1 Paleo->Neolithic & Early 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 humanoid species that existed over 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.


The topic of the the scope of ‘early’ agricultural settlement has recently undergone radical change.  New data in aerial mapping, tectonic seismology, and a host of complex fields of archaeology are being combined to lend extensive evidence to support a completely different story to understand the natural environment and subsequent peopling of the Saharan region of Africa.  Challenges to the narrative of the Saharan region are not new.  Below is a Watch and Read List:

Representing the pre-end-of-Cold War histories: “The Great Year” by the Binary Research Institute; Heinrich Barth’s 1850 expedition into the region; pages 29-34, 55 of this embedded source from 1965.  Now then, in our Contemporary Era we have the histories of Atlas Pro’s “How Geography Turned the Sahara Green“, Bright Insight’s “You Won’t Believe What’s Buried Under the Sahara…“, and PBS Eon’s “When the Sahara Was Green“.

DUE upon your return to school on Monday is a response to the following: Using the sources provided, evaluate the extent to which the historiography of the topic of this first Key Concept has changed since c. the end of the Cold War.  

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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; and to focus specifically on China and Egypt, see this Document Based Question (DBQ) on Similarities and Differences in Foundational Religious Beliefs and Practices in Egypt and China.


  • Ancient Southwest Asia – Mesopotamia (ch. 2a):

  • Ancient Mediterranean Basin Influenced by Mesopotamia (ch. 2b):
    • Israel and Phoenicia, c. 1500 thru 600 BCE – Bentley 46



  • Ancient South Asia – the Indus River Valley (ch. 4):
    • 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… 


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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.