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Chapter 1: The Beginnings of Human Society
The prehistory of today's society stretches back thousands of years. Progressing from the hunter-gatherers to Stone Age farmers, humans developed new means of producing goods and new methods of survival. Fire and agriculture were key in the prehistoric people's attempt to establish permanent residences, and eventually instrumental in building the first civilizations and cities.

Section 1: Geography and History

History is studied in many different ways. Archaeologists study objects found in the ground, caves, and ancient historical sites. If documents are available, historians research and study the written documents of the time to find out what, where, and why events occurred.

Section 2: Prehistory

Significant discoveries aided prehistoric people in their development. The use of stone to create tools, the ability to control fire, and the first attempts at farming were key in the advance of civilization.

Section 3: The Beginnings of Civilization

Hunting and gathering required prehistoric people to move from place to place in order to survive. With the development of farming, however, tribes and clans were able to remain in one place. As populations grew, villages and towns developed. To keep order, rules were made, and forms of government evolved to manage society and provide necessary services.
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Chapter 2: The Fertile Crescent
Stretching from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in present day Israel to the Persian Gulf, the Fertile Crescent was the birthplace of many early civilizations. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers provided ideal conditions for human settlement, with the first civilizations rising in Mesopotamia, or the land between the rivers.

Section 1: Land Between Two Rivers

Mesopotamia lay between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. These two rivers and the rich, fertile soil drew people to the region. The early people of Mesopotamia became farmers and then builders of cities. The most successful and advanced cities were the city-states of Sumer.

Section 2: Babylonia and Assyria

After the fall of Sumer, the biggest and most important civilizations were the empires of Babylonia and Assyria. These civilizations built grand cities where culture and learning were highly valued.

Section 3: The Legacy of Mesopotamia

The Mesopotamians were probably the first to develop two of the key components of almost all civilizations—a system of writing and a set of written laws.

Section 4: Mediterranean Civilizations

Phoenicia developed into a great sea power with trade routes throughout the Mediterranean region. These trade routes brought great wealth and knowledge to the Phoenicians. They developed a system of writing with an alphabet of 22 letters. This alphabet formed the basis of the alphabets that many nations use today.

Section 5: Judaism

To the Israelites, history and religion were closely joined and were recorded in the Torah. The Israelites' beliefs developed into the religion we know today as Judaism. Judaism, still one of the world's major religions, had an important early influence on two later religions, Christianity and Islam.

Chapter 3: Ancient Egypt and Nubia
"Egypt is the gift of the Nile," wrote the Greek historian Herodotus. The Nile did indeed provide the Egyptians with many necessities of life and their civilization was built along its fertile shores. Egyptian and Nubian kingdoms ruled the banks of the Nile for over two thousand years.

Section 1: The Geography of the Nile

The Nile is the world's longest river. It flows north from its sources in central Africa to the Mediterranean Sea, a distance of more than 4,000 miles. Its waters are ideal for farming and trade.

Section 2: The Rulers Egypt

The first dynasty of Egypt began when King Menes united Upper and Lower Egypt. This union began one of the most stable civilizations in history. The Egyptian pharaohs successfully ruled this large civilization for over 2,500 years.

Section 3: Egyptian Religion

The ancient Egyptians believed in life after death. They developed a system of mummifying bodies to preserve them for the afterlife. During their lifetimes, many pharaohs built large pyramids to house their bodies after their death.

Section 4: Ancient Egyptian Culture

The ancient Egyptians were farmers as well as successful traders. Their society was divided into several social classes with men and women as equals. The Egyptians mastered an amazing amount of knowledge that led to advances in writing, astronomy, and medicine.

Section 5: The Resource-Rich Cultures of Nubia

Several civilizations rose and fell in Nubia. Powerful kingdoms were centered in the cities of Kerma, Napata, and Meroë. The Nubians developed remarkable skills in the making of pottery as well as iron weapons and tools.
Chapter 3 Self-Check Test

Egyptian Tomb website

Egypt Interactive Website

Activity 2


Drawing Ancient Egyptians 1

Drawing Ancient Egyptians 2

Drawing an Ancient Egyptian

Ancient God Ra

The Sphinx

Ancient Pharaohs


The Nile River

Geography of Ancient Egypt and the Nile River

The Nile River in Ancient Egypt

Building Pyramids

Chapter 4: Ancient India
For thousands of years, India was cut off from much of the ancient world by the great wall on its northern border—the Himalaya Mountains, the highest mountain range on earth. This isolation allowed the ancient civilizations of India to develop in their own ways, giving rise to cultures and religions that remained basically unaffected by outside influences.

Section 1: The Indus and Ganges River Valleys

The Himalaya Mountains shielded India from invaders. The fertile river valleys and dependable rains encouraged early farmers to grow surplus crops. This surplus allowed large cities to develop and flourish.

