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Pre-history begins with australopithecus (sort of). Although not an ape, he wasn’t quite human either. From there, the creature progressed to homo erectus and then to homo sapiens sapiens (“wise, wise human being”). Among these, the Cro-Magnon were the first recognizably human brings. And then, 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. During this time, humans created their first stone tools and weapons. They foraged for their food in an intimate and supportive relationship with their natural environment. Although Paleolithic man’s life was actually “nasty, brutish, and short”, he enjoyed culture: consider the amazing cave paintings at Lascaux and Altamira. What’s more, 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”). During this time, an agricultural society arose in which crops and animals were raised for food. With that, the first cities came into being at Jericho and Catal Huyuk some 7,000 years ago. In China, the Yellow River civilization was home to the Xia dynasty. Indeed, its archaeological finds date from 8,000 years ago. At about the same time, 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 pictures of people. Not just of people, but of gods associated with life, death, and rebirth. These included Venus figurines with outsized “earth mother” characteristics, and temples and megaliths were built for their worship. Crops spread throughout the Near East (“Fertile Crescent”), the Middle Americas, South Asia, and West Africa. Farmers grew new foods that included corn, rice, potatoes, and beans. As people ate better, they developed surpluses. As a result, some were able to leave the farms and move to communities. There, they would contribute their services and goods to the rise to the first cities.
Here’s a look…
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First Humans: Evolution | Paleolithic Era: Society • Culture | Neolithic Era: Society • Culture • Religion • Economy
The First Humans