From Human Prehistory to the Early Civilizations

From Human Prehistory to the Early Civilizations

Human Prehistory Early humans to the Neolithic revolution The Mesolithic Age The Mesolithic Age (Middle Stone Age) went from 12,000-8,000 BCE. Major changes included the ability to shape and sharpen stone tools, make

needles out of bone, etc. More animals were domesticated, like cows. Pottery and basket-making begin to be developed for use as food storage. Mesolithic Art (also called Archaic) Figure from Central America and bowls from Ireland.

Mesolithic Art Early Jewelry (c. 10,000 BCE) The Neolithic Revolution The advent of the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry (known as the Neolithic revolution) is considered by many historians to be one of the two key changes

in the human experiencesince our species emerged. The other key change? The Neolithic Revolution Archeologists and historians believe agriculture was invented in at least three separate places sometime between 9,000 BCE and 5,000 BCE.

The first occurrence was in the northern Middle East/Black Sea region with the domestication of wheat and barley. It probably occurred because of changes in the animal supply. The Neolithic Revolution The earliest traces of wheat and barley were found in Iraq.

The Neolithic Revolution Women most likely started the Neolithic revolution because as gatherers, they were probably the ones who noticed if you drop some seeds in the ground, a little later something else happened. Well never know if this happened by accident or by design.

The Neolithic Revolution The second invention occurred in southern China and continental Southeast Asia around 7,000 BCE with the introduction of rice. The Neolithic Revolution The third clear

separate invention was the domestication of corn (maize) in Central America around 5,000 BCE. Traces of the oldest known corn (Teosinte) was found under this boulder in Mexico.

The Neolithic Revolution Agriculture may have been invented in other places too, like sub-Saharan Africa and northern China. We simply dont know. But by 5,000 BCE agriculture had gradually spread and was becoming the most common economic system for the

largest number of people in the world. The Neolithic Revolution Despite the advantages of agriculture over hunting and gathering, its widespread adoption was slow. One reason for this slow spread was that the contacts among relatively far-flung populations was minimal (it took several

thousand years for agriculture to disseminate from the Middle East to Europe). The Neolithic Revolution Not all regions were suitable for agriculture; some were arid (dry) or heavily forested. An alternative economic system based on nomadic herding of animals (known as pastoral societies) prevailed for a long time

over agriculture in parts of the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and especially Central Asia (some still exist today). The Neolithic Revolution These nomadic pastoral groups found they could tame and breed some of the animals they huntedgoats, sheep, pigs, cattle, and camels.

These pastoral societies developed in regions where low rainfall made it impractical to build life around growing crops. The Neolithic Revolution They remained nomadic, following their animals to fresh pastures.

The Neolithic Revolution Agriculture involves settling down, which might not have appealed to some huntinggathering societies that valued their capacity (freedom) to move around. Agriculture might have been repellant to societies where males were accustomed to boasting about their hunting exploits. The Neolithic Revolution

When agriculture was introduced, it brought massive changes to the human experience. First, it changed the nature of work. Agriculture involves more work, particularly for men, than hunting and gathering. It is estimated that hunting/gathering, on average, involves about 3 hours of work a day.

The Neolithic Revolution Agriculture, especially in season, requires much, much more. Agriculture redefined and increased the work expectations of human society. Agriculture also redefined gender relations. In most hunter/gatherer societies, men did the hunting and women the gathering. Since both groups contributed to the food

supply, women had some influence in society. The Neolithic Revolution In agricultural societies, patriarchal systems predominated. Since men increasingly assumed the role as the principle cultivator of crops, they increased their dominance over women.

In all agricultural societies, not only does male dominance over women occur, but older males dominate younger ones. This characteristic of agricultural societies still exists in our world today. The Neolithic Revolution The most obvious reason for the increase in male dominance was that agriculture

both permitted and required an expansion of the birthrate. Domestication also benefited the domesticated species (plant and animal) as farmers protected them from predators and helped them reproduce, ensuring their survival (which is why there are so many dogs, sheep, and cows and so much wheat, rice, and corn).

