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Neolithic Revolution and the
Beginnings of Civilization
Chapter 1
SSWH1: The student will analyze the
origins, structures, and interactions of
complex societies in the ancient
Eastern Mediterranean from
3500 BCE to 500 BCE
Making Sense of AD, BC, CE & BCE
• AD= Anno Domini (Latin for Year of Lord
• BC= Before Christ
NOW, referred to as….
• AD= CE (Common Era)
• BC= BCE (Before Common Era)
• If history is “the study of the past,” what is
• Prehistory literally means “before writing”
Early Life and Culture
• During the Old Stone Age
early people were nomadic
– Nomads: People who moved
from place to place in search
of plants and animals to eat
• This lifestyle did not leave
much time to focus on
anything other than survival
Neolithic Revolution
• Greatest
breakthrough in
human history…ever.
• Agricultural (or
Revolution was the
change from food
gathering to food
Neolithic Revolution
• The change from
hunting &
gathering societies
to farming
– Occurred around
~10,000 year ago
– Provided a more
stable source of
Villages Grow into Cities
• After the Neolithic Revolution,
more organized communities
– Animals were domesticated
– new tools were invented (ex.
wheel & sail)
– Some individuals specialized
in particular crafts
• Eventually, civilizations (like
Sumer in Mesopotamia)
What is a Civilization?
• A civilization is a complex culture with the
following five characteristics:
– 1. Advanced cities (basically, a center for trade,
not just a bunch of people standing around)
– 2. Specialized workers (so, since not everyone
in a civilization has to spend all his or her time
finding food, people can become artisans and
learn different kinds of work like making tools,
weapons or clothing, etc.)
• In Sumer, people made clothing, crafts & many trade
A Cameroonian artisan at work
What is a Civilization?
• 3. Complex Institutions (this would include
governments, religions, the economy, family,
education, etc.)
– Sumerian religion dictated that every city belonged to
a god who controlled that city’s activities
• 4. Record Keeping (well how do you keep
records? today you’d probably use a pen &
paper, but some civilizations, like the Inca,
kept records without writing)
– Sumerian scribes (professional record keepers)
used an early writing system called cuneiform
Jean Miélot, a European
author and scribe at work
A list of Sumerian deities,
ca. 2400 B.C.
What is a Civilization?
• 5. Improved Technology (mostly farming
equipment, irrigation & crafting of metals)
– Around 3000 B.C., Sumerians began using bronze
for tools & weapons rather than copper. This period
was known as the Bronze Age.
Bronze age weaponry and
The City of Ur in Sumer
• Examining the city of Ur in Sumer
(which was in Mesopotamia) shows how
civilization arose about 5000 years ago
• Ur’s geography
– located on the banks of the Euphrates
– Modern day southern Iraq
Archeological excavations
at Tell el-Mukayyar, Iraq
Civilization in Ur
• Ur’s economy was based around agriculture
– Irrigation was used to create food surpluses
• Artisans specialized in metalwork, pottery &
other crafts
– People traded goods for other goods (barter), in
other words, they didn’t use coins
• The city was a center for trade & religion
– Ziggurats were pyramid-shaped monuments
where priests would conduct religious rituals
(yes… like sacrifice)
The Great Ziggurat of Ur
Components to Civilization
• Advanced cities- a large group of
people living together and acts as a
center for trade.
– Present day example:_____________
• Specialized workers- the development
of skills in a specific kind of work.
– Present day example:_____________
Continue: 5 Components of
• Complex Institutions-a long-lasting pattern
of organization in a community.
– Present day example:_____________
• Record Keeping- Devised methods of
recording data and historical events.
– Present day example:_____________
• Advanced Technology- New tools and
techniques to solve problems.
– Presentd day example:____________