History of our world

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To understand today's world, we must learn about its past. Ancient civilizations laid strong foundations for modern cultures. The early ages of world history have added greatly to those cultures. In this book, you will learn how the ideas, events, and people of the past have shaped our lives.

Guiding Questions

The text, photographs, maps, and charts in this book will help you discover answers to these Guiding Questions.

1. Geography How did physical geography affect the development and growth of societies around the world?

2. History How did each society's belief system affect its historical accomplishments?

3. Culture What were the beliefs and values of people in these societies?

4. Government What types of governments were formed in these societies and how did they develop?

5. Economics How did each society develop and organize its economic activities?

Project Preview

You can also discover answers to the Guiding Questions by working on projects. Several project possibilities are listed on page 662 of this book.



Toward Civilization

(Prehistory-500 B.C.)

Chapter 1

The Beginnings of Human Society (Prehistory-2500 a.c.)

Chapter 2

The Fertile Crescent (3200 B.C.-500 B.C.)

Cave paintings help us learn about the lives of prehistoric people. This painting shows a deer hunt.


Chapter 1

The Beginnings of Human Society

Chapter Preview

In this chapter you will find out how archaeologists learn about the past. You will also learn about the connections between geography and history.

Section I

Geography and History

Section 2


Section 3

The Beginnings of Civilization

Target Reading Skill

Reading Process In this chapter you will focus on previewing to help you understand and remember what you read.

Cave painting from about 5000 B.C., Argentina


Early Migration of Modern Humans

Movement Modern humans may have originated more than 100,000 years ago in Africa before spreading to other parts of the world. This migration most likely took place over many thousands of years. Identify What landmass did modern humans cross to travel from Asia into North America? Infer Why did the migration of humans from Africa to the rest of the world take place so slowly? Explain your answer.


Section 1

Geography and History

Prepare to Read


In this section you will

1. Learn what tools are used to understand history.

2. Find out about the connections between geography and history.

Taking Notes

As you read, look for details that tell how people learn about the past. Copy the concept web below, and use it to record your findings. Add more ovals as needed.

Target Reading Skill

Preview and Set a Purpose When you set a purpose for your reading, you give yourself a focus. Before you read this section, preview the headings and pictures to find out what the section is about. Then set a purpose for reading this section. Your purpose might be to find out about the study of history, or to learn about the connections between geography and history. Finally, read to meet your purpose.

Key Terms

history (His tuh ree) n. written and other recorded events of people

prehistory (pree HIS tuh ree) n. time before writing was invented

archaeologist (ahr kee AHL uh jist) n. a scientist who examines objects to learn about the human past

oral traditions (AwR ul truh DISH unz) n. stories passed down by word of mouth

geography (jee AHG ruh fee) n. the study of Earth's surface and the processes that shape it

A scientist recovers the body of the ancient Iceman from a glacier in the Alps.

He is called the Iceman. His frozen body was found in a mountain pass in the Alps, on the Italian-Austrian border in Europe.

Two hikers discovered the Iceman by chance in 1991. His body and possessions were taken to a laboratory, where scientists learned more about him. His clothing, tools, and his body were well preserved. They provided clues about the Iceman's life and death. Scientists used these clues to build a story of his life. To learn how the Iceman died, see the Links to Science on the next page.

Scientists determined that the Iceman lived about 5,000 years ago, in about 3000 B.C. The Iceman's finely stitched animal skins showed that he probably came from a community that included people who were skilled in sewing.

The most important clue about the Iceman's life was his copper ax. Copper was the first metal used by Europeans, beginning about 4000 B.C. The ax left no doubt that the Iceman lived after people had learned to use copper. In many ways, the story of the Iceman helps us to understand the story of our past.


Understanding History

The scientists' curiosity about the Iceman's life was natural. As human beings, we are curious about our earliest origins. What was life like many thousands of years ago?

Before and After Writing About 5,000 years ago, peoples in Southwest Asia and in Africa developed systems of writing. They began to keep written records of their experiences. These developments marked the beginning of history, the written and other recorded events of people. By adding the prefix pre-, which means "before," you form the word prehistory. Prehistory is the time before history. Prehistory is the period of time before writing was invented.

Prehistory: Digging Up the Past To learn about life in prehistoric times, scientists must rely on clues other than written records. Archaeologists are scientists who examine objects to learn about past peoples and cultures. They sift through the dirt of prehistoric camps to find bones, tools, and other objects. These objects may tell them something about the people who lived there. For example, the size of stone spear points shows what kinds of game the people hunted. To kill big game, such as bears, hunters had to use large, heavy spear points. Such points, however, would not work very well with birds and small animals.

