Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present

Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present

Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present

Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present

Synopsis

Humans have always been interested in their origins, but historians have been reluctant to write about the long stretches of time before the invention of writing. In fact, the deep past was left out of most historical writing almost as soon as it was discovered. This breakthrough book, as important for readers interested in the present as in the past,brings science into history to offer a dazzling new vision of humanity across time. Team-written by leading experts in a variety of fields, it maps events, cultures, and eras across millions of years to present a new scale for understanding the human body, energy and ecosystems, language, food, kinship, migration, and more. Combining cutting-edge social and evolutionary theory with the latest discoveries about human genes, brains, and material culture, Deep History invites scholars and general readers alike to explore the dynamic of connectedness that spans all of human history.

With Timothy Earle, Gillian Feeley-Harnik, Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Clive Gamble, April McMahon, John C. Mitani, Hendrik Poinar, Mary C. Stiner, and Thomas R. Trautmann

Excerpt

All arguments about the past are shaped by rhetorical and narrative devices. It is not just an assessment of “the facts” that helps us decide whether a historical account is convincing: facts emerge as such, and acquire their power as evidence, within narrative structures. The story of an empire’s rise or a nation’s collapse may be filled with dates and textual sources, which can be right or wrong, reliable or dubious; but the story’s integrity as history also depends on a deeper architecture of likenesses. Empires and nations, though they consist of millions of individuals who do not know each other, are often treated as if they were physical bodies. They are born, mature, and die in history books. They have (or appear to have) character traits; they make decisions, acquire friends and enemies, form and dissolve unions. They are compared, in countless ways, to persons, families, and bodies. At a certain level we know these likenesses are metaphorical, but doing without them is difficult. When the metaphors seep into everyday usage among historical actors, we can even say that they shape the evidence and events that historians choose to write about. Metaphors determine what goes into a historical argument, what is left out, and how new forms of historical argumentation can be developed. What matters to good history writing is to develop a knowing relationship with the narrative motifs and metaphors that we employ.

This is a book about the deep history of humankind, a domain of inquiry that extends millions of years into the past. Although it might seem the perfect subject matter for historians, this vast time-space was left out of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.