AP World History Notes

Chapter 1: Before History

  • For thousands of years, humans lived in tiny communities without a permanent home. 

    • Most societies consisted of a few dozen people.
    • They traveled in pursuit of game and edible plants.
  • Humans were set apart from other animals because they could build tool, using intelligence unmatched by other members of the animal kingdom.
  • About 12 thousand years ago, early humans began experiment with agriculture.

    • It soon became clear to native peoples that this provided a more steady food source than foraging.
    • Groups that farmed their own food experienced rapid population growth.

      • were able to settle in permanent communities.

  • The world's first cities appeared 6 thousand years ago.

    • These cities dominated political and economic affairs in their regions.
  • The term "complex society" refers to a form of large-scale social organization that emerged in several parts of the ancient world.

    • These were all dependent on farming in which more food was produced than was necessary to sustain their people.

      • This meant that more people were able to live more closely together in urban areas, where they would be able to put their work into more specialized areas.
      • This allowed their societies to take the form in which they are today.
  • From 3500 to 500 B.C.E. complex societies arose independently in several
  • widely scattered regions of the world.

    • Most of these sprang up from small agricultrual communities, located in either river valleys or other sources of water that could be used to irrigate their crops.
    • All of these set up a governmental system -- collected taxes in the form of food, build gov't institutions, set up states, and appointed political authorities.
    • All of these societies generated more wealth than hunting and gathering groups did.

      • These groups were able to preserve wealth and pass it on to their heirs.
  • All of the early societies created social traditions. 

    • Most were either invented or borrowed a system of writing that made it possible to record information and store it for later use.
    • Social traditions took different forms in different societies.

      • Some were very religious, where others left it up the the individual family to decide what they wanted to worship.
  • Skeletal remains were discovered on November 30th, 1974.

    • The remains were called AL 288-1 by scientists, but she is commonly referred to as "Lucy."

      • She is named after the Beatles song, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."
    • The dig site was in Hadar; about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of Addis Ababa.
    • Her remains are 3.5 million years old.
    • She was 25-30 at the time of her death.
    • She stood about 1 meter tall (3.5 feet) and weighted about 25 kilograms (55 pounds).
    • 40% of her remains were recovered.

      • This means she is the most complete skeleton of very early humans, yet.
  • Analysis of the remains found indicate that the earliest ancestors of modern humans walked upright on both feet.

    • Although the brains of early human ancestors were only about the size of a grapefruit, most animals required all limbs for locomotion, whereas Lucy and her contemporaries were able to use their forelimbs to carry and wield tools and weapons.

      • Eventually, human brains grew to  be larger and more sophisticated, but this process took about one million years.
  • The earth came into being about 5 billion years ago.

    • The first living organisms appeared hundreds of millions of years later.
    • About thirty million years ago, short, hairy, monkey-like animals becan to  populate the tropical regions of the planet.

      • Human-like cousins to these animals began to appear only about 4 or 5 million years ago.
      • Modern humans appeared about forty thousand years ago.
    • Human society did not develop in a vacuum. The earliest humans inhabited a world already stocked with flora and fauna. 
  • "Prehistory" refers to the period before writing, while "history" refers to the era after the invention of writing.
  • During the past century or so, scholars have vastly increased the understanding of human origin.

    • In some cases, there is only a 1.6% different between human and chimpanzee DNA.
  • Humans are in the primate family.
  • In Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, and other places, archaeologists have unearthed bones and tools of human ancestors going back about 5 million years.

    • The Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania and Hadar in Ethiopia have yielded especially rich remains of individuals like the famous Lucy.
    • These individuals probably represented several different species belonging to the genus Australopithecus.
  • Australopithecus means "the souther ape." 

    • This genus flourished in east Africa during the long period from about four million years to about one million years ago.
    • Australopithecus was a hominid (a creature belonging to the family Hominidae, which includes human and humanlike species).
    • Evolutionary biolgists reconize this genus as one standing alongside Homo (the genus of mondern humans).
    • Compared to our own species, Australopithecus would seem short, hairy, and "limited in intelligence."

      • Most were 25-55 kilograms in weight (55-121 pounds), just over one meter tall (3.5 feet), and their brain size was 500 cubic centimeters, whereas the brain size of modern humans is approximately 1400 cc.)
    • They walked upright on two legs, had opposable thumbs, and had the ability to communicate verbally, though probably not sophisticatedly.
    • They were able to perform complex trips of about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles).
    • They had tools like choppers, scrapers, and tools required for food preparation.
  • About 1 million years ago, australopithecines disappeared, and were replaced by a new species of hominids called Homo erectus (meaning "up-right walking human).

