Early Humans and the Paleolithic Era

Learning About the Earliest People
• Anthropology is the study of
other cultures
• Culture is a people’s unique
way of life. It determines the
most basic human needs, like
how they provide food and
shelter. Religion, language,
family relationships,
entertainment, government,
and many other things are also
How Do We Know?
• Archeologists investigate
other cultures’ settlement
sites by setting up an
archeological dig and sifting
through all evidence such as
artifacts and fossils. This is
also called an archeological
– Artifacts are human made
like tools or art.
Archeology con’t
• Archeologists use
scientific tests like
carbon dating and
relative dating to
analyze fossils and
• Stone henge
• Jericho
• Catal huyuk
• Hominids are apes, humans, and any creatures in between that walk
Hominids Originated in Africa
• Early hominids like Homo habilis and
Homo erectus originated in Africa.
• They migrated on foot to the other
• They even began using the first stone
tools for cutting, digging, and scraping.
What did they look like?
• Many of these early hominids looked similar to modern Homo
sapiens who emerged about 200,000 years ago.
• Homo sapiens were similar to other hominids except their (our)
brains were much larger.
• http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homosapiens
How Did They Survive?
• They were hunter-gatherers whose survival depended on the
availability of wild plants and animals.
• They were also nomadic, travelling around in search of plants and
animals to eat.
• They slowly invented tools and other things. This allowed them to
hunt more efficiently.
• By 30,000 BC, most of the other hominids were extinct, leaving
Homo sapiens as the remaining human on the planet.
Early People con’t
• They were nomadic people, meaning they travelled around
searching for food, water, and shelter.
• During the Paleolithic Era (Old Stone Age), they invented the first
tools and weapons.
• They lived in clans and invented oral language to communicate with
each other.
What about reading and writing?
• Written language (reading and writing) was not invented until
about 3,000 BC, so these really ancient people did not keep any
• That’s why archeology is so important! Without written records,
artifacts and fossils are the only way we can learn about them.
• In fact, writing is such an important invention, we use it as a
marking point. Everything that happens in a society before writing
is called PRE-history. Everything after writing was invented is called
Pre-historic Art?
• Primitive people began creating cave paintings about 35,000
years ago.
• They made paint from berries, animal blood, charcoal, and other
natural media.
• Cave paintings depicted rituals, changes in seasons, and natural
Paleolithic Age (Old Stone Age)
• Lasted from about 2.5 million years ago until 8,000 BC (although it
started and ended at different places at different times).
• During this age, humans developed the very first stone tools.
• For most of this time, people were nomadic hunter-gatherers.
Although toward the end, they started to settle into villages in
areas where there was plenty to eat.
The Neolithic Age (New Stone Age)
Human societies advanced
slowly. During the Neolithic
Age, they invented more
advanced tools and
developed agriculture.
The Agricultural Revolution
• During the Neolithic Age, about 10,000
years ago, humans began farming.
Agriculture provided a
more steady food source
than hunting and gathering plants.
• Agriculture was probably made
possible by a change in climate that
allowed for longer growing seasons.
Farming Techniques
• Farming happened accidently at first. Someone probably left some
seeds outside and then noticed they grew the next year. The rest is
• To open up forests and grasslands to farming, they used slash-andburn to clear the land. After the soil became infertile, they would
move to another spot.
• Along with agriculture came the domestication of animals. By
keeping animals in enclosed areas, people could wait until they
needed to eat to slaughter the animals.
Agriculture Grows
• People developed agriculture independently in different areas
across the globe.
• The increase in the food supply allowed villages to grow.
Catal Huyuk
Villages Grow Into Cities
• With the increase in the food supply, some people did not have to
work to produce food. They could use their time to do other things.
• Some people, called artisans, learned a craft, and produced pottery, tools,
metal objects, and more.
• Others would trade products to other people, and profited off the trade.
• Cities are different from temporary settlements because the
buildings and structures are permanent and the people who live in
the city rely on the surrounding land for food, water and trade.
A civilization requires:
Advanced cities
Specialized workers
Complex institutions
Record-keeping (and hence writing)
Advanced technology
Advanced Cities
• Cities serve as centers for trade.
• Farmers and traders brought goods to the city to exchange. The citydwellers produced goods to exchange, too.
• Money was not invented yet, so people bartered. Bartering is like
trading. For example, a farmer might barter the wheat he grew in
exchange for a piece of pottery produced in a city.
Specialized Workers
• As cities grew, they needed people to perform more specialized
Government officials
• Made clothing, pottery, metal tools and weapons, jewelry
• The variety of gods produced allowed cities to become centers for trade
Complex Institutions
• The growth in cities made government necessary
• Other complex institutions included religion and the economy
• As wealth grows, social classes develop based on access to
• As institutions became more complex, it became necessary to keep
records of laws, taxes, and grain storage.
• Scribes were trained to keep official documents.
• As writing became more popular, people began writing down other
events like war and natural disasters.
• Cuneiform was the first system of writing and was developed in
Mesopotamia. Scribes would press a wedge-shaped reed into a
moist clay tablet to form symbols and then dry the tablet to
preserve it.
Advanced Technology
• Technology varies from place to place, but generally involves things
that previous people could not create. Examples include
Ox-drawn plows to break up soil for planting.
The Bronze Age
• The Sumerians in Mesopotamia were the first to discover bronze.
• They learned that if you melted and mixed copper and tin together,
it made bronze, which was much stronger and more durable than
copper or stone.
• They used bronze to make tools, weapons, decorations, and
building materials.
Apply it:
• What things in the following video clip might have actually
• Which things were impossible during the Stone Age?
• In which age did the North American natives live before Europeans
settled this continent? (hint: they used stone, had agriculture, and
some were using metal tools and lived in cities).

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