The First Humans Summary

The First Humans

THE FIRST HUMANS is the first of five volumes comprising THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF HUMANKIND, an ambitious project that will include PEOPLE OF THE STONE AGE, OLD WORLD CIVILIZATIONS, NEW WORLD AND PACIFIC CIVILIZATIONS, and TRADITIONAL PEOPLES TODAY—each a potential hotbed of professional debate and cultural furor. If handled with the same frank and unbiased approach, this set will prove to be a valuable reference tool for anyone interested in the origins and progress of humanity.

The millions, and hundreds of millions, and even billions of years that are thrown about so casually and inconsistently in text books and television documentaries are mapped out as plainly as possible in this comprehensible guide to prehistory. What readers learned in science class twenty years ago was a guess; what they may learn from THE FIRST HUMANS is a slightly better educated guess. Dating methods are still not entirely reliable but are getting more sophisticated all the time. The status of Neanderthal is in constant flux, having been more or less cast out of the direct family line; the great apes, however, have enjoyed a promotion based on DNA comparisons with humans. The appearance of modern humans in North America has been pushed way back to as much as 19,000 years ago, and Eve (of all people) has had a resurgence of popularity in the anthropologic community.

THE FIRST HUMANS presents a well-conceived approach to its complex topic. Essays by prominent scientists are complemented with maps, graphs, and accompanying features that explain in detailed asides the sites, the bones, the technology, and the theories. Beautifully, generously illustrated, with easily digestible text, this is a perfect introduction to the search for human origins.