Unit 9.1 Development of Civilization
Hominids emerged as early as 3.5 million years ago in Africa. Homo sapiens sapiens, or modern humans, who are only about 200,000 years old, migrated out of Africa and populated Europe and Asia. These early humans were mainly nomadic hunter-gatherers who developed the first tools, including spears and the bow and arrow, and made use of fire. Between 8000 and 4000 BCE these peoples developed methods of systematic farming and domesticating animals. Because early humans no longer needed to follow migrating herds of animals, they settled down and eventually formed communities along fertile river valleys. These communities, such as those of the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, slowly grew into civilizations with their own cities, governments, religions, social structures, writing, and art.
Chapter 1 – The Rise of Civilization, Prehistory-c. 2300 B.C.E.
- What do archaeology and anthropology teach us about prehistoric humans?
• What is a civilization, and how does one form?
- The tools and evidence used to learn about prehistory, such as archaeological and biological evidence from excavation sites, are different from those used to learn about the time after writing was developed.
- During the early stages of human history, hominids—humanlike creatures that walked upright—lived in Africa 3.5 million years ago.
- The period of human history in which humans used simple stone tools—hand axes, wooden poles with spear points, bows and arrows, and harpoons and fishhooks—is known as the Paleolithic Age, sometimes called the Old Stone Age.
The Neolithic Revolution
- The Neolithic Revolution was the shift from hunting and gathering to systematic agriculture in various parts of the world.
- Changes brought about by the Neolithic Revolution led to more permanent settlements and the emergence of civilization.
- The six most important basic characteristics that people share in a distinct culture, or civilization, are cities, government, religion, social structure, writing, and art.
- The impact of geography, specifically the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys, allowed people in this area of the world, known as the Fertile Crescent, to develop complex economic, political, and social structures.
- A polytheistic religion played an important role in the economic, political, and social structure of Sumer, and Sumerians devoted much wealth to building temples and elaborate houses for priests and priestesses who served the gods.
- The Sumerians invented cuneiform, a wedge-shaped system of writing used primarily for recordkeeping, as well as new technological innovations, such as the wagon wheel, sundial, and arch, that still affect life today.
Unit 9.2 Bronze Age Civilizations
The Nile River valley gave rise to Egyptian civilization, the history of which can be divided into several different periods, beginning around 3100 BCE Egyptian social, religious, and economic life revolved around the Nile, which provided fertile farmland and a steady means of communication and travel. Between 3100 and 200 BCE many civilizations also flourished in central and western Asia and throughout the Mediterranean world. Along the Indus and Ganges river valleys, civilizations arose at cities such as Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. Around 1500 BCE these early Indian societies merged with other groups, resulting in a new and unique culture. In China, civilizations emerged along the Huang He and Chang Jiang, but elsewhere China’s mountains and deserts isolated the area from its neighbors. Hereditary dynasties emerged as the main ruling system, and China developed unique philosophies, political structures, and cultural traditions. Civilizations also emerged in Mesoamerica and South America, such as those of the Olmec, Zapotec, and Chavin peoples. All of these civilizations developed their own political, social, and cultural structures and helped pave the way for the great empires of future centuries.
Chapter 2 – The Spread of Civilization, c. 3100 -c.200 B.C.E.
- How does geography affect the development of civilizations?
• In what ways do civilizations influence each other?
The Rise of Egypt
- The Nile River and religion were important in Egyptian civilization.
- Egypt’s history is divided into three major periods.
- Egypt’s Old Kingdom was a prosperous age of pyramids, and the Middle Kingdom was a golden age of stability.
- Egyptian society was highly structured, and Egyptians developed complex writing and made advances in the arts and sciences.
Peoples in the Eastern Mediterranean
- Nomadic peoples helped spread goods and new technology.
- The Phoenicians created a trade empire and invented an alphabet.
- The Israelites left a lasting influence through their religious beliefs.
- The Minoans were a Bronze Age civilization with a rich culture.
The Indus Valley Civilization
- Both geography and climate affected the development of civilizations in the Indus River valley.
- Civilization in the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro flourished for hundreds of years.
- Migrations and interactions between the Aryans and the Dravidians resulted in a new culture.
- Sanskrit emerged as a written language around 1000 BCE
Unit 9.3 Iron Age Civilizations
There were many significant early empires in the ancient Near East. Civilization in Mesopotamia continued, characterized by trade and strong leaders such as Sargon in Akkad and Hammurabi in Babylon. After the invasion of the Hyksos, Egypt rose to power once more during the New Kingdom. It finally fell to the “Sea Peoples,” providing the Kushites to the south with an opportunity to develop into a powerful empire. The Assyrians and Persians each had successful empires supported by elite militaries. The Assyrians set up a great capital at Babylon, which eventually fell to the Persians, who maintained their empire, the largest to date, through communication and infrastructure.
Chapter 3 – Early Empires in the Ancient Near East, c. 2300 – c. 300 B.C.E.
- How were empires of the ancient Near East governed?
• How do empires rise, how are they maintained, and what causes them to fall?
Akkad and Babylon
- The Akkadians, led by Sargon, established the first empire in history.
- Hammurabi created a new Mesopotamian kingdom.
- The Code of Hammurabi provides information about social conditions.
- Mesopotamian society was patriarchal.
Egypt and Kush
- The Egyptians learned new military skills and how to use bronze in tools and weapons from the Hyksos.
- During the New Kingdom, Egypt became the most powerful state in the ancient Near East.
- The Egyptian Empire ended with the invasions of the “Sea Peoples.”
- That Kush, once subject to Egypt, became a major trading empire when independent.
Assyria and Persia
- The Assyrians were known for the efficient administration of their empire and for their successful military.
- Nebuchadnezzar built up Babylon as a great ancient city, but it eventually fell to the Persians.
- Under Darius, the Persian Empire became the world’s largest empire to that time.
- The Persian Empire was sustained by well-maintained roads and way stations.
- The Persians’ religion, Zoroastrianism, was their most unique cultural contribution.