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Human Origins & the Emergence of Human Communities, to 500 BCE. African Genesis: Interpreting the Evidence. In 1859, Charles Darwin published, On the Origin of Species -species evolve by natural selection African origins suggested by discovery of Australopithecus africanus , 1924

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Human Origins & the Emergence of Human Communities, to 500 BCE


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    1. Human Origins & the Emergence of Human Communities, to 500 BCE

    2. African Genesis: Interpreting the Evidence • In 1859, Charles Darwin published, On the Origin of Species-species evolve by natural selection • African origins suggested by discovery of Australopithecus africanus, 1924 • Archaeological evidence, understanding evolution of other species & tracing human genetic code backwards has helped scientists track evolution of human beings over 5 million years • Australopithecus africanus • First pre-human ancestors discovered • it had many features intermediate between apes & humans

    3. Human Evolution • Australopithecines & modern humans are hominids-members of primate family • Distinguished by three characteristics: bipedalism, large brain& larynx low in neck • Hominids gained advantages during climate changes • More climate changes 2-3 million years ago caused evolution of Homo habilis-brain 50 % larger • By 1 million years ago, Homo habilis& all australopithecines extinct • Replaced by Homo erectus (1.7 million years ago), then Homo sapiens (400,000 to 100,000 years ago) • Genetic evidence suggests further development emerged around 50,000 years ago (capacity for speech)

    4. Migrations from Africa • Low sea levels associated w/ Ice Age allowed Homo erectus & Homo sapiens to migrate from Africa to Europe & Asia • Homo sapiens migrated from Africa (40,000 years ago) & crossed land bridge to Americas during last glacial period (32,000–13,000 years ago) • Low sea levels allowed Homo sapiens to reach Japan &New Guinea/Australia • Minor physical evolutionary changes (skin color) • Humans adapted to new environments through process of technological adaptation

    5. Ice Age: Food Gathering & Stone Tools • Stone Age (2 million-4,000 years ago) • Paleolithic (Old Stone Age—to 10,000 years ago) • Neolithic (New Stone Age) • Paleolithic -stone tools used to scavenge meat from dead animals & hunt • Homo sapiens very good hunters –probably caused extinction of mastodons & mammoths 11,000 years ago • Stone Agers foraged vegetable foods more than meat • Human use of fire traced to 1.5 million years ago-conclusive evidence of cooking (clay pots) only found 12,500 years ago

    6. Gender Roles & Social Life • Slow maturation rate of human infants & ability of adults to mate any time are thought to be causes of development of two-parent family (characteristic of hominids) • Women gathered food, cooked, child-care • Men mainly hunted • Hunter-gatherers lived in small groups-migrated regularly to follow game animals & to take advantage of seasonal variations in ripening of foraged foods

    7. Hearths & Cultural Expressions • Migrating hunter-gatherers lived in camps; used natural or temporary shelters • Permanent fishing communities made more solid structures • Clothing of animal skins sewn together w/ vegetable fiber & rawhide cords • Hunter-gatherers spent 3-5 hrs a day on food, clothing & shelter- left time for cultural activities like gathering, organizing, passing on information, art & religion • Cave art suggests Ice Age people had complex religion • Burial sites indicate belief in afterlife

    8. Neolithic Revolution:From the Origins of Agriculture to the First River-Valley Civilizations

    9. Agricultural Revolution: Domestication of Plants & Animals • Occurred independently worldwide at different rates--Caused by climate change • Transition occurred first in Middle East, but also Eastern Sahara, Nile Valley, Greece, Central Europe • Early farmers practiced swidden agriculture, changed fields when fertility declined • Environments dictated choice of crops. • Mediterranean = Wheat & barley -South & SE Asia = Rice -Equatorial W. Africa = Yams • Sub-Saharan Africa = Sorghum, millet -Americas = Maize, potatoes, quinoa, manioc

    10. Domesticated Animals & Pastoralism • Domestication of animals proceeded at same time as plants • Hunters first domesticated dogs; sheep & goats were later domesticated for meat, milk, wool • Animals pulled plows; supplied manure for fertilizer • Two exceptions to pattern of • Americas: no animals suitable for domestication except llamas, guinea pigs, & some fowl; hunting remained main source of meat; humans main source of labor power • Arid parts of Central Asia & Africa: environment not appropriate for settled agriculture; pastoralists herded cattle or other animals from one grazing area to another

    11. Agriculture & Ecological Crisis • Humans transitioned to agricultural or pastoralist economies because global warming (6000-2000 B.C.E.) brought environmental changes-reduced game & wild foods • Agricultural revolution increased world’s human population—from 10 million in 5000 b.c.e. -100 million in 1000 b.c.e.