Links to Science

Cause of Death At first, scientists believed that the Iceman had frozen to death. But ten years after the discovery of the Iceman, scientists found an arrowhead lodged in his shoulder. Later, they found a knife wound on his hand. Now scientists believe the Iceman may have died from injuries he received during an armed struggle.

The stone amulet, above, is similar to the one found with the Iceman. The knife and its grass case, left, were among his belongings.

A museum model of the Iceman, right, shows how he may have dressed.


Prehistoric rock painting in South Africa

Set a Purpose

If your purpose is to learn about the study of history, how does reading about oral traditions help you to achieve your purpose?

History: A Record in Writing Historians do not rely only on the objects discovered by archaeologists to learn about the past. They also study the written records of human life and accomplishments to understand a society—its wars, its religion, and its rulers, among other things. Historians also look at what other groups living at the same time wrote about that society.

A Record of the Spoken Word The written records studied by historians often began as Oral traditions can include a family's history, such as stories of parents, grandparents, and great- grandparents. They can also tell stories about heroes or events in the past.

Oral traditions are still an important part of many societies today. Not all oral stories are historically accurate. Stories often change as they are told and retold. Like myths and legends, they often contain facts mixed with personal beliefs and exaggerations about heroes. Still, oral traditions tell how a society lived and what the people considered important.

Reading Check Why are historians interested in oral traditions?

Carrying on a Tradition In West Africa, a professional storyteller called a griot (GREE oh) keeps oral traditions alive. Draw Conclusions How does a community benefit from knowing about its recent and ancient past?


Linking Geography and History

Knowing when something happened is important. Understanding why historic events took place is also important. To do this, historians often turn to geography, a study of Earth's surface and the processes that shape it. Geography also refers to the features of a place, including its climate, landscape, and location. Knowing the connections between geography and history is often the key to understanding why events happened. Weather patterns, the water supply, and the landscape of a place all affect the lives of the people who live there. For example, to explain why the ancient Egyptians developed a successful civilization, you must look at the geography of Egypt.

Egyptian civilization was built on the banks of the Nile River in Africa. Each year the Nile flooded, depositing soil on its banks. Because the soil was rich, Egyptian farmers could grow enough crops to feed the large numbers of people in the cities. That meant

everyone did not have to farm, so some people could perform other jobs that helped develop the civilization. Without the Nile and its regular flooding, Egyptian civilization would not have become so successful.

Reading Check Give one example of geography's effect on history.

A farm in Egypt's Nile delta

Section 1 Assessment

Key Terms

Review the key terms at the beginning of this section. Use each term in a sentence that explains its meaning.

Target Reading Skill

How did having a reading purpose help you understand this section?

Comprehension and Critical Thinking

1. (a) Recall What do scientists study to learn about prehistory? (b) Generalize What do we know about societies that leave behind written records? (c) Draw Inferences Analyze the clothes you wear and the things you carry to school. What do they say about your life? How does your story compare to the Iceman's story?

2. (a) Identify Name some examples of familiar geographic features. (b) Explain How can geography help us to understand history? (c) Identify Cause and Effect What effect has geography had on the way people in your community live?

Writing Activity

Ask a classmate to share a story with you. The story should be about an important event in the person's life. Write the story from your classmate's point of view.

Go Online


For: An activity on archaeology

Visit: PHSchool.com

Web Code: lbd-2101


Skills for Life

Using Timelines

A wall painting from the ancient city of Knossos, Greece, founded in 2500 B.C.

The post above was used to secure the reins on an animal's harness. It is from the ancient city of Ur, founded in 3500 B.C. in Mesopotamia.

When you study history, you must learn about many different events and the dates on which they occurred. However, a whole page filled with dates can be hard to follow. For that reason, writers often use a simple diagram called a timeline. A timeline shows the order in which events happened. At a glance, a timeline can give you a picture of a certain time period.

Learn the Skill

Refer to page 11 as you follow the steps below.

1. Read the tide of the timeline. The title tells you what the timeline will show.

2. Determine the time span. Look at the beginning and the endpoint of the timeline to determine the time span. If the timeline shows ancient history, it is sometimes divided into two parts. The dates on the left side are marked with the letters B.C. The dates on the right side are marked with the letters A.D. The letters B.C. are an abbreviation of "before Christ" and refer to the years before Jesus' birth. The letters A.D. mean "anno Domini," which is Latin for "in the year of our Lord." The letters A.D. refer to the time after Jesus' birth.

