Why we study history
We naturally want to know how we came to be who we are and how the world we live in came to be what it is.
History provides insight into present human behavior
Human history overview
People lived by hunting and gathering for hundreds of thousands of years
Only 10,000 years ago did humans learn to cultivate plants, herd animals, and make airtight pottery to store food.
River valley civilizations developed just 5,000 years ago which led to better harvest and ultimately increased populations
These river valley civilizations—ie Nile, Indus, Tigris/Euphrates—invented writing, metallurgy, and commerce.
Cities and complex religion took form.
Kings, considered to be representatives of the gods or to be divine themselves, emerged as rulers who formed large armies to protect their power.
Section One: Early Humans and their Culture
Important dates in the history of the Earth
Scientist believe Earth to be six billion years old
Creatures, similar to humans, first appeared three to five million years ago.
Homo sapiens probably emerged 200,000 years ago
Earliest remains of modern humans date to 90,000 years ago
Humans as cultural beings
Culture (d)—the ways of living built up by a group and passed from one generation to another; it includes behavior, material things, ideas, institutions, and beliefs.
The Paleolithic Age
Lasted from the earliest use of stone tools, nearly 1,000,000 years ago to about 10,000BCE
People existed as hunters, fishers, and gatherers
Humans learned to use sophisticated stone tools, materials like wood, and to control fire
Language developed so they could pass on what they learned
Division of labor
Men hunted, fished, made tools and weapons and fought against other families, tribes, and clans
Women gathered nuts, berries, and wild grains, wove baskets, and made clothing
Women probably discovered how to plant and care for seeds leading to the Age of Agriculture—the Neolithic revolution.
The Neolithic Age
About 10,000BCE, parts of the Middle East began to shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies.
Invention of pottery made it possible to store surplus liquid and dry foods
Cloth came to be made from flax and wool
Built permanent buildings near the best fields
About 4,000BCE in modern-day Iraq, major urban centers, called civilization appeared
Urbanism, technology, writing, religion, laws, division of labor, and trade are defining characteristics of civilizations
During this era, someone discovered how to smelt tin and copper to make bronze, a stronger and more useful metal.
Section Two: Early Civilizations to about 1000 BCE
Emerged in the valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers known as the Fertile Crescent
Sumerians controlled the southern part of the valley (Sumer) close to the head of the Persian Gulf by 3,000BCE
Another group—known as Semitics—settled upstream
Semitic peoples established a capital at Akkad, near a later city known as Babylon
The Sumerians were absorbed by the Akkadians whose empire came to be known as Assyria
By 1900BCE, another Semitic group called the Amorites gained control of the region and established Babylon.
Babylonian kingdom collapsed after the Hittites and Kassites invaded from the north and east.
After pillaging, the Hittites returned home to Asia Minor
The Kassites remained and ruled Mesopotamia for five centuries
The Nile River, surrounded by desert, produced arable land as it flooded and receded to furnish mud that could produce two crops per year
Egyptians crafted and maintained sophisticated irrigation ditches to preserve the river’s water and agricultural prosperity ensued
The Sahara Desert to the west and Red Sea to the east made it difficult for invaders to reach Egypt