Many modern people could imagine these ancients as their ancestors. It would be impossible to know, of course - no one can trace their family line back to 1500 BC. The chances of one family going back in a given region for 4,000 years is incredibly remote. Still, the series (which my book will be part of) will have international distribution, and it might be fun for a kid reading in, say, Japan, Peru or Greece to imagine his Yayoi, Moche or Minoan ancestors.
At the same time, by coincidence, I'm reading about the prehistoric world - early humans and what they can teach us about ourselves.
Leakey (or Lewin) is a marvel at illuminating the connection between these hominids who lived two million years ago and us, today. He always refers to the early humans as "our ancestors" and to humans as "our species". Maybe all paleoanthropologists do this, but I don't usually encounter it.
We are all one species. We are all human. No matter how our ancestry has diverged in the tiny period of time since records have been kept, we all share one common ancestry. The bits of DNA that give rise to different physical appearances are incredibly minute, some tiny fraction of a percent, compared to what all humans have in common.
This might sound corny, or incredibly obvious, I don't know. But Origins Considered is making this fact come alive to me.
The world I'm writing about seems so long ago. So much has happened on the earth since Pompeiians painted their frescoes, since Zapotecs played tlachtli. But in terms of Leakey's work, Pompeii was yesterday, or maybe 7:00 this morning.
Our planet is some 4.5 billion years old. Primitive life here began almost four billion years ago; the first life forms on land appeared some 350 million years ago; the first mammals, 200 million years ago; the first primates, a little more than sixty-five million years ago; the first apes, thirty million years ago; the first hominids, about 7.5 million years ago; Homo sapiens, perhaps 0.1 million years ago.Way to feel insignificant - but in a good way.