Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations : The Great Courses: Ancient History

  • by The Great Courses, Brian M. Fagan Ph.D. Cambridge University
  • Narrated by Professor Brian M. Fagan Ph.D. Cambridge University
  • Series: The Great Courses: Ancient History
  • 18 hrs and 9 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Where do we come from? How did our ancestors settle this planet? How did the great historic civilizations of the world develop? How does a past so shadowy that it has to be painstakingly reconstructed from fragmentary, largely unwritten records nonetheless make us who and what we are?
These 36 lectures bring you the answers that the latest scientific and archaeological research and theorizing suggest about human origins, how populations developed, and the ways in which civilizations spread throughout the globe. It's a narrative of the story of human origins and the many ties that still bind us deeply to the world before writing. And it's a world tour of prehistory with profound links to who we are and how we live today.
Woven through this narrative is a set of pervasive themes: emerging human biological and cultural diversity (as well as our remarkable similarities across surprising expanses of time and space); the impact of human adaptations to climatic and environmental change; and the importance of seeing prehistory not merely as a chronicle of archaeological sites and artifacts, but of people behaving with the extraordinary intellectual, spiritual, and emotional dynamism that distinguish the human. Among the corners of our mysterious past you'll explore: human prehistory from Australopithecus africanus through Homo habilis and Homo erectus; the beginnings of agriculture and animal domestication; theories behind the appearance of urban civilization and overall attributes of preindustrial civilizations; the maritime trading revolutions in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia; and much more.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting but a little dated

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.
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- Unique Pseudonym

Little information & often wrong or misleading

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.

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- C. Goodall

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-07-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses