They Were Here Before Us: Stories from the First Million Years (Paperback)

They Were Here Before Us: Stories from the First Million Years By Eyal Halfon, Ran Barkai Cover Image

They Were Here Before Us: Stories from the First Million Years (Paperback)

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An epic and highly readable investigation into our very earliest ancestors, focusing on the land corridor thorough which humans passed from Africa to Europe and the evidence left behind of their lives and deaths, struggles and beliefs.

This is not a book about archaeological sites. We shall come across flint tools, bones, skulls, surprising structures, and layers of earth that we can date to different periods—but they are not the heart of the matter. This book is about us, human beings, and about our place in the world. About what we have done, where we came from, which other humans used to be here, why they are no longer with us, and how and why our lives have changed. It’s also about where we went wrong. What did early humans do because they had no choice and what is the price we are paying for this now?

Taking as the focus ten sites in Israel, the land corridor through which the human species passed on its journey from Africa to Europe, the story ranges far and wide from France, Spain, Turkey and Georgia to Morocco and South Africa, North America, Columbia and Peru. The authors follow the footsteps of our ancestors, describing the tools they used, the animals they hunted and the monuments they built. Fascinating revelations include:

  • The earliest evidence of human use of fire;
  • The meaning of cave art and the transformative effect of touching rock;
  • The woman for whom 90 tortoises were sacrificed;
  • What happened in the Levant following the disappearance of elephants;
  • The monumental tower built at the lowest place on earth;
  • Why we should envy modern hunter-gatherers – and much more ...

This provocative and panoramic book shows readers what they can learn from their ancestors, and how the unwavering ability of prehistoric people to survive and thrive can continue into the present.
Eyal Halfon is a screenwriter and movie director. He holds a master’s degree in Archaeology from Tel Aviv University, and his thesis was on the material and mental ramifications of the disappearance of animals on human beings, past and present.

Ran Barkai is a professor of prehistoric archaeology and former chair of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University. For the past twenty years, he has co-directed the excavations and research at Middle Pleistocen Qesem Cave.
Product Details ISBN: 9781786788313
ISBN-10: 1786788314
Publisher: Watkins Publishing
Publication Date: March 12th, 2024
Pages: 208
Language: English
"Excellent and highly readable . . . the unwavering ability of prehistoric people to survive and thrive can (and indeed must) continue into the present, because given the perilous times in which we live, we just might have to do it all again."
— Phenomena Magazine