Number of pages: 400
Publication date: 18 August 2017
When did we start walking upright, and when did the miracle of language occur?
What is the origin of religion, law, trade, money, music and city-building?
When did humans begin to bury their dead, and why do most cultures value monogamy?
This absorbing account of the beginnings of humanity addresses fascinating questions such as the riddle of language. Our linguistic faculty cannot be explained on the basis of evolution, as not even great apes have enough space in their pharynx for speech. Could language have originated with the noises made while eating, as a side-effect of nutritional uptake? Then there’s the mystery of writing: This wasn’t invented as a way of recording spoken language but arose in Mesopotamia around 8000 BC as a tool to facilitate the counting of cattle. And currency, which popped up around 12,000 BC, wasn’t originally used for trade but as a religious sacrifice. Is that why we worship cash in a cult-like way?
Language and religion, love and war: Jürgen Kaube explains how human culture was born and crafts a fascinating panorama. In this absorbing, insightful and often surprising new book, he details the birth of human culture and describes the beginnings of everything that makes us uniquely human. A compelling voyage to the first dawning of human civilisation.
Jürgen Kaube began his career as a sociology lecturer at the University of Bielefeld, among others, before joining the editorial team at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In 2008 he took on the role of editor of the paper’s content on the humanities, and in 2012 he was made deputy head of its Feuilleton section. In 2012 he was awarded the accolade Science Writer of the Year by medium magazine. His 2014 biography of Max Weber met with much acclaim. In 2015, Jürgen Kaube became one of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s managing editors, and was awarded the Ludwig Börne Prize the same year. Kaube is a renowned science writer.