledge, whether in the classroom where the subject has a place in history as well as in science curricula or in more informal contexts. There currently exist no high school texts or supplemental readings that treat this subject in an authoritative manner, written by a practicing scientist in the field. This volume will have the advantage of being written by one whose opinions are first hand, and conditioned by direct familiarity with the original evidence.

Showing 1-1 out of 1 reviews.

  • The last book I read about pre-human and early humans history was my history textbook back in the mid-nineties when we were going chronologically through the history of the world in a few subsequent school years. As fascinating as the topic had been, that small introduction had been more than enough for me - I like history but the more recent events (the ones involving people) had always sounded a lot more interesting. And the textbook was not up-to-date with the current development or spent anytime discussing the more objectionable theories - it was a book created to introduce you to what the scientists believed to be the story at the time - and give you a glimpse in the distant past. So when I opened this book, I expected to find a lot of information I had never heard of, tied into what I already know and reinforcing the base I got all those years ago. And the book did not disappoint. Despite the length of the book (~120 pages), Tattersall is taking his time explaining the hows and whys of the ancient history and along the way discussing a lot of the theories around it - both new and still being considered possibly valid and old ones that had been dismissed but had shaped the historical thought for decades. All the needed background to understand what he is talking about is written clearly - waving a very readable introduction to evolution, fossils and how a piece of rock can tell you the story of a whole species. And then the book hits its main topic and takes you on a trip that will eventually lead to the first complex society - complete with all the errors, speculations, researches and dismissed theories. Tattersall's research covers everything happening in the field almost to the time when the book was published (2008) and he is using all the new discoveries in his narrative about what most likely happened. There is no attempt to go for the sensational or to hide the blunders through the years of recovering and dating fossils -- errors did happen, fabrications existed and all of them became part of the wide tapestry of the history research. A lot of what was covered in this part of the book was something I had never heard of - all the discoveries from the 90s and from the first decade of the 21st century are described and put in their appropriate context. And the last chapter of the books leads from the pre-history times, speeding through the centuries of settlement to end at the times when the first 6 complex societies emerge (almost at the same time, mostly independently) and the real history begins. If I have any issues with this book, it is the repetition. Although considering the nature of the book, it can be used as a reference one... in which case the repetition between the chapters makes sense. Overall - the book is highly readable introduction to where the humans came from. It might not appeal to the mass reader - the book is too technical in places; a bit too academical in others. Which does not bother me at all - I like the style.

    4.50 out of 5


Reviews provided by Librarything.

Also by Ian Tattersall