    12. Life in Neolithic Communities:Cultural Expressions • Early food producers worshiped ancestral & nature spirits centered on sacred groves, springs, wild animals; deities such as Earth Mother & Sky God • Early societies used megaliths (big stones) to construct burial chambers & calendar circles to aid astronomical observations • Expansion of food-producing societies reflected in patterns of language groups dispersed around Eastern Hemisphere; Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, & Afro-Asiatic

    13. Early Towns & Specialists • Most people lived in villages, but in some places, the environment supported growth of towns; more elaborate dwellings, facilities for surplus food storage& communities of specialized craftspeople • Two best-known examples of Neolithic towns are: • Jericho-west bank of Jordan River; walled w/mud-brick structures; dates to 8000 B.C.E. • ÇatalHüyük- central Turkey, dates to 7000–5000 b.c.e.

    14. CatalHuyuk • Center for obsidian trade; craftspeople produced pottery, baskets, woolen cloth, beads, leather & wood products • No evidence of dominant class or centralized political leadership • Art reflects fascination with hunting, but agriculture was mainstay of economy • Flourishing religion involved offerings of food; may have centered on worship of goddess & administered by priestesses • Remains include decorative, ceremonial objects made of copper, lead, silver, gold; • tools/weapons continued to be made from stone

    15. What is significance of Jericho & CatalHuyuk? • Emerging social organization; food producers supported nonproducing specialists; priests & craftspeople • Labor mobilized for nonproductive projects; defensive walls, megalithic structures & tombs • Don’t know if labor was free or coerced

    16. Discussion Questions • How did the physical and cultural characteristics of hominids change over time, and how do scientists document and explain these changes? • How have changes in the environment influenced the physical development of the human species? • What is culture? Do environmental conditions and changes in the techniques of production have an effect on culture? If so, how? • What effects did the agricultural revolutions have on Neolithic societies? • What were women’s roles in the first 4 million years of human history? What evidence can we find that might give us some indications of what women’s roles may have been? Does the evidence indicate how women’s roles may have changed over time? How and why might such change have occurred?

    17. Civilization Emerges

    18. Mesopotamia: Settled Agriculture in an Unstable Landscape Agriculture difficult-relied on irrigation • little rainfall • rivers flood at wrong time for grain • rivers changed course • warm climate & good soil • 3000 bceirrigation canals constructed • Draft animals :cattle & donkeys, later camels & horses • No significant wood, stone, or metal resources • Sumerians earliest people-creators of Mesopotamian cultural achievements • 2000 bce, Sumerians supplanted by Semitic-speaking peoples who dominated & intermarried w/ Sumerians-preserved Sumerian culture Fertile Crescent

    19. Standard of Ur What elements of civilization can you see here? What does this artifact reveal about Sumerian culture?

    20. Mesopotamia: Cities, Kings, Trade • Villages & cities linked by mutual interdependence • Peasants produced food fornonproducing urban elites & craftspeople • Cities provided military protection, markets, & specialist-produced goods • City States- • city & its agricultural land • sometimes fought over resources-water & land; sometimes cooperated • Trade flourished • mobilized human resources to open new farmland & to build/maintain irrigation systems • Construction of irrigation systems required organization of large labor pool • Two centers of power: temples & palaces • Temples were landholders-priests controlled considerable wealth • religious power predates secular power of palaces

    21. Mesopotamian Politics • Decentralized, autonomous city-states • Secular leadership“bigmen” (lugal), originally military leaders • The Epic of Gilgamesh-secular , semi-divine power • Frequent conflicts/conquests • Akkadian state, Sargon of Akkad-Empire Builder • Hammurabi’s Law Code reveals social organization & unequal punishments • Essential resources obtained by territorial expansion & through long-distance trade

    22. Mesopotamian Economy • Fundamentally agricultural • needed resources- obtained by territorial expansion & through long-distance trade • Economy sacred-dependent on divine power • Merchants originally employed by temples or palaces; later, private merchants emerged • Trade carried out through barter or traded for fixed weights of precious metal or measurements of grains

    23. Mesopotamian Society • Patterned on a plan of the gods • Stratified somewhat fluid society • Hierarchy associated w/ economic activity & rank/power • Elites=administrators, priests controlled land as part of duties • Commoners owned small garden plots-dependent on state in return for labor • Artisans/craftsmen worked mainly for “the state” • Slaves-not essential to economy-war captives or debts

