Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $82.00
  • February 2013
  • ISBN: 978-0-500-29063-7
  • 784 pages
  • Territory Rights: USA and Dependencies, Philippines and Canada.

Also By This Author

The Human Past

World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies

Third Edition


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Chris Scarre (Author, Durham University)


A comprehensive and indispensable guide to world prehistory and how archaeology helps us to understand the enormous diversity of the human past.

The text has established itself as a thorough and authoritative survey of human prehistory and the development of civilizations. Written by an international team of acknowledged experts, it presents a streamlined overview through a series of chapters focusing on individual regions and time periods. The Third Edition has been completely revised to offer updated scholarship and discoveries and features new color illustrations.


A clear and logical framework

The text follows a regional and chronological framework, with each chapter addressing a particular region in a particular period, tracing the progress of human development. Each chapter can be understood separately to cover the story of an individual period or region, while overarching key themes, such as environmental setting, strategies for food production, and adaptation and change, are emphasized throughout.

Tools to aid learning and understanding

Timelines in each main chapter graphically display the major dates, sites, events, and developments covered in that chapter, and each chapter features a map highlighting the major sites discussed. End-of-chapter summaries and conclusions revisit the main facts and themes, while lists of further reading are tailored to each subject and include a brief assessment of each title.

Examples and illustrations of themes and topics

Numerous box features illuminate key sites, discoveries, methods, and controversies, providing students with easy-to-access examples that build on the information provided in the main text. Boxes in the Third Edition highlight such topics as When Did Humans First Colonize Europe?; Blombos Cave and the Origins of Symbolism; Ethiopia’s Rock-Cut Churches; On the March with the Hittite Army; What Greek Sculpture Really Looked Like; and Chocolate at Pueblo Bonito.

Revised and updated throughout

Chapters have been updated to reflect relevant discoveries, new interpretations of established facts, and developments in archaeological techniques. Added topics include the following: what the analysis of ancient DNA tells us about our evolution and relationship with other species, such as Neanderthals; the latest discoveries and theories about the domestication of key plants and animals; new thinking on the earliest Paleoindian hunting strategies; and pathways to urbanism in Mesopotamia.

Authoritative and comprehensive

The authors, all recognized authorities in their fields, provide a seamless and well-researched account of human history. Their combined knowledge and expertise ensures that the Third Edition is completely up-to-date with new discoveries, developments, and literature in every region and in every subject.

Truly global coverage

Every region of the world is given due coverage, and the result is a text offering a balanced and comprehensive overview of the expanse of human prehistory, while highlighting the great diversity of human experience.

Visually engaging

A clear, logical layout features a variety of photographs, drawings, diagrams, maps, plans, and reconstructions. For this edition, many more are in color.


    1: Introduction: The Study of the Human Past

    Part I: The Evolution of Humanity

    2: African Origins
    3: Hominin Dispersals in the Old World
    4: The Rise of Modern Humans

    Part II: After the Ice
    5: The World Transformed: From Foragers and Farmers to States and Empires
    6: From Foragers to Complex Societies in Southwest Asia
    7: East Asian Agriculture and Its Impact
    8: Australia and the Pacific Basin During the Holocene
    9: Origins of Food-Producing Economies in the Americas
    10: Holocene Africa
    11: Holocene Europe
    12: Peoples and Complex Societies of Ancient Southwest Asia
    13: The Mediterranean World
    14: South Asia: From Early Villages to Buddhism
    15: Complex Societies of East and Southeast Asia
    16: Mesoamerican Civilization
    17: From Village to Empire in South America
    18: Complex Societies of North America
    19: The Human Past: Retrospect and Prospect

    Sources of Illustrations