ERRATA

In writing Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind Prof. Harari has done his best to rely on the most up to date sources and the most accurate facts available. Yet as with any human endeavor, mistakes are inevitable. Despite the best efforts of Prof. Harari and his editors, the text unfortunately contains some factual errors that were discovered only after the book was published, and it was too late to correct them.

Below you can find a list of errors, and the corrected information. None of the errors changed the core arguments of the book, but Prof. Harari and his editors apologize for these mistakes, and thank the attentive readers who noticed and flagged them.

If you spot any additional errors, please contact us so that we can add them to the list, and do our best to correct them in future editions of the book.

CHAPTER ONE: An Animal of No Significance

The Cost of Thinking
That evolution should select for larger brains may seem to us like, well, a no-brainer. We
are so enamored of our high intelligence that we assume that when it comes to cerebral power, more must be better. But if that were the case, the feline family would also have produced cats who could do calculus, and pigs would by now have launched their own space program. Why are giant brains so rare in the animal kingdom?

Our Brothers’ Keepers
Whether Sapiens are to blame or not, no sooner had they arrived at a new location than the native population went extinct. The last remains of Homo soloensis are dated to about 50,000 years ago. Homo denisova disappeared shortly thereafter. Neanderthals made their exit roughly 30,000 years ago. The last dwarf-like humans vanished from Flores Island about 12,000 years ago. They left behind some bones, stone tools, a few genes in our DNA, and a lot of unanswered questions. They also left behind us, Homo sapiens, the last human species. According to recent data, Homo soloensis was probably not an independent species, but rather a sub-species of Homo erectus, and there is no evidence that he still existed 70,000 years ago. The latest findings are from about 100,000 years ago.

CHAPTER ONE: An Animal of No Significance - Our Brothers’ Keepers

Whether Sapiens are to blame or not, no sooner had they arrived at a new location than the native population went extinct. The last remains of Homo soloensis are dated to about 50,000 years ago. Homo denisova disappeared shortly thereafter. Neanderthals made their exit roughly 30,000 years ago. The last dwarf-like humans vanished from Flores Island about 12,000 years ago. They left behind some bones, stone tools, a few genes in our DNA, and a lot of unanswered questions. They also left behind us, Homo sapiens, the last human species.  

According to recent data Homo soloensis was probably not an independent species, but rather a sub-species of Homo erectus, and there is no evidence that he still existed 70,000 years ago. The latest findings are from about 100,000 years ago.

CHAPTER FOUR: The Flood - Guilty as Charged

One body of evidence supporting this view is the fossil plant record. Eucalyptus trees were rare in Australia 45,000 years ago. But the arrival of Homo sapiens inaugurated a golden age for the species. Since eucalyptuses are particularly resistant to fire, they spread far and wide while other trees and shrubs disappeared.

CHAPTER TEN: The Scent of Money - Shells and Cigarettes

In fact, even today coins and banknotes are a rare form of money. The sum total of money in the world is about $60 trillion, yet the sum total of coins and banknotes is less than $60 trillion. More than 90 per cent of all money – more than $50 trillion appearing in our accounts – exists only on computer servers. Accordingly, most business transactions are executed by moving electronic data from one computer file to another, without any exchange of physical cash. Only a criminal buys a house, for example, by handing over a suitcase full of banknotes. As long as people are willing to trade goods and services in exchange for electronic data, it’s even better than shiny coins and crisp banknotes – lighter, less bulky, and easier to keep track of.

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Imperial Visions - Evil Empires?

No matter what their origins, nearly all the inhabitants of the two American continents, from Alaska’s Barrow Peninsula to the Straits of Magellan, communicate in one of four imperial languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French, or English.

Barrow is a village in the northernmost point of Alaska, currently known as the City of Utqiaġvik (The Barrow Peninsula is on Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut). 

CHAPTER TWELVE: The Law of Religion - The Worship of Man

The White Australia policy which restricted immigration of non-white people to Australia remained in force until 1966. Aboriginal Australians did not receive equal political rights until the 1960s, and most were prevented from voting in elections because they were deemed unfit to function as citizens.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: The Discovery of Ignorance - The Gilgamesh Project

That is the theme of the most ancient myth to come down to us – the Gilgamesh myth of ancient Sumer. Its hero is the strongest and most capable man in the world, King Gilgamesh of Uruk, who could defeat anyone in battle. One day, Gilgamesh’s best friend, Enkidu, died. Gilgamesh sat by the body and observed it for many days, until he saw a worm dropping out of his friend’s nostril. At that moment Gilgamesh was gripped by a terrible horror, and he resolved that he himself would never die. He would somehow find a way to defeat death. Gilgamesh then undertook a journey to the end of the universe, killing lions, battling scorpion-men and finding his way into the underworld. There he shattered the mysterious “stone things” of Urshanabi, the ferryman of the river of the dead, and found Utnapishtim, the last survivor of the primordial flood. Yet Gilgamesh failed in his quest. He returned home empty-handed, as mortal as ever, but with one new piece of wisdom. When the gods created man, Gilgamesh had learned, they set death as man’s inevitable destiny, and man must learn to live with it.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: The Marriage of Science and Empire

In the century following the Cook expedition, the most fertile lands of Australia and New Zealand were taken from their previous inhabitants by European settlers. The native population dropped by up to 90 percent and the survivors were subjected to a harsh regime of racial oppression. For the Aborigines of Australia and to a lesser extent to the Maoris of New Zealand, the Cook expedition was the beginning of a catastrophe from which they have never fully recovered.

An even worse fate befell the natives of Tasmania. Having survived for 10,000 years in splendid isolation, they were almost exterminated within a century of Cook’s arrival. European settlers first drove them off the richest parts of the island, and then, coveting even the remaining wilderness, hunted them down and killed them systematically. Some of the last survivors were hounded into an evangelical concentration camp, where well-meaning but not particularly open-minded missionaries tried to indoctrinate them in the ways of the modern world. The Tasmanians were instructed in reading and writing, Christianity, and various “productive skills” such as sowing clothes and farming. But they refused to learn. They became ever more melancholic, stopped having children, lost all interest in life, and finally chose the only escape route from the modern world of science and progress—death.