    24. Women in Mesopotamia • Women lost social status w/ dependence on agriculture • own property • maintain control of dowry • trade • work outside home • status declined further in 2nd millennium • Rise of urbanized middle class-laws favored husbands • Women preserved or increased wealth • Some given to temple deity

    25. Mesopotamian Religion • Religion was syncretic blend of Sumerian & later Semitic beliefs & deities • Polytheistic, anthropomorphic-human emotions, capricious, undependable • Each city had it’s own guardian deity • Empire building elevated some deities to greater prominence • Humans were servants of gods-complex, specialized hereditary priesthood served gods • Temples were walled compounds containing religions & functional buildings • Most visible part of temple compound was ziggurat • Little knowledge of beliefs & religious practices of common people • Evidence indicates a popular belief in magic used to influence gods

    26. Mesopotamian Technology & Science • Technology: “specialized knowledge used to transform natural environment & human society.” • irrigation systems & nonmaterial specialized knowledge such as religious lore, ceremony, writing systems • Cuneiform: • evolved from using pictures to represent sounds of words or parts of words • complex, required hundreds of signs- monopolized by scribes • Developed to write Sumerian but later used to write Akkadian & other Semitic & non-Semitic languages • Used to write economic, political, legal, literary, religious, & scientific texts

    27. Mesopotamian Technology & Science • Irrigation, transportation (boats, barges& donkeys) • bronze metallurgy, brick making, engineering • Military technology-paid, full-time soldiers; horses; horse-drawn chariot; bow & arrow; & siege machinery • numbers (base-60 system)-advances in mathematics & astronomy

    28. Egypt:“Gift of the Nile” • Defined by Nile River-narrow green strip of arable land on either side of its banks, & fertile Nile delta area • “Red land” = desert • “Black Land” = cultivated • Upper Egypt=along the southern part of Nile as far south as the First Cataract • Lower Egypt=northern delta area • Climate good for agriculture-little or no rainfall • Farmers depended on river for irrigation

    29. Egypt: “Gift of the Nile” • Nile floods beneficial • Predictable, & at right time • Rich deposit of silt • Provided “season”s • inspired orderly view of universe • Other natural resources: • reeds (papyrus for writing) • wild animals • birds & fish • plentiful building stone & clay • access to copper & turquoise from desert • gold from Nubia

    30. Egyptian Politics: Divine Kingship • Evolved from pattern of small states ruled by local kings-emerged into large, unified Egyptian state around 3100 b.c.e. • Organized into thirty dynasties: three longer periods: Old, Middle, New Kingdoms • divided by periods of political fragmentation & chaos • Kings (pharaohs) dominated Egyptian state- gods come to earth-ensured welfare & prosperity of people-maintain Ma’at(truth, order, justice, harmony, law, morality) • Death of pharaoh beginning of journey back to gods • Funeral rites & preservation of body important to maintain Ma’at • Early pharaohs buried in flat-topped rectangular tombs-stepped pyramid tombs appeared about 2630 bce& smooth-sided pyramids later • Great pyramids at Giza constructed 2550-2490 bce(Old Kingdom period only) • Constructed w/ stone tools & simple lever, pulley & rollers-required substantial resources & labor

    31. Egyptian Politics: Administration &Communication • central administration through system of provincial & village bureaucracies • Bureaucrats kept track of land, labor, taxes, people; collected resources • Supported central government institutions- palace, bureaucracy & army & maintain temples, construct monuments • Two writing systems: hieroglyphics & cursive • Papyrus- used for religious & secular literature &record keeping • Tensions between central & local government were constant • When central power was predominant, provincial officials were appointed & promoted by central government on merit • When central power was weak, provincial officials become autonomous- made positions hereditary-buried in own districts rather than near tomb of king

    32. Egypt: Administration & Communication • More rural than Mesopotamia • had cities, but haven’t been excavated-know little about urban life • regarded all foreigners as enemies, but desert nomad neighbors posed no serious military threat • more interested in acquiring resources than in acquiring territory; resources acquired through trade • Egypt traded directly with the Levant & Nubia- indirectly with Punt (probably part of modern Somalia) • Exports-papyrus, grain, gold • Imports-incense, Nubian gold, Lebanese cedar, tropical African ivory, ebony, animals

    33. Egyptian Economy • Agricultural • Self-sufficient • Small businesses, factories • Heavy taxes, high interest rates • traded directly w/ Levant & Nubia- indirectly with Punt (probably part of modern Somalia) • Exports-papyrus, grain, gold • Imports-incense, Nubian gold, Lebanese cedar, tropical African ivory, ebony, animals

