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This is a good whistle-stop tour of world prehistory. The narrator stumbles occasionally but his enthusiasm comes across well and he holds attention. A couple of assertions (such as 'We know that modern humans did not interbreed with Neanderthals') now thought to be false, beg the question of what else is out of date now but I don't think that detracts too much from the purpose of the course: to give a general overview.
One other bugbear. Some of the pronunciations of Chinese words were bizarrely wrong. It does seem a shame that the pronunciations weren't looked up beforehand but again, this isn't a big deal in what is essentially a big picture course.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
I'm not sure what I was hoping for but this course is so lacking in information, The lecturer will say we've analysed when in fact ideas were mentioned and very briefly looked into.
The section on neolithic art was risible. No mention that the venus figures exist & only mentioning animal figures, No mention that the earliest art is pre-homo sapiens sapiens & says that art is a development of homo sapiens sapiens, No mention of musical instruments at all.
I'm surprised that the statement that Neanderthals & modern humans didn't interbreed is being stated in something that came out in 2013 was as early as 2010 that findings have appeared that they did. Has this lecturer not bothered keeping up with the latest finding and delivered an old lecture anyway?
I'm not going to criticise that needles have been found in the Denisovan caves used by non homo sapians sapiens as that's very recent but his talk of layering of clothing being an old idea that was lost until recently is very odd too. Yes how clothing layers work has changed but there have always been layers.
Not impressed by the lecturer's delivery either.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Although this is a course rather than a book, I would recommend it with reservation.
Would you recommend Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations to your friends? Why or why not?
On the upside, it paints human history in broad strokes and provides significant food for thought regarding what impacted early human development. On the flip side recent data is making some very significant points obsolete. The professor asserts that humans and Neanderthals did not interbreed, that Neanderthals did not produce art or have higher reasoning on par with homo sapiens sapiens. In 2003 when this course was first given this might have been the prevailing belief. Modern DNA research now shows that most of humanity outside of Africa is likely to have some Neanderthal DNA in our genetic make-up. Additionally, Neanderthals have been shown to make clothes, and use pigments at least for application on their body if not to create art on cave walls. Although there is still much to decipher and the final verdict is still out on how similar these two branches of humanity's tree were, the professors absolute statements regarding Neanderthals ring a bit hollow now with the passage of time coupled with recent developments. Still a good course overall.
What about Professor Brian M. Fagan’s performance did you like?
Concise. Despite reservations noted above, he still seems quite knowledgeable and has a great deal to offer.
Did Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations inspire you to do anything?
Yes. I went out and read more on the subject. Very interesting.
51 of 51 people found this review helpful
First, I am a college professor, so it pains me to give this lecture series anything but the highest praise. But I feel like they pick people who don't get the basic need for storytelling in the lecture format, and instead go with people with a professorial flair in the delivery. This lecture is the third in this series that I have attempted to plod through, and I am stopping at hour 7 even though the subject is of great interest to me. It may just be me, but I find nothing particularly compelling about this lecture- it's just okay. Most of the time I realize that even if I am listening intently, most of the information is just deserting me and I am needing to go back and listen again, as my mind seems to be completely uninterested in what Professor Fagan is saying. This lecture may work well in a room where you can see his gestures and visual aids, but in this format I find that I am retaining little and enjoying less.
24 of 26 people found this review helpful