Henry de Lumley

The Great History of the First Humans in Europe Publication date : September 20, 2007

After L'Homme premier, his earlier book which traced human evolution from the first Australopithecus to modern Man, Henry de Lumley now recounts the story of the earliest inhabitants of Europe, from 1.8 million BCE to 40,000 BCE. Following these first Humans from site to site — from the Republic of Georgia to Italy, from Spain to southern and later northern France, and as far as the British Isles and the plains of Central and Eastern Europe — he recounts their progress across Europe, subject to climate change.

He describes their physical appearance, their way of life and of thinking. He shows how the upright position resulted in the reorganisation of the face and skull, freeing the language areas and speech organs, and how conceptual progress in their activities enabled them to develop from scavenging to hunting. He reveals how their harmonious relationship with nature led to the development of symbolic thought in funerary rites. He follows them until the moment when the use of fire separated them from the animal kingdom and established the new human kingdom.

In this stimulating book, one of the greatest palaeontologists of our time describes some recent archaeological findings and explains how they have revolutionised knowledge about the earliest inhabitants of the European continent. His description of how palaeontologists carry out their work will fascinate anyone interested in prehistory.

This is a thought-provoking study of the distant past at a time when humanity's future is filled with uncertainties.

Henry de Lumley is one of the greatest living palaeontologists, and the author of the best-selling L'Homme premier (1998). His former students hold highly prestigious academic positions in the field of palaeontology. He opened major excavation sites in France (the Cave of Tautavel, the Vallée de Merveilles), East Africa and the Republic of Georgia. He is the director of the French Institute for Human Palaeontology.