How did humankind deal with the extreme challenges of the last Ice Age? How have the relatively benign post-Ice Age conditions affected the evolution and spread of humanity across the globe? By setting our genetic history in the context of climate change during prehistory, the origin of many features of our modern world are identified and presented in this illuminating book. It reviews the aspects of our physiology and intellectual development that have been influenced by climatic factors, and how features of our lives - diet, language and the domestication of animals - are also the product of the climate in which we evolved.
In short: climate change in prehistory has in many ways made us what we are today. Climate Change in Prehistory weaves together studies of the climate with anthropological, archaeological and historical studies, and will fascinate all those interested in the effects of climate on human development and history.
1. Introduction; 2. The climate of the last 100,000 years; 3. Life in the Ice Age; 4. The evolutionary implications of living with the Ice Age; 5. Emerging from the Ice Age; 6. Recorded history; 7. Our climatic inheritance; 8. The future; Appendix; Bibliography; References.
Formerly a researcher of atmospheric physics at the UK National Physical Laboratory and a scientific advisor to both UK and US Governments, he is now a professional science writer. This is his tenth book on weather and climate.
"This is an intriguing book of unexpected relevance to the 21st century. The main narrative is a climate history from the last ice age to the 10,000 years of relative tranquillity that has followed. Burroughs also shows how humans took advantage of this period of calm to build a vaulting dominance of the planet. He invites hard questions on how societies will cope with the return to climatic turbulence."
– New Scientist
"[...] a coherent presentation of how the climate around the world has changed over the last 100,000 years, and investigates how climate and human history have interacted over that time."
– History Today
"There is an excellent discussion of late Ice Age and Holocene climatic shifts as Burroughs crafts a 'climatic template' for prehistory."
– The Times Higher Education Supplement
"A wealth of data combined in a well-written synopsis Climate Change in Prehistory provides a valuable synopsis for [those] interested in the effects of climate on human societies."
– Journal of Comparative Human Biology
"[...] a highly readable exploration into how humankind dealt with the severity of a glacial environment during the last ice age, and the opportunities that arose during [...] the early Holocene [...] seamless weaving together of multiple aspects of anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and genetics [...] an excellent introductory text into how climate and human prehistory are intertwined and the text's focus on regional studies can be quite useful to archaeologists [...] readable and understandable to students and researchers of all related disciplines, which is what makes this text very desirable [...] excellent starting point for archaeologists and anthropologists of all disciplines."
– Archaeological Review
"[...] this excellent book draws together strands of the climate debate by reviewing research into the effects of climate change on humanity since the Pleistocene. [...] I learned a good deal from my interesting read. [...] I recommend this well-written, readable overview to all."
"[...] well illustrated. It includes sections on prehistoric rock art, civilisations based on agriculture, and impacts of climatic change [...] Climate Change in Prehistory can be strongly recommended to students interested in the effect of climate change on human populations within the Late Quaternary [...] well written and serves to promote public awareness of the significance of climatic change in modern and prehistoric contexts."
– South African Archaeological Bulletin