The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE

ISBN : 9780195333152

Ian Tattersall
160 ページ
156 x 235 mm
New Oxford World History
  • Tattersall is one of the leading authorities on human prehistory, a longtime curator at the American Museum of Natural History
  • This is a unique opening volume to a world history series, in that most series do not cover pre-history

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 sapiensto 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.


1. Evolutionary Processes
2. Ancient Bones and Ancient Stones
3. On Their Own Two Feet
4. Emergence of the Genus Homo
5. Getting Brainier
6. Modern Human Origins
7. Settled Life
Further Reading and Websites. 


Ian Tattersall is curator at the Anthropology Department of the American Museum of Natural History and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University & CUNY Graduate School

"[L]ucid and insightful prose...[A]n excellent introduction to a part of history that most historians skip over due to its remoteness in time, the complexity and the changing nature of the evidence, and the difficulty of the science it takes to understand it...[A]n extremely well presented and at time engaging history of the exploration of our evolutionary origins."--World History Connected

"A lucid and at times elegant introduction to the complex field of evolutionary theory...Tattersall takes the reader on a lively and readable romp through the eons of hominid history...Ian Tattersall's masterful treatment of early human evolution represents an auspicious point of departure for Oxford's new series on world history."--The Journal of World History

"Contributes without doubt to provide a better understanding of academic research in this field."--Elizabeth Do Lam, Teaching History