Reflections on our origins: Yesterday’s vision, today’s forms of knowledge

By Marylène Patou-Mathis

From the 18th to early 20th centuries, the great debates in the Western world concerned mankind’s place in nature, the origin of the human race, and then its biological and cultural evolution. Obstacles such as creationism, the theory of the flood, and racialism, related to the acceptation of ancestors, had to be overcome before the knowledge and skills of the Prehistoric peoples were acknowledged, thanks to studies of fossils and archeological finds. Today, the great inventions that marked our remote past, along with their economic and cultural implications, reveal that human evolution was an unruly, spreading, non-linear matter. Several humanoid species coexisted at the same time, forming a mosaic of cultures in time and space.

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