Imagine you are a hunter-gatherer some 15,000 years ago. You've got a choice - carry on foraging, or plant a few seeds and move to one of those new-fangled settlements down the valley. What you won't know is that urban life is short and riddled with dozens of new diseases; your children will be shorter and sicklier than you are, they'll be plagued with gum disease, and stand a decent chance of a violent death at the point of a spear.
Why would anyone choose this? This is one of the many intriguing questions tackled by Brenna Hassett in Built on Bones. Using research on skeletal remains from around the world, this book explores the history of humanity's experiment with the metropolis, and looks at why our ancestors chose city life, and why they have largely stuck to it. It explains the diseases, the deaths and the many other misadventures that we have unwittingly unleashed upon ourselves throughout the metropolitan past, and as the world becomes increasingly urbanised, what we can look forward to in the future.
Telling the tale of shifts in human growth and health that have occurred as we transitioned from a mobile to a largely settled species. Built on Bones offers an accessible insight into a critical but relatively unheralded aspect of the human story: our recent evolution.
The city has killed most of your ancestors, and it's probably killing you, too - this book tells you why
Built on Bones is entertaining, colloquial and has a fine line in funny footnotes. * The Times * An upbeat, wisecracking attempt to trace the development of cities through thousands of years of human disease, violence and misery ... Amusing footnotes interrupt serious arguments, while pop culture references jostle with sobering research. * Guardian * Fascinating subject matter ... a fun, addictive read. * Reader's Digest * Ms. Hassett [...] has gifts of scholarship and wordsmithery [...] she addresses one of the most absorbing problems in the history of the last 14,000 years. * Wall Street Journal * An amusing and scholarly book. * The Times, Saturday Review * This book explores how our journey from hunter-gatherers to urban dwellers has impacted our state of health. Using clues recovered from archaeological sites and ancient skeletal remains, it carefully highlights some of the unpleasant consequences of urbanisation. -- Dr Daniel Antoine, Curator of Physical Anthropology, The British Museum
Brenna Hassett is an archaeologist who specializes in using clues from the human skeleton to understand how people lived and died in the past. Her research focuses on the evidence of health and growth locked into teeth, and she uses dental anthropological techniques to investigate how children grew (or didn't) across the world and across time.
She has dug poor Roman-period burials near the Giza pyramids, surveyed every last inch of a remote Greek island (with a goat-to-human ratio of 350:1), famous for the Antikythera mechanism, and accidentally crumbled an 8,000 year old mud brick wall at the famous central Anatolian site of Catalhoeyuk in Turkey.
@brennawalks / trowelblazers.com
Introduction: Nothing (but Flowers)
Chapter 1: Papa Was a Rolling Stone
Chapter 2: Feed Me (Seymour)
Chapter 3: What ' s New Pussycat?
Chapter 4: Revolution
Chapter 5: Power of Equality
Chapter 6: Oops Upside Your Head
Chapter 7: Under My Thumb
Chapter 8: War! What Is It Good For?
Chapter 9: Under Pressure
Chapter 10: Bring Out Your Dead
Chapter 11: Tainted Love
Chapter 12: Take This Job and Shove It
Chapter 13: Panic ...
Conclusion: Karma Police
Acknowledgements: Some of My Friends