Tamed by Alice Roberts review – 10 species that changed our world

How dogs, horses, cattle, apples, rice and other species were domesticated proves an excellent perspective on deep human history

There is a revolution going on in history – big, broad-sweep history that attempts to tell the story of the long march of humanity. As Alice Roberts’s book exemplifies, we now have a multitude of paths into the deep past: “geography, archaeology, history and genetics”, of which for her the most important is genetics. Genomes contain a record of everything that has happened to DNA since life began – yes, it has been overwritten countless times, but key events remain preserved in genomic amber. “Pots are not people,” the archaeologists’ adage goes, which means that a single source of evidence can be misleading, but when there is mutually reinforcing evidence from two, three or more modes of inquiry, it’s possible to achieve a high degree of consensus.

Two recent pioneers of the history ...