Before ~10,000 B.C.E. to 600 B.C.E.

Nomads, Agricultural Revolutions, Early Complex Urban Cultures Technological and Environmental Transformations to 600 B.C.E.


(what was generally taking place at beginning of period)
  • Nomadic hunting-foraging bands slowly migrating several miles per year from East Africa to habitable locations
  • Animistic spiritual beliefs among nomadic cultures
  • Relatively egalitarian nomadic hunting-foraging bands

Key Concept 1.1 Big Geography and the Peopling of the Earth

1. Hunting-foraging/gathering bands of human nomads gradually migrate from East African origins to Eurasia, Australia, and the Americas, adapting their technology and cultures to new climate regions - Paleolithic era (“Old Stone” Age), long period of human development before agriculture development.

  • Fire used for hunting, foraging, protection from predators and cold environments
  • Wider range of human tools developed, adapted for different environments - tropics to tundra
  • Small kinship (extended family) nomadic hunting-foraging bands relatively egalitarian - socio-economic structure often self sufficient; some exchange of people, ideas, goods

Key Concept 1.2 Neolithic (Agricultural) Revolution and Early Agricultural and Urban Societies

1. ~8000 BCE - Neolithic/Agricultural Revolution - Some early agriculture based communities develop into more complex/advanced urban culture.

  • First agricultural villages established at different times in: Mesopotamia, Nile River, Sub-Saharan Africa, Indus River Valley, AND Yellow/Huang He River Valley, Papua New Guinea, Mesoamerica (“Middle” America), Andes Mtns.
  • Pastoralism (herding) developed at various grassland sites of Afro-Eurasia
  • Various staple crops and animals domesticated in core regions - based on eco-system characteristics
  • Agricultural societies cooperated to clear land and create water control and irrigation systems for growing crops
  • Agricultural practices dramatically impacted environment - i.e., pastoralists grazing large herds of animals on fragile grasslands led to soil erosion, irrigation led to salinization

2. Agriculture and pastoralism/herding changed human societies.

  • More reliable, abundant food led to increased population
  • Food & goods surpluses led to specialization of labor, new classes of artisans, warriors, and elites
  • Technological innovations led to improvements in agricultural production, trade and transportation - required, illustrative examples: pottery, plows, woven textiles, metallurgy, AND wheels and wheeled vehicles
  • Elites in both agricultural and pastoral cultures accumulated wealth, created more hierarchal (rigid socio-economic classes) social structures (systems) and promoted patriarchy (male dominance)

Key Concept 1.3 Development and Interactions of Early Agricultural, Pastoral and Urban Societies

1. Core, foundational civilizations (complex, urban cultures) developed from agricultural communities in a variety of regions. - required examples to identify and locate:

  • Mesopotamia - Tigris
  • Egypt - Nile River Valley
  • Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa - Indus River Valley
  • Shang Dynasty - Yellow/Huang He River Valley
  • Olmecs - Mesoamerica
  • Chavin - Andean South America

2. First states (larger political units) emerged within core civilizations.

  • States - powerful new systems of rule mobilized surplus labor and resources over large areas - rulers often believed to be divine or have divine support, and/or military support (sources of political power)
  • Most successful states conquered others and expanded - key factors: greater access to resources (i.e., Hittites and access to iron), larger food surplus and resulting larger populations
  • Early examples of state expansion and empire building: Mesopotamia, Babylonia, AND Nile Valley
  • Nomadic pastoralists (herders-foragers) often developed and disseminated (spread) new weapons and modes/types of transportation that transformed warfare One illustrative example: compound bow OR iron weapons

3. Culture played a significant role in unifying states through: laws, language, literature, religion, myths, and monumental art.

  • Early complex, urban cultures (civilizations) developed monumental architecture and urban planning. One example: ziggurats, pyramids, temples, defensive walls, streets and roads, OR sewage and water systems
  • Both political and religious elites promoted arts and artisanship (craftsmanship) One example: sculpture, painting, wall decorations OR elaborate weaving
  • Systems of record keeping (including writing) arose independently in all early complexes, urban cultures/civilizations - and eventually diffused (spread) - One example: cuneiform, hieroglyphs, alphabets OR quipu
  • States developed legal codes, including the Code of Hammurabi, that reflected existing hierarchies (socio-economic classes) and helped governments rule people
  • New religious beliefs developed in this period continued to have strong influences in later periods Required examples: Vedic religion, Hebrew monotheism, AND Zoroastrianism
  • Trade expanded from local to regional to transregional (between different regions) with civilizations exchanging goods, cultural ideas, and technology Required examples: between Egypt and Nubia between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley
  • Social and gender hierarchies (defined, limiting roles) intensified as states expanded and cities multiplied
  • Literature was also a reflection of culture - One Required, illustrative example: The “Epic of Gilgamesh,” Rig Veda, OR Book of the Dead


(what generally stayed the same during much of the time period)
  • Many nomadic groups continued to remain nomadic - often believing in animism
  • Early core, foundational civilizations (cultural hearths)
  • Both trade and conflict between settled and nomadic cultures
  • Some religious beliefs continued to have strong influences in later periods