Unit 1: The First Civilizations and Empires Prehistory-500 AD
Topics to Cover This Unit 1.1 Prehistory-Civilization 1.2 Early Civilizations 1.3 Early Empires
Prehistory • To study prehistoric humans, historians must rely on archaeology and anthropology. • Prehistory: time before writing was developed • Archaeology: study of the past from what humans have left behind (artifacts) • Anthropology: study of human life and culture (fossils and artifacts) • Various scientific methods can be used to date fossils including radiocarbon dating and stratigraphy.
Hominids (humanlike creatures that walked upright) are believed to have first lived in Africa approximately 4 million years ago. • These hominids adapted over time. • A fossil nicknamed “Lucy” was found by Donald Johanson in Ethiopia in 1974. • Scientists called this type of hominid Australopithecus (“southern ape”).
“People felt that there were a number of evolutionary changes, which all went together. That our ancestors stood up to free their hands so that they could make and use stone tools, they had to have large brains… Here comes Lucy, about 3.5 million year old…very small brain…and we have never found any stone tool, stone artifacts, associated with her species. Yet she is walking upright. So it appears that…walking on two legs, precedes by perhaps as much as a million and a half years, the manufacture of stone tools and the expansion of the brain.” Donald Johanson, 1991 interview
Early Humans • 2.5-1.6 million years ago, Homo habilis (handy human) and used stone tools • 1.8 million-100,000 years ago, Homo erectus was the first fully upright human being • Around 200,000 years ago, Homo sapiens (“wise human”) emerged. • Homo sapiens showed rapid brain growth • Mastered the use of fire • Two groups descended from this larger group
Neanderthals Homo sapiens sapiens “wise, wise human being” Similar anatomy to modern human Appeared in Africa between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago “Out of Africa” theory states that they spread out of Africa about 100,000 years ago and replaced early hominid species in Europe and Asia. • Discovered in the Neander Valley in Germany • Likely lived between 100,000-30,000 years ago • Made clothes from animal skins • Believed to be the first humans to bury their dead
Paleolithic Age • Time period from approximately 2,500,000 BC to 10,000 BC • Use of simple stone tools • “Paleolithic” is Greek for “Old Stone Age”
Life in the Paleolithic Age • Nomadic following food source (larger animals) • Hunter-gatherer lifestyle • Men believed to be hunters • Women believed to be the gatherers • Lived in small groups • Depending on location, they would adapt for weather, climate, etc. • Fire became important for warmth, hunting, cooking, and for protection.
Paleolithic cave paintings have been discovered that depict mostly animals and landscapes. • Historians believe these paintings may have held a religious purpose. Lascaux Cave Painting
Neolithic Revolution (aka Agricultural Revolution) • A revolution is a major change. • Between 8,000 and 4,000 BC, people began using systematic agriculture (farming on a regular basis). • Shift from hunter-gatherer to farming and keeping of animals. • This shift led to many changes in the way humans lived. • Neolithic is Greek for “New Stone.” • Newer tools did develop, but the farming aspect had a larger impact. • Domestication of animals began • People began to settle down into communities and towns • IMPORTANT: This was not an overnight, sudden change. This was a gradual change that occurred in different parts of the world at different times between 8,000 and 5,000 BC.
Crops • By 8,000 BC people were growing wheat and barley and had domesticated pigs, cows, and sheep in Southwest Asia. • By 6,000 BC, wheat and barley were being grown in the Nile Valley in Egypt. • They began to spread into other areas of Africa shortly after. • Central Africa grew tubers and tree crops. • By 5,000 BC Southeast Asians were farming rice. • By 4,000 central Europe began to farm. • Mesoamericans (present-day Mexico and Central America) began to farm mainly beans, squash, and maize (corn) between 7000 and 5000 BC.
