The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE

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Oxford University Press, USA, Feb 1, 2008 - Science - 143 pages
18 Reviews
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.

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Review: The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE

User Review  - Steve Wiggins - Goodreads

A brief primer on the history of humanity in pre-history. Not the most engaging book on the subject, still it is a good reference to where things stand in the study of human evolution. More thoughts are here: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World. Read full review

Review: The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE

User Review  - Goodreads

Physical anthropology can get really complicated, and a lot of public-market works on the subject completely lose the forest because of the trees. This book did a good job of hitting the major points ... Read full review

Selected pages


CHAPTER 1 Evolutionary Processes
CHAPTER 2 Fossils and Ancient Artifacts
CHAPTER 3 On Their Own Two Feet
CHAPTER 4 Emergence of the Genus Homo
CHAPTER 5 Getting Brainier
CHAPTER 6 Modern Human Origins
CHAPTER 7 Settled Life
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About the author (2008)

Ian Tattersall is a Curator in the Division of Anthropology at The American Museum of Natural History and has appointments at Columbia University and CUNY Graduate School. His books include The Monkey in the Mirror (OUP 2002), Becoming Human, and The Fossil Trail (OUP, 1995). He lives in New York City.

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