Pre-History (Members Only)

Digital Pre-History

a key to global education: Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

WisdomMaps: The Future of the Past

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The human story begins with australopithecus (sort of). Not an ape, mind you, but not quite human either. And from there, proto-humans progressed to homo erectus and then to homo sapiens sapiens (“wise, wise human being”). Among these, the Cro-Magnons were the first recognizably human brings. After this, prominent Paleolithic settlements arose in the Natufian, Jomon, and Chinook societies. Altogether, the Paleolithic Era (“Old Stone Age”) accounted for the longest part of the human experience on earth. This is when humans created their first stone tools and weapons and foraged for their food in an intimate and supportive relationship with their natural environment. Though Paleolithic man’s life was actually “nasty, brutish, and short”, he enjoyed culture: consider the amazing cave paintings at Lascaux and Altamira. As a matter of fact, he (or she) also loved personal adornment and jewelry.


The Mesolithic Era emerged about 10,000 years ago with the new ice age. After the ice receded, it was followed by the Neolithic Era (“New Stone Age”), in which evolved an agricultural society where crops and animals were raised for food. The first cities came into being at Jericho and Catal Huyuk some 7,000 years ago, while in China, the Yellow River civilization was home to the Xia dynasty, whose archaeological finds date from 8,000 years ago. South American civilizations like the Caral, Supe River, and the Norte Chico began, and the Indus River civilization arose in India.

Polished stone tools were created, and art produced its first depictions of people. Not just people, but deities associated with life, death, and regeneration, including Venus figurines with outsized “earth mother” characteristics, and temples and megaliths were built for their worship. Cultivated crops spread throughout the Near East (“Fertile Crescent”), the Middle Americas, South Asia, and West Africa. Farmers produced new forms of nourishment with corn, rice, potatoes, and beans, and as people ate better, they developed surpluses. This enabled some to leave the farms and move to communities where they would contribute their services and goods to the rise to the first cities.

That said, here’s our assortment… please enjoy! When you’re done perusing a map, just close it, and you’ll be back here.


First Humans: Evolution | Paleolithic Era: SocietyCulture | Neolithic Era: SocietyCultureReligionEconomy

The First Humans

Paleolithic Era

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Neolithic Era

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