Unit 1: Neolithic Revolution and the Birth of Civilization Civilizations are societies that rely on sedentary agriculture, develop social stratification and economic specialization, and create populations that are sufficient to support urban life. However, such civilizations have only existed for the last 9,000 years – a tiny fraction of the time that the human species has inhabited the earth.
In this unit, we will begin by defining what civilization means and by understanding the early stages of civilization that emerged during the Paleolithic Era 2.5 million years ago. Secondly, we will examine the transition from hunter-gatherer groups to sedentary agricultural communities during the Neolithic Age – one of the first great transformations of human society.
Unit 1 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take approximately 7.5 hours.
☐ Subunit 1.1: 2.5 hours
☐ Subunit 1.2: 1.5 hours
☐ Subunit 1.3: 2 hours
☐ Subunit 1.4: 1 hour
☐ Unit 1 Assessment: 0.5 hours
Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - identify the meaning and nature of “civilization”; - describe the evolution of Palaeolithic and Neolithic societies; - assess the importance of plant and animal domestication; and - trace the origins of sedentary farming societies.
1.1 What Is Civilization?
- Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Invention and Diffusion of
Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Invention and Diffusion of
Instructions: Read this article in order to get an overview of the emergence of the earliest civilizations.
- Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “What Is Civilization?”
Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “What Is
Instructions: Read this article to get a sense of the definition of “civilization.” This will be a key term in this unit and throughout the course.
1.2 Origins of Neolithic Man
- Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Origin of Civilization”
Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Origin of
Instructions: Read this article and pay special attention to the section “The Consequences of Agriculture.”
- Web Media: You Tube: “The Neolithic Revolution, Part 1” and “Part
Link: You Tube: “The Neolithic Revolution, Part
1” and “Part
Instructions: Watch these two videos to get a good overview of the Neolithic Revolution.
1.3 The Development of the Neolithic Age in Africa, the Americas,
Asia, and Europe
- Reading: Jack E. Maxfield’s A Comprehensive Outline of World
History: “Beginning to 8000 B.C.”
Links: Jack E. Maxfield’s A Comprehensive Outline of World
History: “Beginning to 8000
Also available in:
Entire Document (PDF)
Instructions: Read this artcle. At the end, choose and follow one of the links under “Choose Different Region” in order to understand how early human societies developed differently on each continent.
About the Link: This text was developed by Jack E. Maxfield for use in world history courses and is part of the Community College Open Textbook Initiative.
1.4 The Development of Early Towns: Jericho and Catal Huyuk - Assessment: Pearson Education’s World Civilizations: The Global Experience: “Chapter 1, Multiple Choice Quiz” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.
Reading: UCL Institute of Archaeology: Shahina Farid’s “Çatalhöyük Comes Home” Link: UCL Institute of Archaeology: Shahina Farid’s “Çatalhöyük Comes Home” (PDF)
Instructions: Read this article to learn about the origin and culture of the Neolithic town of Çatalhöyük in Anatolia (Modern Turkey). Living in towns or cities is one of the key features of “civilization.”