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Review: Lewis Dartnell, King's Lynn Festival, Guildhall

Voting patterns in Labour and Democratic areas of England and the United States are directly correlated to geological rocks.

This was one of the many fascinating points made by astrobiology researcher and author Lewis Dartnell for a King's Lynn Festival talk on Wednesday evening.

Talking about research conducted for his new book 'Origins: How The Earth Made Us', professor Dartnell used a range of maps to show how geological features of the earth have shaped human existence.

Professor Lewis Dartnell. Picture: Science Oxford (14162079)
Professor Lewis Dartnell. Picture: Science Oxford (14162079)

This included how tectonic plate movements created the first civilisations in Southern Europe such as the Etruscans, Phoenicians and Minoans.

A rugged coastline from the tectonic plate movement had created "natural harbours" for seafaring peoples around the Mediterranean.

In contrast, prof Dartnell explained how the African coastline was too straight and dull to produce trading cultures, except for the Carthaginians who would be wiped out by the Romans.

The Egyptians were the other exception as they used the River Nile to shape their culture.

Other points of interest in this absorbing talk were how wind directions have guided trading routes and the process of globalisation.

Prof Dartnell spoke of the winds "knitting continents together."

He also referred to Doggerland, an area of land now submerged beneath the North Sea, which enabled the movement of peoples across Europe by foot from Britain.

All in all, the talk made us in the audience feel like a tiny dot of existence, part of a wider process of geological change which has shaped our existence over millions of years.

Ben Hardy

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