Take a peek at recent human
did we come from? From whom did we come? Fifty thousand years ago the men, women, and children who are our ancestors
were still in their homeland in northeast Africa-- but with the human instinct to travel-- move-- explore the new and find
better places to stay, they sought more select, suitable, and useful ways to live their lives. They walked.
And after thousands of years
they populated the earth to better their lives. Not so different from us.
Excerpt from "Before the Dawn," by Nicholas Wade:
With settlement and the invention of agriculture,
human societies embarked on a trajectory quite different from the foraging life that had hitherto been their only choice.
The new behaviors that had now been developed allowed people to construct complex societies and urban civilization.
They learned to treat strangers as kin, at least
in the context of reciprocal exchanges and trade. They coordinated their activities through religous rites. The defended their
territory against neighboring tribes, or attacked them when the moment seemed propitious.
With settlement came specialization of roles:
administrators to take control of surpluses, priests to organize religious ceremonies, headmen and kings to manage trade and
The first cities started springing
up in southern Mesopotamia some 6,000 years ago. Uruk, in what is
now Iraq, sprawled over some 500 acres with large public buildings. The city
required armies of laborers and an administration to recruit and feed them.
As societies became more intricate, their operation
demanded more sophisticated skills and perhaps more specialized cognitive abilities, ones at least that no forager had had
occasion to exercise.
The invention of writing around 3400 B.C. opened
the way to the beginning of recorded history.
The first great urban civilizations emerged
in Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China. And the next phase of the human experiment
How Wade's research was made possible......
Experts have long speculated on
the lives of our ancient ancestors. But just in the past few years, the science of genetics has delivered a treasure trove
of information, filling numerous gaps in our understanding of human origins.
In "Before the Dawn,"
Nicolas Wade-- science journalist for The New York Times-- eloquently explains
these exciting discoveries, from the peculiarities of our body hair to the secrets of Genghis Khan. Packed with revelations,
this groundbreaking book goes back 500 centuries to tell, as never before, the first chapters of the human epic.
And we, their descendants, despite
access to food, shelter, health care, transportation, and the explosion of great knowledge in the last three centuries-- struggle
on, with most of the same challenges, hopes, dreams, and fears.