Who are we? How do scientists define Homo sapiens, and how does our species differ from the extinct hominins that came before us? In this accessible, lushly illustrated account palaeoarchaeologist Paul Pettitt shows how the latest scientific advances, especially in genetics, are revolutionizing our understanding of human evolution. Pettitt reveals the extraordinary story of how our ancestors adapted to unforgiving and relentlessly changing climates, leading to remarkable innovations in art, technology, and society that we are only now beginning to comprehend.
Drawing on twenty-five years of experience in the field, Pettitt takes readers from the caves and rock-shelters that provide evidence of our African origins to the far reaches of Eurasia, Australasia, and ultimately the Americas. Popular accounts of the evolution of Homo sapiens emphasize biomolecular research, notably genetics, but this volume also draws from the wealth of information from specific excavations and artifacts, including the author’s own investigations into the origins of art and how it evolved over its first 25,000 years.
Drawn from cutting edge research in this field, with a unique perspective from Pettitt’s own studies focusing on human behavior, this immersive and surprising book paints the clearest picture we have ever had of our own evolution.
Paul Pettitt is Professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology at Durham University, specializing in the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. He has excavated at sites across Europe, including Spain, France, Italy and Romania, as well as in Borneo.