• Systems of writing and keeping records are
only 5,000 or 6,000 years old, while the story
of the human progress is much older
• The period of time before people kept written
The Study of Prehistory
Scientists study evidence of the human past
Archaeologists find and study artifacts.
Scientific techniques are used to find the age
• The period as a whole has been named the
Stone Age because many of the objects left
from the earliest part of prehistory are simple
stone tools and weapons.
• Some of the evidence they find is in the form
of artifacts – objects shaped by human being.
• Other evidence is provided by fossils – human
or animal bones and teeth and other traces
left in rocks by plants and animals.
• Archaeologists study places where prehistoric
people lived, looking for the remains of
homes, graves and towns and examining the
• Anthropologists study artifacts, bones, and
other clues and try to determine what people
looked like, what they ate, how long they
lived, and other characteristics.
• Geologists analyze fossils and the rocks in
which they are found.
• Chemists and physicists use special methods
to estimate the ages of artifacts and other
remains from the past.
• Botanists and zoologists also contribute their
specialized knowledge about plants and
• Archaeological dig is a site where ancient
objects are deeply buried.
• The site are based on clues such as the shape
of the ground surface and stories or traditions
that indicate people once occupied the site.
Starting an excavation site
• Make a map of the site
• Soil is carefully removed layer by layer
• If a worker comes upon an artifact, he or she
uses a small, soft brush to remove the soil
without damaging the object
• Loosened soil may be sifted so that even tiny
objects are not lost
• Artifacts are
photographed, labeled, cleaned, and then
studied carefully to classify and identify them.
• Experts put together fragments of bone or
• They make drawings to show what an object
looks like before.
• Sample of clay, paint, and the like may be sent
to chemical laboratories to be analyzed.
• Made in 1948 by an American
chemist, Williard Libby.
• Depends on the fact that all living organisms
contain a certain amount of carbon-14. When
the organism dies, the carbon-14 decrease at
a fixed rate. By analyzing how much carbon is
left, scientists can tell its approximate age.
Stone Age Hunters and Gatherers
Old Stone Age people hunt and gather food
Stone Age people make impressive
Neanderthal people develop beliefs
The environment undergoes changes
Cro-Magnon people develop art
• The men and women of the Paleolithic age
were nomads – people who have no
permanent homes but wander from place to
• They made temporary homes in caves or in
tents constructed of branches and animal
• When the animals left the area or the food
supply ran short, the people moved on.
• In the Paleolithic period, human beings made
a variety of stone tools that had specific uses.
• Not all of the tools are made of stone.
Sharpened wooden sticks, hardened in a
fire, were used as spears. Later in the
period, splinters of bone were used as needles
• They learned to control and use fire, and they
used spoken language.
• Lived from 10,000 to 40,000 years ago
• Named after the valley in Germany where the
first remains were found
• Had rituals they hoped would guarantee them
success in the hunt
• Carefully buried their dead, placing
tools, ornaments, food, and bunches of
wildflowers in the graves showing that they
may had religious beliefs including the idea of
life after death
• Most of the Cro-Magnon art has been found in
Europe and Asia.
• It includes beads, necklaces, and bracelets
carved from ivory, pebbles painted with
colorful designs, and small female figurines.
• A flute carved from bone suggests that they
• The first cave art was discovered almost by
• Scholars believe that the cave paintings were
made between 12,000 to 30,000 years ago.
• Late in the Old Stone Age, the earth’s weather
and climate changed and grew cooler.
• The most recent Ice Age is thought to have
reached its height about 20,000 years ago.
• The water level in the oceans dropped by
several hundred feet. Land that today is far
under water was exposed, sometimes forming
land bridges between islands and continents.
This event enabled people to move from one
island to another.
The Neolithic Age (New Stone Age)
• Although people still made tools of stone,
they learned to shape and polish them more
• People first developed farming, tamed wild
animals, and established villages.
• They also learned to make pottery, weave
cloth, and work with metals.
