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From Human Prehistory to Early Civilizations


H&G groups were small and roles were separated between men and women, but no ... the concept of a 24 hour day) art (hieroglyphics and tomb art) and architecture. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: From Human Prehistory to Early Civilizations

Chapter 1
  • From Human Prehistory to Early Civilizations

Human Life in the Era of Hunters and Gatherers
  • Hunting and gathering (HG) economies dominated
    until 9000 BCE. HG groups were small and roles
    were separated between men and women, but no
    social inequalities yet existed.
  • Population growth was slow, partly because
    fertility rates among women were limited due to
    longer years of breast-feeding.

Late Paleolithic Developments
  • During the Paleolithic Age (Old Stone Age) which
    ran up until about 12,000 BCE, humans first
    learned to use only simple tools of wood and
  • The development of cave paintings, rituals,
    goddesses, speech, and languages increased
    communication and gave way to various cultures.

Human Migration
  • The human species, homo sapiens sapiens, was
    thought to have originated in Africa. Gradual
    migration, facilitated by innovations like fire
    and clothing, pushed humans out of Africa about
    750,000 years ago (ya) and to China, Britain, and
  • Most scholars believe that humans crossed the
    Bering Strait, the ice bridge from Siberia to
    Alaska, about 30,000 ya.

The Mesolithic Age
  • During the Middle Stone Age from 12,000 to
    8,000 BCE humans improved their ability to
    sharpen tools to make better weapons and cutting
    tools. Mesolithic peoples domesticated animals
    like cows, which led to increased food supply and
    population growth. This acceleration in
    population, though, led to more conflicts and

The Neolithic Revolution Agriculture!
  • The New Stone Age was a result of better tool
    use, more elaborate social organization and
    population pressure. The Neolithic Revolution saw
    the development of agriculture, which had its
    roots in the Middle East as early as 10,000 BCE.
  • Farming led to the domestication of more animals
    and the ability to support more people.
    Agriculture methods were initially difficult to
    learn and were often mixed with older and more
    reliable HG techniques.

The Spread of Agriculture
  • Agriculture spread to almost all geographic areas
    with more concentrated zones of farming in the
    Andes, Mesoamerica, West Africa, the Middle East,
    India, North China, and Southeast Asia. Societies
    became mostly agricultural, in which most people
    were farmers and the production of food was the
    main economic activity.
  • Farming led to increased curiosities about
    scientific matters like weather patterns.

The Bronze Age
  • The discovery of metal tools dating back to 4000
    BCE marks the beginning of this next age of human
    existence. Copper was the first metal to be used
    and in the Middle East stone tools were no longer
    used. Metalworking greatly aided agriculture as
    farmers were able to work the land more
    efficiently. Because farming took less work and
    time specialization of jobs came about with
    occupations for artisans, toolmakers, and

  • The earliest civilizations formed in Mesopotamia,
    Egypt, the Indus River Basin and China. A society
    can only be called a civilization if it has
    developed a writing system. Cuneiform was the
    first type of writing. HG peoples did not
    develop civilizations due to lack of stability
    and not all agricultural societies were
    civilizations. Nomads were often considered
    barbaric for their lack of civilization.

Civilization, cont.
  • Civilizations often have stronger class divisions
    and greater separations between the rulers and
    the ruled. Male superiority was very evident and
    women were subject to subordinate roles.

Tigris-Euphrates Civilization
  • Located between the two rivers in an area called
    Mesopotamia, it was the very first civilization.
    The Sumerians, who invaded and then inhabited the
    area around 3500 BCE, developed the first
    cuneiform alphabet. Ziggurats, massive towers,
    were the first architectural monuments. City-
    states were the primary form of govt., in which
    slavery did exist.

Tigris-Euphrates Civilization cont.
  • After the Sumerians the Akkadians and then the
    Babylonians invaded Mesopotamia. The Babylonian
    king, Hammurabi, devised Hammurabis Law Code.
    After the Babylonians came the Semitic peoples,
    the Assyrians and then the Persians.

Egyptian Civilization
  • This 2nd center of civilization, formed around
    3000 BCE, was located along the Nile River. The
    pharaoh was the king and had a great deal of
    power. Pyramids served as tombs for pharaohs. The
    economy was much focused on irrigation along the
    Nile. Egypt was later invaded by the kingdom of
    Kush. The Egyptians made great achievements in
    mathematics (creating the concept of a 24 hour
    day) art (hieroglyphics and tomb art) and

Indus River Valley Civilization
  • Emerging around 2500 BCE along the river. This
    civilization supported the large cities of
    Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. The Indus River
    peoples created their won alpahbet, writing
    system and artistic forms.

Chinese River Valley Civilization
  • Developed along the Huanghe (Yellow River) in
    China, it flourished in considerable isolation.
    Their govt. was compromised of a well organized
    state and they produced advanced technology.
    Chinese River Valley peoples were the first to
    devise a ideographic writing system, and made
    great accomplishments in astronomy, art, and
    music. Massive structures were not a part of
    their culture. A line of kings called the Shang
    ruled around 1500 BCE (Shang Dynasty).

Final Thought
  • Be able to describe each of the ages of human
    existence. (Paleolithic, Mesolithic)
  • Compare and contrast the development of two of
    the four early civilizations.
  • Be able to describe each of the four
    civilizations in terms of geographic locations
    and other relevant terms.
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