Prehistory is the time or era before written records were kept.
Because these people didn’t write down their history we have to do
our best to figure out what happened.
Archaeology is the study of past societies
through an analysis of what people have left
CULTURE - A set of beliefs, knowledge, and
patterns of living that a group of people develop
The study of human life and cultures.
Artifacts are objects that people left behind by humans.
Artifacts give Limited Evidence, so archaeologists must
make educated guesses about the prehistoric world. They
use a hypothesis and then gather information to test it
and draw conclusions.
Tools and Weapons Art and Sculpture
Jewelry Human Remains Ancient Buildings
The remains of ancient plants and animals.
By studying fossils archaeologists and anthropologists can learn
about what people ate, what animals they had around, and their way
Carbon dating is a test used to date organic artifacts or things that
were once alive.
All living things contain a radioactive isotope of Carbon called Carbon
14 which they absorb from the sun while they are alive.
Carbon 14 has a half-life of 5000 years. That means it takes 5,000
years for half of the Carbon 14 in something to break down.
If we know how much Carbon 14 something has left we can count
back to how much is had to begin with to determine the age of the
artifact. Is limited to things 50,000 years old or less.
“Paleo” means old “Lithic” means stone
Paleolithic= Old Stone Age
This era was called the stone age because early man
used stone to make his tools and weapons.
These clans got their food by Hunting and Gathering
They were Nomadic or Nomads. “Followed their
Food” Once the food supply ran out they would move
from pace to place in search of food and shelter. The
role of men was to do the hunting. The role of women
was gathering and caring for children.
Lived in groups called clans of about 20-30 people, used caves for
Learned to make and control FIRE to keep warm and cook their food.
Developed oral, or spoken language
Made cave art and statues, and invented the first simple stone tools.
Gathering was a more reliable source of food and so in
Paleolithic society it is thought that it may have been
Matriarchal, or female dominated.
Women were often seen at the time as symbols of life and
fertility. Many ancient religions were centered around the
worship of the earth and the woman was often representative
of the earth and life because of the fact that women gave
It is thought that early man often drew, or made representations of what
he/she wanted to happen. Fertility statues for having many children,
paintings of successful hunts etc.
Use of Fire
Early man learned to use fire to adapt to his environment.
It was probably discovered from friction, lightning, or accidental hitting
two rocks together.
Fire was very important during the ice ages. Without fire man would not
have been able to survive.
Man has created art for a very long time. There is some argument as to
what this art was for. Was it art as art, or art as a form of religion?
Early humans and other early human-like creatures that walk
upright on two feet. (Australopithecus, Homo Habilis, Homo
Erectus, Homo Sapiens, & Homo Sapiens Sapiens
Homo sapiens emerged in Africa between 100,000 and
400,000 years ago. Homo Sapiens means “Wise Person.”
This group split into two distinct groups:
Thought to have lived between
35,000-130,000 years ago.
Used stone tools
Buried their dead. This
suggests they had some
primitive religious beliefs.
Disappeared? – Cold weather?
Killed off? Married stronger and
10,000-35,000 years ago.
Used tools and fire
created CAVE ART
Lived in clans, and buried
Modern Human Beings are called Homo Sapiens Sapiens
The distinction between Cro-Magnons and Homo Sapiens
Sapiens (modern people today) had disappeared by
ICE AGE – ended about 10,000 years ago. Large parts
of Earth’s surface were covered in ice. Sea levels
dropped exposing LAND BRIDGES. People migrate
across these land bridges. From Asia to Europe people
crossed an exposed land bridge which today is the
During the last ice age between
100,000 B.C. and 8000 B.C. the
water level in the oceans dropped
revealing a Bering Land Bridge
connecting Asia and North
MESO-LITHIC: Middle Stone Age “meso” means middles “lithic” means stone
“Neo” means new
“Lithic” means stone
Neolithic means New Stone Age.
The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution was the change from hunting and gathering to farming.
It is thought that women discovered agriculture. Seeds planted = food
Agriculture and domesticated animals.
Used Advanced Stone Tools
Developed Weaving (better clothing) Artisans -make crafts
Made Pottery (for food storage)
Domestication of Animals: In addition to growing crops Neolithic man also tamed animals for
hunting (dogs) and other animals for their food such as sheep, cows, goats, etc
Systematic Agriculture was the consistent growing of crops on a continuing basis.
This created an Agricultural Surplus or Extra Food.
Storage of Food
Pottery and other devices were invented as ways to store extra food.
This extra food was vital for feeding a growing population.
As farming technology improved people were able to grow the food they
needed and even an extra agricultural surplus. Because of this not
everyone had to work on providing food anymore and so people could do
Specialization of Labor – People doing different types of jobs and skills
Because people could focus on one particular thing they were good at,
technology and skills improved.
Trade – exchanging goods for something in return
As artisans (craftsmen) made goods, they began to exchange goods with
other villages, and later cities, who had different goods. This was a
barter system – trading goods and services for other goods and services.
Better farming techniques (irrigation, fertilization, etc.)
More food Agricultural surplus
More people not everyone HAS to be a farmer
Government Written language Labor /Specialization
leadership & laws records
Artisans Priests & Religion Builders Structures
temples, palaces, buildings
Merchants Sell goods
Traders Travel to sell goods.
Cultural Diffusion Bringing ideas and other aspects of culture from one
area to another . (Ideas, food, religion, technology, etc..)
Variations on Agriculture
As agriculture spread different areas began to grow different crops
that were suited to their environment. People settled near wide,
fertile soil carrying RIVERS.
These places where people began to settle down, grow crops, and
start villages became known as the Cradles of Civilization.
Most of these areas were in river valleys. This first was
Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates River Valleys.
Other river valleys include The Nile Valley in Egypt, the Indus River
Valley in India, and the Huang He River Valley in China.
Why River Valleys?
Why River Valleys?
FRESH WATER food (sustainer of life, “cradles of civilization”
Dry Season farmers learn to dig ditches/canals to bring water
to fields =system of irrigation
Wet Season builds dikes to hold back river = flood control
Techniques to improve farming and food quality: (irrigation,
fertilization, seasonal planting (invention of the calendar)
Aleppo and Jericho are early cities in the Fertile
Crescent studied by archaeologists.
Found in ancient Palestine near the Dead sea. It
was in existence by 8000 B.C.
is an example of a Neolithic settlement currently under
excavation in Anatolia (Modern Day Turkey).
Its walls enclosed 32 acres and up to 6,000 people.
Grew many different crops and developed artisans and trade.
Is an archeological site begun in the Neolithic age and finished
during the Bronze Age. Located on the Salisbury Plain in England.
What it may have looked
like at completion
As villages turned into cities, men took over the work of farming.
Now men were the primary providers of food and women no longer filled that
Because of this the role of women changed to that of family caregiver and
society became mostly male dominated (patriarchal) in most cultures
Copper – 6,000+ years ago
The first metal used by ancient man was copper.
This was a natural metal and could be cast into
Bronze Age - Later, copper was mixed with tin
to make Bronze. Bronze was the metal of
choice for a long time because harder metal for
tools and weapons
Iron Age –– about 3,200 years ago. The
invention of iron occurs at different times
around the world. It is a long difficult process
to make iron, but it is a much stronger metal.