Notice that with B.C., you count backward. The numbers get larger as you go backward in time. Also note the letter c. before some dates. An abbreviation for the Latin word circa, c. means "about." Historians often use circa or c. before dates.

3. Determine the intervals of time. A timeline is divided into intervals of time that are marked by vertical lines. Determine how many years occur between the vertical lines. Timelines that show a long span of time have longer intervals, such as 100 or 1,000 years. Timelines that show a short span of time have shorter intervals, such as 10 or 20 years.

4. Study the events on the timeline. Each event has a date and is connected to the timeline by a dot and a line. Notice when each event happened. Be sure to notice whether a date has more than one event.


Practice the Skill

Use the timeline below to practice the skill.

1. Find the title of the timeline. Based on the title, do you think this timeline will show a long or a short time span?

2. Determine the time span. Find the beginning of the timeline at the left. Notice that the first date is followed by B.C. Next, find the endpoint of the timeline. Notice that the last date is preceded by A.D. What is the span of time between these two dates?

3. Determine the intervals. Look at the dates marked by vertical lines on the timeline. How far is one date from another?

4. Study the events on the timeline. Notice the kinds of events that are shown and whether they are connected. How can you tell whether some events occurred closer together than others? Look at the abbreviations used with the dates on this timeline. Why is the event "Jesus is born" an important event to show on this particular timeline?

Apply the Skill

Turn to the table titled Early Cities on page 22. Create a timeline based on the information in the table. Follow the steps you used to practice this skill to help you create your timeline.

From Prehistory to Today

3100 B.C. Written history begins when writing is invented in the Tigris-Euphrates valley.

3000 B.C. Bronze tools are invented.

c. A.D. 1 Jesus is born.

A.D. 476 The Roman Empire ends.

A.D. 1776 The United States Declaration of Independence is signed.

National Archives Building, Washington, D.C., which houses the Declaration of Independence


Section 2


Prepare to Read


In this section you will

1. Discover how hunter-gatherers lived during the Stone Age.

2. Learn about the beginning of farming.

Taking Notes

As you read, look for details about survival during the Stone Age. Copy the table below, and use it to record your findings.

Target Reading Skill

Preview and Predict Making predictions about your text helps you to remember what you read. Before you read this section, preview it by looking at the headings and pictures. Then predict what the text might discuss about prehistory. For example, you might predict that the text will explain important events that happened in prehistory. As you read, connect what you read to your prediction. If what you learn doesn't support your prediction, revise your prediction.

Key Terms

Stone Age (stohn ayj) n. a period of time during which early humans made lasting tools and weapons mainly from stone; the earliest known period of human culture

nomad (NOH mad) n. a person who has no settled home

fertile (FUR tul) adj. rich in the substances plants need to grow well; describes soil and land

domesticate (duh MES tih kayt) v. to adapt wild plants for human use; tame wild animals and breed them for human use

Long before humans used metal, about three and a half million years ago, a huge explosion shook a part of what is now the country of Tanzania (tan zuh NEE uh) in East Africa. A volcano spit out clouds of fine ash that fell on the surrounding land. Then rain came. It turned the blanket of ash into thick mud. Before the mud dried, two individuals walked across the landscape. As they walked, they left their footprints in the mud.

In 1976, a group of scientists looking for evidence of early humans discovered the footprints, preserved in stone. They were amazed at their find. The footprints are almost identical to those made by modern humans walking in wet sand. Such evidence may help to explain the development of our prehistoric ancestors.

Human ancestors made these footprints about 3.5 million years ago.


Stone Age Hunting and Gathering

A million years after the footprints were made, our human ancestors used tools. By studying these tools, we learn about the development of human culture.

Earliest Human Culture The first use of stone to create tools began the earliest known period of human culture: the Stone Age. The Stone Age was a period of time during which early humans made lasting tools and weapons mainly from stone. They also made tools from wood and animal bones. Scientists think that the Stone Age continued for hundreds of thousands of years, until people learned to use metal for tools.

Archaeologists divide the Stone Age into three periods: the Old Stone Age, the Middle Stone Age, and the New Stone Age. During the Old Stone Age, early humans did not yet know how to farm. They were hunter-gatherers, people who survive by hunting animals and gathering wild plants. Almost all of human prehistory took place during the Old Stone Age.

