The World Before Us

The World Before Us

How Science is Revealing a New Story of Our Human Origins


'The who, what, where, when and how of human evolution, from one of the world's experts on the dating of prehistoric fossils' Steve Brusatte, author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

'Fascinating and entertaining. If you read one book on human origins, this should be it' Ian Morris, author of Why the West Rules - For Now

50,000 years ago, we were not the only species of human in the world. There were at least four others, including the Neanderthals, Homo floresiensis, Homo luzonesis and the Denisovans. At the forefront of the latter's ground-breaking discovery was Oxford Professor Tom Higham.

In The World Before Us, he explains the scientific and technological advancements - in radiocarbon dating and ancient DNA, for example - that allowed each of these discoveries to be made, enabling us to be more accurate in our predictions about not just how long ago these other humans lived, but how they lived, interacted and live on in our genes today. This is the story of us, told for the first time with its full cast of characters.

'Exciting' David Abulafia, author of The Boundless Sea

Rebecca Wragg Sykes, author of Kindred

David Reich, author of Who We Are and How We Got Here

Chris Gosden, author of The History of Magic

'Gripping and fun' Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion

'Essential' Barry Cunliffe, author of The Scythians

'Profoundly entertaining' Brian Fagan, author of World Prehistory


  • Fascinating and deeply researched. Higham conveys the thrill of archaeological discovery eruditely and accessibly
    Alexander Larman, Guardian

About the author

Tom Higham

Tom Higham is Professor of Archaeological Science at the University of Oxford and Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit. He has worked on the remains of Richard III, The Elephant Man and Egyptian pharaohs. Since 2010 he has been at the forefront of research on a new species of human, the Denisovans. This is his first book for a general readership.
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