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Johnathon Burgess

Classics Study Notes The First CivilizationsHomers Illiad described the legendary first greek national venture the Trojan war in a poem that took shape as the Greeks were beginning to develop a sense of themselves of the people The root meaning of history comes from Herodotus historia History then refers to a method to the investigation of the past Evidence survives from antiquity inscriptions on tombstones shopping lists receipts and personal letters written on broken pot sherds or on papyrus ancient paper legal codes regulating everything from homicide to taxes to the inheritance of property monuments celebrating imperial victories medical texts describing symptoms of disease and ancient forms of therapy etcThe Origins of CivilizationThe period before the widespread use of metals when most tools were made of stone is called the Stone Age It is divided into two main periods the Paleolithic or old stone age And the Neolithic the new stone age which begins with the invention of agricultureNeolithic period began as early as 11 thousand years ago in the Near East but did not reach other areas of the Mediterranean region until much later The Archaeological RecordNo written records about Stone Age must rely on artifacts of human skeletonsScientists can examine seeds and pollen samples from archaeological sites to learn about the climate natural environment or and food sources of ancient peoplebones can reveal clues to their owners diet and activities and the diseases that affected them during their livesAnalysis of an excavated sites stratigraphy the layers in which the finds were deposited helps archaeologists to determine the relative age of finds since more recen layers are normally closer to the surface of the ground Archaeology is a valuable source of information it can tell us more about the lives of ordinary people than literary sources which usually are produced by the upper classes and reflect their point of view The First Modern HumansIn the Paleolithic era the most important feature of the climate was a series of glaciations or ice ages About 100 thousand years ago modern humans begin to appear in the archaeological record Some of the earliest traces of homo sapiens have been found in the Mediterranean region remains from two sites in Israel are 100000 years old Another form of humans homo sapiens Neanderthalensis or Neanderthal man had inhabited Europe for more than 20000 years Toward the end of the Paleolithic humans began to manufacture finer and more eggicient tools and weapons to live or travel in groups of a hundred or more produce music or paintings and art objects The most spectacular remains from the later Paleolithic are the cave paintings found in France and SpainThe Neolithic revolution did not occur until about 11 thousand years ago For 90 percent of our history our species hunted and fathered wild foods for subsistence The Beginnings of AgricultureThe last ice age ended 1300 or 10000 years ago The period after was called the Mesolithic or middle stone age It had climatic instability that required humans to adapt to environmental changes As sea levels rose and many species became extinct some humans broadened the range of plants and animals on which they relied for foodIn the Neolithic some animals and plants became domesticated Humans selected the indiciduals with the most desirable traits grain stalks with bigger seeds sheeps with thicker wool and bred from themThey changed subsistence strategies from foraging to agriculture The earliest evidence of agriculture comes from the Near East especially the so calledFertile Crescent Here some grains legumes and animals were domesticated as early as 11000 years ago Over time agriculture resulted in important changes in the way people lived as a result of diet richer in grain more body fat was accumulated which increased fertility in women and led to larger denser populationsOne of the most important innovations of the Neolithic period was a new way of recording information But compared to the Paleolithic period social economical cultural and technological changes have taken place at an astounding rate since the invention of agriculture Studies of Neolithic human skeletons also show that agricultural societies were more vulnerable to infectious disease because they tended to have denser more settled populations than hunters and gatherers As a result life expectancy was shorter in early agricultural societies than it was for foragersA New Complexity Some Neolithic SitesJericho a number of Neolithic sites in the Near East dating from about 7000 to 5000 bc One of these sites was Jericho in Israel Here a stone perimeter wall ten feet thick and twelve feet high with a tower twentysix feet high was constructed around 8000 bc It enclosed an area of about ten acres with a population of perhaps 2000 people Catalhoyuk one of the most famous and largest of several early Neolithic sites in Turkey and Syria It covers about thirty two acres the population of the village may have been between 5000 and 10000 at its maximum Nearby the Hasan Dag volcano produced an abundant supply of obsidian well suited for making sharp tools and weapons The village was made up of mud brick houses sharing adjoining walls It lacked the more structured organization of space and of society that later characterized the first cities Scientists were able to get an idea of the villages demography statistical makeup of its population The average age at death was 34 for men and 30 for women Each woman had about 4 children nearly half died before adulthood Many villagers suffered from anemia The city produced a wealth of artifacts bone objects needles and hairpins and pottery Art objects include statuettes of men women and animals Among the most interesting things found were paintings that decorate some interior walls Stonehenge one of the biggest and best preserved of over a thousand Neolithic stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany Was built 4000 years ago the builders of this monument moved 60
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