Chapter 1—First Peoples: Populating the Planet, to 10,000 b c. e. Chapter 2—First Farmers: The Revolutions of Agriculture, 10,000 b c. e.–3000 b c. e. Chapter 3—First Civilizations: Cities, States, and Unequal Societies, 3500 b c

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Part One

First Things First

Beginnings in History, to 500 b.c.e.

Chapter 1—First Peoples: Populating the Planet, to 10,000 b.c.e.

Chapter 2—First Farmers: The Revolutions of Agriculture, 10,000 b.c.e.–3000 b.c.e.

Chapter 3—First Civilizations: Cities, States, and Unequal Societies, 3500 b.c.e.–500 b.c.e.

Outline: The Big Picture: Turning Points in Early World History

I. The Emergence of Humankind

A. Most scholars in the post-Darwinian world regard human beginnings in the context of biological change.

1. archeologists and anthropologists believe that the lines of descent leading to Homo sapiens and chimpanzees diverged around 5 million–6 million years ago

2. hominid family emerged in eastern and southern Africa, with 20–30 different related species

a. they were bipedal (walked on two legs)

B. The hominids developed over time.

1. brain size increased

2. around 2.3 million years ago, Homo habilis began to use stone tools

3. by 1 million years ago, some hominid species, especially Homo erectus, began to migrate from Africa

a. knew how to use fire

C. Of the hominid species, only Homo sapiens still survives.

1. emerged in Africa around 250,000 years ago; around 100,000 years ago began to migrate beyond Africa

II. The Globalization of Humankind

A. Initial migrations from Africa took place in the Paleolithic Era.

1. gatherers and hunters

2. Paleolithic era continued until around 11,000 years ago

a. the Paleolithic era accounts for over 90 percent of human time on earth

b. accounts for about 12 percent of the total number of people who have lived

B. No other large species created homes in every environmental niche as Homo sapiens did.

1. slowly developed technology

2. slowly imposed meaning through art, ritual, and religion

III. The Revolution of Farming and Herding

A. 6.2 billion people in the world today; almost all live from domesticated plants and animals.

B. Domestication first occurred in several regions about 11,000 years ago.

1. it was the most significant and enduring transformation of humankind

2. provided the foundation for almost all subsequent change

3. the period from 11,000 years ago to around 1750 c.e. can be regarded as a single age—the age of agriculture

4. allowed for a large increase in the human population

C. Food production laid the foundation for enduring divisions within human communities.

1. some regions were luckier in terms of climate and plants/animals available for domestication

2. the Americas were disadvantaged by the lack of large animals to be domesticated

3. in the Afro-Eurasian world, conflicts between agriculturalists and pastoralists became an enduring pattern

IV. The Turning Point of Civilization

A. The most prominent human communities that emerged were “civilizations”: societies based in cities and governed by powerful states.

B. Almost everyone in the world now lives in a state with a formal political authority.

1. state-based societies give prominence to cities

2. around half of the world’s population now lives in urban centers

C. The first cities and states emerged around 3500 b.c.e.

1. state- and city-based societies have been the most powerful and innovative human communities

a. they have given rise to empires

b. they have created enduring cultural and religious traditions

c. they have created new technologies

d. they have bred sharp class inequalities, patriarchy, and large-scale warfare

V. A Note on Dates

A. A recent convention encourages dating by b.c.e. and c.e., not b.c. and a.d.

1. b.c.e. = before the Common Era = b.c. (before Christ)

2. c.e. = the Common Era = a.d. (Anno Domini, Latin for “year of the Lord”)

B. b.c.e./ c.e. dating is an effort to get away from Christian-centered and Eurocentric thinking.

C. Societies have reckoned time in many different ways.

1. China: dated by the reign of particular emperors

2. Muslim calendar: Year 1 marks Muhammad’s emigration to Medina in 622 c.e.



First Peoples

Populating the Planet, to 10,000 b.c.e.