    • Homo erectus flourished from about 2.5 million to 200,000 years ago.
    • They possessed a larger brain with a capacity at around 1000 cc.
    • The added cleavers and hand axes to the tools australopithecines had alraedy developed.
    • They also possessed knowledge about tending a fire, while meant they not only had the ability to cook food and a heat source, but they could also defend themselves against larger animals.
    • They exibited advanced intelligence and language skills, meaning they were able to convey complex ideas to each other.

      • Archaeologists have determined that Homo erectus men were able to conduct hunts in very well coordinated ways, suggesting prior communication.
      • Bones found at campsites also indicate that Homo erectus men were able to take down large and dangerous prey, indicating that they worked in groups and brought their prey back to their camps.
    • Homo erectus also demonstrated increasing control over the natural environment.
    • Australopithecines had not ventured beyond eastern and southern Africa, whereas Homo erectus migrated to north Africa, and the Eurasian landmas.
    • Almost two million years ago, Homo erectus groups moved to southwest Asia and beyond to Europe, south Asia, east Asia, and southeast Asia.

      • By two hundred thousand years ago, they'd established themselves throughout the temperate zones of the eastern hemisphere.
  • Upon the arrival of Homo sapiens, about two hundred thousand years ago, Homo erectus began to fade and were eventually entirely replaced.

    • Early Homo sapiens possessed a large brain already, which approached the brain size of modern humans.

      • Their brains are exceptionally well developed in the frontal regions. where conscious and reflective thought takes place.
      • This gave them a powerful edge against the rest of their environment, though they were not very strong and did not possess natural means of attack.
    • Intelligence enabled Homo sapiens to adapt to widely varying environmental conditions and to establish the species securely throughout the world.
    • Starting over one hundred thousand years ago, Homo sapiens spread throughout the eastern hemisphere and populated the temprate lands of Africa, Europe, and Asia.

      • The encountered groups of Homo erectus people that had inhabited the land before them.
    • Soon, Homo sapiens moved into colder regions, as their intelligence enabled them to learn to keep themselves warm with animal skins, and build shelters.
  • Between sixty thousand and fifteen thousand years ago, Homo sapiens extended the range of human population even further. Several ice ages had occured, lowering sea level, which exposed land bridges that linked Asia with regions of the world previously uninhabited by humans.

    • They crossed the bridges, and established communities in the islands of Indonesia and New Guinea, and some of then went father and crossed the temporary straight separating southeast Asia from Australia.
  • About sixty thousand years ago, Homo sapiens arrived in Australia, possibly even earlier.

    • Somewhat later, as early as 25 thousand years ago, other groups started using the land bridges between Siberia and Alaska, and established human colonies in North America.

      • The began migration throughout the rest of the western hemisphere.
  • About fifteen thousand years ago, communities of Homo sapien appeared in almost every habitable part of the world.
  • 150 million people (2.5% of the population of the planet) live outside their birth country, while more than a billion are descendants of people who left their homeland within the past three centuries.
  • Homo sapiens were intelligent enough to recognize problems and possibilities in their environment, and then take the favorable action to their survival.

    • In addition to the choppers, scrapers, axes, and other tools that their predecessors had, Homo sapiens also possessed knives, spears, bows, and arrows.
    • Individuals made dwellings for themselves in caves or shelters built from wood, bones, and animal skins.
    • In cold regions, Homo sapiens warmed themselves with fire and cloaked themselves in animal skins.

      • Ashes found at their campsites show that Homo sapiens were cxapable of tending fires, and leaving them burning continuously.
    • Tool use and natural explotation was so successful that Homo sapiens caused mammoths, wooly rhinoceros, giant kangaroos, mastodons, and horses soon disappeared.
  • The laongest portion of human experience on earth is the paleolithic era, the "old stone age."

    • Characteristics of the era: humans foraged for food; they hunted animals or fathered naturally growing plants.
    • The paleolitic era extended from the evolution of the first hominids until about 12 years ago.
  • A hunting and gathering economy virtually prevents individuals from accumulating any wealth, private property, or using weath to distinguish between social classes.

    • Hunters and gatherers must move where their prey goes -- so actual property would mean nothing to them.

