Regents Prep: Global History: Economic Systems
Neolithic Revolution

During the Paleolithic Period, which lasts from the beginnings of human life until about 10,000 BCE, people were nomads. They lived in groups of 20 -30, and spent most of their time hunting and gathering.  In these groups, work was divided between men and women, with the men hunting game animals, and women gathering fruits, berries, and other edibles.  These early peoples developed simple tools such as, spears and axes made from bone, wood, and stone.  Human beings lived in this manner from earliest times until about 10,000 BCE, when they started to cultivate crops and domesticate animals.  This is known as the Neolithic Revolution.

 The Neolithic Revolution was a fundamental change in the way people lived. The shift from hunting & gathering to agriculture led to permanent settlements, and the establishment of a traditional economy. A traditional economy is generally based on agriculture, with others in society working in simple crafts, such as the manufacturing of cloth or pottery.

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About 10,000 BCE, humans began to cultivate crops and domesticate certain animals.  This was a change from the system of hunting and gathering that had sustained humans from earliest times. As a result, permanent settlements were established.  Neolithic villages continued to divide work between men and women.  However, women's status declined as men took the lead in in most areas of these early societies.  

The economic factor of scarcity influenced early village life in the areas of government and social classes structure.  Wars caused by scarcity were frequent.  During these wars, some men gained stature as great warriors.  This usually transferred over to village life with these warriors becoming the leaders in society. Early social class divisions developed as a result.  A person's social class was usually determined by the work they did, such as farmer, craftsman, priest, and warrior.  Depending on the society, priests and warriors were usually at the top, with farmers and craftsman at the bottom.

New technologies developed in response to the need for better tools and weapons to go along with the new way of living.  Neolithic farmers created a simple calendar to keep track of planting and harvesting.  They also developed simple metal tools such as plows, to help with their work.  Some groups even may have used animals to pull these plows, again making work easier.  Metal weapons were developed as villages needed to protect their valuable resources.

The Neolithic Revolution changed the way humans lived.  The use of agriculture allowed humans to develop permanent settlements, social classes, and new technologies.  Some of these early groups settled in the fertile valleys of the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Yellow, and Indus Rivers.  This resulted in the rise of the great civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and India.


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