Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

“Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” is a book written by Yuval Noah Harari and first published in 2011. The book offers a comprehensive overview of the history of humankind, starting from the evolution of Homo sapiens in Africa to the present day. It covers a wide range of topics including the development of agriculture, the rise of civilization, the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the current technological revolution. The book is good for its accessible writing style and its wide-ranging perspective on human history, which incorporates insights from various fields including history, biology, and anthropology.

The book also explores the future of humanity and the potential impact of technological advancements, such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology. Throughout the book, Harari argues that human history combines cultural and technological innovations and that our species’ ability to imagine and cooperate has been a key factor in our success.

Sapiens” has received widespread praise for its engaging and accessible writing style, and for its thought-provoking ideas about human history and the future of our species.

Meaning Of Sapiens 

“Sapiens” is the Latin word for “wise” or “intelligent”, and is also the species name for Homo sapiens, the modern human species. The term is to refer to the entire human species or to the study of human history and culture.

Sapiens Word origin

The word “Sapiens” is derived from the Latin language and means “wise” or “intelligent”. It was first used in the scientific classification of species by Carl Linnaeus in the 18th century to describe the modern human species, Homo sapiens. The term is still in use today as a way of referring to the human species and its unique abilities for self-awareness, abstract thought, and culture.


The book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” was written by Israeli historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari. Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian and philosopher who is best known for his book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”. He was born in Haifa, Israel, in 1976 and received his PhD in History from the University of Oxford in 2002. He is currently a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he teaches world history. In addition to “Sapiens”, Harari has also written several other books on history and philosophy, including “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” and “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”.


Here is a list of some of the key facts and ideas presented in the book:

  1. Homo sapiens emerged in Africa around 200,000 years ago and evolved to become the dominant species on the planet.
  2. The cognitive revolution, which occurred around 70,000 years ago, allowed our ancestors to develop the ability to think abstractly and imagine things that do not exist in the physical world.
  3. The agricultural revolution, which began around 10,000 years ago, marked a major turning point in human history, leading to the development of civilizations and the growth of human populations.
  4. Religions have been a powerful force in shaping human history, and monotheistic religions like Christianity and Islam helped to create a shared sense of identity and purpose among large groups of people.
  5. The scientific revolution

  6. of the 17th century marked a major turning point in human history, leading to the development of modern science and technology.
  7. The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries brought about significant changes to human societies, including the growth of cities, the development of new forms of work, and the spread of capitalism.
  8. The modern nation-state, which emerged in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, has played a significant role in shaping the modern world, but its future is uncertain in the face of technological advancements.
  9. Human history has been by cultural and technological innovations, and our ability to imagine and cooperate on large scales has been a key factor in our success as a species.
  10. The future of humanity is uncertain, and advances in technology, such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology, are likely to have a significant impact on our species and the world we live in.

These are just a few of the key ideas and facts presented in “Sapiens.” The book provides a comprehensive overview of human history and offers thought-provoking insights into our place in the world and the future of our species.


Sapiens is a comprehensive and engaging overview of the history of our species. The book covers the evolution of Homo sapiens from earlier hominid species and traces the development of human civilization from the emergence of modern humans in Africa to the present day.

Throughout the book, Harari explores key turning points in human history, such as the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture, the rise of the first civilizations, and the growth of science and technology. He also delves into the ways in which our beliefs and values have changed over time, and the impact of human activities on the environment.

In addition to its focus on history, “Sapiens” is also notable for its exploration of the nature of human consciousness and the ways in which our beliefs and values shape our perceptions of the world. Harari argues that human beings have created a number of shared myths and stories that have helped us to cooperate and achieve great things, but also warns of the potential dangers posed by these same myths and stories.

Overall, “Sapiens” is a fascinating and thought-provoking book that provides a unique perspective on the history of our species and the world we live in. Whether you are a history buff, a student of anthropology, or simply interested in learning more about the world, “Sapiens” is a must-read.

Chapter 1 Summary 

The Big Bang created matter and energy, which then coalesced into complex structures called atoms, molecules, and organisms. Three important revolutions shaped the course of history: the Cognitive Revolution, the Agricultural Revolution, and the Scientific Revolution. This book tells the story of how these three revolutions have affected humans and their fellow organisms. Prehistoric humans were insignificant animals with no more impact on their environment than gorillas, fireflies, or jellyfish.

Horses and donkeys have a recent common ancestor and share many physical traits, but they show little sexual interest in one another. Mutations in donkey DNA can never cross over to horses, so the two types of animals are considered two distinct species. By contrast, a bulldog and a spaniel may look very different, but they are members of the same species, sharing the same DNA pool. Species that evolved from a common ancestor are grouped together under the heading ‘genus’ (plural genera). Lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars are different species within the genus Panthera, while Homo sapiens is a Homo sapiens of the genus Homo.


All members of a family trace their lineage back to a founding matriarch or patriarch. Homo sapiens is part of a large and noisy family called the great apes, with chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans being the closest living relatives. Humans first evolved in East Africa about 2.5 million years ago from an earlier genus of apes called Australopithecus, which left their homeland to journey through and settle vast areas of North Africa, Europe and Asia. Skeletons in the Closet reveals that once upon a time, Homo sapiens had brothers and sisters as well.


Chapter 2 Summary 

Chapter 2 is titled “The Tree of Knowledge”. In this chapter, Harari discusses the evolution of human cognition and the development of language and culture. He argues that the ability of early humans to communicate and cooperate with each other was crucial to their success as a species.

