This Element follows the development of humans in constantly changing climates and environments from Homo erectus 1.9 million years ago, to fully modern humans who moved out of Africa to Europe and Asia 70,000 years ago. Biosemiotics reveals meaningful communication among coevolving members of the intricately connected life forms on this dynamic planet. Within this web hominins developed culture from bipedalism and meat-eating to the use of fire, stone tools, and clothing, allowing wide migrations and adaptations. Archaeology and ancient DNA analysis show how fully modern humans overlapped with Neanderthals and Denisovans before emerging as the sole survivors of the genus Homo 35,000 years ago. Their visions of the world appear in magnificent cave paintings and bone sculptures of animals, then more recently in written narratives like the Gilgamesh epic and Euripides' Bacchae whose images still haunt us with anxieties about human efforts to control the natural world.
Who Are We?
Homo sapiens Appears
Monumental Architecture, Towns, and Cultural Separation from Wildness