Fire! Between about 1,400,000 and 500,000 years ago, our ancestors learned how to use fire. No one knows for sure how they learned. Perhaps one day a small band of hunters saw a grass fire caused by lightning on the open plain. Although terrified by the fire, they learned how to keep it going. With fire, they could ward off dangerous animals, who were also afraid of the flames.

Finally, early humans discovered how to create fire. They probably did this by rubbing two sticks together or by striking stones together to produce a spark. The ability to create fire was an important step for our human ancestors. With this great advance, they could move to areas with colder climates.

Links to Science

How Old Is It? After archaeologists find bones, tools, or other objects, they ask themselves that question. Scientists use different tests for dating different objects. One very useful test is called radiocarbon dating. All plants and animals have tiny amounts of a substance called radiocarbon in their bodies. After they die, the radiocarbon changes into another substance. Scientists know how long this change takes. They have tests that measure how much radiocarbon remains. Scientists can then calculate the age of the material. Because the ancient comb, below, is made from the antler of a deer or an elk, radiocarbon dating could be used to determine its age.

A wildfire on the grasslands of Africa



Based on what you have read so far, is your prediction on target? If not, change your prediction now.

Explore the first great migration.

Nomadic Herding

A young shepherd guides her flock to graze in the Taza Province of Morocco in North Africa. Predict What factors might influence this nomad's decision to move her sheep from one area to another?

Settling New Areas As our human ancestors developed the use of tools, they left their original homes in Africa. Their move may have begun as early as one million years ago. Many of our Old Stone Age ancestors were nomads. Nomads are people who have no settled home. They moved around to places where they thought they would find food and stayed there for several days. When they had gathered all the food around them, they moved on.

Humans eventually spread out over much of Earth. There is evidence that human ancestors were living in Asia and Europe at least 500,000 years ago. Many scientists believe that modern humans originated more than 100,000 years ago in Africa and then spread to other parts of the world. Perhaps 30,000 years ago humans crossed from Asia into North America. By 10,000 B.C., humans had reached Peru in South America. Compared with today, humans then were few in number. But as we can today, they survived in all sorts of geographical conditions. They lived in the steamy rain forests of Asia, the cold lands near the Arctic Circle, and the high altitudes of the Andes in South America.

Reading Check What was life like during the Stone Age?

The Beginning of Farming

For tens of thousands of years, our ancestors continued to live as hunter-gatherers. However, some societies entered the Middle Stone Age, which was characterized by the use of more refined, or advanced, tools. Those who began the practice of farming would enter the New Stone Age.


The Spread of Agriculture

Human-Environment Interaction As farming peoples settled in new areas, they brought seeds and farming techniques with them. Identify What crops originated in Southwest Asia? Predict What do you think happened when people tried to settle on land that was not suitable for farming?

Early Farmers About 11,000 years ago, people in Southwest Asia made an amazing discovery. They learned that if they planted the seeds of wild grasses, new crops of grasses would come up. Thus began the New Stone Age in Southwest Asia. It was called the New Stone Age because people began to grow their own food. They did not have to be nomads, although they still depended on stone tools. However, in many other parts of the world, the Old and Middle Stone Ages continued for many thousands of years. In some areas, Old Stone Age societies even existed into the 1900s.

At the same time that people began to grow their own food, some people became pastoral nomads. That is, they raised livestock and traveled from place to place in search of grazing areas for their animals. Many people, such as the desert-roaming Bedouins of present-day Iraq, Syria, and other areas, are still pastoral nomads.

In most societies, women were responsible for gathering plants and seeds. Therefore they may have been the first to plant seeds. Men usually were the hunters. Women began planting and harvesting their crops in the same place year after year.


Farming Techniques

Over time, people have made important advances in farming. In Bali, Indonesia, top, farmers build terraces, or platforms, into the hillsides for growing rice. In 5000 B.C., people grew ears of corn, above left, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. By A.D. 1500, years of careful breeding produced much larger corn, above right, about 5 1/3 inches (13.6 cm) long. Analyze Images What advantages do farmers gain from such techniques as terrace farming and plant breeding?

Farming Around the World Some places were better for farming than others. Soil in some areas was very fertile, or rich in the substances plants need to grow. Because plants also need light and warmth, areas that had long springs and summers were good places to farm. Gentle rains are important sources of water for plants. People gradually discovered that the soil, the water, and the length of the growing seasons in several places around the world were good for plants. These people took up the farming way of life.

