Friday 12 May 2017, 4pm: Built on Bones: 15,000 Years of Urban Life and Death is Brenna Hassett’s new book which explores the impact of urban living on our bodies and health throughout human history. Brenna Hassett, a bioarchaeologist for London’s Natural History Museum, wants to analyze the way that human’s transition from hunter-gatherer to settled farmers and how this changed our relationship to land and developed social inequalities.
About Built on Bones
From the Bloomsbury website:
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.
Praise for Built on Bones:
“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
“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
“Fascinating subject matter … a fun, addictive read.” – Readers Digest