World History Timeline : 9000 - 4000 BCE

WORLD HISTORY
TIMELINE

9000 - 4000 BCE

4000 - 2000 BCE

2000 - 1000 BCE

-1000 - 2012 CE

(Coming Soon)

 
THE NEOLITHIC REVOLUTION

THE NEOLITHIC REVOLUTION

By 9,000 BCE, the last glacial period that earth has experienced was drawing to its close. Glaciers were receding, and Earth's climate was beginning to approach what it is today.

It was during this time that the inhabitants of the Near East began to give up their old hunter-gatherer lifestyle in favour of farming. This process has been called the 'Neolithic revolution' (Neolithic means 'new stone age').

The farmers of the Near East grew cereal crops, but there would be other similar (but independent) revolutions in other parts of the world that involved the use of different plants and animals.

 

9000 BCE

 
 
 
 
 
JERICHO

JERICHO

The implementation of farming led to the first 'population explosion' of man kind. It also meant that the people who practiced it became less mobile in their way of life, and began to live in villages.

A prime example of one of these early settlements is Jericho, which is one of the oldest known towns in the world (with evidence of settlement dating back to around 9000 BCE). In addition to their houses, Jericho's inhabitants built a number of walls, a tower and a shrine.

 
 
 
 
THE ANDEAN HIGHLANDS OCCUPIED

THE ANDEAN HIGHLANDS OCCUPIED

After 9000 BC, non-glacial conditions were established in the Andean Highlands of South America. Temperatures warmed, glacial-age lakes shrunk (thus creating more land), and cold-adapted plants and animals moved up the mountains. These changes encouraged people to move to higher elevations in order to exploit the opportunities that were presented by the new conditions.

Those that moved into the highlands would have found life in the region tough. Summers were cooler and shorter, aridity increased, and they would have also had to deal with illnesses caused by lack of oxygen.

   
 
 
 
 

8500 BCE

 
 
 
 
THE LAS VEGAS CULTURE

THE LAS VEGAS CULTURE

The earliest record of early settlements in South America originates from the coastal region of south western Ecuador. The site of Las Vegas (which has also given its name to the earliest culture of the region) is located in the centre of the peninsula, and was occupied from about 8500 to 4600 BC. During the same period, more than thirty similar (but much smaller) sites were also occupied in the surrounding area.

Plant and animal remains that have been found at Las Vegas reveal a culture that was adjusting to a more sedentary way of life. They probably chose this new lifeway in order to better exploit the wide range of land and sea food resources that were present in their coastal environment.

 
 
 
 

8000 BCE

   
   
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EUROPE FREED FROM ICE SHEETS

EUROPE FREED FROM ICE SHEETS

Research has shown that the changes in temperature that occurred at the beginning of the Holocene period may not have been gradual. In Europe, the switch from the end of the ice ages to a much more temperate climate happened relatively quickly.

By about 8000 BCE, the glaciers had retreated more or less to their current locations. The warmer climate allowed forests to arise over much of Europe that previously had been covered by ice and tundra. This new environment offered many new opportunities for the hunter-gatherer peoples who inhabited it. They responded with technological, social, and symbolic innovations. This 'Mesolithic' period set the stage for the developments in the millennia that followed.

   
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MICROLITHS

MICROLITHS

Mesolithic foragers modified their tools to better suit the new climatic conditions. They began to make tiny flint pieces called 'microliths', which they attached to handles to form composite spear points, arrowheads, knives and harpoons. Archaeologists chose to call them microliths because of their small size (examples less than 10 millimetres long are common).

Microliths have been discovered in many different parts of the world, including Africa, Europe and the Near East.

 
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STAR CARR AND MOUNT SANDAL

STAR CARR AND MOUNT SANDAL

Hunter-gatherers lived a mobile, seminomadic existence, moving from one area to another as resources became available at different times of the year, or when resources became exhausted. Two good examples of sites that were in use by these types of groups have been uncovered at Mount Sandel (in present day N Ireland) and Star Carr (in present day NE England).