Chapter Overview

Chapter Learning Objectives

• To familiarize students with the spread of human societies in the Paleolithic era

• To explore the conditions of life in gathering and hunting societies

• To examine factors that eventually led to change in the gathering and hunting societies

Chapter Outline

I. Opening Vignette

A. The Hazda of Tanzania are one of the last gathering and hunting societies on earth.

1. likely to disappear soon

2. will mark the end of what was universal human existence until 10,000–12,000 years ago

B. For 95 percent of human history, the means of life was gathering and hunting.

1. food collection, not food production

2. has been labeled “Paleolithic” (old stone age) era

C. It’s wrong to ignore the first 200,000 years of human experience.

1. archaeology reveals a great deal about these peoples

2. they settled the planet

3. they created the earliest human societies

4. they were the first to reflect on issues of life and death

II. Out of Africa to the Ends of the Earth: First Migrations

A. Homo sapiens emerged in eastern and southern Africa 250,000 years ago.

1. stayed there exclusively for about 150,000 years

2. Africa was home to the “human revolution,” in which culture became more important than biology in shaping human behavior

3. humans began to inhabit environments not touched by earlier hominids

4. technological innovation: use of stone and bone tools

5. hunting and fishing, not just scavenging

6. patterns of exchange

7. use of ornaments, perhaps planned burials

8. between 100,000-60,000 years ago: beginning of migrations out of Africa

a. adapted to nearly every environment on earth

b. much took place in the difficulties of the last Ice Age

B. Into Eurasia

1. humans started migrating into the Middle East around 51,000 years ago

2. the best evidence of early European settlement comes from southern France and northern Spain

a. settlers in northern Europe were pushed southward into warmer areas around 20,000 years ago

b. developed new hunting habits, new hunting technologies

3. the earliest Europeans left hundreds of cave paintings: depictions of animals and humans and abstract designs (maybe early form of writing)

4. development of new technologies in Ukraine and Russia

a. needles, multilayered clothing, weaving, nets, baskets, pottery, etc.

b. partially underground dwellings made from mammoth remains

c. suggests semipermanent settlement

d. creation of female figurines (“Venus figurines”); earliest dated at least 35,000 years ago

C. Into Australia

1. humans reached Australia about 60,000 years ago from Indonesia

2. very sparse settlement; estimated 300,000 people in 1788

3. development of some 250 languages

4. still completely a gathering and hunting economy when Europeans arrived in


5. complex worldview: the Dreamtime

a. stories, ceremonies, and art tell of ancestral beings

b. everything in the natural order is an echo of ancient happenings

c. current people are intimately related to places and events in past

6. major communication and exchange networks

a. included stones, pigments, wood, pituri (psychoactive drug)

b. also included songs, dances, stories, and rituals

D. Into the Americas

1. when settlement of the Americas began is still argued over (somewhere between 30,000 and 15,000 years ago)

a. mode of migration (Bering Strait or by sea down west coast of North America) also still argued about

b. how many migrations and how long they took also argued over

c. evidence of humans in southern Chile by 12,500 years ago

2. Clovis: the first clearly defined and widespread culture of the Americas

a. name comes from the Clovis point, a kind of projectile point

b. flourished 12,000–11,000 years ago

c. hunted large mammals (mammoths, bison)

d. disappeared about 10,900 years ago, at the same time as the extinction of a number of large mammals

3. next stage: much greater cultural diversity, as people adapted to the end of the Ice Age in different ways

E. Into the Pacific

1. the last phase of the great human migration, started ca. 3,500 years ago

2. migration by water from the Bismarck and Solomon islands and the Philippines

3. very quick migration over very long distances

4. migrants spoke Austronesian languages (can be traced to southern China)

5. settled every habitable area of the Pacific basin within 2,500 years

a. also settled the island of Madagascar

b. made Austronesian the most widespread language family

c. completed initial human settlement of the world ca. 900 c.e. with occupation of Aotearoa (New Zealand)

