David Wengrow on changing the course of human history

8 March 2018

Art work by Banksy (title unknown). Source: Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciw/246293516/in/photolist-nLjtW-nS81ST-GFaLD-qnd5Vf-qnd5Zd-6ZnDZT-awhDA8-q7WutC-6W2VR1-psuZ1w-ohVk5y-pLEpfa-9tV3MT-e4TtLv-9tV6gZ-23fXKg-VCeW3K-VPJDxR-oJukbL-4ARchy-9tY4Wj-psJtcz-5tapC-oe4ijS-24ayP-8tGNU8-9tY3C3-8pBzop-9tY1JW-uGQ9f-fDwAJe-8qR4BL-psJu6i-5m6TsR-5MXVV-bE4q3N-c6yJ5j-7m5PSF-7m9GEb-4M6HaF-6JghZ-VyUTJJ-VPDspZ-c6AiLh-XU6yYN-4iwZgz-XzLxTq-WyWEaj-4iu3qg-4iu862)

David Wengrow, and co-author David Graeber, suggest a re-think is needed about the course of human history in an essay for the leading cultural magazine, Eurozine.

In the essay, entitled 'How to change the course of human history (at least the part that has already happened)' the authors state that what we have been telling ourselves about our origins is wrong, and perpetuates the idea of inevitable social inequality.

Evidence from archaeology, anthropology, and related disciplines is now providing a clearer picture of the last 40,000 years of human history and this challenges previously-held conventional ideas about the development of human society.

It is suggested in the wide-ranging study that humans throughout history have experimented with different social possibilities, agriculture did not mark an irreversible threshold in social evolution and the first cities were often more egalitarian than not.

The authors suggest consideration of a new world history where the origins and spread of agriculture did not mark a major transition in human societies and where 'civilisation' did not come as a package.

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