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|List of Maps and Illustrations||p. ix|
|To the Reader||p. xi|
|We fill the earth||p. 1|
|We gather by the rivers||p. 11|
|The wanderers settle down||p. 31|
|Two ancient cities follow diverse paths||p. 48|
|China excels and endures||p. 68|
|Some attempt to rule us all||p. 87|
|We found the worldwide faiths||p. 107|
|Europe prepares for its big role||p. 127|
|We find each other||p. 147|
|The New World falls to the Old one||p. 167|
|We suffer famine, war, and plague||p. 182|
|We discover who we are and where we live||p. 195|
|Here and there, the people rule||p. 215|
|We make more and live better||p. 235|
|The richer countries grab the poorer||p. 248|
|We multiply, and shrink the earth||p. 263|
|We wage a war to end war||p. 277|
|A utopia becomes a nightmare||p. 295|
|A Leader tries to shape a master race||p. 311|
|We wage a wider, crueler war||p. 323|
|The Asian giants try to feed their poor||p. 351|
|Some of us do well||p. 372|
|We walk along the brink||p. 398|
|We do the unbelievable||p. 420|
|Epilogue: So Far So Good||p. 441|
|Recommended Reading||p. 443|
|Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.|
Our tale begins when humans much like us evolved andfilled the earth.
Before that happened other humans had already come andgone. The most important of our forebears was Homo erectus, orUpright Men, so named because they stood on their two feet.They evolved in Africa about two million years ago and wanderedinto Asia. They sometimes lived in caves and sometimes in theopen, and they chipped their simple tools from stone and learnedthe use of fire. Erectus had heavy brows and flatter skulls than wedo, and if one were to enter a bus today the other riders probablywould stealthily slip out.
Before erectus vanished perhaps 300,000 years ago, they begatthe species we belong to. We of course are Homo sapiens, or WiseMen. Immodestly we gave ourselves that name because we havelarger brains, encased in higher skulls, than erectus. In spite of havinglarger brains, the early sapiens humans may not have had the giftof language.
* * *
They change their minds every time they find an ancient skull,but anthropologists are fairly sure that our own subspecies evolvedfrom sapiens about 160,000 years ago. We probably evolved in Africa,below the Sahara Desert. To indicate that we are a subspecies ofsapiens, we call ourselves Homo sapiens sapiens, or Wise Wise Men.We are now the only variety of humans on earth.
We evolved in different ways. Some of those in Africa developedtall, thin bodies that exposed a lot of skin and that air could thereforecool more easily. Dark pigment in their skin protected them from thetropical sun's ultraviolet rays, and their tight-curled hair protectedtheir heads from the heat. But humans who lived in Europe and Asia,coping with the long, dark winters, had other needs. To keep theirbones from weakening, they needed sunlight to stimulate vitamin Dproduction. Dark skin would have blocked out too much sun, so theydeveloped pink or sallow skin with little pigment.
Prehistorians have learned a lot about the life of our sapiens sapiensancestors, especially those who lived in southwest Europe aboutthirty thousand years ago. For example, individuals took as muchpleasure in looking different from each other as modern humans do. Ina cave in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, an artistscratched on the walls more than a hundred sketches of what appearto be real people. Some of them wore their hair long, and others short;some had it in braids, others in buns. Some men had beards and mustaches,while others were clean-shaven.
At some point, but the time is much debated, humans learned tospeak to one another. They may have done this because they weredeveloping a richer culture that depended on communication. Theymust have often hunted and collected food in groups, and they probablyworked together when they fashioned fishing boats and shelteredentrances to caves.
They had clever hands. They could light a fire by striking sparksfrom lumps of iron ore, and they carved their sewing needles out ofbones, each one with a tiny hole through which a thread could pass. With these they sewed their clothes, using skins of animals. Theymade tiny cutting tools, half as long as a paper match, from flint, andglued them with resin into holes in handles made from wood or antlers.
They invented the spear thrower, which is a short shaft with ahook at one end that fits into the back end of a spear. It enables ahunter to throw a spear very hard. Some ancient artist carved the endof a spear thrower that was found in the Pyrenees Mountains in theshape of a fawn. Its head is facing backward, and it is looking at a littlebird that is perched atop a lump of feces emerging from the fawn.
When someone died the early humans often left his necklaces ofteeth and shells on his body, and food and tools beside it. They madea powder from the soft red stone called ocher, and sprinkled it on hisbody. So they clearly thought of death as meaningful and solemn.Perhaps they thought the one who died would have an afterlifewhere he or she would once again need tools and food, in a placewhere beauty mattered.
Nothing that we know about the early humans is as awesomeas what they painted in the depths of caves. Prehistorians firstlearned about these paintings in 1875, when an amateur archaeologistwas hunting bones and tools in a cave at Altamira near the northerncoast of Spain. His little daughter, whom he'd brought along for company,wandered into a nearby chamber. Holding up her candle, shesaw paintings on the ceiling of two dozen nearly life-size bison, drawnin yellow, red, brown, and black. The paintings are so masterful thatexperts quickly -- wrongly -- called them modern fakes.
The greatest find of prehistoric paintings took place at Lascaux insouthwest France soon after the start of World War II. Four teenagedboys were rambling on a hillside. In a place where a storm had uprooteda tree, the boys discovered that where the roots had been there was nowa deep hole in the ground. A few days later they returned with akerosene lamp, and one of them climbed down inside the hole. In thescanty light he clambered down a rocky slope and found that he was ina cavern.
The boy was stunned by what he saw. On the cavern walls weremural paintings of short and shaggy horses, bison, oxen, deer withspreading antlers, and that mythic beast the unicorn. Some of theanimals were merely staring; others running for their lives. In a slopinggallery near the main one, other searchers later came on sketchesof a stag swimming across a river ...The Human Story
Excerpted from The Human Story: Our History, from the Stone Age to Today by James C. Davis
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.