Mount Sandel has some of the best examples of Mesolithic houses excavated in northwest Europe, and was occupied mainly in the autumn. Star Carr, on the other hand, was was occupied mainly in the spring and summer.

   
 
 
 
 
THE AMERICAN ARCHAIC PERIOD BEGINS

THE AMERICAN ARCHAIC PERIOD BEGINS

By 8000 BCE the two large ice sheets that had previously covered much of North America had shrunk. This enabled forests to establish themselves where there had previously been only ice or tundra.

These changes decimated the animal species that were adapted to the old climate, Mammoths, horses, ground sloths and camels disappeared. Mastodons and some mountain goats and bison managed to hang on a bit longer.

The human populations that depended upon these species for food were forced to adapt to the rapidly changing environment. These adaptations included the diversification of food-gathering activities, and the development of specialised techniques for exploiting whatever they happened to find locally.

 
 
 
 
PRIMITIVE TRADE NETWORK EMERGES IN THE NEAR EAST

PRIMITIVE TRADE NETWORK EMERGES IN THE NEAR EAST

By 8000 BCE, a primitive trade network had begun to develop in the Near East. It centred on Obsidian, which is a naturally occurring glass that was used to make arrow heads, jewellery, and other items.

Money was yet to be invented, so traders used a system of barter in order to carry out their transactions.

   
 
 
 
 

7500 BCE

 
 
 
 
BRITAIN BECOMES AN ISLAND

BRITAIN BECOMES AN ISLAND

During the beginning of the Holocene period, a large amount of water was still locked up as ice. This meant that sea levels were well below where they are today.

At this time the North Sea area was dry land, and hunter-gatherers could walk from the Low Countries to southeast England. However, as temperatures rose, so did the seas. By around 7500 BCE they had risen so much that Britain was cut off from the rest of Europe.

 
 
 
 
CATALHOYUK

CATALHOYUK

Catalhoyuk was a large settlement in modern day southern Turkey, which was occupied from around 7500 BCE. It is one of the largest Neolithic sites that has been found to date. At its peak it may have been the largest town in the world.

Catalhoyuk's inhabitants lived in mud brick houses, which were crammed together so tightly that there was no room for streets. Instead, people entered their homes through holes in the ceilings (so the rooftops were effectively streets).

   
 
 
 
 

7000 BCE

 
 
 
 
ARCHAIC PLANT COLLECTORS IN CENTRAL AMERICA

ARCHAIC PLANT COLLECTORS IN CENTRAL AMERICA

Central America did not possess big game animals like those which could be found in North America. This was because it did not have the vast plains which were required to support large numbers of megafauna. The lifeway of this area was therefore centred around small animal hunting and plant gathering.

The societies that populated Central America at that time organised themselves in a manner that was typical of hunter gatherers, forming small bands which sometimes came together temporarily to form larger social groups.

 
 
 
 
THE HOLOCENE CLIMATE OPTIMUM

THE HOLOCENE CLIMATE OPTIMUM

The Holocene Climate Optimum was a warm period in earth's history, which began around 7000 BCE and lasted for several thousand years. It mainly affected the northern hemisphere, where temperatures rose to an average 1-2 degrees C warmer than they are today.

The better conditions that were created by these warmer temperatures encouraged rapid plant growth, and many of the lakes that had previously been left behind by retreating glaciers began to fill with vegetation.

   
 
 
 
 

6500 BCE

 
 
 
 
EUROPE'S FIRST FARMERS

EUROPE'S FIRST FARMERS

Around 6500 BCE the first European farmers appeared in Greece. All of the main species of plants and animals used by these early European farmers had previously been domesticated in the Fertile Crescent, so there was no independent Neolithic revolution in Europe itself.

