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Early Humans and the Paleolithic Era


Hominids Originated in Africa Early hominids like Homo habilis and Homo ... si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-sapiens ... the first system of ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Early Humans and the Paleolithic Era

Early Humans and the Paleolithic Era
Learning About the Earliest People
  • Anthropology is the study of other cultures
  • Culture is a peoples unique way of life. It
    determines the most basic human needs, like how
    they provide food and shelter. Religion,
    language, family relationships, entertainment,
    government, and many other things are also

How Do We Know?
  • Archeologists investigate other cultures
    settlement sites by setting up an archeological
    dig and sifting through all evidence such as
    artifacts and fossils. This is also called an
    archeological excavation.
  • Artifacts are human made objects
  • like tools or art.

Archeology cont
  • Archeologists use scientific tests like carbon
    dating and relative dating to analyze fossils and

  • Stone henge
  • Jericho
  • Catal huyuk

  • Hominids are apes, humans, and any creatures in
    between that walk upright.

Hominids Originated in Africa
  • Early hominids like Homo habilis and Homo erectus
    originated in Africa.
  • They migrated on foot to the other continents.
  • They even began using the first stone tools for
    cutting, digging, and scraping.

What did they look like?
  • Many of these early hominids looked similar to
    modern Homo sapiens who emerged about 200,000
    years ago.
  • Homo sapiens were similar to other hominids
    except their (our) brains were much larger.
  • http//humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/

How Did They Survive?
  • They were hunter-gatherers whose survival
    depended on the availability of wild plants and
  • They were also nomadic, travelling around in
    search of plants and animals to eat.
  • They slowly invented tools and other things.
    This allowed them to hunt more efficiently.
  • By 30,000 BC, most of the other hominids were
    extinct, leaving Homo sapiens as the remaining
    human on the planet.

Early People cont
  • They were nomadic people, meaning they travelled
    around searching for food, water, and shelter.
  • During the Paleolithic Era (Old Stone Age), they
    invented the first tools and weapons.
  • They lived in clans and invented oral language to
    communicate with each other.

What about reading and writing?
  • Written language (reading and writing) was not
    invented until about 3,000 BC, so these really
    ancient people did not keep any records.
  • Thats why archeology is so important! Without
    written records, artifacts and fossils are the
    only way we can learn about them.
  • In fact, writing is such an important invention,
    we use it as a marking point. Everything that
    happens in a society before writing is called
    PRE-history. Everything after writing was
    invented is called history.

Pre-historic Art?
  • Primitive people began creating cave paintings
    about 35,000 years ago.
  • They made paint from berries, animal blood,
    charcoal, and other natural media.
  • Cave paintings depicted rituals, changes in
    seasons, and natural surroundings.
  • http//www.youtube.com/watch?vU3b1sX_WOlA

Paleolithic Age (Old Stone Age)
  • Lasted from about 2.5 million years ago until
    8,000 BC (although it started and ended at
    different places at different times).
  • During this age, humans developed the very first
    stone tools.
  • For most of this time, people were nomadic
    hunter-gatherers. Although toward the end, they
    started to settle into villages in areas where
    there was plenty to eat.

The Neolithic Age (New Stone Age)
  • Human societies advanced slowly. During the
    Neolithic Age, they invented more advanced tools
    and developed agriculture.

The Agricultural Revolution
  • During the Neolithic Age, about 10,000 years ago,
    humans began farming. Agriculture provided a
    more steady food source than hunting and
    gathering plants.
  • Agriculture was probably made possible by a
    change in climate that allowed for longer growing

Farming Techniques
  • Farming happened accidently at first. Someone
    probably left some seeds outside and then noticed
    they grew the next year. The rest is history.
  • To open up forests and grasslands to farming,
    they used slash-and-burn to clear the land.
    After the soil became infertile, they would move
    to another spot.

  • Along with agriculture came the domestication of
    animals. By keeping animals in enclosed areas,
    people could wait until they needed to eat to
    slaughter the animals.

Agriculture Grows
  • People developed agriculture independently in
    different areas across the globe.
  • The increase in the food supply allowed villages
    to grow.

Catal Huyuk
Villages Grow Into Cities
  • With the increase in the food supply, some people
    did not have to work to produce food. They could
    use their time to do other things.
  • Some people, called artisans, learned a craft,
    and produced pottery, tools, metal objects, and
  • Others would trade products to other people, and
    profited off the trade.
  • Cities are different from temporary settlements
    because the buildings and structures are
    permanent and the people who live in the city
    rely on the surrounding land for food, water and

  • A civilization requires
  • Advanced cities
  • Specialized workers
  • Complex institutions
  • Record-keeping (and hence writing)
  • Advanced technology

Advanced Cities
  • Cities serve as centers for trade.
  • Farmers and traders brought goods to the city to
    exchange. The city-dwellers produced goods to
    exchange, too.
  • Money was not invented yet, so people bartered.
    Bartering is like trading. For example, a farmer
    might barter the wheat he grew in exchange for a
    piece of pottery produced in a city.

Specialized Workers
  • As cities grew, they needed people to perform
    more specialized tasks
  • Government officials
  • Traders
  • Priests
  • Artisans
  • Made clothing, pottery, metal tools and weapons,
  • The variety of gods produced allowed cities to
    become centers for trade

Complex Institutions
  • The growth in cities made government necessary
  • Other complex institutions included religion and
    the economy
  • As wealth grows, social classes develop based on
    access to resources

  • As institutions became more complex, it became
    necessary to keep records of laws, taxes, and
    grain storage.
  • Scribes were trained to keep official documents.
  • As writing became more popular, people began
    writing down other events like war and natural
  • Cuneiform was the first system of writing and was
    developed in Mesopotamia. Scribes would press a
    wedge-shaped reed into a moist clay tablet to
    form symbols and then dry the tablet to preserve

Advanced Technology
  • Technology varies from place to place, but
    generally involves things that previous people
    could not create. Examples include
  • Irrigation,
  • Wheels,
  • Pottery,
  • Metalworking,
  • Ox-drawn plows to break up soil for planting.

The Bronze Age
  • The Sumerians in Mesopotamia were the first to
    discover bronze.
  • They learned that if you melted and mixed copper
    and tin together, it made bronze, which was much
    stronger and more durable than copper or stone.
  • They used bronze to make tools, weapons,
    decorations, and building materials.

Apply it
  • What things in the following video clip might
    have actually happened?
  • Which things were impossible during the Stone
  • In which age did the North American natives live
    before Europeans settled this continent? (hint
    they used stone, had agriculture, and some were
    using metal tools and lived in cities).
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