The following is a compilation of the quotations that struck me most while reading People of the Lake:

“Bones and stones by themselves are boring; it’s what they mean that sets our minds racing” (20)

“Differences in anatomy do not necessarily imply important differences in function, however;” (82)

“Thomas Hobbes described the lives of ‘primitive people’ as ‘nasty, brutish, and short.’ Hobbes’s phrase also aptly sums up many people’s vision of our ancestors’ physical appearance. But the fossil discoveries of recent years prove this impression wrong.” (101)

“It would therefore be more accurate to refer to these people, not as hunter-gatherers, but as gatherer-hunters.” (108)

“The males, in a sense, are necessary only because nature has chosen to make sex an inescapable part of reproduction.” (130)

“…living in groups is an uneasy compromise between the essential selfishness of the individual and the advantages of sharing resources with others.” (150)

“So, even though apes can’t speak, this does not mean that we can dismiss out of hand their capability for language.” (203)

“Many animals modify their environment to some degree, such as digging holes in the ground, damming rivers, and destroying trees, but only humans impose their thoughts on the world around them in an entirely arbitrary and symbolic way.” (216)

“Without world with which to name them, a statuette of a horse, a rock painting, or a nation’s flag, could never exist; they would be meaningless.” (220)

“If all we can get from our work is a list of hominid species in space and time, then we should give up; we want to know how they lived, how they survived together, and what their sex life was like.” (224)

“Stating his view bluntly, Freud said, ‘The tendency to aggression is an innate, independent, instinctual disposition in man’.” (259)

“The weapon, instead, fathered the man.” (263)