It seems that immigrants from the Near East must have moved to Greece, which at that time was a very sparsely populated area. They lived in houses built of mud brick or adobe, grew emmer and einkorn wheat, and raised sheep and goats. In the centuries that followed, native foragers in other parts of Greece switched to farming, as reflected at sites such as Franchthi Cave.

 
 
 
 
FARMING BEGINS TO SPREAD THROUGH EUROPE

FARMING BEGINS TO SPREAD THROUGH EUROPE

A few centuries after farming had been established on the European mainland, it began to spread to the rest of the continent. It did so along two routes: west along the Mediterranean coastline towards Spain and Portugal, and north and northwest along the Danube and then into the various river valleys that drain into the Baltic and North Seas.

European farmers abandoned the mud brick houses that were typical of the agricultural settlements of the Near East. Instead, they built 'long houses', which were made out of wood. These types of structures were particularly common along the Rhine and the Danube.

   
 
 
 
 

6000 BCE

 
 
 
 
THE CHINESE NEOLITHIC REVOLUTION

THE CHINESE NEOLITHIC REVOLUTION

The Neolithic Revolution was in progress in China by at least the 6th millennium BC. This change occurred independently of the agricultural developments that had taken place in the Near East.

Early Chinese farmers of the north and northwest (who lived in region characterized by loess soils) grew drought-resistant millet, while those from the wetlands of the southeast cultivated glutenous rice. These staples were supplemented by a variety of fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and aquatic plants. The main sources of animal protein were pigs, dogs, fish, and shellfish.

 
 
 
 
FARMING IN THE INDUS RIVER VALLEY

FARMING IN THE INDUS RIVER VALLEY

Agriculture spread east from Mesopotamia, and had arrived in India by 6000 BCE. Farming was particularly prevalent in the Indus river valley area (which is part of Pakistan today).

Mehrgarh (pictured) is the most famous excavation from this region, and was active between 7000 - 5500 BCE.

   
 
 
 
 
MAIZE AND THE POTATO ARE DOMESTICATED

MAIZE AND THE POTATO ARE DOMESTICATED

Maize was derived from the plant teosinte, but the process of domesticating it radically changed it from its origins. It is difficult to pinpoint the date that it was domesticated, but was probably around 6700 by Mexican plant collectors.

By the sixth millennium, maize had spread south into Andean Colombia, and by 5000 BCE it was being used by the Las Vegas culture of Ecuador. It was also during this period that the potato was domesticated.

Both maize and the potato played important roles in the development of the various peoples of the Americas during the millennia that followed.

 
 
 
 
INTERMIXTURE OF AGRICULTURAL IDEAS IN THE NEAR EAST

INTERMIXTURE OF AGRICULTURAL IDEAS IN THE NEAR EAST

During the first few millennia of the Neolithic revolution, the people of the Near East cultivated a number of different plants and animals. The two key areas were eastern Asia Minor, which was the origin of domesticated pigs, lugnes and nuts, and the Levant, the origin of domesticated cattle, goats, barley and wheat.

Over time, the people who lived in these two areas began to swap their ideas, which eventually led to the development of lots of new variations of farming.

   
 
 
 
 
IRRIGATION

IRRIGATION

Evidence for the earliest use of irrigation comes from Mesopotamia (southern Iraq) ca. 6000 BCE. Irrigation allowed farmers to grow food on land that would have previously been un-farmable, and made crop yields more reliable.

It also required a higher level of organisation to build and maintain, which resulted in the development of more complex societies.

 
 
 
 

5500 BCE

   
   
THE BLACK SEA IS FORMED

THE BLACK SEA IS FORMED

During the last glacial period, and well into the Holocene, the Black sea was a landlocked fresh water lake which covered a considerably smaller portion of land than it does today. A number of possible scenarios have been suggested to explain how this lake was transformed to a sea. The most spectacular of these is the 'Black Sea deluge theory', which proposes that sometime around 5500 BCE the rising Mediterranean spilled over the Bosphorus, causing a flood several hundred times greater than the world's largest waterfall. If true, this may have provided inspiration for later flood legends, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and Noah's ark.

