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Ch 1: Prehistory & the Development of Humankind

About This Chapter

Study characteristics of Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic civilizations with this chapter's entertaining video lessons. Short multiple-choice quizzes are also included to help check your understanding of these topics.

Prehistory & the Development of Humankind - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

Trace the development of humankind from Paleolithic hunter-gatherers' use of stone tools to the creation of cities and empires by Neolithic agricultural societies. Instructors teaching this chapter's video lessons help you explore the geographical changes and technologies that made these developments possible along with the advantages and disadvantages associated with each type of civilization. Topics of study include:

  • Uses of prehistoric technologies
  • Causes of population migrations
  • Impacts of the Neolithic agricultural revolution
  • Characteristics of nomadic pastoralism
  • The development of cities and empires

Video Objective
The Paleolithic Age: Tools & Characteristics Get an introduction to the defining features of this era's hunter-gatherers.
Stone Tool Industries of the Paleolithic Age Survey the characteristics of stone tools used in the Oldowan, Acheulean, Clactonian and Mousterian industries.
The Mesolithic Age: Tools, Inventions & Archaeology Learn how tools changed in the Mesolithic Age and examine archaeological finds from this era.
An Overview of Mesolithic Archaeology Explore geographical changes during the Mesolithic Age and examine some of the technology used by hunter-gatherers and nomads.
The Last Ice Age: Thawing Ice and New Human Opportunities Discover milestones in human development that resulted from the end of the last ice age.
Neolithic Agricultural Revolution: Causes and Implications Examine the benefits of an agricultural lifestyle as compared to a nomadic lifestyle.
Development of Hierarchical Structures: Chiefs to Emperors in History Survey the rules of hierarchy alongside characteristics of aristocracies and theocracies.
Mystery Cults and the Early Mother Goddess Examine the significance of mother goddess figures in prehistoric religion.
Prehistoric Human Migrations: History & Movements Consider the archaeological records and theories used to explain the migration of humans out of Africa and into Eurasia and the Americas.
The Great Flood and Population Migrations Compare and contrast flood myths. Examine geological records of a great flood and learn how linguistics are used to study human migration.
Villages to Cities: How Cities Were Invented Trace the development of villages into cities and empires. Discover the benefits and challenges associated with maintaining large populations.
Walls, Roads & Bronze: Tools of Empire Creation Learn how bronze tools and armor, fortifications, waterways and roads were used to build and maintain empires.
The Horse and Chariot: Tools of Empire Creation Consider the significance of the horse and chariot in empire building.
Horse People and Nomadic Pastoralism: What is Civilization? Identify characteristics of the horse peoples and compare these pastoral societies to other types of civilization.
Foraging & Pastoral Nomadic Societies: Definition & Characteristics Examine the egalitarian nature of foraging societies alongside the organization of pastoral societies.
Technologies of the Neolithic Era Study the advantages brought about by pottery, weapons, textiles and other technologies developed by Neolithic people.

16 Lessons in Chapter 1: Prehistory & the Development of Humankind
The Paleolithic Age: Tools & Characteristics

1. The Paleolithic Age: Tools & Characteristics

In this lesson, you will explore the history of the Paleolithic Era and discover how early humans lived and developed stone tools. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Stone Tool Industries of the Paleolithic Age

2. Stone Tool Industries of the Paleolithic Age

This lesson will explain the different stone industries of the Paleolithic Age. In doing so, it will highlight the Oldowan industry, the Acheulian industry, the Clactonian industry, and the Mousterian industry and their corresponding tools.

The Mesolithic Age: Tools, Inventions & Archaeology

3. The Mesolithic Age: Tools, Inventions & Archaeology

In this lesson, you will explore the history of the Mesolithic era, one of the greatest transitional periods in human history. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

An Overview of Mesolithic Archaeology

4. An Overview of Mesolithic Archaeology

This lesson will seek to explain archaeological theories concerning the Mesolithic Age. In doing so, it will highlight microliths, the nomadic lifestyle, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and the use of radioactive carbon dating.

The Last Ice Age: Thawing Ice and New Human Opportunities

5. The Last Ice Age: Thawing Ice and New Human Opportunities

What is an ice age? How did the latest period of glaciation form our species? How has the abundance of this latest period of interglaciation changed our behavior? Watch this lesson to find out.

Neolithic Agricultural Revolution: Causes and Implications

6. Neolithic Agricultural Revolution: Causes and Implications

A long, long time ago, human beings roamed the earth looking for food. Then the agricultural revolution struck! What are the benefits of an agrarian society, and how have they shaped the way we live today?

Development of Hierarchical Structures: Chiefs to Emperors in History

7. Development of Hierarchical Structures: Chiefs to Emperors in History

This lesson will explore society's need for hierarchies, as well as kinship as a basis of hierarchical structures. Various forms of hierarchy will be briefly explored and...spoiler alert...they all come back to kinship.

Mystery Cults and the Early Mother Goddess

8. Mystery Cults and the Early Mother Goddess

What kind of problems do we encounter when talking about ancient religions? What are the Mother Goddess figures, and where do they pop up throughout history? Watch this lesson to learn about one of the earliest forms of religious worship.

Prehistoric Human Migrations: History & Movements

9. Prehistoric Human Migrations: History & Movements

This lesson will seek to explain the theories concerning prehistoric human migration. In doing so, it will highlight the effects of the Ice Age on modern Homo sapiens and their migration into Eurasia and the rest of the globe.

The Great Flood and Population Migrations

10. The Great Flood and Population Migrations

The Great Flood myth has been around for over eight millennia. Could it be more than a myth? What could have caused such a flood, and what effects has it had on humans?

Villages to Cities: How Cities Were Invented

11. Villages to Cities: How Cities Were Invented

In this video lesson, you'll meet Uruk, a lone farmer living in ancient Mesopotamia. As Uruk tries to become a successful farmer, he realizes the difficulties in sustaining a fruitful farm without the help of a community. Watch to understand how these difficulties contributed to the creation of villages and cities throughout history.

Walls, Roads & Bronze: Tools of Empire Creation

12. Walls, Roads & Bronze: Tools of Empire Creation

Learn some of the tools of the empire creation trade. In this video lesson, we'll explore the wall as a tough nut to be cracked, the strategic importance of roads and the advances made possible by bronze.

The Horse and Chariot: Tools of Empire Creation

13. The Horse and Chariot: Tools of Empire Creation

Horses were first used in warfare to pull chariots. Though horses were eventually ridden by cavalry, it was the chariot that first moved soldiers faster than man. In this lesson, you'll learn about the creation of the chariot, and its benefits during wartime.

Horse People and Nomadic Pastoralism: What is Civilization?

14. Horse People and Nomadic Pastoralism: What is Civilization?

This lecture examines the downsides and limits of settled agriculture and civilization. It then explores how 'civilized' forces are able to displace other systems. Horse people are introduced as a counterpoint to civilization and nomadic pastoralism as a successful alternative method of living. Finally it follows the conflict between nomadic pastoralists and settled agriculturalists throughout history.

Foraging & Pastoral Nomadic Societies: Definition & Characteristics

15. Foraging & Pastoral Nomadic Societies: Definition & Characteristics

This lesson will discuss those who practice foraging and pastoralism for survival. We will also define the term 'nomadic' and focus on what it means to be egalitarian.

Technologies of the Neolithic Era

16. Technologies of the Neolithic Era

In this lesson, we explore some of the technologies invented, innovated, and changed by Neolithic people as well as the way it improved their lives and lessened their workload.

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