History, Humanity, Heresy

Who dares to rewrite 40,000 years of history? Archaeologist David Wengrow and the late anthropologist David Graeber offer a radically different story of our social evolution in their new book, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity.

Drawing on groundbreaking research gathered over a decade of collaboration, their mighty 700-page tome upends just about everything we thought we knew about human nature and society, as enshrined by Hobbes and Rousseau, and about the origins of farming, property, slavery, democracy and civilisation. Our distant ancestors weren’t who we think they were, says Wengrow, and dismantling that received wisdom is important not just for historians, but for an entire species orienting itself towards political and ecological crisis.

In this episode, Wengrow tells Eleanor Penny about the 10-year gestation of the book, his playful collaboration with Graeber, and what their profound and heretical conclusions might mean for our understanding of history and humankind.

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