Farming Villages • With a food surplus, people began to settle into larger groups. • The oldest known settlement was in Southwest Asia (Jericho by 8,000 BC) • CatalHuyuk (in modern Turkey) is one of the largest known communities from this period and covers 32 acres. • It is believed that between 67,000 and 57,000 BC, this town had about 6,000 inhabitants. • Mud brick houses • Very few streets • Farming believed to have taken place outside of the city walls(hunting also took place based on paintings found at the ruins) • Religion is evident due to shrines containing religious figures
Effects of the Neolithic Revolution • Settling down into towns/communities • Many communities saw a need for walls to protect from invasion or predators • Trade began in some areas between communities • Artisans (skilled workers) began to make items to trade with neighbors • Storing of surplus food • Gender roles changed as men sometimes traveled for hunting or left the city walls for farming • Women stayed home and became a more domestic role • What issues might arise in settled communities that would not arise for nomads?
The End of the Neolithic Age • Between 4,000 and 3,000 BC, some areas began to discover that metal-bearing rocks could be melted and molded into tools and weapons. • Copper was the first metal used to make tools. • Copper and tin was then combines to make bronze which was harder and more durable. • The Bronze Age (3,000 to 1,200 BC) • The Iron Age ( around 1,000 BC)
Civilization Emerges • When looking at societies of the past, we look at their culture (their way of life). • After settlement into towns, culture became much more complex leading to civilization. • Civilization: complex culture in which large numbers of human beings share common elements.
Basic Elements of Civilization • Advanced cities • Divisions of labor • Complex institutions (government, religion, economy) • Record-keeping (writing) • Advanced technology
Mesopotamia Location: Fertile Crescent, primarily present-day Iraq, Asia Rivers: Tigris and Euphrates (Tigris-Euphrates)
Mesopotamia • The Ancient Greeks referred to this civilization as Mesopotamia, meaning the land “between the two river.” • Very little rainfall • Instead, the soil became fertile due to silt deposits and the overflow of the river. • Flooding of the rivers was very unpredictable. • They learned to control the waters through irrigation and drainage. • Civilizations of Mesopotamia include many groups, the first being the Sumerians.
Religion • Mesopotamians believed that supernatural forces ruled the world. • Religion was a source for answers as to why things occurred in their world. • They practiced a polytheistic religion meaning they believed in many gods/goddesses. • Humans were supposed to obey their gods due to inferiority to the gods. • Religious buildings called ziggurats were in the center of their cities. Atop of the ziggurats were temples dedicated to gods. • Surplus food or materials were often stored in these temples.
Government and Cities • The Sumerians developed independent cities in Southern Mesopotamia by 3,000 BC. • As these cities expanded, they gained control over larger territories of land and formed city-states. • Sumerian cities were surrounded by walls for protections. • City homes were mad of sun-dried brick. • People living inside the city would develop a common identity and work together for survival. • Priests and priestesses held large amounts of power. • Theocracy: type of government in which people believe the ruler(s) has divine authority (right to rule from the gods) • Kings held great power leading armies, supervising public works, organizing irrigation and farming.
Economy and Society • The city-states based their economy on farming, but trade and industry became important as well. • Woolen textiles, pottery, and metalwork became specialties • The invention of the wheel around 3000 BC led to carts making trading of their goods (primarily metals) to other areas easier. • Traded primarily with the Mediterranean and India. • Three classes developed: • Nobles: included priestly officials and their families • Commoners: worked for rulers, farmers (90%), merchants, fishers, and artisans • Slaves belonged to palace officials and were used primarily for building projects
Writing and Language • Cuneiform (wedge-shaped symbols) • To record information, they a reed and clay tablets. These tablets baked in the sun to make their message permanent. • The Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem, tells the story of a king in search of immortality.
Sumerian Inventions • Wheel • Sundial (time keeping) • First to make bronze tools • Achievements in math and astronomy
Code of Hammurabi • Many empires developed within Mesopotamia throughout its existence. • Hammurabi, created a new Mesopotamian kingdom (Babylon) by combining city-states. • Hammurabi created one of the earliest law codes known to man. • It outlined relationships between people within the kingdom and explained punishments. • The laws were made public in the center of town so that people would be aware of expectations. • The society became patriarchal (led by men) and women had fewer rights in marriage. • Many of the punishments can be seen as harsh.
Ancient Egypt Location: Egypt, Africa River: Nile
The Nile River • The Nile River flows from central Africa northward dumping into the Mediterranean Sea. • Before it meets the sea, it splits into three major branches creating a delta. • Yearly floods along the Nile left a deposit of mud that created a rich soil (“Black Land”). • Trade along the Nile helped unify the area. • Natural barriers (deserts, seas) also helped protect Egyptians from invasion.