About 9,000 years ago, Chinese farmers began planting rice and other crops. A little later in Central America, people began to grow corn, beans, and squash. The map on page 15 shows where certain crops were first planted and how their use spread.

Plant Selection While the kinds of plants grown by those first farmers are still important today, the plants looked very different then. When people first began to plant crops, they carefully chose seeds from the biggest, best-tasting plants. In doing so, they began to domesticate plants, or adapt wild plants for human use. Very gradually, this careful selection of seeds and roots from each crop led to the kinds of food that we eat today. The photograph of ears of corn on this page shows the domestication of corn over time.


Raising Animals Just as humans learned to domesticate plants, they also learned to domesticate animals. During the New Stone Age, humans learned to tame wild animals and breed them for human use. The first domesticated animals may have been dogs, because they were valuable in hunting. By taming larger animals such as sheep, goats, and pigs, people developed ready sources of meat, milk, wool, and skins. Through gradual and careful breeding, herders developed animals that were gentler than their wild ancestors and provided more milk or wool. By about 2500 B.C., cattle, camels, horses, and donkeys were trained to carry heavy loads.

The Challenge of Domestication Over the course of history, humans have tried and failed to domesticate many species. Since ancient times, many animals have been captured in the wild and tamed. The people of ancient India tamed wild elephants for use in battle. Ancient Assyrians and Egyptians trained wild cheetahs for hunting. But these animals and many other species are not easy to breed in captivity. In fact, only a few species of large animals have been suitable for use in agriculture or transportation.

Reading Check What skills did people develop during the New Stone Age?

A caravan of camels used by nomads in Iran

Section 2 Assessment

Key Terms

Review the key terms at the beginning of this section. Use each term in a sentence that explains its meaning.

Target Reading Skill

What did you predict about this section? How did your prediction guide your reading?

Comprehension and Critical Thinking


(a) Recall Describe how people of the Old Stone Age survived.

(b) Infer What important skills did people of the Old Stone Age use to find food?

(c) Synthesize How did survival skills change as people began to settle?


(a) Identify What marked the beginning of the New Stone Age?

(b) Contrast How was life in the New Stone Age different from life in the Old Stone Age?

(c) Apply Information What are the effects of geography and climate on farming?

Writing Activity

Suppose you are a hunter- gatherer. You think of an idea for growing your own food. Write a journal entry describing what gave you the idea, and how your idea might affect your people.

Go Online


For: An activity on the Stone Age

Visit: PHSchool.com

Web Code: Ibd-2102


Focus on Hunter-Gatherers

Spears ready, they hide behind rocks and trees. Their hand axes have been sharpened to a fine edge. They are hungry, and the wait seems endless. Then one of them spies the prey and gives a signal to the group. The hunt is on!

Hunter-gatherers lived in the wild. They built their own shelter and made their own clothes. They ate fruits, roots, leaves, and nuts. When they wanted meat, hunting in groups worked best.

Hunting in Groups Big game, such as the mammoth shown here, was valuable for its meat, hide, and bones. Mammoths—now extinct—thrived during the last ice age, which ended about 10,000 years ago.

Hunting big game was dangerous and required teamwork. A hunter could easily be crushed by a mammoth, or speared by its sharp tusks.

Scientists have different ideas about how such game was hunted. The animals may have been wounded by spears and then lured into hidden pits and killed. Or, hunters may have attacked the animals near watering holes. Some evidence suggests that hunters would herd animals until they were forced over bluffs, falling to their deaths.

The illustration above shows the mammoth being butchered after a hunt. Once the hide was removed, it was stretched and scraped clean. Damaged weapons were then repaired and made ready for the next hunt.

Prehistoric flint tool (left) and flaked stone spear tip (right)


Ancient Art

During the Ice Age, a time when glaciers covered much of Earth, hunter-gatherers painted animal forms and symbols on cave walls. Charcoal and other materials were used for pigments. Paintings have been found in Africa, Europe, and Australia. The painting above is from a cave in Alsace, France.

Creating Shelter

Hunter-gatherers lived in caves or human-made shelters. Long ago, hunter-gatherers in parts of Europe made huts of mammoth bones and tusks, like the model shown above. The shelters were probably covered by large animal hides. Firepits, dug into the hut floor, provided heat.

