Read the Sunday Times bestseller that reveals the Earth’s awesome impact on the shape of human civilisations.
‘Stands comparison with Sapiens… Thrilling’ Sunday Times
Human evolution in East Africa was driven by geological forces. Ancient Greece developed democracy because of its mountainous terrain. Voting behaviour in the United States today follows the bed of an ancient sea.
Professor Lewis Dartnell takes us on an astonishing journey into our planet’s past to tell the ultimate origin story. Blending science and history, Origins reveals the Earth’s awesome impact on the shape of human civilisations – and helps us to see the challenges and opportunities of the future.
‘A sweeping, brilliant overview of the history not only of our species but of the world’
Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads
‘Absorbing… A first-class read – and an important one’
Dartnell (The Knowledge), a University of Westminster science communication professor, links plate tectonics to the emergence of the first hominins in a sometimes simplistic but intriguing look at the environment's role in shaping human nature. Exploring how climate fluctuation drove hominin species out of Africa, Dartnell reviews early human history, covering migration, the development of agriculture, the rise of Mediterranean cultures, and the political consequences of clay, chalk, flint, copper, kaolin, and other natural resources. Curiously, Dartnell notes, a band of Democratic-leaning counties in otherwise conservative U.S. states coincides with the boundaries of an ancient ocean. He also conjectures loosely on how geology has influenced Britain's national identity and why China has claimed the Tibetan Plateau. More conclusive is his discussion of how ocean currents have affected exploration and colonization. His writing in places seems aimed at younger readers volcanoes "pop and fizz," the earth's egg shell crust holds gooey mantle, and the land mass that became the East African Ridge is described as "a huge zit." Science mavens may also be taken aback that he provides primers on some fairly basic concepts, such as ice ages and human genetics. However, the central project of this book providing a geological take on human history is well illustrated and at moments, surprising.