AP World History: Period 1
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- Before the development of agriculture, nomadic peoples around the world lived in small groups that were often related to each other. They hunted game and collected wild or undomesticated plants for food. These people are also known as hunter-gatherer groups. Technology included bows and arrows, Clovis points (large stone arrowheads) and spears. While those tools may not sound much like technology to us, in their day, those tools were vital in assisting humans in the hunt. The very survival of hunting foraging bands depended on finding adequate food supplies from wild game and plants. Most of the individuals in
- these groups practiced a form of religion called animism. See details below
First in the Middle East around 8000 BCE and later in other regions (see River Valley Civilizations below), hunter-foragers settled in areas with a steady water supply and good soil, planted seeds in the ground on purpose – agriculture – and lived in permanent buildings in villages. In the Neolithic Revolutions, irrigation of crops was developed and animals, such as dogs, cats, cattle, and horses, were domesticated to aid with hunting, transportation, and agriculture, and/or function as a food supply. One result of closer contact with animals was increased exchanges of disease to and from people.
River Valley Civilizations
The River Valley Civilizations are those first places where Neolithic Revolutions occurred. Mesopotamia in the Middle East ("Mesopotamia" means "between the rivers"); the Nile River Valley in North Africa (the Egyptians); the Indus River Valley in South Asia; and the Shang in the Yellow, or Huang He, River Valley in East Asia were among the earliest known river valleys where agriculture first began. The classic definition of "civilization" means "a city" and these early civilizations also built the first buildings made of stone or brick, and placed them together to form the villages, which developed into cities. See Urbanization below.
While some people were settling into cities, others raised domesticated animals, but did not develop agriculture, so they remained on the move. They were known as pastoralists. In moving with their herds, they spread information about other groups and developments in technology. Call them "agents of change." Pastoralists emerged in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia around the same time as the Neolithic Revolution. One example of a pastoral group that is still functioning in the twenty-first century are the Mongols of East Asia.
Small villages in River Valley Civilizations often grew into larger cities, and those cities became important centers of government, trade, and religion. Urban areas saw the development of specialization of jobs, such as scribes or merchants; social levels, such as elites and slaves; and gender roles, such as expectations that men would usually be government leaders and members of the military and women would usually engage in domestic functions like cooking, sewing, and child-rearing. Counting and writing systems began in cities as a means of keeping records of stored food and other goods. One of the first writing systems was cuneiform from Mesopotamia. Religious temples like Ziggurats in Mesopotamia are examples of monumental architecture that developed in early cities. Some examples of early cities in Eurasia are Sumer in Mesopotamia, Catal Huyuk in Turkey, and Mohenjo Daro and Harappa in South Asia's Indus River Valley. In the Americas, the Olmec civilization developed cities in Mesoamerica by 1600 BCE, and the Chavin civilization, along the cost of modern-day Peru, built urban centers by 900 BCE.
Over time, more cities developed in the River Valley Civilizations and were united under a ruler, or king who claimed his power was derived from the gods. The Babylonians in Mesopotamia were one early empire that conquered rival cities by force and put them under one code of law. A very important example of a written early law code was the Code of Hammurabi, from Babylon, about 1750 BCE. The Egyptians in North Africa established a large and long-lasting empire that, at its peak, stretched along the Nile River from modern Sudan to the Mediterranean coast, west into modern Libya and northeast into modern Lebanon.
The earliest-known form of religion, animism, sees gods in nature (worshiping the sun, for example). It was popular among hunting-foraging bands. Polytheism ("many gods") differs from animism in that gods in polytheism have specific names and duties. The Greek god Apollo, for example, was the god "in charge" of the sun.
Monotheism is the belief in one god. The Hebrews of Southwest Asia practiced one of the earliest known monotheistic religions, Judaism. This feature set them apart from their neighbors and made them unique in early history. Another early monotheistic faith, from Persia in Central Asia, was Zoroastrianism.
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