Religion • Along with predictable flooding, religion provided a sense of security. • For Egyptians, religion was represented in world order. • Polytheistic, their gods represented heavenly bodies and natural forces. • Sun gods (Sun was called Re and viewed as giver of life. Rulers were considered the Son of Re and therefore held great power.) • Land gods (including the Nile itself) • Pyramids and mummification were important aspects of Egyptian religion. (see page 44 in blue text)
Government • Ancient Egyptians believed their rulers were given power from the gods. • The pharaoh (like a king/queen, monarch) therefore held absolute power. • These pharaohs were mummified after death because Egyptians believe they continued to rule in the afterlife.
Egyptian Society Pharaoh (god-king) Nobles and priests Middle Class (merchants, artisans, scribes, tax collectors) Workers of the land (majority were peasants who farmed and served as military)
Daily life in ancient egypt • Young marriages (12 and 14) were arranged by parents • Main reason for marriage was to produce children • Monogamy (marriage to one) was typical, but men were allowed additional wives if their first was childless. • Divorce was possible and compensation was given to the wife if it occurred • Patriarchal society, but women held much respect (and could become the pharaoh) • Women kept their own property even after marriage
Writing and education • Hieroglyphics: Greek translation meaning “priest-carvings” or “sacred writings”; this type of writing uses pictures and abstract shapes • The original hieroglyphic writing was for writing on temple walls and in tombs; it is extremely complex • Hieratic script uses the same principles, but is simplified using dashes, strokes, and curves. This was used more for business, record keeping, and for daily use. • Not all Egyptians could write! • Scribes, masters of writing, were also teachers and were highly respected. (Only men of the upper class could become a scribe.)
Art and science • Pyramids, temples, and monuments (religious as well) • Math became extremely important for building projects (geometry) • Used a 365-day calendar • Embalming of bodies led to increased knowledge of anatomy (mummies)
Ancient India Location: India, Asia Rivers: Indus, Ganges
Geography • The Himalayas in the north provide a natural barrier. • South of the Himalayas is the Ganges River. • The Indus River lies to the west. • The Indus River is considered the cradle of Ancient Indian civilization. • The Deccan Plateau, south of the rivers, extends to the tip on India and is hilly and dry. • India experiences a monsoon (seasonal wind pattern) that heavily impacts climate and rainfall.
The Indus Valley • Between 3000 BC and 1500 BC, the Indus supported a great civilization. • More than 2000 settlements have been discovered in the area from this time. • Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, only about 400 miles apart, are two of the most successful settlements. • Each city was home to somewhere around 35000 and were carefully planned. • Walled neighborhoods • Most buildings made of mud brick • Public wells • Plumbing • Trash chutes
Not a lot of information is available about the earliest people of the Indus Valley, because we cannot understand their writing. • Sanskrit-first written language of the Aryans • It was adopted by the Indians after migration of the nomadic Aryans settled into India.
The Caste System Rigid social classes that determined a person’s occupation, economic potential, and social status-based partly on skin color
Life of the Untouchable was difficult. They were not considered human. They lived in ghettos and to tap sticks together so others would know they were coming.
*Male dominated society: -oldest male had legal authority over the entire family -arranged marriages -suttee required a wife to throw herself on her dead husband’s funeral pyre (fire) and die herself
Hinduism • Based on the Vedas-the oldest Hindu sacred text • Believed in an ultimate reality (God) called Brahman • Individual self, or atman, had the duty to come to know this ultimate reality
Reincarnation *The idea that after death the individual soul is reborn in a different form. • Karma-the idea that people’s actions determine their form of rebirth and the class into which they are reborn • dharma-divine law rules karma, requires people to do their duty in one’s caste • provides a religious basis for the caste system, gave hope to the lower classes
Buddhism • Founder-Siddhartha Gautama, known as Buddha (“Enlightened One”) • Gave up his rich life to find the meaning of life and the cure for human suffering.
The pain, poverty, and sorrow that afflict human beings are caused by their attachment to things of this world. • Achieving wisdom is a key step to achieving nirvana, or ultimate reality-the end of the self and a reunion with the Great World Soul.