Farming and herding begin in the Near East
Farmers settle in villages
Villagers develop special skills
Ideas of trade and private property develop
Çatal Hüyük provides information about
Artisans develop new skills
Artisans learn to work with metals
• People in the Americas began to grow corn,
and herders in southwestern Asia tamed wild
horses for riding.
• Farming became a way of life throughout
Europe and Asia
• Farming gave people more dependable
sources of food.
• Men continued to hunt animals while women
and children tended crops.
• Farming people began to build permanent
settlements or villages.
• They spent part or all of a year near areas
where food was abundant
• In the Near East, villages were becoming
common by 8,000 years ago.
• One of the earliest towns was the walled city
of Jericho, built about 7,000 B.C.
• Some people devoted their time to non-
• Some people had time to make tools and
weapons. Some made shelters or clothing
from animals skins. Some learned to weave
reeds into baskets. Some made pottery
containers for cooking and for storing food
• These workers became artisans – people with
skills in specialized crafts.
• The demand for the products of expert
artisans led to trade.
• The kind of trade in which a good is
exchanged for another is called barter.
• Increased trade and village living allowed
people to acquire more possessions.
• People also began to be concerned on
protecting what they owned.
• Had between 3,000 to 6,000 inhabitants
• The villagers built rectangular, flat-roofed
houses made of oak and bricks made of mud.
• People decorated their buildings.
• The main deity was a mother goddess who
was believed to control the harvest.
• The dead were buried in their homes.
• Neolithic people developed new technology.
• They learned to bake clay pottery and bricks
to make them more long-lasting.
• With potter’s wheel, they could shape plates
or bowls quickly and precisely.
• Toolmakers sharpened stone tools by grinding
them on rocks rather than chipping off flakes.
• They developed the plow – pulled by an oxen.
• People learned how to spin wool into thread.
• Invented the wheel and the sail.
• Copper was probably the first metal used.
• Soon, toolmakers discovered how to make
bronze by combining copper with a small
amount of tin.
• The Bronze Age is the period when bronze
replaced copper and stone as the main
material used in tools and weapons.
• People’s food supply became more
reliable, the population increased, and trade
• Settlements became larger, and some grew
• Developments such as cities, organized
government and religion, specialized
occupations and advanced technology, and
writing characterize early civilization.
The first civilizations are in river valleys
Governments are organized
Government and religion are closely
People in cities follow specialized
Systems of writing and record-keeping
The first civilizations…
• The first civilizations emerged in four great
river valleys in Asia and Africa.
• Mesopotamian civilization (between Tigris
• Egyptian civilization (on the banks of the Nile
• Indian civilization (Indus river)
• Chinese civilization (Yellow river)
Reasons why civilizations emerged
near the river valleys
• Rivers are a source of food and fresh water
• As agriculture developed, rivers supplied
water for growing crops and livestock.
• Some rivers flooded each year and deposited
fertile soil on the fields.
• Rivers encourage trade because travel on
water is easier than travel on land.
• The need to plan and direct irrigation and
flood control was one reason why
governments were organized.
• Such leaders in some villages became rulers.
• Rulers organized armies for defense and
brought together large numbers of people to
work on projects.
• Larger populations in cities also made
organized government necessary.
• Laws were issued to keep order among the
• Neolithic people believed that there were
gods who controlled the natural forces.
• People sought ways to win the gods’ help and
• Religious rituals held an important place in
• Belief and rituals helped shaped the
• Rulers were seen either as gods or the chosen
representatives of the gods.
• Laws were seen as the ruler’s way of carrying
out commands from the gods.
• Priests held great power in the government.
• People labored and paid taxes for the building
of huge temples.
• From the offerings of people who wanted the
gods’ help, the temples became wealthy as
well as powerful.
• The population of an ancient city included
artisans, merchants, and government
officials, as well as a large number of ordinary
laborers, farmers, and fishermen.
• Working full-time at specialized jobs
encouraged the growth of new skills and new
• Some kind of record-keeping was developed.
• Government officials needed to write down
what taxes were owed or how much grained
• Laws had to be written down.
• Priests needed to keep track the passage of
• Merchants keep record of what they bought
• The beginning of civilization marked the
beginning of written history.