The Beginning


The Beginning Essay, Research Paper

The Beginning

To understandhow the Earth started; we need to start off with origins of mankind and the earth’s existence. The Earth came into existence about 6 billion years ago and the emergence of homo-sapiens-sapiens 200,000 years ago. Technology has always been closely linked to the way in which people have lived. Before the development of civilizations, humans lived for many millennia with tools and techniques that allowed them to live successfully in wide variety environments. Following this development, civilization started to arise. Through discoveries of the ancient world, we can understand the lifestyle and how these humans have grown together. Prehistoric humans developed technologies and ways of life that allowed them to increase their control over the natural world.

To interpret the entire breadth of human existence, vast lengths of time are required. Once we enter prehistoric time, we are dealing with hundred and thousands of years. To make sense of this time scale, we start off with the first, and most ancient, the Paleolithic Age. The term Paleolithic means “old stone” and gives an indication of how things were related to human existence. This era in history begins somewhere between 2 million years ago and ends 10,000 years before our time. It marks the beginning of the existence of the ancestors of man, the homo-sapiens sapiens. The Paleolithic people were brought up on hunting, gathering, and fishing. In search of the new food sources and to be able to hunt animals, they moved from place to place, and gathered in small groups. The dwellings of these people were normally in rocky areas. Starting around 40,000 BCE, the Paleolithic people started making simple stone tools for hunting and protection purposes. Not being able to move much due to the glacial age climate, the primitive man utilized the skin of the animals. During this time of survival, the Paleolithic people were able to discover and control fire, in turn passing an important step in their development, which helped them be separate from the animals. The intellectual life of the man was beginning.

The next era brings the Neolithic Age, or “new stone” age. The early emergence of this period dates around 8000 B.C.E. The Neolithic Age saw the most important technological breakthrough of the prehistoric period; development of agriculture. This formed a radical new way of extracting food from the environment. In fact, where hunter-gatherers had only acquired their food by collecting what the environment offered, agriculturistsfarmers – managed to control the environment in such ways that they actually made it produce the food they needed. As a result, the outcomes were tremendous and prosperous. First, and most significant, farmers stopped being nomadic. Now, humans that farmed became sedentary. Another major result was that farmers began to produce an incredible amount of food. For the first time, people actually had a significant surplus of food. It was upon this agricultural surplus that civilization first developed.

Between 9000 B.C.E., western civilizations came into being in Egypt and in what historians call Ancient Western Asia. The earliest permanent settlements occurred between 9000-6000 B.C.E and were accompanied by the domestication of plants and animals. Between 4000-3000 B.C.E., the first cities appeared in response to the pressure of the population growth, the organizational requirements of irrigation and the demands of more complex trade patterns. The societies of Egypt and Ancient Western Asia correspond to what we would call civilizations.

The history and culture of the Mesopotamian (”land between two rivers”) civilization is inextricably connected to the ebb and flow of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The earliest communities developed to the north, but by 5000 B.C.E communities had spread south to the rich alluvial plains. Agriculture was the primary economy. Due to the fertile soil, Mesopotamia was given a chance to thrive. With the surplus of food, people were able to settle and establish a village life; creating towns and cities. Along with this surplus came a population increase, a well-defined division of labor, organization, cooperation and kingship. The emergence of cities involved interaction between people. The Mesopotamian’s built massive temples or ziggurats, which housed the priestly class, the human representatives of gods. The priests controlled the religious life of the community, the economy, land ownership, and the employment of workers. Mesopotamian villages and towns eventually evolved into independent and self-sufficient city-states. The first inhabitants of Mesopotamia were made by the Sumerians. The origin of the Sumerians is really unclear, expect that they dominated Mesopotamian law, religion, art, literature, and science for nearly seven centuries. The greatest contribution was their cuneiform (”wedge-shaped”) system of writing. Mespotamian’s viewed themselves as subservient to the gods and believed humans were at the mercy of the god’s arbitrary decisions. To counter the insecurity, they established codes that regulated their relationships with one another. These law codes (Code of Hammurabi) became an integral part of the Mesopotamian society. Through the Code of Hammurabi we see an important glimpse into the values of Mesopotamian Civilization.

Ancient Egypt is a land of mysteries. Mystery surrounds its origins, its religion and its monumental architecture: colossal temples, pyramids and the enormous Sphinx. Just as life arose from the waters, the seeds of civilization were first sown along the banks of the Nile River. This mighty river nourished the growth of the pharaonic kingdom. The long, narrow flood plain was a magnet for life, attracting people, animals and plants to its banks. Seen as a gift from the gods, the annual flooding of the river deposited nutrient rich silt over the land, creating ideal conditions for growing wheat, flax and other crops. The first communal project of this fledgling society was the building of irrigation canals for agricultural purposes. Government and religion were inseparable in ancient Egypt. The pharaoh was the head of state and the divine representative of the gods on earth. Religion and government brought order to society through the construction of temples, the creation of laws, taxation, the organization of labor, trade with neighbors and the defense of the country’s interests. The pharaoh was assisted by a hierarchy of advisors, priests, officials and administrators, who were responsible for the affairs of the state and the welfare of the people. Tomb paintings and sacred hieroglyphic texts provide a glimpse into the world of the elite, but information on the lives of ordinary people remains scant. The majority of the population of ancient Egypt was peasants who played a vital role within the country’s strict hierarchical society. Artifacts related to daily activities remain as a testament to the labors of the workers who transformed ancient Egypt into an earthly paradise.

Many diverse ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups have resided in the Indus River valley region. The Indus Valley civilization appeared around 2500 B.C.E. along the Indus River valley in Punjab and Sindh. The two most important discovered sites were the Mohenjo-daro, in Sindh, and Harappa, in Punjab. This civilization had a writing system, urban centers, and a diversified social and economic system. How closely these places were connected to Mohenjo-daro and Harappa is not clearly known, but evidence indicates that there was some link and that the people inhabiting these places were probably related. Indus Valley civilization was essentially a city culture sustained by surplus agricultural produce and extensive commerce, which included trade with Sumer in southern Mesopotamia (Iraq). Copper and bronze were in use, but not iron. Mohenjo-daro and Harappa were cities built on similar plans of well-laid-out streets, elaborate drainage systems, public baths, differentiated residential areas, flat-roofed brick houses and fortified administrative and religious centers enclosing meeting halls and granaries. Weights and measures were standardized. Distinctive engraved stamp seals were used, perhaps to identify property. Wheat, rice, and other food crops were cultivated, and a variety of animals were domesticated. Wheel-made pottery has been found in profusion at all the major Indus sites. A centralized administration has been inferred from the cultural uniformity revealed, but it remains uncertain whether authority lay with a priestly or a commercial oligarchy. A social and political system evolved in which the Aryans dominated, but various indigenous peoples and ideas were accommodated and absorbed. The caste system that remained characteristic of Hinduism also evolved. One theory is that the three highest castes–Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas–were composed of Aryans, while a lower caste–the Sudras–came from the indigenous peoples. During the sixth century B.C.E., Northern India was populated by a number of small princely states that rose and fell. In this milieu, a phenomenon arose that affected the history of the region for several centuries-Buddhism. Siddhartha Gautama, the “Enlightened One” spread his teachings in all directions by monks, missionaries, and merchants. His teachings proved enormously popular when considered against the more obscure and highly complicated rituals and philosophy of Vedic Hinduism. The original doctrines of the Buddha also constituted a protest against the inequities of the caste system, attracting large numbers of followers.


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