    34. People of Egypt • Population of about 1 to 1.5 million physically heterogeneous people, some dark-skinned-some lighter-skinned • Divided into several social strata: (1) the king & high-ranking officials; (2) lower-level officials, local leaders and priests, professionals, artisans, well-off farmers; and (3) peasants, the majority of the population • Peasants lived in villages, cultivated the soil- paid taxes, provided labor service • Women subordinate- engaged in domestic activities • Had right to hold, inherit & will property • Retained rights over their own dowry after divorce • More rights than Mesopotamian women • Slavery less harsh than elsewhere-not essential

    35. Egypt: Belief and Knowledge • Based on a cyclical view of nature • Two most significant gods-sun-god Re & Osiris, god of the Underworld, who was killed, dismembered & then restored to life, represented renewal & life after death • Kings-identified with Re & Horus, son of Osiris- served as chief priests • large amount of wealth spent constructing fabulous temples • Temple activities included regular offerings to gods & great festivals

    36. Egypt: Belief and Knowledge • Belief in afterlife inspired mummification-provided knowledge of chemistry anatomy • Tombs pictures/artifacts provide extensive information about daily life • Tombs built in desert avoided wasting arable land-reflected social status of deceased • Mathematics, astronomy, calendar making, irrigation, engineering/architecture, & transportation technology

    37. Indus Valley Civilization • Central part of Indus Valley area is Sind region of modern Pakistan • Adjacent related areas included Hakra River (now dried up), the Punjab & Indus delta region • Indus carries silt- floods regularly twice a year • Access to river water for irrigation allowed farmers in Indus Valley region to produce two crops a year despite sparse rainfall

    38. Indus Valley: Material Culture • flourished from 2600 to 1900 bce • Harappa (3½ miles in circumference, population about 35,000) • Mohenjo-Daro (several times larger) • Surrounded by brick walls, streets laid out in grid pattern-supplied w/ covered drainage systems to carry away waste • remains of citadel-center of authority, storehouses for grain, barracks for artisans • controlled surrounding farmland • Harappa located on frontier between agricultural land & pastoral economies-may have been a nexus of trade in copper, tin, & precious stones from NW • High degree of standardization in city planning • Some scholars argue was result of extensive trade within the region rather than the existence of authoritarian central government

    39. Indus Valley • Better access to metal than Egyptians & Mesopotamians-artisans created utilitarian & luxury items • Extensive irrigation systems, potter’s wheel, kiln-baked bricks & bronze metallurgy • Extensive trade w/ NW- Iran, Afghanistan & even Mesopotamia • We know little of the identity, origins, or fate of people of Indus Valley • Writing system has not been deciphered

    40. Why did Indus Valley Collapse? • Former Theory-Indus Valley cities abandoned around 1900 bce–due to invasion • Current theory-decline due to breakdown caused by natural disasters & ecological change • Agricultural production declined • Hakra River-dried up, salinization, erosion • When urban centers collapsed, so did way of life of elites-peasants probably adapted & survived

    41. Conclusions Political & Economic Comparisons • Mesopotamia, Egypt, & Indus Valley all developed along river systems where they were assured an adequate water supply for agriculture • They all developed political structures for organization of labor to provide irrigation systems • Kingship developed as the political leadership system of both Egypt & Mesopotamia-Egypt’s kings were believed to be divine in origin, while Mesopotamia’s rulers were not Religious & Cultural Comparisons • The predictable flooding of the Nile translated into a relatively optimistic outlook on the afterlife for Egyptians • In contrast, the unpredictable and violent flooding of the Tigris-Euphrates Basin gave Mesopotamians a more fearful expectation of their afterlife • All three civilizations developed architectural techniques for building large structures • Egyptian women appear to have enjoyed more equality in society than did Mesopotamian women

    42. Discussion Questions 1. How did differences in the environment and geographical location affect the development of these three early civilizations? 2. What evidence do you see here of interaction between these civilizations and other peoples (including interaction among the three civilizations themselves)? How important do you think that interaction with other peoples was for the development of these three civilizations? 3. What demands arose for these civilizations that led to their technological advancements? 4. What factors might explain the rise and decline of civilizations in general and of these particular civilizations? 5. How do the religious beliefs and world-views in Mesopotamia and Egypt reflect the relationships between the environment and the people of these civilizations? 6. What is the connection between knowledge and power? How did writing play into this relationship?