CH2 Foundations of World
History: Prehistory-300 C.E.
Why is it called “Prehistory”?
Bell Ringer
• What is a nomad?
• What is a major benefit of farming?
• Can you name an empire?
Hunter-Gatherer Societies
• The earliest humans (2.5 Million years ago) were
Hunter-Gatherers and Nomads.
– Hunter-Gatherers: Human who subsisted (survived) by
hunting wild animals and gathering wild food
– Nomads: A group of people who move from place to
place following food supplies.
• This was an extremely simple lifestyle, and these
groups were self-sufficient (gathered what they
needed to survive)
• Despite being mobile and following animal herds
a number of hunter-gatherer groups maintained
“central places” they consistently returned to.
• Since most materials
from this time were
organic based they have
deteriorated over time.
• Stone has survived the
best, and artifacts can
still be found today.
• Art formed on stone has
also survived.
Stone Age Tools
• How is stone used as a tool?
– Smash Things
– Cut Things
– Dig
• Stone can be cracked and “shaped” to form an
edge that would be useful in many tasks.
• The Knowledge of how to make tools was
culturally transmitted.
From Hunting-Gathering to Farming
• Many hunter-gatherer groups were based on
kinship (family)
• While these groups could be about 30-50
people large and span up to 100 miles in size,
some groups became more developed.
• “Central Places” became almost permanent,
as all the resources they needed were near by.
• Food storage systems were developed
• Farming was developed
From Hunting-Gathering to Farming
• The large majority of early cultures developed
near or in river valleys.
• Some of the first
farmers began to
appear in the Fertile
Crescent. This is an
area of land found in
Southwest Asia,
between the Tigris
and Euphrates rivers.
• Part of the reason farming and living a
sedentary life became possible was because
of domestication.
– Sedentary: Settled, non-nomadic
– Domestication: A biological process in which the
physical characteristics of wild plants and animals
is changed as a result of human intervention
• Early farmers carefully selected and planted
grains and animals which they found
desirable. Over time these selected items
overtook the majority of other naturally found
items. (Grains)
• Though farming led to a more sedentary lifestyle,
some people still chose to be Pastoral Nomads.
– Pastoral Nomads: member of a group whose economy
revolves around its herd of domesticated animals, with
which the group periodically moves to find new grazing
• Agriculture would eventually spread from the
Fertile Crescent to Egypt , Europe, and India
through cultural diffusion.
– Cultural Diffusion: spread of ideas, inventions, or other
cultural elements from one society to another
• Agriculture appears to have risen independently in
China, the Americas, and Sub Saharan Africa.
Why did agriculture spread by cultural diffusion to Europe,
Egypt, and India, but develop independently in the
Americas, China, and Sub-Saharan Africa?
The Rise of Civilizations
• Civilizations: A highly organized and complex
• Why does farming lead to civilizations?
The Rise of Civilizations
• “Civilization suggests that there is in fact some
kind of Quantum Leap in complexity”
– Farming (Geography)
– Writing
– Industrial Production
– Higher grade metals
– Micro Chip
• Civilizations also had a Hierarchy: a ranking of
groups of people according to importance.
Why Civilizations arose
• Access to Water
– Access to water made it easier to farm, trade, and get water.
• Government
– As populations increase you need a way to control them. More
complex civilizations have bigger governments
• Defense
– Increase in size means increase in competition. Large
settlements could protect themselves
• Specialized Jobs
– Now that everyone didn’t need to farm to survive people could
go into other jobs: artisan, merchant, soldier, Government,
• Trade
– Specialized goods and surplus goods could be traded to other