Section 2: Hinduism in Ancient India

Hinduism developed from a blend of prehistoric customs and the beliefs of Indian people. Hindus believe in one religious spirit. They believe in reincarnation and that a person's behavior in this life determines the soul's position in the next life.

Section 3: The Beginnings of Buddhism

A Hindu prince's search for the meaning of life developed into the major religion called Buddhism. The Buddha taught that human suffering is caused by selfish desires for power, wealth, and pleasure. The way a person can become free from suffering is by giving up these selfish desires.

Section 4: The Maurya Empire

The Maurya empire was founded in the early 300s B.C. and stretched from north to central India. The empire's wealth was earned mainly through trade and was used to improve the empire.
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Chapter 5: Ancient China
Cultures formed in many of China's river valleys. Chinese civilization developed much on its own, with the Gobi Desert and the Himalaya Mountains isolating it from much of the ancient world. As the Chinese would discover, those boundaries were not enough to keep out nomads and invaders. They constructed the Great Wall of China as an additional barrier.

Section 1: The Geography of China's River Valleys

China's major civilization began along the Huang He, the second-longest river in the region. The floods of this river brought rich soil to the surrounding land, ideal for farming. However, the river's unpredictable flooding could also bring great destruction.

Section 2: Confucius and His Teachings

Confucius was the most famous and important of the early Chinese thinkers. His teachings were gathered together by his students into a philosophy that became known as Confucianism. Over time, Confucianism came to guide many aspects of Chinese life.

Section 3: Warring Kingdoms Unite

Shi Huangdi united China and became the "First Emperor" of the Chinese empire. This empire extended over most of the land that makes up modern-day China. During his rule he built roads as well as the Great Wall of China in order to defend the people and the empire.

Section 4: Achievements of Ancient China

Travel along the Silk Road brought new types of food and textiles as well as new ideas including Buddhism. Arts and scholarship flourished. The Chinese also developed iron tools and a system for making paper.
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Chapter 6: Ancient Greece
Greece is a peninsula extending south into the Mediterranean Sea. This mountainous land, surrounded by the sea and scattered islands, was the home of one of the most influential ancient societies. Ancient Greek philosophy and culture still affect our lives in many ways.

Section 1: Early Greek Civilization

Mountains and water were natural barriers separating local communities of Greek people. The ancient Greek city-states thought of themselves as separate countries and developed their own customs and beliefs.

Section 2: Religion, Philosophy, and the Arts

Ancient Greeks worshipped a family of gods and goddesses who, it was believed, originated and controlled all natural events. Philosophers, however, said that people could use the power of mind and reason to understand and guide their own destinies. Religion, philosophy, and politics influenced the tragedies and comedies of Greek theater.

Section 3: Daily Life in Athens

All Greek cities had agoras—public marketplaces—where men conducted business and politics. Greek women ran the home, managed slaves, and were responsible for the family.

Section 4: Sparta and Athens

Unlike Athens, which emphasized beauty and learning, Sparta valued military strength. When some city-states controlled by Athens began to resent their treatment, they asked for help from the Spartans. This led to a war between Athens and Sparta that lasted for 27 years.

Section 5: The Spread of Greek Culture

The widespread conquests of Alexander the Great brought Greek culture to an ever-widening area. Hellenistic cities were centers of learning where scholars from around the world came to study the knowledge of the Greeks.
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Chapter 7: Ancient Rome

At its height, the Roman Empire was huge. Stretching from Spain to the Middle East and from Britain to Northern Africa, it was one of the largest empires ever established. The first settlers on Rome's seven hills chose the site for its natural attractions. But as centuries passed, the people of Rome discovered that their location gave them other advantages. Rome was at the center of the long, narrow peninsula we now call Italy. Italy was at the center of the Mediterranean Sea. And the Mediterranean Sea was at the center of the known Western world.

Section 1: The Roman Republic

The early settlers of Rome established the city along the Tiber River, which provided fertile soil and access to the Mediterranean Sea. As the civilization grew, the Romans developed a new form of government—a republic— that gave citizens the right to vote and select their leaders.

Section 2: The Roman Empire

By the time Augustus came to power, the Roman realm had spread far beyond Italy. Under Augustus and the emperors who followed, Rome gained an empire that stretched from Britain to Mesopotamia.

Section 3: Roman Daily Life

The majority of Romans were poor or were slaves. To assist the poor, the government provided wheat. It also provided entertainment such as the gladiator battles that were conducted in the Colosseum. All Romans, wealthy or poor, had a strong sense of values and family life was held in the highest esteem.

Section 4: Christianity and the Roman Empire

The Romans tolerated many religions in the empire. Among the results of this religious freedom was a new religion that grew from the teachings of Jesus. This new religion would eventually become what we know today as Christianity.

Section 5: The Fall of Rome

Over time, the Roman Empire slowly crumbled. Weak and corrupt rulers, a mercenary army, distant territories open to attack, and economic problems all contributed to the fall of Rome.
Chapter 7 Self-Check Test