The World From Beginnings to 4000 BCE marks the first in a brilliant new series from Oxford University Press, bringing a short but thorough history of the world known as The New Oxford World History. The series will be split into three sections: Chronological Volumes, Thematic and Topical Volumes, and Geographical Volumes, each at the affordable paperback price of $19.95, with The World From Beginnings to 4000BCE starting off the Chronological Volumes.
Ian Tattersall, a curator in the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, begins the book with an introduction and explanation of evolutionary processes, what exactly Charles Darwin was talking about, and a clear and precise definition of natural selection. This serves as a foundation to the subsequent chapters which cover fossils and paleontology, when humanity began walking on two feet, as well as the history (as we know it, according to evidence) of the Homo genus. It is at this point that our ancestors are clearly defined as being separate, different, more intelligent than any other life on the planet, and why that was and what it meant to us as a species.
In the final chapter, leading up to the prehistoric-approaching-historic date of 4000BCE, Tattersall discusses the beginning of settlement and the inception of towns and eventual cities in Mesopotamia, in what is today Iraq. Tattersall doesn’t let his writing just speak for itself, using pictures, graphs, and charts to explain the facts and the evidence. The World From Beginnings to 4000BCE is an ideal reference book, or laymen’s history book for those interested in this crucial defining period in our ancestry.
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Originally written on April 1st 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.