6. Pacific settlers

a. took agriculture with them, unlike other migrations

b. apparently followed a deliberate colonization plan

c. created highly stratified societies or chiefdoms (e.g., Hawaii)

d. massive environmental impact on previously uninhabited lands

III. The Ways We Were

A. The First Human Societies

1. societies were small, bands of 25–50 people

2. very low population density (because of available technology)

a. very slow population growth

b. perhaps 10,000 people in world 100,000 years ago

c. grew to 500,000 by 30,000 years ago

d. reached 6 million 10,000 years ago

3. Paleolithic bands were seasonally mobile or nomadic

a. moved in regular patterns to exploit wild plants and animals

b. since they moved around, they couldn’t accumulate goods

4. societies were highly egalitarian

a. perhaps the most free people in human existence

b. did not have specialists, so most people had the same skills

c. relationships between women and men were far more equal than in later societies

5. James Cook described the gathering and hunting peoples of Australia as tranquil and socially equal

6. Paleolithic societies had clearly defined rules

a. men hunted, women gathered

b. clear rules about distribution of meat from a kill

c. rules about incest and adultery

B. Economy and the Environment

1. gathering and hunting peoples used to be regarded as “primitive” and impoverished

a. modern studies point out that they worked fewer hours

b. wanted or needed little

c. but life expectancy was low (35 years on average)

2. alteration of natural environments

a. deliberately set fires to encourage growth of certain plants

b. extinction of many large animals shortly after humans arrived

c. gradual extinction of other hominids, like the Neanderthals (Europe) and Flores man (Indonesia)

C. The Realm of the Spirit

1. it is difficult to decipher the spiritual world of Paleolithic peoples

a. lack of written sources

b. art is subject to interpretation

c. contemporary gathering and hunting peoples may not reflect ancient experience

2. Paleolithic peoples had a rich ceremonial life

a. led by part-time shamans (people especially skilled at dealing with the spirit world)

b. frequent use of psychoactive drugs to contact spirits

3. apparent variety of beliefs

a. some societies were seemingly monotheistic

b. others saw several levels of supernatural beings

c. still others believed in an impersonal force running throughout the natural order

d. Venus figurines make some scholars think that Paleolithic religion was strongly feminine, with a great goddess

e. many peoples probably had a cyclical view of time

D. Settling Down: “The Great Transition”

1. gradual change as populations grew, climates changed, and peoples

2. collection of wild grains started in northeastern Africa around 16,000 years ago

3. last Ice Age ended 16,000–10,000 years ago

a. followed by a “global warming” period

b. richer and more diverse environment for human societies

c. population rise

d. beginnings of settlement

4. settlement led to societal change

a. larger and more complex societies

b. storage and accumulation of goods led to inequality

5. settling-down process occurred in many areas 12,000–4,000 years ago

a. Jomon culture in Japan

b. Scandinavia, Southeast Asia, North America, Middle East

c. bows and arrows were invented independently in Europe, Africa, and Middle East

6. the process of settlement was a major turning point in human history

IV. Comparing Paleolithic Societies

A. Both the San and the Chumash preserved their ancient way of life into modern times.

B. The San of Southern Africa

1. northern fringe of the Kalahari Desert (present-day Angola, Namibia, Botswana)

2. 50,000–80,000 San still live in the region

3. part of the Khoisan language family, inhabited southern Africa at least 5,000 years

a. gathering and hunting way of life, with stone tools

b. remarkable rock art, going back 26,000 years

c. most of the Khoisan peoples were absorbed or displaced by Bantu-speaking peoples

4. The San (Ju/’hoansi) still practiced their ancient life with few borrowings when anthropologists started studying them in the 1950s and 1960s

a. use some twenty-eight tools, including digging stick, leather garment for carrying things, knife, spear, bow and poisoned arrows, ropes, and nets

b. men hunt, women do most of gathering

c. adequate diet

d. short workweek, with even labor division between men and women

e. uncertain and anxious life, dependent on nature

5. San society characterized by mobility, sharing, and equality

a. basic unit is band of 10–30 people, connected to other bands

b. many people claimed membership in more than one band

c. frequent movement to new territory

d. no formal leaders, priests, or craft specialists

e. very complex social relations

f. high value given to modesty, cooperation, equality

g. e.g., “insulting the meat”: a hunter is expected to disparage his accomplishment

