People of the Earth : An Introduction to World Prehistory book cover
15th Edition

People of the Earth
An Introduction to World Prehistory

ISBN 9781138722965
Published October 1, 2018 by Routledge
520 Pages

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Book Description

People of the Earth is a narrative account of the prehistory of humankind from our origins over 3 million years ago to the first pre-industrial civilizations, beginning about 5,000 years ago. This is a global prehistory, which covers prehistoric times in every corner of the world, in a jargon-free style for newcomers to archaeology. Many world histories begin with the first civilizations. This book starts at the beginning of human history and summarizes the latest research into such major topics as human origins, the emergence and spread of modern humans, the first farming, and the origins of civilization.

People of the Earth is unique in its even balance of the human past, its readily accessible style, and its flowing narrative that carries the reader through the long sweep of our past. The book is highly illustrated, and features boxes and sidebars describing key dating methods and important archaeological sites.

This classic world prehistory sets the standard for books on the subject and is the most widely used prehistory textbook in the world. It is aimed at introductory students in archaeology and anthropology taking survey courses on the prehistoric past, as well as more advanced readers. It will also appeal to students of human responses to climatic and environmental change.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introducing World Prehistory; Chapter 2 Human Origins: 7 Million to 1.9 Million Years Ago; Chapter 3 Archaic Humans: 1.9 Million to 30,000 Years Ago; Chapter 4 Origins and the Diaspora Begins: c. 350,000 Years Ago and Later; Chapter 5 Europe and Eurasia: c. 50,000 to 10,000 Years Ago; Chapter 6 The First Americans: Around 15,000 Years Ago to Modern Times; Chapter 7 After the Ice: Before 10,000 B.C. to Modern Times; Chapter 8 Agriculture and Animal Domestication; Chapter 9 The Origins of Food Production in Southwest Asia; Chapter 10 The First European Farmers; Chapter 11 First Farmers in Eypt and Tropical Africa; Chapter 12 Asia and the Pacific: Rice, Roots, and Ocean Voyages;  Chapter 13 The Story of Maize: Early Farmers in the Americas; Chapter 14 The Development of Civilization; Chapter 15 Early Civilizations in Southwest Asia; Chapter 16 Egypt, Nubia, and Tropical Africa; Chapter 17 Early States in South and Southeast Asia; Chapter 18 Early Chinese Civilization; Chapter 19 Hittites, Minoans, and Mycenaeans; Chapter 20 Europe Before the Romans; Chapter 21 Mesoamerican Civilizations; Chapter 22 Andean Civilizations

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Brian Fagan is one of the world’s leading writers in the field of archaeology and an internationally recognized authority on world prehistory. He studied archaeology and anthropology at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, and then spent seven years in sub-Saharan Africa. Now Professor Emeritus, from 1967 to 2003 he was Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Among his scholarly achievements, Professor Fagan was General Editor of the Oxford Companion to Archaeology and has written seven best-selling textbooks. He received the Society for American Archaeology’s first Public Education Award for his indefatigable efforts on behalf of archaeology and education.

Nadia Durrani has contributed to a wide range of archaeological publications and is the former editor of Britain’s two best-selling archaeological magazines, Current World Archaeology, and Current Archaeology. Over the years she has authored and edited countless articles and books, including co-editing several text-books with Brian.

Her background is in Arabian archaeology and, following a degree in archaeology and anthropology from Cambridge University, she took a PhD in South West Arabian archaeology from University College London. Nadia remains actively involved in Arabian studies and is on the board of the British Foundation for the Study of Arabia. She is also a founding member of the Great War Archaeology Group, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.


This new edition of People of the Earth continues the highly authoritative and well-written coverage of Brian Fagan’s thorough and accessible introduction to global (pre)history. Now with co-author Nadia Durrani, the volume captures our humanity’s identity through deep time and our earthly space in a factual narrative readily intelligible to a broad readership. From our human origins 7 million years ago to the Shang dynasty of China, we are taken on a time-traveling machine with numerous layovers, surprises and counter-intuitive storylines.

Vernon L. Scarborough, University of Cincinnati, USA