Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins

By William Howells | Go to book overview

Epilogue

Historians claim that it is actually possible to learn something useful from the past. At this suggestion, however, the ordinary person goes into his arsenal of reasons for avoiding mental exertion and comes out again with "History never repeats." He has found this item next to its idiot brother, "Lightning never strikes twice in the same place," and the two are certainly akin for truth. Lightning may not strike many things twice, but lightning knows what it likes, and it strikes the Empire State Building every time a thunderstorm comes by. If history never plays precisely the same scene over again, it is because changing culture changes the scenery. But this has not prevented a historian- statesman like Churchill from knowing what England will do by what England has done before.

Can we then peek into the life of our descendants, by projecting the past on beyond ourselves? Well, what have been the trends, in the last thirty or forty thousand years since modern man took over the planet? After foraging for his meals for most of this time, he put himself through two great changes in his affairs. In the first, he captured control of his food and settled down to tribal life in villages, inventing certain ways to make it easier to string people together socially. This was the Neolithic. In the second, which was Bronze Age civilization, large populations were brought under the dominion of cities, to form states. This happened through a sort of perfection of farming and the supply of food. This in turn was secondarily helped by other inventions, particularly by using the muscles of beasts for power and not for nourishment alone.

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Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Books by William Howells 2
  • Title Page 3
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Content 9
  • Prologue 13
  • The Nature of Human Life 17
  • 1 - The Coming of Mankind 17
  • 2 - The Meaning of Society 31
  • 3 - Culture: How We Behave 45
  • 4 - Language: How We Talk 56
  • The Old Hunters--The First Step 69
  • 5 - Early Tools: The Lower Paleolithic 69
  • 6 - Early Men 82
  • 7 - The End of the Stone Age 101
  • 8 - The Last Living Hunters 118
  • The New Farmers -- the Second Step 135
  • 9 - The First Food Growers: The Neolithic 135
  • 10 - The Spread of Modern Races 154
  • 11 - Asia and the Western Farmers 168
  • 12 184
  • 13 - African Herders and Gardeners 206
  • The New Societes 223
  • 14 - The Organization of Society 223
  • 15 - The Meaning of Religion 241
  • 16 - Inventions and Changes 255
  • The New World 17 the Oldest Americans 273
  • Cities and Bronze-The Third Step 315
  • 19 - The Cradles of Civilization in Asia 315
  • 20 - Egypt, Crete and the Beginnings of Europe 336
  • Epilogue 353
  • Author's Note 363
  • Index 365
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