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In just a few years, our understanding of the human past has changed beyond recognition as new discoveries and advances in genetic techniques overturn long-held beliefs and make international news.

Drawing upon expert literature and the latest research, HUMANS: FROM THE BEGINNING is a rigorous but accessible guide to the human story, presenting an even-handed account of events from the first apes to the first cities.

Following its successful launch in 2014, HUMANS: FROM THE BEGINNING has
now been released in a second edition, which has been substantially rewritten
and brought fully up to date with the latest developments.

New finds include evidence that apelike hominids made stone tools; that
small-brained Homo naledi lived alongside Homo sapiens in Africa; and that Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo sapiens all repeatedly interbred.

There is also expanded coverage of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, with new
chapters on the later prehistory of Europe, the Minoans and Mycenaeans, and
the Late Bronze Age collapse of Eastern Mediterranean civilisation.

HUMANS: FROM THE BEGINNING is written for the non-specialist, but it is sufficiently comprehensive and well-referenced to serve as an ideal ‘one-stop’ text not only for undergraduate students, but also for postgraduates, researchers and other academics seeking to broaden their knowledge.

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The incredible story of how we learned about the Universe, from the earliest prehistoric observations to the first telescopes. Early astronomy ranks among the greatest achievements of the human intellect. But how did astronomers of the pre-telescopic era make accurate observations of the Sun, Moon, and planets, and predict their movements? And how can we uncover the ancient knowledge of societies that left few or no written records? The answers are in this fascinating book, which explores the history of astronomy, from prehistoric times to the Renaissance and the birth of modern science. Written by the author of a major guide to prehistory, it is even-handed, accessible, and avoids sensationalism. While aimed at the general reader, it is also fully referenced for students and academics.

Among the topics discussed, you will discover:
★ Why some archaeologists believe that Stonehenge and other Neolithic stone monuments served astronomical functions ranging from lunar and solar markers to ‘megalithic observatories’, which tracked the movements of Sun and Moon with great precision.
★ What evidence there is that present-day constellations including Taurus and Orion were depicted in Upper Palaeolithic cave art.
★ How a ‘void’ zone in the star maps of the ancient world – corresponding to stars not visible from the Mediterranean – suggests that many constellations were devised by late Bronze Age sailors as an aid to navigation.
★ How the early Babylonian, Indian, Chinese, and Maya civilisations all developed advanced astronomical methods, for needs ranging from the compilation of reliable calendars to the prediction of eclipses and other ominous celestial phenomena.
★ How ancient Greek astronomers and mathematicians sought to explain as well as predict the movements of celestial bodies; and how their efforts culminated with Ptolemy’s pivotal Almagest, which set out the ‘Theory of Everything’ of the ancient world.
★ Why Islamic Golden Age scholars did far more than simply keep alive the ancient world’s intellectual tradition during the medieval period; and how they refined it and laid the mathematical foundations for the Copernican revolution.
★ How Copernicus demoted the earth from its place at the centre of the universe; and how Kepler, Galileo, and Newton went on to bring about an essentially modern understanding of the Solar System and the laws that govern it.

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How do you infer the existence of a hitherto-unknown human species from a fragmentary finger bone? Why do we walk on two legs? Were Neanderthals really dimwitted? How did a small, solitary predator become the world’s most popular pet? What was the ancient link between languages spoken in places as far apart as Iceland and India?

These are just some of the questions faced by those seeking to unravel the secrets of the vast period of time that predates the last six thousand years of ‘recorded history’. In addition to fieldwork and traditional methods, paleoanthropologists and archaeologists now draw upon genetics and other cutting-edge scientific techniques.

In fifty chapters, PREHISTORIC INVESTIGATIONS tells the story of the many thought-provoking discoveries that have transformed our understanding of the distant past.