World Prehistory: The Basics tells the compelling story of human prehistory, from our African origins to the spectacular pre-industrial civilizations and cities of the more recent past.
Written in a non-technical style by two archaeologists and experienced writers about the past, the story begins with human origins in Africa some 6 million years ago and the spread of our remote ancestors across the Old World. Then we return to Africa and describe the emergence of Homo sapiens (modern humans) about 350,000 years ago, then, much later, their permanent settlement of Europe, Eurasia, Asia, and the Americas. From hunters and foragers, we turn to the origins of farming and animal domestication in different parts of the world after about 11,000 years ago and show how these new economies changed human existence dramatically. Five chapters tell the stories of the great pre-industrial civilizations that emerged after 5,000 years before present in the Old World and the Americas, their strengths, volatility, and weaknesses. These chapters describe powerful rulers and their ideologies, also the lives of non-elites. The narratives chronicle the rise and fall of civilizations, and the devastating effects of long droughts on many of them. The closing chapter poses a question: Why is world prehistory important in the modern world? What does it tell us about ourselves?
Providing a simple, but entertaining and stimulating, account of the prehistoric past from human origins to today from a global perspective, World Prehistory: The Basics is the ideal guide to the story of our early human past and its relevance to the modern world.
Table of Contents
1. Beginnings (6 to 2 Ma); 2. Out of Africa (2 Ma and later); 3. Enter Homo sapiens (300,000 years ago and later); 4. Modern Humans in the North (50,000 to 12,000 years ago); 5. After the Ice (15,000 years ago and later); 6. Farmers and Herders (c. 12,000 years ago and later); 7. Villages, Towns, and Chiefs (after about 10,000 years ago); 8. Sumerians and Assyrians (c. 3100 to 612 BCE); 9. By Nile and Indus (c. 3100 to 30 BCE); 10. China and Southeast Asia (after 5250 BCE to 15th century CE); 11. Mesoamerica (c. 1500 BCE to 1532 CE); 12. Andean Civilizations (3000 BCE to 1532 CE); 13. Epilogue
Brian M. Fagan is one of the world’s leading archaeological writers and an internationally recognized authority on world prehistory. He is Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and author of numerous general books on archaeology.
Nadia Durrani is a Cambridge University-trained archaeologist and writer, with a PhD from University College, London in Arabian archaeology. She is former editor of Britain’s best-selling archaeology magazine, Current World Archaeology and has authored and edited many articles and books on archaeology from every corner of the world.