A shell and bone necklace found in Israel


Hunter-gatherers made their own tools and weapons using stone, wood, bone, and animal sinew.

A prehistoric harpoon made from reindeer bone, found in Europe


Describe What methods did hunter- gatherers use to hunt large animals?

Infer Describe the importance of animals to the survival of hunter- gatherers long ago.


Section 3

The Beginnings of Civilization

Prepare to Read


In this section you will

1. Find out about the advantages people gained from settling down in one place.

2. Learn about the growth of early cities.

3. Understand how the first civilizations formed and spread.

Taking Notes

As you read, summarize changes that lead to the growth of civilization. Copy the chart below, and use it to record your findings.

Target Reading Skill

Preview and Ask Questions Before you read this section, preview the headings and pictures to find out what the section is about. As you read, write two questions that will help you remember something important about the beginnings of civilization. For example, you might ask yourself, What is a city? Or, How did early civilizations form? Find the answers to your questions as you read.

Key Terms

irrigation (ihr uh GAY shun) n. supplying land with water through a network of canals

surplus (suR plus) n. more than is needed

artisan (AHR tuh zun) n. a worker who is especially skilled at crafting items by hand

civilization (sih vuh luh ZAY shun) n. a society with cities, a central government, job specialization, and social classes

social class (soH shut klas) n. a group of people with similar backgrounds, incomes, and ways of living

Caring for irrigation trenches in Libya, North Africa

Under a fierce desert sun, long lines of people are digging a trench that will soon become a deep canal. Other people lift heavy baskets of dirt dug from the canal onto their shoulders. They dump the dirt near the river where another crew is building a huge earthen dam.

These are some of the world's first construction workers. They are building a system of irrigation, supplying land with water from another place using a network of canals. One person directs the work at each site. Like the big construction projects of today, this job takes teamwork.

Soon, the dam will hold back the spring floodwaters of the river. A group of people are building wooden gates in the dam. Officials will open the gates in the dry season, allowing water to flow through the canals and irrigate the growing crops. Farming techniques like this irrigation system were important in creating early communities.


Advantages of a Settled Life

Farming was much harder work than hunting and gathering. However, it had far greater rewards. People who produced their own food could have a steady supply of food year-round. This meant they no longer had to travel from place to place. People often even had a food surplus—more than what is needed. Surplus food could be stored for use at another time.

The Population Grows Having surplus food also affected the size of families. The hunting-gathering life did not allow parents to have many children. How could they feed them all? Now, food surpluses would feed many more people.

Larger families brought rapid population growth. Scientists estimate that about 10,000 years ago, the population of the world was about 5 million people, which is about the number of people living in Minnesota today. By 7,000 years ago, many people had settled into the farming life. The world's population then was as much as 20 million.

Early Villages and Towns People lived in New Stone Age farming settlements for many centuries. Gradually, as the population increased, the settlements grew into towns.

With food surpluses, people did not have to spend all their days producing food. Some people were able to switch from farming to other kinds of work. For example, some people became artisans. An artisan is a worker who is especially skilled in crafting items by hand. Artisans make items such as baskets, leather goods, tools, pottery, or cloth.

Reading Check What effect did food surpluses have on people living in settlements?

Graph Skills

By A.D. 1000, the world's population had reached about 275 million.

Identify By what date had the population reached more than 6 billion?

Generalize How would you describe the rate of population growth before the year A.D. 1?

The ruins of Catal Htiyiik in Turkey, a settlement from around 7000 B.C.


Ask Questions

Ask (and answer) a question about how settlements grew into cities.

The Growth of Cities

Although some farming settlements grew into cities, many others did not. Cities were more likely to develop in areas where rich soil created large surpluses of food. People also needed a dependable source of drinking water and materials to build shelters. Some of the earliest cities grew up along large rivers, such as the Nile in Egypt, the Tigris (TY gris) and Euphrates (yoo FRAY teen) in Iraq, the Huang (hwahng) in China, and the Indus (IN dus) in Pakistan. Cities grew up in these areas because the soil for farming is rich near riverbeds.

The Earliest Cities Look at the table titled Early Cities. The table shows when some of the first cities developed in Asia, Africa, and Europe. You will learn more about some of these cities later.

Early cities were different from farming villages in some important ways. Cities were larger, of course. Cities also had large public buildings. There were buildings to store surplus grain, buildings for the worship of gods, and buildings where people could buy and sell goods. In villages, most people were farmers. In cities, workers had a wide variety of occupations. Most worked at a craft. As new skills developed, so did new occupations.

