chapter  1
Introducing World Prehistory
Pages 38

Since time immemorial, humans have been intensely curious about their origins, about the mysterious and sometimes threatening world in which they exist. They know that earlier generations lived before them, that their children, their grandchildren, and their progeny in turn will, in due course, dwell on earth. But how did this world come about? Who created the familiar landscape of rivers, fi elds, mountains, plants, and animals? Who fashioned the oceans and seacoasts, deep lakes, and fast-fl owing streams? Above all, how did the fi rst men and women settle the land? Who created them-how did they come into being? Every society has creation stories to account for human origins. However, archaeology and biological anthropology have replaced legend with an intricate account of human evolution and cultural development that extends back to around 2.5 million years ago. This chapter describes how archaeologists study and interpret human prehistory.