E. Napp Date: The First Humans

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The Big Easy Global Review

Global History and Geography Name: ____________________________

E. Napp Date: ____________________________
The First Humans

  • Anthropologists (studying the origins of humans) – Louis and Mary Leakey discovered evidence that suggests human beings first appeared in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa (between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago)

  • Nomads – Hunters and gatherers

  • First human cultures developed (culture is a way of life of a group of people.)

The Neolithic Revolution

  • Around 8,000 B.C., some people learned to farm and domesticate animals

  • Many archaeologists (social scientists excavating or digging up artifacts or human-made objects to discover prehistoric peoples and cultures) believe this change occurred in the Middle East

  • Began in river valleys (Tigris and Euphrates, Nile, Indus, Huang He (Yellow)

  • A result was that people began living in permanent settlements

  • Agriculture, villages, complex class systems, government

  • Rise of civilization (an advanced form of human culture with cities, writing, and technology)

Mesopotamia (3500 B.C. – 1700 B.C.)

  • Early civilization located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (present-day Iraq)

  • Irrigation led to food surpluses

  • Rise of city-states

  • Sumerians were a group of people living in Mesopotamia

  • Sumerians developed cuneiform (an early writing system) and built ziggurats (temples)

  • Another people of Mesopotamia (Babylonians) developed the world’s earliest written law code

  • The Code of Hammurabi had harsh punishments and class divisions (wealthy people could sometimes pay a fine to avoid physical punishment)

Egypt (3200 B.C. – 500 B.C.)

  • Located in North Africa

  • Mostly desert but Nile River, longest river, runs through it

  • Agriculture on the banks of the Nile River

  • River flooded every year

  • River used for transportation and trade

  • Pharaoh was the absolute ruler, a divine ruler (god-king)

  • Believed in life after death (pyramids as tombs for deceased pharaohs)

  • Hieroglyphics (Egyptian writing)

  • Used geometry to build pyramids

The Indus River Valley (Harappan Civilization: 2500 – 1500 B.C.)

  • Indus River (South Asia) flooded depositing rich soil along its banks

  • Food surpluses allowed people to build large cities

  • Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were important cities

  • Evidence of urban planning – cities were built on a grid pattern

  • Developed writing and made first cotton cloth

  • Built sewage systems

The Huang He (Yellow River: 2000 – 1027 B.C.)

  • China’s first civilization emerged along Huang He or Yellow River

  • Rice cultivation became common

  • Around 1760 B.C., a ruling family (dynasty) known as Shang took control of region

  • Nobles lived in cities

  • Use of Bronze (mixture of copper and tin)

  • Chinese system of writing – each character represented a different word

Kush (750 B.C. – 350 A.D.)

  • African kingdom located upstream on Nile River, south of Egypt

  • Nomadic Cattle herders who frequently traded with the Egyptians

  • Egypt greatly influenced Kushite culture

  • Adopted Egyptian art forms, religious beliefs, and even the building of pyramids

  • Known for its iron wares


  • Located on the Mediterranean coast by present-day Lebanon

  • Sea-faring traders

  • Established trading posts in Italy, Spain, and North Africa

  • Invented an alphabet using twenty-two symbols

  • Each symbol represented a different sound

  • Spread through cultural diffusion

The Hebrews

  • Developed a civilization along the Mediterranean occupied by present-day Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan

  • Judaism was the religion of the Hebrews

  • It was the first monotheistic religion

  • Monotheism is the belief in one God

  • The Torah is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Christians refer to the Hebrew Bible as the Old Testament)

  • According to Jewish tradition, ancient Hebrews migrated from Israel to Egypt to escape food shortages from drought

  • Enslaved in Egypt until Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt (this flight from Egypt is known as the Exodus)

  • Moses received the Ten Commandments (moral and ethical rules in the Bible that forbid immoral behavior)

  • Hebrews returned to Israel and established their capital at Jerusalem

The Persian Empire

  • Lived in the region between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf

  • Beginning around 550 B.C., rulers extended the territory

  • At height, Persian Empire stretched more than 3,000 miles from the Nile to the Indus River

  • Vast empire (a state that rules over different people) was divided into provinces connected by a system of roads

  • Each province paid tribute (taxes) to Persian ruler

  • In 570 B.C., a new religion was introduced (Zoroastrianism)

  • Zoroastrianism taught that there were two forces in the world: a force of light and goodness and a force of darkness and evil – the world is a battleground

  • According to Zoroaster, those who led good lives would go to Heaven and the others would be doomed to Hell

The Greeks

  • Ancient Greece consisted of a large mountainous peninsula and the islands of the Aegean Sea

