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Transcript of Before History
By Jacob Aoki, Siobhan Collins, Julia Warren
Early human species took the first steps towards the development of a modern society. Circa four to five million years ago, early human-like beings walked the earth. Modern human beings did not appear until 40,000 years ago. Cities began to develop around 4000 to 3500 B.C.E. The time in between the appearance of the first human ancestors and the beginning of city life was a crucial period of human development in which the basic hominid evolved into the present-day Homo sapien sapien.
In 1974, remains of a woman from 32 million years ago were found. She was 25-30 years old at death, and is believed to have been 55 pounds and 3.5 feet tall. This was one of the most preserved skeletons from prehistory and provided important evidence in the theory of evolution.
Appeared in East Africa 4 million to 1 million years ago.
Relatively sophisticated compared to ape species, walked upright, and developed hands and thumbs.
Although it was an advanced species, it later disappeared as a new species of hominids evolved.
The ability to walk upright allows for free use of the arms and hands.
This enabled the Australopithecus and subsequent human species to utilize hunting tools and control fires.
Thrived from the period between two million years ago and two hundred thousand years ago
Appeared in east Africa, but moved to southwest Asia, Europe, south Asia, east Asia, and southeast Asia
Made tools such as cleavers and hand axes, in addition to the Australopithecus' choppers and scrapers
Used increased intelligence and communication to coordinate hunting strategies
Homo erectus vs. Australopithecus
Brain size: 500 cc.
Limited verbal communication
Brain size: 1000 cc.
Added more sophisticated tools
Strong language skills
Migration through Europe and Asia
Evolved about two hundred thousand years ago
Brain size: 1400 cc.
Developed in the frontal regions, allowing for conscious and reflective thought
Constructed knives, spears, bows, and arrows
Homo sapiens (Migration)
Moved through temperate and colder regions, of the world, as they invented warm clothes and effective shelters
Lived in caves or hutlike shelters made from wood, bones, and animal skins
Ice ages allowed Homo sapiens to use land bridges to travel around the world
Economy (Paleolithic Era)
Individuals could not accumulate private property or have a society based on wealth
Needed to gather and hunt and, therefore, migrate with the herds
Only “owned” what they could carry
Egalitarian existence, but social distinctions arose based on character traits
Small groups of thirty to fifty members
Developed about three hundred thousand years ago by Homo erectus
Homo erectus and Homo sapiens used disguises, their sophisticated tools, coordinated strategies, and sometimes even fire to hunt animals such as elephants, mastodons, rhinoceros, bison, and cattle
Gender Equality (Paleolithic Era)
Men would hunt, often for long distances and durations
Women and children gathered food (plants, roots, nuts, fruit)
Meat was the most prized food in the paleolithic diet, but plant products were more important, as they would feed the whole community when the hunt was unsuccessful or took too long
Neither sex was dominated by other
Some groups settled permanently in a region with plentiful food sources
Natufian society (eastern Mediterranean)
Jomon society (central Japan)
Chinook (Pacific northwest region of North America)
Abundant herds of animals, plants, fishing, berries, nuts
Permanent dwellings, accommodating several hundred to sometimes over a thousand people
Permanent settlements show that paleolithic peoples organized complex societies
There were often specialized positions, such as a ruler or craftsmen
Beginning of a Social Structure
Lived in Neander valley in Germany, but flourished throughout Europe and southwest Asia between about two hundred thousand and thirty-five thousand years ago
As far as we know, Neandertals were the first to show reflective thought and emotions, as they created burials for the dead
Cro-Magnon (Homo sapiens sapiens) Culture
First of the modern type of humans
Appeared about forty thousand years ago
Sophisticated weapons (harpoons, spear-throwers)
Tools (awls and needles to sew)
Jewelry and furniture
Venus figurines and cave paintings
Venus Figurines & Cave Paintings
Venus figurines (small sculptures of women with exaggerated sexual features) derive from central Europe
They may show a deep interest in fertility
Cave paintings date back to between thirty-four thousand to twelve thousand years ago
Best known in Lascaux in France, and Altamira in Spain
For aesthetic reasons, celebrations of successful hunting efforts, or “sympathetic magic”
Neolithic Era (New Stone Age)
Refers to the early stages of agricultural society (from about twelve thousand to six thousand years ago)
Also, better tools
Foraging societies faced more risks than agricultural societies
Neolithic Men and Women
Women probably began the systematic care of plants, as they were more familiar with the life cycles of plants
Men domesticated animals
Allowed for a greater population
Not an “agricultural revolution”
Earliest evidence of agriculture dates back to the era after 9000 B.C.E. in southwest Asia
Emerged in separate parts of the world
Spread of Agriculture
One of the earliest techniques was “slash-and-burn cultivation,” which forced the farmers to often be migrating
Quickened spread of agriculture
Crops would also move with the agriculture
Agriculture required harder physical labor and more time than hunting and gathering
But paid off with abundant food supplies
10,000 B.C.E. : four million
3000 B.C.E. : fourteen million
500 B.C.E. : one hundred million
Villages and Towns
No longer migrating
Settled in permanent villages
One of the earliest known: Jericho (8000 B.C.E.)
Limited amount of trade
Salt, obsidian, and volcanic glass
In c. 7000 B.C.E., residents put a wall around their mud huts to keep out human predators
Specialization of Labor
Most people cultivated crops or cared for animals
Many others hunted and gathered
Surplus of food allowed for jobs unrelated to food such as the craft industries:
Industries provided what would benefit the cultivators and herders
Located in modern-day Turkey
Occupied from 7250 B.C.E. until 5400 B.C.E., when it was abandoned
About 5000 residents
Manufacturing town (pots, baskets, carpet, jewelry, etc.)
Pottery, Metalworking, & Textiles
Pottery was discovered in several parts of the world by about 7000 B.C.E.
Cold metal could be hammered into jewelry and tools.
By 6000 B.C.E., neolithic peoples discovered that heating metal to high temperatures made is more workable, and by 5000 B.C.E., they discovered it could be melted at a higher temperature and poured into molds
Copper was used to make jewelry, tools, weapons, and served as a foundation for other metal work.
Textiles used as early as 6000 B.C.E.
Probably the work of women
Social Distinctions (neolithic era)
Could accumulate wealth now
Could trade surplus food for valuable items (gems, jewelry)
Privately owned land
Began to closely observe nature, as their lives depended on cultivation
Made first steps toward a calendar, observing the seasons, weather patterns, and positions of the moon, sun, and starts
Celebrated fertility (Venus figurines)
Especially the rhythms of birth, growth, death, and regenerated life
Worshiped gods and goddesses, associated with crop fertility, animals, energy, death, etc.
Infant deities represented regeneration of life
Some cities grew faster due to favorable location
More complex than villages or towns
Increased specialization of jobs
Governors, military strategists, tax collectors etc.
Gave rise to cultural specialists (priests)
Influenced political, economic, and cultural life of large regions
Building of schools and temples in neighboring cities extended cultural traditions
Earliest Known Cities
Around the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates
Developed around 4000 or 3500 B.C.E.
Dominated their regions