Ancient World History

Technological and Environmental Transformations to c. 600 B.C.E.: the Transition from the Paleolithic to Neolithic Era, and the Formation of Early Complex Societies

 ***Period 1 Key Concept HW Packet***

Transitioning from Big History, as inquired into by PBS’ Eons YouTube page, we can then adjust our historical time scale from the geologic to the human scale.  Even though it’s not a major focus of the AP College Board’s curriculum, Mr. Cameron is fascinated by the evolution of humans.  Recognizing the importance of the cognitive revolution and collective learning, how did homo sapiens out-compete the other six human species that existed 100,000 years ago?  One answer might lie in our ability to run – Christopher McDougall: The Humanity of Running.  To problematize the cooperative efforts innate in collective learning, we can read this account of a historian chronicling a constant tool of division among people of earth – Robert Sapolsky: How Your Brain Hates Other People, and How to Make It Think Differently.



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Foundations KC 1: Big Geography and the Peopling of the EarthThroughout the Paleolithic era, humans developed sophisticated technologies and adapted to different geographical environments as they migrated from Africa to Eurasia, Australasia, and the Americas.

Growing archaeological evidence suggests some mixing of different bi-pedal species in the early paleolithic period.  An NPR article from 2013 investigated a new discovery of inter-species breeding; the article was followed-up in 2018 with the (SECSEE?) title of Ancient Bone Reveals Surprising Sex Lives Of Neanderthals.



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Foundations KC 2: The Neolithic Revolution and Early Agricultural Societies.  Beginning about 10,000 years ago, some human communities adopted sedentism and agriculture, while others pursued hunter-forager/gatherer or pastoralist lifestyles — different pathways that had significant social and demographic ramifications.



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Foundations KC 3: The Development and Interaction of Early Agricultural, Pastoral and Urban Societies.  The appearance of the first urban societies 5,000 years ago laid the foundations for the development of complex civilizations; these civilizations shared several significant social, political, and economic characteristics.

Concerning commonalities between ancient civilizations, consider this Reading on Creation Stories and the Reading on Flood Stories for insight into the shared cultural concepts.

  • Ancient (Eastern) Middle East:
    • Harappan society and its neighbors c. 2000 BCE – Bentley 90






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Crash Course conceptualizes and problematizes the idea of CIVILIZATION:

… and continues with the historically problematic fall of many classical civilizations between 1210 and 1130 BCE… 

REVIEW of Unit 1

Check out Freeman-pedia’s page on the Paleo->Neolithic age and development of early complex societies.

SAQ Prep for Bentley Textbook Chs. 1-6:  The Formation of Early Complex Societies c. 8000 BCE – 600 BCE

1) Why do you want to take AP world? What do you hope to learn?

2) a) Identify ONE cause of the Neolithic (agricultural) Revolution. b) Identify ONE effect of the Neolithic Revolution. c) Justify the importance of the neolithic revolution within the context of the existence of homo sapiens.

3) Explain ONE cause for the development of city-states and justify its importance. Explain ONE effect of the development of city-states and explain its importance.

4) Many historians identify 8000 BCE to 600 BCE as a historic period. Provide TWO pieces of evidence that support this periodization and explain how each piece supports the argument. Provide ONE piece of evidence that undermines this periodization and explain how it undermines the argument.

…Bentley Textbook Chapter Outlines & Lectures…

Just as we do with our unit-by-unit SECSE Maps (on the “Geography!” page of the website), it will be important that we annotate and color-code our chapter notes by key concept.  Here you’ll also find the lectures for each chapter; again, students should take the time to apply these notes to specific key concepts seen in the Key Concept HW Packet.

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(Re)Organization of Human Societies from c. 600 B.C.E. to c. 600 C.E.: The Classical Era

Classical KC 1: The Development and Codification of Religious and Cultural Traditions.  As states and empires increased in size and contacts between regions intensified, human communities transformed their religious and ideological beliefs and practices.


  • Classical Greece & the Middle East, here as Persia:

  • Alexander’s empire, c. 323 BCE – Bentley pg. 242

  • Expansion of the Roman Republic to 146 BCE. Bentley pg. 263



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Classical KC 2: The Development of States and Empires.  As the early states and empires grew in number, size, and population, they frequently competed for resources and came into conflict with one another.



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Classical KC 3: Emergence of Transregional Networks of Communication and Exchange.  With the organization of large-scale empires, trans-regional trade intensified, leading to the creation of extensive networks of commercial and cultural exchange.



While some Classical era civilizations  seek to control limited amounts of water, some are masters of surrounding oceans.  Similarly, water is yet another factor in the story of human ingenuity as a function of movement; some human migrations have origins from Paleolithic times, like the Bantu migrations out of the Great Rift Valley in east Africa.  Others long lasting human migrations, like the Polynesian migrations, began later, but still happened over the course of multiple historical periods.  Let’s inquire into the later of these two major migrations.  Consider this map of Polynesia, as well as PNAS’ 2011 article by John Terrell titled “Recalibrating Polynesian Pre-history.”  Consider too the possibility of South American interaction with the region of Polynesia, as suggested by the work of Thor Heyerdahl in Kon Tiki (1948).  Finally, inquire into some of the most awesome maritime navigation ingenuity in human history:


 Freeman-pedia’s page on the Classical era is great for REVIEW!

*SAQ Prep for Bentley Textbook: 600 BCE-600 CE – The Classical Era*

…Bentley Textbook Chapter Outlines…

Just as we do with our unit-by-unit SECSE Maps (on the “Geography!” page of the website), it will be important that we annotate and color-code chapter notes.

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Regional and Inter-regional Interactions c. 600 C.E. to c. 1450: The Post-Classical Era

*The Post-Classical Era Key Concept HW Packet*

Post-Classical KC 1: Expansion and Intensification of Communication and Exchange Networks.  A deepening and widening of networks of human interaction within and across regions contributed to cultural, technological, and biological diffusion within and between various societies.

Classical and Post-Classical Era Document-Based Question (DBQ):

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Post-Classical KC 2: Continuity and Innovation of State Forms and Their Interactions.  State formation and development demonstrated continuity, innovation, and diversity in various regions.

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Post-Classical KC 3: Increased Economic Productive Capacity and its Consequences.  Changes in trade networks resulted from and stimulated increasing productive capacity, with important implications for social and gender structures and environmental processes.

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Freeman-Pedia’s page on the Post-Classical era is great for review!

…Bentley Textbook Chapter Outlines…

Just as we do with our unit-by-unit SECSE Maps (on the “Geography!” page of the website), it will be important that we annotate and color-code our chapter notes.