h. complex system of unequal gift exchange

6. relative equality between the sexes

a. free sex play between teenagers

b. most marriages are monogamous

c. frequent divorce among young couples

7. frequent conflict over distribution of meat; rivalries over women

8. belief system:

a. Creator god, Gao Na, is capricious

b. lesser god, Gauwa, is destructive but sometimes assists humans

c. gauwasi (spirits of dead ancestors) are most serious threat to human welfare

d. evil influences can be counteracted with n/um, a spiritual potency that can be activated in “curing dances”

e. state of warfare with the divine

C. The Chumash of Southern California

1. indicate a later Paleolithic stage than the San, with permanent villages

2. Chumash lived near present-day Santa Barbara, California

a. richer environment than the San

b. perhaps 20,000 when the Spaniards arrived in the sixteenth century

c. Chumash created new society after 1150 c.e. in response to violence and food shortages

3. central technological innovation: the planked canoe (tomol)

a. ability to make and own tomol led to social inequality

b. stimulated trade between the coast and islands

c. made deep-sea fishing possible

4. living conditions were more elaborate than the San

a. round, permanent, substantial houses (for up to 70 people)

b. a market economy, despite being gathering and hunting peoples

c. beginning of class distinctions (e.g., bearskin capes, burials)

d. emergence of a permanent, hereditary political elite

5. Chumash largely solved the problems of violence in the region

V. Reflections: The Uses of the Paleolithic

A. The study of history is about those who tell it today, not just about the past.

1. views of the past reflect our own smugness or disillusionment

2. Paleolithic era is sometimes regarded as a golden age

a. admired by feminists, environmentalists, antimaterialists

3. scholars have looked to the Paleolithic era in questioning explosive population and economic growth of recent past

4. gathering and hunting peoples of today have looked to Paleolithic era in an effort to maintain or recover their identities

B. A basic question: “What have we lost in the mad rush to modernity?”

C. Nobody can be completely detached when studying the past.

Lecture Strategies

Lecture Strategy 1: Looking at the ‘losers’: Neanderthals and other failed branches of the human bush

Anthropologists now regard the development of our species less as a family “tree” of evolution than as a family “bush” in which, at each level, several branches evolved independently in different regions. Two of the most fascinating of these dead-end branches are recent ones within the genus of Homo sapiens: the Neanderthals of Europe and the Near East and the recently discovered Flores man of Indonesia. This lecture strategy compares these Paleolithic peoples to the “winners”—Homo sapiens. Its objectives are:

• to explore the late stages of human evolution and speculate on why modern humans were the “winners”

• to introduce students to Neanderthals and Flores man

• to drive home the basic lesson of the fundamental similarities of all modern humans as members of the single species Homo sapiens

A good place to start is with the first discovery of Neanderthal fossils in the nineteenth century and the endless debate the discovery caused in scientific circles. The lecture will probably focus on Neanderthal/modern human interaction, since material on the Neanderthals is more readily available than material on Flores man.

Other points to consider in a possible lecture are:

• the habitat of the Neanderthals (much of Europe and the Near East)

• how Neanderthals (and Flores man) are different from our modern species (be sure to read recent materials; recent discoveries conclude that Neanderthals were probably fully capable of speech)

• discussion of the significance of those differences

• the nature of Neanderthal life, comparing it to that of “Cro-Magnon man” (modern humans)—you won’t find much difference between the two

• the long cohabitation of Neanderthals and modern humans

• discussion of what the existence of Neanderthals and Flores man can teach us about human evolution and early human societies

Lecture Strategy 2: The world of the last Ice Age

The purpose of this lecture strategy is to explore in greater detail the challenges that faced human beings as they migrated in the conditions of the last Ice Age and how they overcame those challenges. Its objectives are to:

• teach students about the Ice Age, including presentation of the natural warming and cooling trends of the planet

• discuss what it meant that the earth had an Ice Age—the geographical, biological, and human effects

• present early human beings as problem solvers who managed to survive and adapt themselves to Ice Age environmental challenges