      • Their only belongings would be a few small tools and weapons that they could easily carry with them.
    • Due to the lack of accumulated wealth, hunters and gatherers probably lived a relatively egalitarian existence.

      • Some social distinction would have occurred, because of age, courage, strength, intelligence, fertility, force of personality, or some other trait, though personal or family wealth couldn't be used as a basis for permanent distinctions.
      • Surprisingly, this social equality would have continued through genders, as well, and no sex would have been able to dominate the other, as both served equally important jobs for the community.
    • Being a hunting and gathering society also meant that it would be impossible to have more than thirty to fifty members of a community.

      • If the groups became too large, it became impossible to provide for them all.
    • Paleolithic hunting was a complicated venture. Special tools were fashioned for the purposes of hunting, hunters wore disguises, coordinated their movements, and sometimes caused disturbances to herd the animals where they wanted them to go.
    • In the late paleolithic times, if food sources were particularly rich, people were known to settle down in permanent communities.
  • The most prominent paleolithic settlements were:

    • Natufian society. Located in the eastern Mediterranean; modern day Israel and Lebanon.

      • As early as 13,500 BCE, they collected wild wheat and took animals from abundant animal herds.
    • Jomon society. Located in central Japan.

      • From 10,000 to 300 BCE, settlers harvested wild buckwheat and developed a productive fishing economy.
    • Chinook society. Located in the Pacific northwest region of North America; includes the modern states of Oregon, Washington, and the providence British Columbia.

      • Emerged after 3,000 BCE, and flourished until the mid-nineteenth century CE, principally on the basis of wild berries, acorns, and salmon runs.
    • Paleolithic settlements had permanent dwellings.
  • Paleolithic individuals did not limit their thinking powers to practical matters, and showed evidence of reflective thought.

    • The earliest reflective thought noted was in the Neandertal people, named after the Neander river.

      • They flourished in Europe and southwest Asia, about 200,000, and 35,000 years ago.
      • At several sites, archaeologists have discovered signs of careful, ritualistic burials.

        • In the Shanidat cave, located 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Badhdad, in modern-day Iraq,  survivors laid the deceased on beds for flowers and covered them with garland and other flowers. Tools and animal bones were laid around them. The reason for this is unknown.

          • This indicates they understood the significance of life and death, something none of their ancestors had done before.
    • Another sign of reflective thought occurs in the creative achievements of the paleolithic people.

      • Cro-Magnon people invented harpoons, bows and arrows, and spear-throwers. They crafted tools such as awls and needles, and showed and interest in art and fastion.
      • Venus figurines were found at arcaelogical sites. Scholars believe that these indicate a deep interest in fertility.
  • Paintings in caves inhabited or frequented by Cro-Magnon peoples are the most dramatic examples of prehistoric art.

    • The known examples of care art date from about thirty-four thousand to twelve thousand years ago.
    • Cave paintings may have represented efford to exercise "sympathetic magic" to gain control over subjects (in this case, animals) by capturing their spirits.
    • Pigment was made of materials like minerals, plants, blood, saliva, water, animal fat, and other available ingrediants.
  • There are a few societies of hunting and gathering peoples left in the world, but generally speaking, agricultural and industrial societies have taken over the land best suited for those purposes.
  • The term "neolithic era" means "new stone age", as opposed to the "old stone age" of the paleolithic era.

    • The term "neolithic" was first used when archeaologists discovered polished stone tools in neolithic sites, rather than the chipped stone tools of the paleolithic era, but soon scientists realized that in the neolithic times, people depended on cultivation, rather than forraging for their substinence.
    • Neolithic era -- Cultivation; Paleolithic -- forraging

      • Foraggers faced serious risks like drought, famine, disease, floods, extreme temeratures, and other natural disasters because they were dependent on nature. 
    • Neolithic women were the first to observe the effects of nature on plants (ie, water and sunlight help them grow, too much water kills them). They began the systematic care of plants. They began to care for plants instead of just collecting them.
    • Neolithic men began capturing and domesticating wild animals for food purposes.

      • The agricultural revolution took place over several centuries.
  • The first examples of agriculture appeared around 9000 BCE, when the people of southwest Asia (located in modern-day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey), began to clutivate wheat and barley, while domesticating sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle.                                  

