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History reveals vital new lessons in how to make our societies better


Colorado, Cortez, Mesa Verde, cliff dwelling, Cliff Palace. (Photo by: Bernard Friel/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Bernard Friel/Education Images/Universal

WHY is society the way it is? We thought we knew. Now, it appears, we have been thinking about it all wrong.

In our special issue on civilisation (see The civilisation myth: How new discoveries are rewriting human history), we explore what has happened to human societies over the past 10,000 years and what came before. It details new evidence on why many of us abandoned hunting and gathering for a life of farming, urbanism and paperwork, and explores why societies became more unequal and hierarchical, including the role war and religion played in such transformations.

The answers are …

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