A good place to begin is with a map that shows the extent of the last Ice Age (readily available on the Internet). Go over the main species extinctions that occurred with the changing climate, how glaciation shaped much of the landscape, and the land bridges that were created by the lower sea level of the period. Then back up and discuss the earth’s natural pattern of warming and cooling (this is of course a good place to bring up the current global-warming trend and why scientists think it is different than the natural cycles of the past). From there, go on to consider humans and the Ice Age. Some points to include are:

• the need for teamwork in hunting large mammals (mammoths, bison)

• what sort of tools or weapons would have been developed to deal with the challenges

• the more pressing need for shelter (whether people in this age were really “cavemen,” and the other sorts of shelters they created)

• the need for clothing (and thus for means to fasten animal hides around themselves with fastening pins or sewing)

• what sort of adaptation must have taken place when the Ice Age ended

Lecture Strategy 3: How do we know? Digging up Homo sapiens

Many world civ. classes start with human evolution. While this text begins (rather more logically) with the Paleolithic era, this lecture strategy is an opportunity to give a brief overview of evolution, while keeping the focus on the modern human species. This lecture strategy’s objectives are:

• to examine how we know what we know about Paleolithic communities—what archaeology has discovered and the problems of interpretation

• to explore the evolution of modern Homo sapiens and how the process of discovering earlier hominid species provoked a firestorm of debate about human origins that continues today.

The story of how archaeologists discovered human origins is an exciting one, and can be told in two basic ways: (1) chronologically by human species, thus starting with early australopithicenes and working your way to modern Homo sapiens; or (2) chronologically by discovery, starting with the discovery of the Neanderthal in 1856 and how that find provoked a search for human origins that is still turning up interesting discoveries today.

Especially when it comes to the Paleolithic era, images will come in handy to encourage discussion of how scholars have interpreted human artifacts. Some images to consider are:

• a typical Paleolithic tool—often indistinguishable from a rock, except to professionals

• an “advanced” Paleolithic tool—one that shows clear signs of human shaping

• a burial layout, showing careful positioning of the body, perhaps covered with ochre

• Paleolithic ornaments—beads, shells with a hole bored for hanging, etc.

• an image of a reconstructed hut made of mammoth bones and tusks

• the Willendorf Venus or another of the early Venus figurines

• cave art, such as that painted at Lascaux or Chauvet

Arm yourself with some of the current scholarly views on the meaning of these artifacts, and then encourage a discussion among the students about their meaning.

It may be useful to refer to the chapter’s visual sources feature in your lecture.

Things to Do in the Classroom

Discussion Topics

1. Misconception/Difficult Topic, large or small group. “Cavemen dragged women around by their hair.”

This would have just hurt and is a rather silly image perpetrated by cartoons. Encourage students to discuss why this hairy, grunting, dominant caveman image might have come about and why it is still popular. Students should be encouraged in this way to consider modern stereotypes and what they have to say about contemporary society. Some questions to ask:

• What contemporary images have you seen of grunting cavemen waving clubs, dragging women around, etc.?

• What were the contexts of those images? What point was the creator or creators of those images trying to make?

• Is there any evidence that Paleolithic humans actually behaved that way? What evidence is there that they didn’t?

2. Comparison, large or small group. “Why were Paleolithic women relatively equal?”

The starting point for this discussion is biology: the average woman is simply not as strong as the average man. Yet modern scholars believe that the Paleolithic era was a golden age of relative equality for women. Ask students to discuss the reasons for this equal status and to consider its limitations.

3. Contextualization, large or small group. “The best sort of Paleolithic.”

Ask students to discuss the following question: Would you rather be a member of the San or the Chumash? Why?

Classroom Activities

1. Map analysis, large or small group. “Tracing human migrations.” Using either a modern physical map or a map that shows the extent of the last Ice Age, ask students to trace out the probable lines of human migration from Africa. Emphasize the role of land bridges and where they lay during the Ice Age.

2. Role-playing exercise, small group. “Paleolithic life.” Divide the class into small groups, each of which is a Paleolithic band. Ask each group to pick a climate area and to decide what items they absolutely need for survival.

3. Clicker question. Would you like living in a Paleolithic society?

Key Terms

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