Whatever the case, Europe had achieved its modern shoreline by around 5000 BCE.

   
 
 
 
 
THE FIRST FARMERS OF CENTRAL EUROPE: THE LINEAR POTTERY CULTURE

THE FIRST FARMERS OF CENTRAL EUROPE: THE LINEAR POTTERY CULTURE

A millennium after agriculture was first introduced to Greece, peoples of the 'Linear Pottery Culture' first farmed on the Hungarian Plain. Within seven to eight hundred years, these peoples had spread throughout most of central Europe.

As they moved outwards from their original homeland, Linear Pottery people cleared substantial amounts of forest and built massive timber longhouses, usually several meters wide, with the longest being tens of meters in length.

Although it was originally thought that their expansion was a peaceful one, new evidence has shown that their society could be intensely violent. It appears that they fought against both the native Mesolithic hunter gatherers that were already living in the area, and each other.

 
 
 
 
THE ERTEBOLLE CULTURE OF SOUTHERN SCANDINAVIA

THE ERTEBOLLE CULTURE OF SOUTHERN SCANDINAVIA

Contemporary with Linear Pottery culture was the Ertebolle Culture. It covered southern Sweden, Denmark, and northern Germany between the Elbe and the Oder Rivers. Settlements tended to be concentrated along coasts or near rivers, and typically included a large central site occupied more or less continuously year-round, as well as many smaller sites that were occupied only seasonally.

The people of the Ertebolle culture were able to live in permanent settlements because of the resource stability provided by fishing using nets and traps.

   
 
 
 
 

5000 BCE

 
 
 
 
THE WEST INDIES ARE COLONISED

THE WEST INDIES ARE COLONISED

The West Indies were colonised by island hopping sea travellers, who arrived from south America sometime before 5000 BCE

 
 
 
 
THE CHINCHORRO CULTURE

THE CHINCHORRO CULTURE

The Atacama Desert of western South America is an inhospitable region, with few fresh water resources. So it is somewhat surprising that the people of the Chinchorro Culture chose to make this place their home.

Those that settled there eventually developed a lifeway which was primarily based around fishing. They were able to tap into the ever-present set of marine resources that were present in the Pacific, which included seaweed, fish, mollusks, birds, sea mammals, and even whales.

This early sedentary way of life that was based on a maritime subsistence rather than agriculture was relatively unique.

   
 
 
 
 
THE CHINCHORRO MUMMIES

THE CHINCHORRO MUMMIES

The most striking characteristic of Chinchorro culture is undoubtedly their practice of mummifying their dead. By doing so, they transformed deceased associates into highly artistic mortuary icons. Their ancient tradition is the oldest of its kind in the world, and it lasted for several millennia, only declining around 1700 BCE.

Most other cultures that practiced mummification (such as the Egyptians) did so in order to preserve dead elites. However, the Chinchorros were not so picky, performing mummification on all members of their society.

 
 
 
 
THE TRANSFORMATION OF LATE NEOLITHIC EUROPE

THE TRANSFORMATION OF LATE NEOLITHIC EUROPE

Between 5000 and 2000 BCE, prehistoric society in Europe transformed itself once more. During that period, the assortment of primitive farming and foraging communities that existed in the region evolved into a series of developed agricultural societies.

People stopped thinking of their herds as sources of meat, and began to see them as providers of useful secondary products. Milk and wool were two, but the most significant was the use of cattle to pull plows and wagons. Plows were especially important as they could break through hard soils that previously had been impossible to cultivate. This gave farmers more land to work with, thus resulting in more food.