The Neolithic Revolution More secure food suppliesthats the principle advantage of agriculture over hunting/gathering. Producing more abundant and more predictable food supplies permitted larger numbers of children to be born. Agricultural societies needed more

children to work the land. The Neolithic Revolution Greater food supplies created new patterns of child rearing and an increase in the per capita birth rate (usually between 5-7 births per family). In a hunting-gathering society, children have relatively few functions until they

reach their early teen years. The Neolithic Revolution In agricultural societies, childhood and work became closely associated. Virtues, such as hard work and obedience, became part of the lessons children learned in an agricultural society.

The Neolithic Revolution Early farmers faced limitations on the amount of food they could produce since there was a shortage of laborers (why so many children were needed), water, and nutrients (it would take thousands of years for people to understand the benefits of animal fertilizer). So there were three main farming

technologies early farmers adopted that reflected these limitations. The Neolithic Revolution 1. Horticulture: traditional gardening techniques (clearing land, tilling then planting then harvesting). Since human labor provides all the energy, the effectiveness of early tools

was critical. 2. Swidden (slash and burn): weeding out excessive trees to allow more sunlight and nutrients to reach the ground. Trees/vegetation cut, then area burned, then plots cultivated. The Neolithic Revolution 3. Chinampas: created by Mesoamerican

farmers, growing crops on man-made floating fields of timber and soil, anchored in the middle of lakes. The Neolithic Revolution The advent of agriculture raises some interesting questions about human progress. First, a major drawback was the introduction of new inequalities between men and women.

A second drawback was that agriculture allowed people to settle in clustered communities, which exposed inhabitants to periodic epidemic diseases. The Neolithic Revolution A third drawback was that agricultural societies altered the local environment in a way that hunter/gatherer societies did not.

Some regional environments were damaged, even destroyed, by agricultural communities (which we will see later). But agriculture clearly had advantages, which was why it spread (albeit very slowly). The Neolithic Revolution Where Agriculture Began (BCE):

Southwest Asia (Fertile Crescent) 9000 Egypt and the Sudan (Nile Valley) 8000 China (Yangtze and Huang He valleys) 7000 Australasia (New Guinea Highlands) 7000-4000 Sub-Saharan Africa 3000-2000 Mesoamerica (Central Mexico) 3000-2000 South America (Andes and Amazonia) 3000-2000 Indus valley 2500-2200 North America (Mississippi valley) 2000-1000

The Neolithic Revolution One of its advantages was that it produced products that could be fermented and turned into alcohol. Some historians believe this is one of the reasons why men gave up hunting to adopt agriculture. Clay, southern Iraq, 3100 BCE.

The Neolithic Revolution One of the first things agricultural societies did when they developed writing was to write down recipes for the fermentation of wheat, barley, grapes, etc. The Neolithic Revolution More systematically, agriculture

significantly increased food supplies. This in turn allowed families to have more children and resulted in population expansion. These conditions prevailed in much of the world from about 9,000 BCE until about 300 years ago. The Neolithic Revolution

But agricultural economies were constrained by limitations in the amount of food that a worker could generate. Even the most advanced agricultural economies required about 80% of the population to be involved in agriculture. The Neolithic Revolution This limited the size of cities to be no

more than 20% of the population (most were less) and limited the amount of taxation that could be levied. More taxes = ? Only within the last century did Russias agricultural society have an urban level that was more than 10% of the population. The Neolithic Revolution

Agricultural societies also generated cultural emphases, especially by encouraging attention to the spring season (and the divine forces responsible for creation and renewal). The Neolithic Revolution The crucial features of agriculture were its role in population increase and its capacity

to generate food surpluses. This freed some people to do other things, like manufacture containers (pottery) that could hold food or seed from one season to the next. The Neolithic Revolution One of the first areas where agricultural

societies generated technological advancement was in the area of pottery making (needed to maintain an agricultural economy) and metal working. The Neolithic Revolution-Art

Rock panel in Megalithic tomb in Ireland Scotland (3,000 BCE) The Neolithic Revolution The worlds oldest known city is Jericho, located in todays West Bank (Palestine) and dated to about 9,000 BCE.

The city was surrounded by springs near the Dead Sea. The Neolithic Revolution Jerichos famous walls. The Neolithic Revolution The second oldest known was a

famous Neolithic village in southern Turkey: Catal Huyuk. The map at right was drawn in the 6th millennium BCE. The Neolithic Revolution

Catal Huyuk was a thriving village between 7,000 3,000 BCE. Artwork found there includes the worlds oldest known murals on human built structures. The Neolithic Revolution Artifacts from Catal Huyuk. Questions

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