Chart Skills

Cities arose at different times in different places. Ruins from Knossos, right, are part of a palace built circa, or around, 1550 B.C. In the table, c. stands for circa.

Identify Where were the cities of Ur and Anyang located, and when were these cities founded?

Compare In the text, you learned about the geographic conditions in the areas where the earliest cities developed. What geographic factor do you think the cities of Ur and Anyang had in common?


Governments Form As the population of cities grew, governments formed. Governments kept order in society and provided services. They also settled disputes and managed public building and irrigation projects.

Reading Check Along which rivers did early cities grow?

The First Civilizations

Over time, some New Stone Age societies grew into civilizations. A civilization is a society that has cities, a central government run by official leaders, and workers who specialize in various jobs. Writing, art, and architecture also characterize a civilization.

The Bronze Age By 6600 B.C., artisans in Europe and Asia had learned a key skill. They discovered that melting a certain rock at high temperatures would separate the metal copper from the rock. By 3000 B.C., artisans had learned to mix copper with another metal, tin, to make a mixture called bronze. Ancient peoples may have discovered bronze-making by accident. In nature, small amounts of tin are sometimes found with copper deposits. This discovery marked the beginning of the Bronze Age.

The first people to refine copper with tin had discovered a valuable new metal. Because bronze is much harder than copper, it could be used to make items more durable, or long-lasting. For example, bronze was used to make weapons, tools, helmets, and shields more durable.

Trade and the Spread of Ideas Traders took valuable items. such as pottery, tools and weapons, baskets, cloth, and spices to faraway cities. They traded these items for food and goods that people at home wanted.

By around 3500 B.C., some civilizations had developed a simple but amazing invention: the wheel and axle. An axle is rod on which a wheel turns.

With the wheel and axle, trade goods could be loaded Inca carts and pushed through the city to market. More goods could be transported farther and more easily.

Bronze Tools

Shown are half of a stone mold for pins and a bronze pin, top, from Switzerland, around 1000 B.C., and a bronze razor from Denmark, bottom. Infer How are these tools signs of early civilizations?


Trade over water also developed. Merchant ships now carried goods across seas and rivers. With all this travel, people of many different cultures came into contact with one another. New tools and ideas from one society soon spread to other societies as people traded information along with goods.

Social Classes Develop Growing trade links brought new prosperity to the cities. Prosperity led to another major change in society—the development of social classes. A social class is a group of people having similar backgrounds, incomes, and ways of living.

In the large cities, the king was the most powerful person. Next in importance were two classes of people. One class was made up of the priests of the city's religion. The other class was made up of nobles, who were government officials and military officers. Below them were the artisans, small traders, and merchants. Common workers and farmers were the lowest ranked free members of society.

Slaves, human beings owned as property by other people, formed a separate social class. Most slaves worked in cities, often as household servants and as laborers. Their status, or rank, was beneath that of free people.

Reading Check What skills and practices were important in the growth and spread of early civilizations?

Social Status

Ancient jewelry can provide clues to the social status of its owner or to the type of artisans in a society. The decorative bracelet above comes from the area of present-day Iran. Infer What does the bracelet tell us about the ancient society it came from?

Section 3 Assessment

Key Terms

Review the key terms at the beginning of this section. Use each term in a sentence that explains its meaning.

Target Reading Skill

What questions did you ask to help you learn or remember something about this section?

Comprehension and Critical Thinking


(a) Describe How did people's lives change when they began to produce their own food?

(b) Identify Effects What effects did food surpluses have on people and populations?


(a) Recall What resources were necessary for villages to grow into cities?

(b) Compare and Contrast What were the similarities and differences between villages and cities?


(a) Name What developments occurred as societies grew into civilizations?

(b) Draw Conclusions How did prosperity lead to the development of social classes?

Writing Activity

Suppose you are an early trader bringing tools and weapons made of bronze to people who have never seen bronze before. Write a speech in which you try to persuade these people to trade for your bronze goods.

Writing Tip Write an opener for your speech that will grab the listener's attention. Write a list of reasons why bronze tools are better than tools made of copper. Refer to this list when writing your speech.


Chapter 1

Review and Assessment

Chapter Summary

Section 1: Geography and History

• The study of tools, bones, and other objects can help to explain prehistoric life.

• The development of writing marks a turning point in the story of our past.

• The geography of a place can explain why historic events happened there.