    • 9000 - 7000 BCE -- African people located near modern Sudan -- domesticated cattle, sheep, goats; cultivated sorghum
    • 8000 - 6000 BCE - people near modern Nigera -- cultivated yams, okra, black-eyes peas. 
    • As early as 6500 BCE -- residents of the Yangzi River -- cultivated rice.
    • After 500 BCE- residents of Yellow River -- cultivated millet and soybeans.
  • People of the western hemisphere turned independently to agriculture.

    • People who lived in Mesoamerica (central Mexico) cultivated miaze (corn) as early as 4000, and later they added beans, peppers, squash, and tomatoes.
    • Residents of the central Andean region of South America (Modern Peru) cultivated potatoes after 3000 BCE, and later added maize and beans.
    • It is possible that the Amazon river valley was yet another site of independent agriculture. This one centered on the cultivation of peanuts, manioc, and sweet potatoes.
  • Western animals weren't well suited for domestication as many had become exctinct. However, llamas, alpacas, and guineau picgs were the exception to this rule.
  • Early cultivators used the slash and burn method, which involved cutting down a tree, burning it, and then planting in the ashes. This method was highly effective, but did require that people moved every few years, as the soil would become infertile after that.

    • This is why early agriculture became so widespread.
    • Food from one area had the possibility of becoming widespread, too. Merchants and travelers carried knowledge of these foods to other lands that had previously relied on a different kind of crop.

      • Wheat, for example, spread from its homeland (southwest Asia) to Iran, northern India, and China.
  • Despite the fact that agriculture was more work that the foraging done by their paleolithic predecessors, it had the appeal of producing abundant food -- enough to feed significantly more than their earlier method could.
  • Agriculture caused a massive population explosion.

    •  3000 BCE -- 14 million
    • 2000 BCE -- 27 million
    • 1000 BCE --  50 million
    • 500 BCE -- 100 million
  • Jericho was the earliest neolithic villiage.

    • It was the site of a freshwater oasis north of the Dead Sea (present day Israel).
    • Even in its earliest days, it would have had about 2000 citizens.
    • They farmed mostly wheat and barley, with the aid of the oasis.
    • Early on, they kept no domestic animals, but did hunt to supplement their diet with meat.
    • They traded very limitedly, but did trade for obsidian and salt.
    • Around 7000 BCE, the residents surrounded their huts with a giant wall and moat, indicating that the wealth of Jericho attracted many non-human predators.
  • Because of the large population, people were encouraged to do specialized labor.
  • Catal Huyuk is one of the best examples of the rapid development of specialized labor.

    • Located in south-central Anatolia (modern-day Turkey).
    • It was occupied continuously from 7250 to 5400 BCE, when it was abandoned by its residents.
    • They manufactured pots, baskets, textiles, leather, stone and metal tools, wood carvings, carpets, beads, and jewelry, among many other products.
    • Catal Huyuk became a prominent city, mostly because it was near obsidian deposits.

      • This village was likely the center of trade and production of obsidian tools.
  • There were three early craft industries -- pottery, metallurgy, and textile production.
  • Pottery was the earliest of the craft industries to emerge.

    • Paleolithic hunters and gatherers had no use for pottery, as they moved from site to site daily, and it would have been inconvienient to lug around heavy pottery around.
    • However, in a settled society that produced food that was in huge excess, a place to store food was required.
    • Around 7000 BCE, neolithic villagers in several parts of the world realized they could harden clay into a permanent material, and soon realized they could even carve designs into it.

      • As a result, pottery became a form of art, rather than simply a practical item.
  • Metallurgy was the second of the craft industries to emerce.

    • The earliest metal worked with by humans was copper.
    • It was often used because it could simply be hammered and manipulated while in cold form, to make jewelry and simple tools.
    • In 6000 BCE, it was discovered that heating metal made it easier to work with, and that it could be used to extract ore.
    • Smelting was discovered in 5000 BCE.
  • Because natural fibers decay faster than pottery or metal, archaeologists are unsure of the dawn of textile production, but fragments of fabric have survived from as early as 6000 BCE.

    • As soon as neolithic people began to raise crops and animals, they began to experiment with selective breeding, and they created plants and animals that provided long, easily worked fibers.
  • The concentration of people in permanent locations along with the beginning of private property ownership allowed people to aquire personal wealth.

    • This caused social classes to emerge.
  • The dawn of agriculture caused people to begin to observe when favorable planting seasons and weather conditions were, which gave them a kind of applied science.

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How to cite this note (MLA)

Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Chapter 1: Before History" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 05 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2017. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/world-history/outlines/chapter-1-before-history/>.
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