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By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean: The Birth of Eurasia

The story of how human society evolved across the Eurasian continent, from the origins of farming to the expansion of the Mongols
A vast historical canvas, covering the development of civilization in Europe, the Middle East, and China – and the growing links between them
A tale of war, invasion, migration, and the rise and fall of empires set over more than 10,000 years
How humankind first started building the globalized world we know today – across steppe, desert, and ocean

By: Sir Barry Cunliffe (Author)

530 pages, 130 colour photos, 28 illustrations, 150 colour maps

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Sep 2015 | #224723 | ISBN-13: 9780199689170
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £29.99 $38/€36 approx

About this book

By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean is nothing less than the story of how humans first started building the globalized world we know today. Set on a huge continental stage, from Europe to China, it is a tale covering over 10,000 years, from the origins of farming around 9000 BC to the expansion of the Mongols in the thirteenth century AD.

An unashamedly 'big history', it charts the development of European, Near Eastern, and Chinese civilizations and the growing links between them by way of the Indian Ocean, the silk Roads, and the great steppe corridor (which crucially allowed horse riders to travel from Mongolia to the Great Hungarian Plain within a year). Along the way, it is also the story of the rise and fall of empires, the development of maritime trade, and the shattering impact of predatory nomads on their urban neighbours.

Above all, as this immense historical panorama unfolds, we begin to see in clearer focus those basic underlying factors – the acquisitive nature of humanity, the differing environments in which people live, and the dislocating effect of even slight climatic variation – which have driven change throughout the ages, and which help us better understand our world today.

"One of our greatest living archaeologists."
– Ronald Hutton, History Today


1: The Land and the People
2: The Domestication of Eurasia, 10,000-5000 BC
3: Horses and Copper: the Centrality of the Steppe, 5000-2500 BC
4: The Opening of the Eurasian Steppe, 2500-1600 BC
5: Nomads and Empires: The First Confrontations, 1600-6000 BC
6: Learning from Each Other: Interaction along the Interface, 600-250 BC
7: The Continent Connected, 250 BC-AD 250
8: The Age of Perpetual War, AD 250-650
9: The Beginning of a New World Order, AD 650-840
10: The Disintegration of Empires, AD 840-1150
11: The Steppe Triumphant, AD 1150-1300
12: Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards

Guide to Further Reading

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Sir Barry Cunliffe taught archaeology in the Universities of Bristol and Southampton and was Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford from 1972 to 2008, thereafter becoming Emeritus Professor. He has excavated widely in Britain (Fishbourne, Bath, Danebury, Hengistbury Head, Brading) and in the Channel Islands, Brittany, and Spain, and has been President of the Council for British Archaeology and of the Society of Antiquaries, Governor of the Museum of London, and a Trustee of the British Museum. He is currently a Commissioner of English Heritage. His many publications include The Ancient Celts (1997), Facing the Ocean (2001), The Druids: A Very Short Introduction (2010), and Britain Begins (2012), all also published by Oxford University Press. He received a knighthood in 2006.

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