Chapter 1The First Civilizations and EmpiresPrehistory- A.D. 500
1.1- The First Humans
Before History
Hunter-Gatherers of the Old Stone
III. The Neolithic Revolution
IV. The Emergence of Civilization
Before History
• prehistory
– the period before history
– the period for which we
have no written records
– circa 2,500,000 Y.A. to
4,000 B.C.
Before History
• archaeologists and
– scientifically
analyze human
remains to study
the development of
early human beings
Before History
• hominids- humans and other humanlike creatures that walk upright
Before History
• australopithecines
– earliest human-like
– lived in Africa 3 to 4
million years ago
– they were the first
hominids to make
stone tools
Before History
• Homo erectus“upright human
– the next stage of
human development
– dates from about 1.5
million years ago
– used larger and more
varied tools than the
first hominids
Before History
• Homo sapiens “wise human being”
– emerged around 250,000 years ago
Before History
• Two subgroups developed from
Homo sapiens:
– Neanderthals
• lived in Europe and Southwest Asia
and died out by 30,000 B.C.
– Homo sapiens sapiens
• the first group that looked like
modern humans
• appeared in Africa between
150,000 and 200,000 years ago
• could be found throughout the
by 10,000 B.C.
• All humans today belong to this
subgroup of Homo sapiens
The Hunter-Gatherers of the Old
Stone Age
• A basic distinguishing feature of human
beings is their ability to make and use tools
– early tools were made of stone
– the term Paleolithic Age (“old stone”) refers to
the earliest period of human history
• The Paleolithic Age lasted from about 2,500,000 to
10,000 B.C
The Hunter-Gatherers of the Old
Stone Age
• Early humans
survived by hunting,
fishing, and
gathering food
– eventually learned
• to make more
sophisticated tools
• how to use fire
• how to change their
physical environment
The Hunter-Gatherers of the
Old Stone Age
• Paleolithic peoples
were primarily
nomads, people who
move from place
to place
• Even so, they created
a human culture that
included sophisticated
cave paintings
The Neolithic Revolution
• Human survival depends on the
systematic growing and storing of food
– an accomplishment of the people of the
Neolithic Age
– the Neolithic Revolution began after the
end of the last Ice Age (c. 8000 B.C.)
• lasted from 8000 to 4000 B.C.
• a change from the hunting and gathering of
food to the keeping of animals and growing of
food on a regular basis
– an activity known as systematic agriculture
The Neolithic Revolution
• The planting of crops and the domestication
(taming) of animals for food and work
provided humans with a regular supply of
– Some historians believe that this was the single
most important event in human history
• The ability to acquire food regularly gave
humans greater control over their
environment and made it possible for them
to establish more permanent settlements
– As people settled into villages or towns, they
created buildings for protection and for storage,
and they began to trade surplus goods
The Neolithic Revolution
• Increased wealth led to the creation of
armies and walled cities and to more
complex societies
– By 3000 B.C., large numbers of people
lived in the river valleys of Mesopotamia,
Egypt, India, and China
The Emergence of Civilization
• Culture is a people’s way of life.
• A civilization is a complex culture in which
large numbers of people share many
common elements
• The six basic characteristics of civilization
social structure
The Emergence of Civilization
• Increased food production led to
growing populations and to the rise of
– Governments were formed to protect the
people and to maintain the food supply
– Urban civilizations developed religions to
explain the workings of nature and the
existence of things
– New social structures dominated by rulers
and an upper class of priests, government
officials, and warriors arose
The Emergence of Civilization
• Abundant food supplies allowed some
individuals to become artisans and
craftspeople instead of farmers
– They created luxury items for the upper
– Writing was used to keep records
– The arts thrived, and temples and
pyramids were built as places for
worship, sacrifice, or the burial of kings
The Paleolithic Age
lasted for close to 2.5
million years, whereas
the Neolithic Age lasted
for 6,000 years.
Neolithic Period
Click the mouse button or press the
Space Bar to display the answers.
Paleolithic Period
Checking for Understanding
Define Match each definition in the left column with the
appropriate term in the right column.
A 1. humans and other humanlike
creatures that walk upright
D 2. the keeping of animals and
the growing of food on a
regular basis
E 3. adaptation for human use
B 4. a person who moves from
place to place
C 5. the shift from hunting of
animals and gathering of food
to the keeping of animals and
the growing of food on a
regular basis that occurred
around 8000 B.C.
A. hominids
B. nomad
C. Neolithic
D. systematic
E. domestication
• lived between 100,000 and
30,000 B.C.
• lived in Europe and SW Asia
• might be the first hominids
to bury their dead
Homo sapiens sapiens
• first appeared 150,000 to
200,000 years ago
• spread all around the world
by 10,000 B.C.
• all humans today are part of
this subgroup of Homo
Checking for Understanding
Contrast the evidence that archaeologists and
anthropologists use to understand the past to that
used by historians.
While historians use written records, archaeologists
and anthropologists must analyze human remains to
understand the period before written records were
Checking for Understanding
List the species that emerged during the different
stages of human development.
first stage: australopithecines
second stage: Homo erectus
third stage: Homo sapiens with subgroups
Homo sapiens sapiens
Critical Thinking
Analyze Does the development of systematic
agriculture by Neolithic peoples after the end of the
last Ice Age deserve to be called a revolution? Why
was the shift to systematic agriculture important to
the development of civilization?
Possible answer: A regular food supply allowed
humans to give up their nomadic existence and live
in settled communities. As communities became
more complex, government became necessary.
7. Sequencing Information
First Civilizations
Analyzing Visuals
Examine the cave painting of a bison shown on page
19 of your textbook. Many cave paintings from the
prehistoric period depict similar subjects. What do
these paintings tell us about the lifestyles of
prehistoric peoples?
The paintings tell us that there was an importance of
hunting and animals to nomadic societies.

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