World History Notes (Before 600 C.E.)

5 Things to Know about World History Before 600 C.E.: 

  1. From the simplest barter system to long journeys along trade routes, the exchange of goods and ideas shaped this period and led to further change throughout the world. Important trade routes like the Silk Road, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea shaped development.
  2. Once people began to settle and gradually organize into early civilizations, the discovery of agriculture began to change their lives at a more rapid pace.
  3. As humans organized themselves in families, gender roles emerged. With the development of agriculture, the division of labor further deepened these divisions. These gender roles were reinforced by religious systems and governmental systems.
  4. During this period, major world religions developed and spread, shaping the civilizations they encountered. Religions and belief systems, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism (Asia), and Christianity and Judaism (Europe, Asia), influenced large numbers of people throughout the period.
  5. Civilizations emerged that had organized governments, complex religions, social structures, job specialization, public works, systems of writing, and arts and architecture. These civilizations grew into larger and more complicated governmental organizations, such as empires (e.g., Rome, Han, and Gupta).

Key Topics–World History Before 600 C.E.

Early Humans

  • Paleolithic: Literally, “old stone.” The period from the appearance of the first hominids (human-like creatures) to approximately 8000 B.C.E.
  • Animism: Often found in primitive tribes, the belief that spirits can possess and control natural things and forces.

Development of Agriculture

  • Neolithic Revolution: Starting around 7000 B.C.E., this period marked the beginnings of permanent settlements and sedentary farming, leading to longer lives and higher populations.
  • Pastoralism: The agricultural practice of domesticating animals for food or other uses, beginning around 4000 B.C.E.
  • Job specialization: As civilizations progressed and not everyone needed to farm to live, skilled laborers like artisans were allowed to craft things that had value. The trade that followed led to the growth of cities.
  • Patriarchy: A society in which men hold power within the family, in governance, and/or in economics.
  • Metallurgy: The crafting of metallic ores into functional and/or valuable items, beginning around 4500 B.C.E.
  • Mesopotamia: Literally, “The Land Between the Rivers.” Geographic region centered on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, located in modern-day Iraq. Considered one of the four major “cradles of civilization.

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