Climate, Geography and Empires
6000 BCE- 650 CE
Big Geography & the Peopling of
the Earth
Neolithic Overview:
A. Early migrations (Discover Magazine
B. Agricultural Revolution –and the resulting
communities that develop
C. Climate changes
D. Tools
E. Religion
F. Limited Trade
Neolithic Age?
The Neolithic or New Stone Age (roughly 8000-3500BCE) is characterized by the
movement away from a hunter-gatherer, nomadic lifestyle towards an agricultural
lifestyle. During this time period we see the origins of farming and domestication of
animals, which is often referred to as the Neolithic Revolution (though agricultural
revolution may be more appropriate).
These innovations produced the food surpluses and rising populations that made
possible the founding of cities and the increasing specialization of occupations within
human societies.
Soon after the introduction of agriculture, societies in the Middle East began
replacing stone tools with those made of metal—first copper, then bronze. These new
tools improved agriculture, aided in warfare, and benefited manufacturing artisans.
Early Migration
A. Who?
B. Why?
The Fertile Crescent and the Birth
of Farming
Dark Green: By 8,000 years ago
Light Green: By 6,000 years ago
Red Dots: Early agricultural settlements
Orange lined area: Distribution of Wild cereals
White diagonal lines: Distribution of: Wild sheep
and goats
A. Origins of the term:
B. Standard Criteria?
C. Problems?
Historians and anthropologist have noted several
problems with the term civilization. First of all, it tends to
be used in an ethnocentric way; in other words, it is used
to assign to others an inferior status. For example, the
Chinese of the Han dynasty thought all others in the world
were uncivil barbarians; likewise, from the Spartans to
Nazi Germany, designating others as less than civilized
was often a pretense for conquering or destroying them.
Secondly, the term marginalizes (excludes) other people
who have made important contributions to history. For
example, nomadic people are responsible for the diffusion
of some of the most important technologies in history, but
most accepted forms of the term civilization exclude them.
From ancient times up to today, some peoples have
seen themselves as “civilized” and dismissed or
criticized their neighbors, or any people unfamiliar
to them, as barbarians.” Another problem is that
modern historians may focus too much on societies
such as Egypt, that left more of an archaeological
and written record, giving lesser attention to those
societies that did not… the term is too subjective to
have much value in understanding world history, and
many historians refuse to use it altogether. It is
not used in this text.
Craig A. Lockard, Societies, Networks, and Transitions: A Global History, pg. 26
Impact of Agricultural Societies on
Irrigation Salinization of soil
Slash and burn  desertification
Population increase
Impact of Agricultural Society on social
interaction and social stratification
Increased labor specialization
Increased work-load!!! Especially for children!
Increased conflict over resources, labor, and luxury
items with new technologies
Social stratification (socio-economic classes
“Civilization” with urban areas, specialized
institutions, military, religious, social and political
hierarchies, long distance trade, economic (as well
as ideas, inventions and germs) exchanges between
local and regional, as well as nomadic pastoralists and
settled peoples.
Impact of Agricultural Society on
Gender Roles
A. How might gender roles change as people stop
their nomadic lifestyles and become
Early Neolithic horticulturalists: shared
responsibility women farmed with the help of her
children, men hunted, then helped at home.
With population growth and expansion, military
became more important and women increasingly
were viewed by society as inferior.
goddesses lost out to gods
Family line through the father (patrilineal) instead of
through the mother (matrilineal)
Patriarchy in early societies(Code of Hammurabi)
A. Demography: The study of population
size, growth and age structure, and of
the forces (fertility, mortality, migration)
that lead to population change.
B. What factors may influence population
growth and decline?
Climate and Geography
A. Imagine how early societies may have
been affected.
B. How do you think early peoples
C. What difference would geography make
in the long term development of a
Development of States and
A. Competition for resources
B. Expansion
C. State legitimacy including unity building
D. Military growth
Emergence of Trans-regional Networks
of Communication and Change
A. Increase of long distance trade amongst
large scale empires
B. Raw materials and luxury goods
C. Exchanges of technology, religious and
cultural beliefs, food crops, domesticated
animals and disease
Early Societies
Mesoamerica and Andean South
America (Olmec and Chavin)
Civilizations: A Comparative Study
(Kevin Reilly: Cities and Civilization)
A. Mesopotamia
Irregular flooding
A. Egypt
Predictable flood
Axial Age Thinkers
Origins of World Belief Systems
A. Polytheism
Origins of World Belief Systems
A. Hinduism
Origins of World Belief Systems
A. Judaism
Origins of World Belief Systems
A. Confucianism
Origins of World Belief Systems
A. Daoism
Origins of World Belief Systems
A. Buddhism
Origins of World Belief Systems
A. Christianity
Diffusion of Belief Systems
Empire Building
A. What does an empire require?
B. What do its subjects expect?
C. Symbols of legitimacy
Empires: A Comparison
A. Rome
A. Han
Fall of Empires: “Catastrophe”
A. Why?
B. Do we see commonalities? Or do
different empires fall for different
Imperial Achievements
Alexander the Great
Interregional Networks of People
by 600 C.E.
A. Silk Roads
B. Mediterranean trade
C. Indian Ocean trade
Silk Routes
Mediterranean Trade Routes
Indian Ocean Trade