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Homo Sapiens Rediscovered

The Scientific Revolution Rewriting Our Origins

Paul Pettitt


An expert palaeoarchaeologist reveals how our understanding of the evolution of our species has been transformed by momentous discoveries and technological advancements

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Who are we? How do scientists define Homo sapiens, and how does our species differ from the extinct hominins that came before us? This illuminating book explores how the latest scientific advances, especially in genetics, are revolutionizing our understanding of human evolution. Paul Pettitt reveals the extraordinary story of how our ancestors adapted to unforgiving and relentlessly changing climates, leading to remarkable innovations in art, technology and society that we are only now beginning to comprehend.

Drawing on twenty-five years of experience in the field, Paul Pettitt immerses readers in the caves and rockshelters that provide evidence of our African origins, dispersals to the far reaches of Eurasia, Australasia and ultimately the Americas. Popular accounts of the evolution of Homo sapiens emphasize biomolecular research, notably genetics, but this book also draws from the wealth of information from specific excavations and artefacts, including the author’s own investigations into the origins of art and how it evolved over its first 25,000 years. He focuses in particular on behaviour, using archaeological evidence to bring an intimate perspective on lives as they were lived in the almost unimaginably distant past.

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 23.4 x 15.3 cm

Extent: 320 pp

Illustrations: 139

Publication date: 15 November 2022

ISBN: 9780500252635

Contents List

1. Skin and Bones
2. The Molecular Frontier
3. When the going gets tough: climate, change, and environment
4. Dispersal: from Africa to Asia
5. Contact
6. Diversity
7. Catastrophe: the coming of Homo sapiens in Europe
8. Stress, disease, illness and inbreeding
9. In Mammoth country
10. Cold
11. Refuge
12. Hearth and home
13. Let us descend into the sightless world. Palaeolithic cave art
14. Portable landscapes
15. The mind
16. The world of the dead
17. Into the Americas
18. Domestication
Further reading

About the Author

Paul Pettitt is Professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology at Durham University, specializing in the European Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. His research interests focus particularly on the origins of art and the development of treatment of the dead, and he has conducted fieldwork across Europe and further afield.