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Who Are the Early Peoples? What Were the River Civilizations?

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1. Hunters and Gatherers

- During the Old Stone Age, people known as nomads moved from place to place, hunting and gathering their food.

- Small group of people would travel together.

2. Adapting to their Environment

The Stone Age people made simple tools and weapons, such as digging sticks and spears, from stone, bone, or wood.

They also developed language, which allowed them to communicate and cooperate during a hunt.

They invented clothing made of animal skins.

They used fire for warmth as well as for cooking food.

3. Spiritual Beliefs

Towards the end of the Old Stone Age, people began burying their dead with care, a practice suggesting that they believed in an afterlife.

They buried tools and weapons with their dead.

4. Migration

During the Old Stone Age, people migrated north and east into Europe and Asia.

Migration led to cultural diffusion, or the exchange of ideas, customs, and goods among cultures.

Cultural diffusion also occurred through trade and warfare.


People made two important discoveries; they learned to plant seeds to grow food, and they learned to domesticate (tame and keep as pet or for farming purposes) animals.

These discoveries meant that people no longer had to wander in search of food.

This change marked the beginning of the New Stone Age, or Neolithic period.

Historians call these discoveries the Neolithic Revolution, or the Agricultural Revolution, because farming and domestic animals changed the way people lived.

1. The impact of Agriculture

Permanent Settlements People settled together in villages.

New Social Classes When resources were scarce, groups went to war. Chiefs or headmen emerged.

New Technology People began to develop technology, or tools and skills they could use to meet their basic needs, such as the calendars and plows. Other new technology included the wheel, metal weapons, and metal tools.


1. Cities and Central Government

Cities emerged as farmers cultivated land along river valleys and produced surplus food.

Surplus food let to increased population.

Governments developed to make sure that enough food was produced and that the city was protected.

Roads, bridges, and defensive walls were built.

2. Traditional Economy

- Skilled craftsworkers made pottery, cloth, and other goods.

3. Organized Religion

Ancient peoples were polytheistic, believing in many gods.

Priests and worshipers tried to gain the favor of these gods through complex rituals in hopes that the gods would ensure plentiful crops and protect their cities.

4. Job Specialization and Social Classes

People began to specialize in certain jobs.

People became ranked in classes according to their jobs.

Priests and nobles were at top, followed by warriors and merchants, with peasant farmers and slaves at the bottom.

5. Art and Architecture

Early art and architecture consisted of temples and palaces, symbols of the power of rulers.

6. System of Writing

Writing may have first developed in temples, where many types of records were kept.

Early writing were picture writing.

Over time, the writing became more symbolic.


1. Geographic Setting

Since most of Egypt is a desert, people settled along the Nile River.

The Nile provided water for drinking and for irrigation of crops.

The river also served as a highway for travel.

2. Religion

Egyptians were polytheistic.

They believed in life after death.

Egyptians prepared their dead for the afterlife through a preservation process called mummification.

3. Government

Egyptian ruler were called a pharaoh.

Egyptians believed that the pharaoh was both a god and a king.

After the death of a pharaoh, power usually passed to another member of the family.

Ruling families were called dynasties.

4. Social Structure

The Egyptian society was divided in what was known as a class system.

Women could own property, enter business deals, and obtain a divorce.

5. Contributions

Mummification helped Egyptians learn much about the human body, allowing them to diagnose many illnesses and perform surgery.

They developed a calender very



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