The Journey of Mankind!

1 minute read

It is really not worth looking at, but I couldn't stop laughing, so I have to point it out. The Journey of Mankind site is an animated map and timeline of people originating in a suburb of Nairobi 150,000 years ago, and then spreading through the world. You can follow the trip with a moving arrow, like in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Of course the whole thing is silly, but the fun really begins when the initial foray into the Levant fails ("A global freeze-up turned this area and north Africa into extreme desert"), and Cavalli-Sforza's "beachcomber" hypothesis kicks in.

The part that had me rolling was when the red arrow of beachcombers wanders aimlessly around Borneo:

From Sri Lanka they continued along the Indian Ocean coast to western Indonesia, then a landmass attached to Asia. Still following the coast they moved around Borneo to South China.

Yeah, that would be the way I would choose, too.

Then Mt. Toba erupts! The world is plunged into volcanic winter, and the arrow is cut off in South Asia. You see, the volcanic ash covered it up. Without a trace. I can't make this stuff up.

When I clicked on it I assumed it was connected with Spencer Wells' work (Journey of Man), but actually it was compiled by Stephen Oppenheimer. He's the author of Out of Eden, upon which the BBC based its documentary "The Real Eve." He also proposes that the sinking of the Sunda continent eradicated the origin of rice agriculture and led to a cultural exodus that became or stimulated the Polynesians, Harappans, Chinese, and others.

This is what we get when there is not enough critical science of human dispersals. We're not seeing history here, we're making it up.

And selling books.