  • Seas used for trade

  • Trade increased cultural diffusion (sharing of cultural ideas and objects)

  • Adopted the Phoenician alphabet

  • Mountains separated the early Greek city-states

  • Each city acted as a separate country although shared a common culture based on language, religious beliefs, and customs

  • Athens and Sparta were important city-states

  • Sparta was a militaristic city-state, slaves (helots) farmed, and strict discipline was emphasized

  • Athens developed direct democracy (only free men born in Athens – women, slaves, and foreigners could not vote), experienced a golden age (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were important philosophers – built the Parthenon and its columns – theater and mathematics)

  • A rivalry developed between Athens and Sparta which led to the Peloponnesian War – after thirty years, Sparta emerged as the victor

Alexander the Great

  • In 338 B.C., the king of Macedonia brought all of the Greek city-states under his control

  • His son, Alexander the Great, went on to conquer most of the Mediterranean world, including Persia and Egypt

  • Extended his conquests to the Indus River Valley

  • Empire collapsed shortly after his death

  • His conquests spread Hellenism (a Greek-like culture – a blend of Greek, Persian, Egyptian, and Indian influences)

The Roman Empire

  • Rome was located in the middle of the Italian peninsula

  • Alps mountains (in the north) protected Rome from invaders and seas were used for trade and expansion

  • Early Roman class system: patricians (wealthy landowners) and plebeians (small farmers, craftsmen, and merchants)

  • In early times, Romans established a republic (citizens elect representatives like Senators and citizens are the source of political power)

  • The Twelve Tables of Roman Law or Roman written laws were issued mainly to protect the plebeians (innocent until proven guilty and equality under the law)

  • After conquering Italian peninsula, Rome defeated Carthage (former Phoenician colony in North Africa) and by 146 B.C. Rome dominated all of the Mediterranean world but expansion changed Rome

  • Julius Caesar, a general, conquered Gaul (France) and Spain and marched his armies back to Rome deciding to become a dictator for life but was assassinated in 44 B.C. by Senators

  • Augustus Caesar became the first Roman Emperor and began a long period of peace known as the Pax Romana began

  • Built new public baths, aqueducts, stadiums, and other buildings

  • Promoted trade and offered citizenship throughout the empire

  • Permitted existence of other religions but expected conquered people to worship the emperor as divine

  • Romans destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem and drove many Jews out of Palestine (the Diaspora or scattering of the Jewish people began)

  • Despite persecution, Christianity spread and in the 4th century, Emperor Constantine became a Christian

The Fall of the Western Roman Empire

  • Starting in the third century, the Roman Empire began to weaken

  • Many emperors were corrupt and ineffective

  • The cost of defending the empire led to high taxes

  • Inflation and unemployment led to economic difficulties

  • Under continual attack by fierce tribes from Northern Europe and Central Asia – The Romans considered these individuals to be barbarians

  • In the late 300s, Huns from Central Asia began attacking German tribes which in turn pushed toward Rome

  • Invaders successfully invaded Rome

  • In 476 A.D., the last Roman emperor was overthrown in the West

  • However, the Eastern empire, later known as the Byzantine empire, survived for another thousand years

Roman Achievements

  • Law: Roman concepts of justice, equality before the law, and natural law based on reason shaped later legal systems

  • Language: Latin was the language of Rome and from Latin, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian evolved

  • Engineering: The Romans built thousands of miles of roads to connect the empire as well as bridges and aqueducts to supply water to their cities – The Romans developed concrete and the use of arches and domes

  • Christianity: The adoption of the Christian religion by the Roman empire was a major turning point in the spread of Christianity

The Aryans

  • About 1500 B.C., a people from Central Asia known as the Aryans arrived in India

  • They had iron weapons and horse-drawn chariots and were excellent warriors

  • Conquered the Indus River Valley and then moved into the Ganges River Valley

  • Brought their own religion to India which would evolve into Hinduism

  • Aryan conquest led to the creation of a new social system known as the caste system

  • A person was born into his caste and remained in his caste throughout his lifetime ( it was a rigid or fixed class system)

  • People were not allowed to marry outside of their caste

  • Untouchables or outcastes were considered to be beneath all other social groups and performed the lowliest tasks

  • Hindus believed a person’s soul was reborn and that caste, therefore, was a punishment or reward for past deeds

The Mauryan Empire

  • A great empire emerged in northern India

  • Its most significant ruler, King Asoka (269 B.C.E. -232 B.C.E.) converted from Hinduism to Buddhism after a particularly violent battle

  • Buddhism had developed in India around 500 B.C. and Buddhists believed in renouncing worldly desires to find inner peace

  • Asoka was a tolerant ruler who encouraged all religious groups to live peacefully with one another

  • Asoka improved roads, built hospitals, and sent teachers throughout the empire to encourage education and spread the ideas of Buddhism

  • The empire began to fall apart after his death

The Gupta Empire (320 A.D. – 535 A.D.)

  • The Gupta family emerged as a new ruling family in northeastern India

  • The Guptas encouraged peace, prosperity, and trade (golden age of Hindu culture)

  • Built universities and supported learning

  • Excelled at mathematics and science

  • Developed the concept of zero, the idea of infinity, and the decimal system

  • Artists painted colorful murals

  • Writers composed poems and plays in Sanskrit (the literary and religious written language of India)

Zhou Dynasty (1027 B.C. – 221 B.C.)

  • The Zhou conquered the Shang and established a dynasty in China

  • The Zhou rulers claimed that they had the Mandate of Heaven (Chinese belief that the gods chose the emperor to rule but could remove a corrupt emperor)

  • Dynasty descended into warfare as competing warlords tried to achieve control

  • Two important philosophies developed: Confucianism and Daoism

  • For Confucius, preserving the social order became the most important human value – society depended on good family relations and good government

  • For Lao-zi, the founder of Daoism, nature has a dao, or way, in which it moves and people should respect nature and harmony and accept things as they are

The Qin Dynasty (221 B.C. - 206 B.C.)

  • Shi Huang-ti began a new dynasty in China

  • He was the first Chinese ruler to call himself “emperor”

  • He believed that people were not always good and required a strong ruler to keep control (Legalism – Chinese philosophy)

  • He established a strong central government, built roads, and introduced a uniform system of writing and measurement throughout the empire

  • Shi Huang-ti joined together several existing walls to form the Great Wall of China

  • The Great Wall was built to protect China from nomadic peoples to the northwest

  • The dynasty came to an end after the death of Shi Huang-ti because his rule was so harsh

The Han Dynasty (206 B.C. -220 A.D.)

  • The next dynasty kept China unified for over four hundred years

  • It is frequently compared to the Roman Empire

  • Han emperors established examinations to select candidates for government service

  • Merchants established overland trade routes

  • The Silk Road went through Central Asia, connecting China to the Middle East and Rome

  • Contact with India led to the introduction of Buddhism to China


  • Largely based on the beliefs of the Aryans

  • No single holy book but sacred writings like the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita

  • Dominant religion of India

  • Believe in many gods (polytheism) but believe each god is a part of Brahma, creator god)

  • Believe in reincarnation (the soul is reborn)

  • Believe in karma (a person’s actions determine his status in the next life)

  • The caste system is a fixed social class system

  • A Hindu is born into his caste and remains in his caste throughout this lifetime

  • A Hindu must marry in his caste (this is a rule of the caste system – Dharma)

  • The Ganges River is considered a sacred river and the cow is a sacred animal


  • Began in India around 500 B.C.

  • Prince Siddhartha Gautama lived a life of luxury but left in order to understand the cause of suffering

  • Saw an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a holy man

  • After years of searching, concluded that desire caused suffering

  • To end suffering, a person must give up selfish desire

  • Became known as the Buddha or “Enlightened One”

  • Missionaries spread Buddhism to China, Korea, and Japan

  • The Four Noble Truths explain the causes and cessation of suffering

  • The Eightfold Path are eight actions that help end suffering

  • Nirvana is the end of suffering


  • Chinese philosopher (551 B.C. – 479 B.C.)

  • Encouraged people to follow traditional ways

  • Believed that by maintaining order, peace occurred

  • In a relationship, there is an inferior and a superior

  • Inferiors had to obey superiors

  • Each person must act according to his role in a society (a son must obey his father)

  • Filial piety is a respect for parents and ancestors

  • Confucianism became the official philosophy of China

  • Candidates for government service had to take a test based on Confucian ideals

  • The family was very important


  • Began about 2,000 years ago in the Middle East

  • Based on the beliefs and life of Jesus Christ

  • Preached forgiveness, mercy, and sympathy for the poor

  • Jesus was crucified by the Romans for claiming that he was the Messiah or savior

  • After Jesus’ death, a band of followers known as Apostles, spread the religion

  • Eventually, became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire

  • Belief that Jesus was the son of God and sacrificed himself to save humankind from punishment for sins

  • Belief that Jesus was resurrected and rose to Heaven

  • Belief that a Christian will be saved and will go to Heaven after death if they have faith in Christ as their savior and treat others with love and respect

  • Sacred book consists of Old Testament (Jewish Bible) and New Testament which describes the life of Christ and the works of the Apostles

The Byzantine Empire
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