Section 2: Prehistory

• During the Old Stone Age, our ancestors survived by hunting animals and gathering plant foods.

• Gradually, our ancestors moved from Africa and spread out over much of Earth.

• During the New Stone Age, some people began to farm and to domesticate animals.

Section 3: The Beginnings of Civilization

• The advantage of a steady food supply helped early farming settlements to prosper.

• Farming settlements grew into cities because of their geographical locations.

• The first civilizations developed in cities and spread with the help of trade.

Camel caravan

Reviewing Key Terms

Fill in the blanks in Column I using the key terms from Column II.

Column I

1. Stories passed down by word of mouth are _____.

2. The _____ was the earliest known period of human culture.

3. Human ancestors learned how to _____ , or tame, animals.

4. Making items such as baskets, jewelry, and pottery is the job of a(n) _____.

5. A society that has cities, a central government, and specialized workers is a(n) _____.

6. _____ is the period of time before writing was developed.

Column II



oral traditions


Stone Age





Comprehension and Critical Thinking


(a) Identify What is the difference between history and prehistory?

(b) Explain How can we learn about human ancestors who lived before written history?

(c) Draw Inferences Suppose that large, heavy spear points are found at a prehistoric site. What might they tell us about the human ancestors who once lived there?


(a) Describe How did early humans find food during the Old Stone Age?

(b) Make Generalizations What characterized the Old Stone Age, the Middle Stone Age, and the New Stone Age?

(c) Sequence What is the connection between farming and the growth of early cities?


(a) Recall What survival skills did our human ancestors learn throughout the Stone Age?

(b) Identify Effects How did the discovery of the use of fire affect our human ancestors?

(c) Identify Causes What developments allowed early nomads to move from Africa to many parts of the world?


(a) Recall Describe aspects of the earliest cities.

(b) Explain How did cities benefit from a central government?

(c) Draw Conclusions What was the relationship between government and the social classes of early civilizations?

Skills Practice

Using Timelines In the Skills for Life activity in this chapter, you learned how to use a timeline to gain a better understanding of a certain time period. You then created your own timeline. Review the steps you follow for this skill and study the timeline on page 13. Then reread Chapter 1 looking for events that fit within the timeline span. Redraw the timeline with the additional events.

Writing Activity: Science

Form conclusions the way archaeologists do. Choose a place you know well, such as your classroom. Then, pick two or three objects found there and make detailed notes on them. What do your notes tell you about the people who use the objects?


Standardized Test Prep

Test-Taking Tips

Some questions on standardized tests ask you to analyze a reading passage for causes and effects. Read the paragraph below. Then follow the tips to answer the sample question.

The Sumer civilization arose in the region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Similarly, early Egyptian civilization developed along the Nile River. Ancient China had its origins along the Huang River. A fresh water supply and rich soil made these river valleys "cradles of civilization."

TIP Identify the main idea, or most important point, as you read a paragraph or passage.

TIP Restate this as a question: Which effect was the author writing about?

Pick the letter that best completes the statement.

The author wrote this passage to give information about the effect of

A geography on early civilizations.

B agriculture on early civilizations.

C geography on the economies of early civilizations.

D migration on the environment.

Think It Through Start with the main idea: Early civilizations developed near rivers in many places. Keep the main idea in mind as you try to answer the question. Rivers are a part of geography, so you can eliminate B and D. Rivers do have an effect on economies, but the paragraph does not discuss that topic. The correct answer is A.

Practice Questions

Use the tips above and other tips in this book to help you answer the following questions.

1. Prehistory describes the time period before

A people existed.

B people used tools.

C clothes were made from animal skins.

D writing was invented.

2. During which time period did farming develop?

A prehistory

B the Old Stone Age

C the Middle Stone Age

D the New Stone Age
3. As food surpluses developed,

A population growth increased.

B towns grew into farming settlements.

C people left the cities.

D more artisans became farmers.
Read the passage below, and then answer the question that follows.

Oral history, while important, does not give an accurate history of a society. Stories may exaggerate or only focus on certain things. Archaeology is also incomplete. Bones and objects tell us only part of the story of the past. Any accurate history must take into account the written records of human life.

4. Which statement best reflects the main idea of the passage?

A Historians must have written records to fully understand the past.

B Written records are not very important.

C Written records are almost as important as stories and archaeology.

D Historians value oral stories the most.

Go Online


Use Web Code Iba-2103 for Chapter 1 self-test.


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