Harari also explores the role of language in shaping human thought and behavior, and the ways in which our ability to share ideas and cooperate has allowed us to create complex societies and achieve great things. He argues that language is the cornerstone of human culture and that it has given us the ability to imagine things that do not exist, such as gods, nations, and corporations.

The chapter also covers the ways in which our beliefs and values have evolved over time and the ways in which they have shaped human behavior and history.

Chapter 3 Summary 

Chapter 3 s titled “A Day in the Life of Adam and Eve”. In this chapter, Harari provides a fictional account of a typical day in the life of early humans, who lived as hunter-gatherers in small communities. He describes their daily activities, such as gathering food, caring for their families, and socializing with others.

Harari argues that early humans lived in a world that was challenging, but also with a sense of community and interconnectedness with the natural world. He notes that early humans had a deep understanding of their environment and the plants and animals that surrounded them and that they lived in harmony with the natural world.

The chapter also explores the ways in which early humans interacted with each other and the role of storytelling in their communities. Harari argues that storytelling was a crucial part of early human culture and allowed them to bond, cooperate, and share knowledge.

Overall, “A Day in the Life of Adam and Eve” provides a vivid and insightful look at the daily life of early humans and the ways in which they interacted with each other and their environment.


Chapter 4 Summary 

Chapter 4 The “The Flood” is a chapter in “Sapiens: n this chapter, Harari discusses the transition from hunting and gathering to farming and the rise of civilizations. He argues that the agricultural revolution, which began around 10,000 years ago, marked a major turning point in human history, as it allowed for the growth of large populations and the rise of cities, states, and civilizations.

Harari describes the ways in which early civilizations created shared myths, beliefs, and institutions to maintain social order and cooperation, such as religious and political systems. He argues that these systems gave early humans a sense of purpose and allowed them to achieve great things, such as building monumental structures, conquering other peoples, and creating intricate legal and economic systems.


Chapter 5 Summary 

The field of evolutionary psychology argues that many of our present-day social and psychological characteristics were shaped during the pre-agricultural era when our brains and minds were adapted to a life of hunting and gathering. This is evidenced by our current post-industrial environment, which gives us more material resources and longer lives but can also make us feel alienated, depressed, and pressured. To understand why, evolutionary psychologists suggest that we need to delve into the hunter-gatherer world that shaped us, the world that we subconsciously still inhabit.

The ‘gorging gene’ theory is widely accepted, but some evolutionary psychologists argue that ancient foraging bands were not composed of nuclear families centered on monogamous couples, but rather of communes devoid of private property, monogamous relationships, and even fatherhood. This ‘ancient commune’ theory argues that the frequent infidelities that characterize modern marriages, and the high rates of divorce, all result from forcing humans to live in nuclear families and monogamous relationships that are incompatible with our biological software.

However, many scholars vehemently reject this theory, insisting that both monogamy and the forming of nuclear families are core human behaviors. The debate between the ‘ancient commune’ and ‘eternal monogamy schools’ is based on flimsy evidence, as we have no written records from the age of foragers and the archaeological evidence consists mainly of fossilized bones and stone tools.  Ancient hunter-gatherers had few artifacts, while modern affluent society has a vast collection of them, from cars and houses to disposable nappies and milk cartons. Our eating habits, play, romantic and sexual relations, and religious beliefs are all mediated by these items.


Chapter 6 Summary 

Homo sapiens colonized Australia 45,000 years ago, crossing a number of sea channels and adapting to a completely new ecosystem. This feat is to be the result of the Cognitive Revolution, which enabled them to acquire the technology, organizational skills, and vision necessary to break out of Afro-Asia and settle the Outer World. Sapiens, descendants of apes who lived on the African savannah, developed the first seafaring societies and became long-distance fishermen, traders, and explorers. They built boats and learned how to steer them, enabling them to reach and settle in Australia. 


The moment the first hunter-gatherer set foot on an Australian beach was the moment that Homosapiens emerged. The settlers of Australia, or more accurately, its conquerors, transformed the Australian ecosystem beyond recognition, leaving behind a strange universe of unknown creatures that included a 200-kilogram, two-meter kangaroo, and a marsupial lion, as massive as a modern tiger. Marsupial mammals were almost unknown in Africa and Asia, but in Australia, they reigned supreme. Of the twenty-four Australian animal species weighing fifty kilograms or more, twenty-three became extinct, and a large number of smaller species also disappeared. This was the most important transformation of the Australian ecosystem for millions of years.


The field of evolutionary psychology argues that many of our present-day social and psychological characteristics had shaped during the pre-agricultural era, and that our eating habits, conflicts, and sexuality are all the result of the way our hunter-gatherer minds interact with our current post-industrial environment. This environment gives us more material resources and longer lives but also makes us feel alienated, depressed, and pressured. To understand why evolutionary psychologists argue, we need to delve into the hunter-gatherer world that shaped us, the world that we subconsciously still inhabit.


In “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, the author Yuval Noah Harari concludes that despite all the challenges and difficulties that humanity has faced throughout its history, we have been able to make tremendous progress and achieve great things. This summary is written by Bpapers.

He argues that our species has been able to achieve this progress by creating and believing in shared myths and stories, such as religion, nationalism, and money, which have allowed us to cooperate and work together in large groups. However, he also warns that the future is uncertain and that we must do prepared for new challenges and uncertainties, such as the rapid development of new technologies, the impact of climate change, and the potential for future wars and conflict. Ultimately, he argues that it is up to us to shape the future and ensure that it is one that is full of happiness, justice, and progress.

Leave a Comment