Download Reader 1 - Development of Civilizations

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Due: 8/2/2016
Using a dictionary or the
textbook, write the word
with its corresponding
definition in your
1. artifact
2. archeology
3. anthropology
4. homo sapien
5. nomad
6. domestication
7. civilization
8. Paleolithic
9. Neolithic
Culture. Community. Civilization. All of these describe certain people-groups, but what
is the difference between each of these ideas? And what does a people-group have to
become in order to be considered a civilization? As we study the history of the World,
we must determine the make-up of different lands and people-groups in order to
determine the level of influence each has had on the development of the world.
Anthropologists disagree with the definition of each of these ideas, however, there are
certain markers that help us categorize differing people-groups.
At the first level, we define society as “a structured community of people bound
together by similar traditions, institutions, or nationality.” This is broad, and could
include large nations or even groups of just a few people.
Hunter-Gatherers, nomadic groups of early humans who
traveled in order to find and gather food, could be
considered a society. However, just because groups of
people have something in common does not
automatically make them a civilization.
Certain elements must come together before a human
community develops to the level of sophistication
commonly referred to as civilization. The meaning of the
term civilization is commonly used to describe human
societies "with a high level of cultural and technological
development", as opposed to what many consider to be
less "advanced" societies like a jungle tribe. This definition, however, is unclear, subjective, and
it carries with it assumptions no longer accepted by modern scholarship on how human societies have changed
during their
long past.
In the broader sense, "civilization" often refers to any distinct society. Every society,
civilization or not, has a specific set of ideas and customs, and a certain set of items and
arts, that make it unique. But true civilizations have more complex cultures, including
literature, professional art, architecture, organized religion, and complex customs
associated with the elite.
Primary characteristics of a Civilization
1. Urban settlements
2. Specialists (or artisans) not involved in agricultural activities
3. Stable food supply
4. Class structure
5. State-level organization (government)
Secondary characteristics of a Civilization
6. Monumental public building
7. Extensive trading networks
8. Standardized monumental artwork
9. Writing
10. Development of exact sciences
How Do We Know About Early Civilizations?
Scientists called anthropologists have studied anthropology, or the study of humankind, for
many years. Archeologists are specially trained scientists who work like detectives to
uncover the story of prehistoric peoples. They sift through dirt and rock to uncover and
analyze any existing evidence such as bones and artifacts. Even though scientists were not
there to actually observe or record the history of mankind, the evidence they find helps create
the stories of different civilizations and historic events.
These scientists have discovered a wealth of evidence concerning human progress which tells us how homo-sapiens
developed from wandering nomads into permanent members of communities.
Thousands of human fossils enable
researchers and students to study the changes that occurred in brain and body size, locomotion, diet, and other aspects
regarding the way of life of early human species. Millions of stone tools, figurines and paintings, footprints, and other traces
of human behavior in the prehistoric record tell about where and how early humans lived and when certain technological
innovations were invented.
What Do We Know About Early Man?
The earliest homo-sapiens were nomads, moving from place to
place to forage (search) for new sources of food. Humans
migrated across land masses looking for food supply,
eventually wandering into new continents. Nomad groups
whose food supply depended on hunting animals and collecting
plant foods are called hunter-gatherers. For thousands of
years, humans survived by traveling together in groups of 2570, hunting game and gathering edible plants. Their tools
were crudely made from bones or stone. This era is called the
Paleolithic era, and was the earliest part of the Stone Age.
Neolithic or Agricultural Revolution
The Neolithic Revolution was the last part of the Stone Age, and describes
the era when the use of metal tools, weapons and farming was discovered.
About 10,000 years ago, people in the Mesopotamia region began to realize
they could domesticate plants, allowing them to plant crops that could
provide a permanent food source. This
caused early man to stop wandering and
Agricultural economies
settle down in one area or region, always
developed while hunting
around a large fresh water source such as
a river. About the same time, they also
and gathering activities
began domesticating animals for meat,
were reduced.
milk, and skins. The skins of animals were
used for clothing, storage, and to build tent shelters. Larger animals were used for working
in the fields.
The Neolithic (or Agricultural) Revolution is considered a major turning point in
human history. Once humans settled into permanent communities, humans were
able to develop new technologies and skills. Artisans became important to the
growth of the community as they developed a specialization of trades such as art or
weapons. Social structures, common religious beliefs and trading systems
developed, and with them, the
eventual rise of civilizations.
The earliest civilizations such as
the Indus Valley civilizations and
Mesopotamia are no longer in existence as they were then, but we can see
the development of entire ethnicities and nations that sprung forward from
these early civilizations. As archeologists continue to uncover ancient ruins
and artifacts, we discover more amazing evidence about our early ancestors
and their ability to evolve and progress from simple hunters into powerful
and productive civilizations.