Unit 1: Foundations (8000 B.C.E to 600 C.E.)

Pgs. 8-28
From Human Prehistory to
Early Civilizations
 Since humans’ earliest days, we have
been influenced and shaped by two
major and powerful forces:
 1)Geography
 2)The Environment
 Geography is the study of the earth,
specifically its surface.
 Geography has had an enormous
impact on humans and their history.
 It determines where humans migrated
to and from and where they chose to
settle in many cases.
 Environment is the circumstances,
objects, or conditions by which one
is surrounded.
 Humans look for an environment
that is most suitable for sustaining
life. (We will see this later in the
 Humans had important achievements during this time
such as simple tool use, taming fire, and improved
hunting methods.
 Stone tool use improved and humans developed
rituals, culture, and some religion (mainly nature
worship) in this time.
 The Paleolithic Age eventually gave way to the
Mesolithic (Middle Stone) Age.
 12,000 B.C.E – 8,000
 Humans made more
advanced tools, fought
in more wars, and
increased their
 During both the Old
Stone Age and Middle
Stone Age, humans were
primarily huntergatherers.
 Between 8,000 B.C.E. and 3,500 B.C.E.
 We generally start studying human beings at this
point for one main reason: agriculture.
 It is around this time that humans mastered
sedentary agriculture and the domestication of
 This major change in human activity is labeled the
“Neolithic Revolution”.
 These innovations led to increased food
productions, rising populations, the founding of
cities, and specialization of occupations.
look at
#’s 1-7
 Humans could “settle”
more permanently in
one location.
 Agriculture led to a
population boom.
 Led to greater wealth in
agricultural societies.
 Spurred technological
and scientific
 Harder work than
 Agricultural societies
suffered from more
 Created class
 More conflicts of a
greater degree.
 Around this time, farmers began to experiment
with metallurgy, using metals to make useful
tools and weapons.
 Copper was the first metal used, but it
eventually gave way to an improved metal,
 This time period is sometimes called the
Bronze Age.
 Metal working not only created better tools for
agriculture, but better weapons and tools for
artisans as well.
 Eventually agricultural societies grew into
 The word civilization comes form the Latin term
for city. Most civilizations therefore depend on the
existence of cities.
 The definition of a civilization can be quite
complex, but it is basically a people that has
created social, technological, economic, religious
or political developments of a large scale.
#’s 11-14
 Early Civilizations are called river valley civilizations
because of their development around sources of fresh
They included the main four of:
1) Mesopotamia (Tigris and Euphrates Rivers)
2) Egypt (Nile River)
3) Indus River Valley (Indus River)
4) Northern China (Huanghe or Yellow River)
 These river valley civilizations were quite different
from one another but also shared many of the
same qualities like a basic set of tools, intellectual
concepts like writing and mathematics, and
political forms.
 They led to more conflict as kings and priests tried
to spread contacts and gain more territory through
 Generally speaking, these civilizations had little
contact with one another and thus developed
separate cultural patterns.
 The first civilization we have to study was
founded in the Middle East between the
Tigris and Euphrates Rivers around 3500
BCE. The word Mesopotamia actually means
“land between rivers”.
 The first major people group of this region
were the Sumerians. They developed the
first known writing code called cuneiform,
which used pictures and geometric shapes
to symbolize sounds.
 Sumerians made advances in astronomy,
mathematics, and agriculture.
 They were polytheistic, worshipping many
different gods. They believed in divine forces in
nature and worshipped these forces(gods). This
form of religion is known as animism.
 Each city erected an impressive, massive shrine
called a ziggurat to honor their gods. This was the
first piece of monumental architecture in this
 Sumerians’ greatest achievement was their
tightly organized city-state.
 These political units were ruled by a king
who claimed divine authority.
 These kings usually were warriors who won
power and fame in battle.
 They ran the governments of these citystates along with a class of priests.
 1)Helped to regulate and enforce
 2) provided a court system
 3) led the city-state in warfare
 The priests and kings owned large
amounts of land, usually worked by
 The Sumerians
eventually fell to
another local tribe
called the Akkadians,
who then fell to a
powerful group called
the Babylonians.
 The Babylonians were
ruled by a powerful
king named
 He created the most famous early code
of law, which he named after himself.
 Hammurabi’s code established rules of
procedures for courts of law and
regulated property rights and duties of
family members, setting harsh
punishments for crimes. (ex. “An eye
for an eye”)
 Developed in Northern Africa around
3000B.C.E. along the Nile River. It benefited
from trade and influences of Mesopotamia,
but developed its own distinct culture.
 It was less open to invasion, therefore, it was
very durable and unified.
 They had significant mathematical and
architectural achievements. (24 hr. day and
 Like Mesopotamia, Egypt was ruled by powerful
kings called pharaohs.
 However, where in Mesopotamia kings were rulers
on gods’ behalf, in Egypt the pharaohs were
considered gods themselves.
 They directed the construction of their massive
tombs, pyramids. These are considered one of the
greatest architectural feats in history.
 They too used massive amounts of slave labor.
 By 2500 BCE , a prosperous civilization had
developed along the Indus River in northern India.
 It supported several large cities like Harrapa.
 They did develop trade contacts with
Mesopotamia, but had their own distinctive
writing forms and art styles.
 Their civilization was eventually destroyed by
invading tribes. We know little about the culture
and its influence on modern India.
 Around 2000 BCE civilization developed along the
Huanghe or Yellow River in China.
 The Chinese made significant technological
advances, especially in irrigation. This began a
precedent of technological prominence that will
be carried on for generations.
 Much of the culture in this early river valley
civilization could still be seen in Chinese culture
for generations to come.
 They were first ruled by a line of kings called the
Shang dynasty.
 Inventions such as the wheel, creation of alphabets
(Phoenicians) and writing systems, mathematics,
divisions of time, taming of the horse, and the
development of well-organized monarchies and
bureaucracies are legacies of these civilizations.
 Their art and architecture influenced later cultures
like Greek, Roman, and European.
 The most influential of the smaller Middle Eastern
groups were the Jews, who gave the world the first
clearly developed monotheistic (one God) religion.
 Judaism would serve as the basis for the development of
other major monotheistic faiths such as Christianity and
Islam in the centuries to come.
 The major difference between the monotheism of the Jews
and the polytheism of their neighbors was in the Jewish
view of their God.
 The God of the Jews was much less humanlike. God was
orderly and just and had set forth clear rules and methods
for obedience. Jews knew the ethical and moral values of
their God and therefore could develop a closer relationship
with their God.
 Religion, therefore, became a way of life, not just a set of
rituals and ceremonies.

similar documents