AN01a2_ Ch01: Humans Attempt to Control Nature
Timeline: ~10000 BP – 5500 BP (Neolithic Age)
FQ: How can people answer questions without books, modern machines, and the Internet?
Culture is a trait peculiar to humans. The archaeological record shows that pre-humans lived an existence where instinct, rather than culture, may have dominated daily routines. However, Homo Neanderthalensis exhibited traces of a developing cultural awareness in their burial sites that may reflect the early stages of cultural development in Homo Sapiens.
Initially, natural phenomena, like death, were inexplicable in a pre-scientific society. Over time, many other experiences, formerly unexplainable, came to be explained via the development of myths. The myths, along with rituals developed in tandem.
The revolution in food production establishes a foundation for early river valley civilizations. This ‘change’ is comprised of many other ‘small’ changes involving technology, animal domestication and transforming social roles. Among some of the smaller changes we would include: New and better stone tools, Use and improvement of metal tools, Harnessing animal power, and Increasing social complexity.
I. Vocabulary (Refer to Crossword Puzzle Pu01a2)
The rapid advancement in the domestication and cultivation of crop plants during the Neolithic period. In addition, many animals were similarly domesticated at this time. Such advancements contributed to the abandonment of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle for an agrarian (sedentary) lifestyle.
II. Migrations from Africa and Development of Culture
A. Enroute to East Asia, Pre-Humans and Humans spread into Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia. (1) (2)
B. By ~50,000 BP, the Bering Straits is bridged by land exposed by lower global water levels (the polar ice caps fixed a greater volume of water than at the present.) Anatomically modern humans cross the straits into the Western hemisphere. (Homo Neanderthalensis became extinct in Asia by 50k BP, in Europe by ~40k BP) (3)
C. Glacial corridors allow human migration southward into the South American continent. (4)
III. Climate Change and New Tools Contribute to a Farming Lifestyle
A. Warmer + Drier = increased world food supply (Ice Age ends 18,000 BP + glaciers begin receding). Increased food supply as grasses populate open areas revealed by the retreating ice sheets. Three weeks of labor cultivating grains and other domesticated crops meets the calorie needs for one year.
B. Fertile Crescent: Nile, Tigris-Euphrates Rivers=> Wheat, Barley, Rye (~9000 BP)
– China: Huang He River=> millet (~8000 BP)
– Central Mexican Valley=> Corn (~9000 BP)
– Andes=> Potatoes (~7000 BP)
C. Population pressures [Increased food supply in environment = more people]
D. Domestication of animals [horses, dogs, sheep, goats, pigs- meat, milk, wool]
IV. The Transformation of Human Communities- The Revolution
The agricultural revolution had such a profound impact on society that many people call this era the “dawn of civilization.” During the same period that the plow was invented, the wheel, writing, and numbers were also invented. During this period, stratification became a major feature of social life. The elite gained control of surplus resources and defended their position with arms. This centralization of power and resources eventually led to the development of the state. As the rich and powerful developed statehood, they often used it to further consolidate their gains. These ‘revolutionary’ changes have left traces in the ruins of very early permanent settlements- Jericho and Catal Huyuk (8,000 – 10,000 BP).
V. Impact of the Neolithic Age
This age marked a ‘revolution’ in agriculture (which replaced hunter-gathering as the dominant source of calories) and culture. Many societal roles, especially those that would appear in the civilized societies of the ancient river valley peoples, have their origins in the developing agricultural communities of the Neolithic age. Men, for example, turn from ‘hunter’ to ‘farmer’. Women, who were previously responsible for a major portion of the family’s caloric intake as ‘gatherers’, are now increasingly relegated to duties in a confined area (home, garden, etc.). The pivotally important role of providing sustenance to the family has shifted toward the Man and away from the Woman. This shift in roles has many implications on other roles men and women fill in the developing ‘sedentary’ lives of agricultural communities.
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