Read Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations by Brian M. Fagan Free Online
Book Title: Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations|
The author of the book: Brian M. Fagan
Edition: Teaching Company, LLC, The
Date of issue: January 1st 2003
ISBN 13: 9781565855908
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 39.21 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.4
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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?
This course brings 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 is a narrative of the story of human origins and the many ties that still bind us deeply to the world before writing.
What Is "Prehistory"?
Prehistory—meaning human societies without writing or widespread written records—survived until Western culture and industrial society completed their globalization in the 20th century, making the topic of a course that begins with some very old fossils seem more current than you may think.
You learn about dozens of archaeological sites all over the world and learn about stone-tool making, mammoth hunting, and temple building as you explore man's earliest origins and the earliest civilizations.
Themes to Remember: Human Achievement
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
* 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.
This is a world tour of prehistory with profound links to who we are and how we live today.
2.5 Million Years of History
This 36-lecture narrative covers human prehistory from our beginnings more than 2.5 million years ago up to and beyond the advent of the world's first preindustrial civilizations.
Due to the large spans of time and geography covered in this series, these lectures are divided into six sections:
Section I: Beginnings
This section surveys the archaic world of the first humans, you travel into the remote past, learning why the late Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould was probably right to observe that we all come from the same African twig on the bushy tree of human evolution.
You examine prehistory from Australopithecus africanus through Homo habilis (the first tool-making hominid), and Homo erectus (whose remains were first found on Java but whose origins lie in Africa) through the hardy Neanderthals who lived and hunted successfully in Europe despite the bitter grip of the last Ice Age 100,000 and more years ago. You focus on the first human settlement of Africa as early as 800,000 years ago.
Section II: Modern Humans
This section tells the story of the great diaspora of anatomically modern humans in the late Ice Age. Whether and how these modern humans spread from the African tropics into southwestern Asia and beyond remains one of the great controversies among scholars of prehistory.
You follow Homo sapiens sapiens north into Europe some 45,000 years ago. You meet the Cro-Magnons, among the first known artists as well as hunter-gatherers, who exhibited degrees of spiritual awareness, social interaction, and fluid intelligence.
You venture into the frigid open plains of the Ukraine and Eurasia, where big-game hunters flourished in spite of nine-month winters. Moving to the Americas, debate over the origins of the first human settlement continues.
Section III: Farmers and Herders
This section describes perhaps the most important development in all human prehistory: the beginnings of agriculture and animal domestication.
This defining chapter began about 12,000 years ago, when hunter-gatherers in the Near East broke from the long human tradition of intensely mobile foraging and turned to more settled ways of life built around cultivating cereal grains or tending animals.
Section IV: Eastern Mediterranean Civilizations
Professor Fagan describes early civilizations in an increasingly complex eastern Mediterranean world, discussing many theories accounting for the appearance of urban civilization and overall attributes of preindustrial civilizations.
You examine Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia and the intricate patchwork of city-states between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. You explore ancient Egypt, the Minoan civilization of Crete, the Mycenaeans, and the Hittites.
You learn about the Uluburun shipwreck of southern Turkey, a sealed capsule of international trade from 3,000 years ago.
Section V: Africans and Asians
You analyze the beginnings of South Asian civilization and the mysterious Harappan civilization of the Indus, which traded with Mesopotamia. Professor Fagan resumes the story of South Asian civilization after the collapse of the Harappan and shows how Mauryan rulers on the Ganges encouraged trading much farther afield.
You see the impact of monsoons which revolutionized maritime trading among Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, and explore Meroe, Aksum, and the coastal civilization of East Africa.
Several lectures cover the beginnings of civilization in China and Southeast Asia.
Section VI: Ancient Americans
Professor Fagan takes you into sophisticated chiefdoms and civilizations that developed in the Americas over the past 3,500 years, including Pueblo cultures of the North American Southwest and the Mississippian culture of the South and Southeast. You learn about Mesoamerican civilization, primordial Olmec culture of the lowlands, and the spectacular ancient Maya civilization.
Moving to the highlands, you visit the city-states of Monte Albán in the Valley of Oaxaca and Teotihuacán near the Valley of Mexico. Professor Fagan also describes the rise of Aztec civilization, followed by a journey to the Andes. Finally, you explore the southern highlands, with the rise of Tiwanaku near Lake Titicaca, the Chimu civilization of the coast, and the huge Inka empire.
The series closes by analyzing the closing centuries of prehistoric times during the European age of discovery and summarizing the main issues and themes of the course:
* What was involved in the archaic world
* The appearance and spread of modern humans
* Food production
* The development of states.
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Read information about the authorBrian Murray Fagan (born 1 August 1936) is a prolific author of popular archaeology books and a professor emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA. Fagan was born in England where he received his childhood education at Rugby School. He attended Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied archaeology and anthropology (BA 1959, MA 1962, PhD 1965).
He spent six years as Keeper of Prehistory at the Livingstone Museum in Zambia, Central Africa, and moved to the U.S.A. in 1966. He was Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, in 1966/67, and was appointed Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1967.
Fagan is an archaeological generalist, with expertise in the broad issues of human prehistory. He is the author or editor of 46 books, including seven widely used undergraduate college texts. Fagan has contributed over 100 specialist papers to many national and international journals. He is a Contributing Editor to American Archaeology and Discover Archaeology magazines, and formerly wrote a regular column for Archaeology Magazine. He serves on the Editorial Boards of six academic and general periodicals and has many popular magazine credits, including Scientific American and Gentleman's Quarterly.
Fagan has been an archaeological consultant for many organizations, including National Geographic Society, Time-Life, Encyclopædia Britannica, and Microsoft Encarta. He has lectured extensively about archaeology and other subjects throughout the world at many venues, including the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the National Geographic Society, the San Francisco City Lecture Program, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Getty Conservation Institute.
In addition to extensive experience with the development of Public Television programs, Fagan was the developer/writer of Where in time is Carmen San Diego, an NPR series in 1984-86. He has worked as a consultant for the BBC, RKO, and many Hollywood production companies on documentaries. In 1995 he was Senior Series Consultant for Time-Life Television's "Lost Civilizations" series.
Fagan was awarded the 1996 Society of Professional Archaeologists' Distinguished Service Award for his "untiring efforts to bring archaeology in front of the public." He also received a Presidential Citation Award from the Society for American Archaeology in 1996 for his work in textbook, general writing and media activities. He received the Society's first Public Education Award in 1997.
He has written many critiques of contemporary archaeology and has advocated non-traditional approaches, as well as writing extensively on the role of archaeology in contemporary society. His approach is a melding of different theoretical approaches, which focuses on the broad issues of human prehistory and the past. He is a strong advocate of multidisciplinary approaches to such issues as climate change in the past. Over the years, he has written a series of well-known textbooks that provide accurate summaries of the latest advances in archaeological method and theory and world prehistory. These are designed for beginners and avoid both confusing jargon and major theoretical discussion, which is inappropriate at this basic level. His approach melds traditional cultural history with more recent approaches, with a major emphasis on writing historical narrative using archaeological data and sources from other disciplines. Fagan is also well known for his public lectures on a wide variety of archaeological and historical topics, delivered to a broad range of archaeological and non-archaeological audiences.
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