Chapter 1: The First Civilizations
The modern world can attribute its understanding of the prehistoric and ancient world to the work of historians, archaeologists and anthropologists. Over time, these researchers have studied the behavior of humans, their interaction with the environment as well as the development of tools and language. Historians study the past by looking at written records which were first kept around 5500 years ago. However, prehistory, events which occurred before the invention of writing, is just as important and can tell us a great deal. Archaeology is a precise science which requires a particular skill set and specialized tools to find evidence of past civilizations underground. Anthropologists examine human behavior through art, artifacts and other evidence that demonstrates their relations to one another.
Early humans are described in terms of their survival strategies. The nomadic hunters and gatherers moved from place to place following their food; this was not a sustainable way of life. Fire proved to be a critical element in the survival of the paleolithic people, allowing them to survive the Ice Ages (approximately 100,000 BCE to 8000 BCE). Taming fire allowed people to adapt to their cold environment by providing warmth, light, a way to cook food, and a defense against predatory animals.
The Neolithic Age began circa 8000 BCE when nomadic groups became sedentary and learned to farm. This way of life proved to be much more practical and far more sustainable than the nomadic lifestyle. The greatest advance of this era was the domestication of plants and animals. Neolithic era people used animals for their meat, milk, hide in addition to using them for work such as pulling plows. Being sedentary also allowed people to specialize in jobs, develop tools and build more permanent shelters. Once sedentary groups became skilled, their groups grew into villages; most notable among the first villages were Jericho and Catal Huyuk.
(The entire section is 605 words.)