The Emergence of Civilization
Understanding Our Past
Geographers, archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians work to unravel human history.
- Technology refers to the skills and tools people use to meet their basic needs.
- Hominids: Any member of the zoological “tribe” Hominini (family Hominidae, order Primates), of which only one species exists today—Homo sapiens, or human beings.
- The term is used most often to refer to extinct members of the human lineage or the species who walk upright on two feet.
- Culture refers to the way of life of a society, not to the ages of the people such as ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society.
- Artifacts are objects made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest.
- Archeology is the study of human history using material remains.
- Archaeologists excavate and study features and artifacts, like this clay sculpture in the image.
- The farther down Archaeologists dig, the older the artifacts they find.
- Gorges or canyons offer access to deeper layers of earth, where older artifacts and bones can be found.
- Geologists can help to find out how old artifacts are by determining the age of rocks located near archaeological sites.
- Donald Johanson found many pieces of a single hominid skeleton. He named the find “Lucy.”
- Prehistory is the vast period of time before the invention of written records or human documentation, which includes the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods.
The Paleolithic Era
- Paleolithic Era: also called the Old Stone Age, is a period in human prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone tools that covers c. 99% of the period of human technological prehistory.
- People during the Paleolithic Era survived by hunting and gathering only.
- They didn’t know how to farm or domesticate animals; therefore, they had to keep moving from place to place to follow animals “Nomads”.
Turning Point: The Neolithic Revolution
The change from nomadic to farming life led to the emergence of civilizations.
- Early modern people were nomads, or people who move from place to place to find food.
- The transition from nomadic life to settled farming brought such dramatic changes in way of life that it is called the Neolithic Revolution.
- Jericho was a Neolithic village that is today an Palestine.
- Archaeologists have learned about Neolithic life from finds such as “the Iceman,” who was found preserved in snow in the Alps.
- Men began to gain prestige as warriors when warfare increased. Elite warriors asserted power over others in society.
- Calendars helped farmers know when to plant and harvest.
- Early farmers were the first humans to domesticate plants and animals, or raise them in a controlled way that makes them best suited to human use.
- Many scholars think that our ancestors believed the world was full of spirits and forces that might reside in animals, objects, or dreams. Such beliefs are known as animism.
Beginnings of Civilization
The rise of cities was a central feature in the development and spread of civilizations.
- A civilization is a complex, highly organized social order.
- Nomadic herders crossed the dry grasslands called steppes.
- Cultural diffusion is the spread of ideas, customs, and technologies from one people to another.
- City people were ranked according to their jobs, which led to the growth of social classes.
- Artisans workers in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand.
- An empire is a group of states or territories controlled by one ruler.
- Nomadic cultures differed from civilizations in their social organization.
- They did not build cities or have complex governments.
- The expansion into territory beyond the boundaries of a city created a city-state.
- Pictographs were simple drawings that looked like the objects they represented.
- As writing systems became more complex, only trained scribes could read and write.
- A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing.