AP World History 8000 BCE to 600 BCE
“Out of Africa” Thesis
The “Out of Africa” thesis revolves around the idea that Homo sapiens, ancestors of modern humans, emerged in Africa and then migrated to Eurasia and the Americas to populate the planet. The actual migration out of Africa, into Asia, is thought to have occurred around 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. This theory attempts to tackle the origin story of mankind, and as that is such a controversial topic, this assertion draws much attention; it is significant because of how it describes a very plausible scenario of how humans populated the Earth. This term fits perfectly into this time period as it describes the first real human migration and spans this entire era (starts at the beginning of history).
The Neolithic Revolution was a fundamental change in the way that people lived their lives. Humans used to find food in a nomadic fashion, by hunting game and gathering fruits and berries in the wild. Around 10,000 years ago, humans the world over independently innovated a new way to produce food; Women discovered, on accident, that seeds turn into plants when buried in the fertile soil. This term describes the initial development of agriculture, which led to the sustenance of larger populations, and a more sedentary, settled lifestyle.
Pastoralism is the practice of people caring for and raising herds of livestock, to later use for food and supplies. Around 3000 B.C.E., humans in Afroeurasia started to domesticate animals such as sheep and cattle. This practice was truly effective, as it has survived even until today, where are still nomadic, pastoral peoples that have domesticated large animals to satisfy their needs. Pastoralism was a successful development, as it is still an evident part of the agrarian way of life.
Wheeled vehicles refer to inventions such as the cart and the plow. These tools were first created by the Sumerians, of Mesopotamia, around 3500 B.C.E. They were used to assist humans in everyday tasks, such as transporting heavy loads across longer distances. It really boosted the growth of agriculture, as the plow facilitated the cultivation of farmland. The notion of the wheel being used as transportation was a large factor in the emergence of complex civilizations, as the chariot bolstered the military power of early societies. The advent of wheeled vehicles was a large factor in the increase of craft specialization and growth of communication between groups.
Metallurgy is the act of crafting of strong and precious metals into weapons, shields, jewelry and other items. In its earliest form, metallurgy was practiced as early as the Paleolithic Era (40,000 B.C.E.). Early humans found minerals such as gold, copper, and tin in small amounts inside caves. It wasn’t until about 1200 B.C.E. that the Hittites discovered a way to mine iron ore and work it into tools and weapons. Metallurgy spread around the world, but was independently innovated in separate regions of Eurasia, like agriculture. This innovation supported the growth and prominence of civilization by providing tools to build and harvest, and weapons to conquer and war.
Epic of Gilgamesh
The “Epic of Gilgamesh” is one of the world’s oldest works of literature. This epic poem was penned around 2750-2500 B.C.E in Ancient Sumeria; it details the adventures of Gilgamesh, the fabled King of Uruk. It touched upon controversial ideas such as the biblical “Noah’s Flood”. But it really signified the start of human record-keeping through the telling of stories, myths, and legends.
Cuneiform is the written language of the Ancient Sumerians. Originating around 5000 B.C.E., this writing system consisted of wedge-like markings in soft clay that formed pictographs. The advent of a written language was used primarily to keep details about religion, but also used to keep records of day-to-day life, the empire, and stories (such as the Epic of Gilgamesh). This evolved into the written languages of the modern world.
Hammurabi’s Code was a set of laws that governed Ancient Babylonia. It is regarded as the oldest legal system to exist. Around 1750 B.C.E., King Hammurabi wrote down over 282 laws on a large stone. This code clearly defined all the laws that oversaw the people of Babylonia, and alerted the ancient Babylonians of what they were legally entitled to. Most other civilizations had laws as well, but Hammurabi’s Code was the only one that was written down. This prevented the ruler from unjustly altering the empire’s rules to suit his own agenda. The feeling of justice that King Hammurabi entitled the people of Babylonia doubled as a form of record-keeping, as the code described what was and was not acceptable in ancient society.
The Aryans were a race of nomadic people that spread across Eurasia. Also known as the Indo-Europeans, the Aryans invaded the Khyber Pass region of Northern India around 1500 B.C.E. They settled down in the Indus Valley, and their culture and people mixed with those of the incumbent Harappa people. The Aryans’ nomadic roots caused them to migrate all over the Eurasian continent, for no particular reason other than curiosity. Their historical importance lies with their linguistics; the Indo-European language group has diversified into the languages of over 3 billion people in the modern era.
A caste system is a form of hierarchy, a type of social stratification in Southeast Asian cultures. The Hindu caste system of India is one of the oldest, originating near 1200 B.C.E., and still exists today. It comes from older cultural notions of social acceptance, and was inherited by birth. Generally, people in this social structure only marry others of the same caste, a practice called endogamy. Despite efforts to rid Southeast Asia of its societal inequality, caste systems still exist. The emergence of social discrimination was not the finest advancement of human civilization, but led to the hierarchy that defined so many great empires.
Specialization of Labor
The specialization of labor was the broadening of jobs and occupations from just gathering food. Around 5000 B.C.E, the use of natural resources expedited, and specialized tasks and labor divisions were formed. Once a population reached an agricultural surplus (when there is an overabundance of food), the immediate need for the society disappeared. People had the choice of following their skillset and becoming an artisan, or metalworker. Modern civilization started to emerge with the onset of labor specialization.
The Hittites were one of the first civilizations to settle down in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley. Around 1650 B.C.E., Indo-Europeans from North of the Black Sea settled down in central Anatolia; they became known as the Hittites and shifted their territory to northwest Mesopotamia. Once deciphered, the Hittite language proved that the first European linguistics originated around that area near the Black Sea. The Hittites are known to have decided the first peace treaty between complex civilizations (them and Egypt). The start of civilization in this region of the world is historically important, as both Judaism and Christianity trace their roots back to Eastern Mediterranea.
Hebrew monotheism refers to the Jewish belief of there being only one god. Around 2,000 years ago, Hebrews shifted from a loosely polytheistic faith to a strictly monotheistic religion. Hebrew monotheism united a large group of people from different backgrounds to a common cause and belief. But after the Jewish were openly monotheistic, they eventually were discriminated against, as most of the Old World was predominantly Christian.
Horseback riding involved the domestication of horses and then the training of people to ride them, either for transport or warfare. Around 3,000 B.C.E., horses in Eurasia were tamed and were used for the transportation of goods and people. They were also utilized in the military, as soldiers called cavalry fought while riding the equines. Horseback riding made conquest and combat much easier, and more effective; it also abridged the time it took to transport goods or information between civilizations. Equestrianism assisted the migration of large, nomadic groups, and made it possible to traverse large areas of land.
Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions, founded by the prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran, over 3500 years ago. The ideas of Zoroaster entail there being one transcendent god, known as Ahura Mazda; Christianity, Judaism, and Catholicism all borrow and share ideals found in Zoroastrianism. This religion signifies both the uniqueness of and hidden connection between all civilizations that have emerged in the Old and New World alike.
The Vedic religions, also referred to as Vedism, are the religions and religious beliefs of the Indo-European nomads who entered India around 1500 B.C.E., through the Khyber Pass. The Vedic religions established the Vedas scriptures of, and acted as the precursor to, Hinduism in India. The founding of the Hindu religion enabled the Indo-European/Harappa peoples to create the Indian civilization of the modern world.