   
 
 
 
 
MEGALITHIC EUROPE

MEGALITHIC EUROPE

From the 6th millennium, Western European cultures began to build a number of different stone structures, which have been termed 'megaliths'. Most of these were burial monuments, of which there were a few varieties. These included Long Barrows (wooden chambers under long mounds of earth) and causewayed enclosures (ditch circuits with a large number of causeways). These cultures also erected lots of Menhirs, which were large upright standing stones.

The western Europeans were not the first to construct megalithic monuments, but they are generally associated with the region because of the sheer numbers that they built. It is clear that these monuments were essential to the communities that created them.

 
 
 
 
AGRICULTURE BEGINS IN EGYPT

AGRICULTURE BEGINS IN EGYPT

Agriculture began in Egypt around 5000 BCE. Before this date, the land around the Nile was not suitable for farming, but changes to the Sahara desert transformed the area around the river.

The Nile was particularly suitable for farming because it flooded predictably each year. The floodwaters contained lots of silt, which was transferred to the land during the flood cycle and had the effect of fertilizing the soil. This was fortunate for the Egyptians, who suddenly found themselves living in one of the most fertile areas in the world.

   
 
 
 
 
SAILING

SAILING

By the 5th millennium BCE (and possibly much earlier) people had learned to sail. We know this because a picture of a ship with a sail was found in modern day Kuwait which dates back to this time.

Sailing played an extremely important role in human development. Sailors enjoyed far greater mobility than those who had travel over land, whether for trade, transport or warfare. In addition, people could use sailboats for fishing, which often provided a new source of food.

 
 
 
 

4800 BCE

   
   
HORSE DOMESTICATED

HORSE DOMESTICATED

Horses were domesticated c. 4500 BCE on the Steppes to the north of Caspian and Black Seas. they were originally bred as a source of meat. The first evidence for horse riding is dated around a thousand years later from the site of Botai in northern Kazakhstan.

Botai was a settlement of hunters who rode horses in order to hunt other horses (again for their meat). This was a highly unusual practice, which existed only in northern Kazakhstan during that particular period. Far more common would be the combination of horse riding and sheep herding, a lifeway which would dominate the Steppe region until relatively recent times.

   
 
 
 
 
POTTER'S WHEEL

POTTER'S WHEEL

Early ceramics were made by rolling clay into long strips, which were then coiled to make the shape of the desired container. However, from around 4500 BCE, we start seeing evidence for the use of primitive potter's wheels in various parts of the world (the Near East, India, China, and others). It is unclear where they were used first, but Mesopotamia is a likely candidate.

The Potter's wheel was an important invention as it greatly increased the efficiency of hand-powered pottery production.

 
 
 
 
SUMER: THE WORLD'S FIRST CIVILIZATION

SUMER: THE WORLD'S FIRST CIVILIZATION

From around 4500 BCE, people moved into the southern delta area of modern day Iraq, and a number of city states emerged. These city states were politically independent from each other, but were linked by a common language, 'Sumerian'. The region became known as 'Sumer', and within a thousand years had become the most technologically advanced area in the world.

In order to properly organise a city state, a ruler had to gain unquestioned authority over its inhabitants. The logical way to do this was to associate himself with the divine. For this reason, most Sumerian leaders ruled as 'priest-kings', capable of interceding with the gods on behalf of their people.

   
 
 
 
 
THE FUNNEL BEAKER CULTURE OF NORTHERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE

THE FUNNEL BEAKER CULTURE OF NORTHERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE

From around 4100 BCE, the 'Funnelbeaker Culture' began to replace the Ertebolle culture of northern Europe, and the Rossen groups (which themselves had replaced the earlier Linear Pottery culture from around 4600 BCE) in central Europe.

Funnelbeakers were named after their pottery style, which features funnel shaped tops. Other than their ceramics, the main characteristic of this new culture was their increased dependence on farming. This is reflected in the size of their settlements, which grew from an average of around 700 square metres during their early stages to an average of 20,000 square metres during their latter stages.

 
 
 
 
   
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