If all humans are created equal, then why don’t we treat each other that way? Must there be a small class of wealth and power, while most of us struggle to make ends meet? Is race a social construct? Why do religions exhibit such a manic-depressive combination of kindness and contempt? These burning contemporary questions all have their origins in the last few ten thousand years.
Modern humans settled their last great frontier, the Americas, as the ice age’s last great glaciers melted away. Then, fortuitous climate change brought the present interglacial, which utterly revolutionized the human experience. Settlement, social inequality, agriculture, and civilization all gradually emerged as a result. Written history began; we will now encounter some of the first individuals still known by name.
This chapter is organized around the two milestones of agriculture and civilization. Section II concludes humanity’s pre-agricultural highlights. Section III describes the Neolithic period during which people were agricultural but not yet “civilized”. Finally, the beginnings of civilization are the subject of section IV.
Language and organized religion are two of the main attributes that divide the social sphere into “us” and “them”.
“Why do the nations so furiously rage together?” 2 Why do some people zealously clamor for a national religion? And hey … what’s the deal with so many different languages that share scripts and similar words?
- Map America Usa – Free image on Pixabay by Dsndrn-Videolar (accessed, saved, and archived 1/17/21). Artistic image of Native American clipart. Free download transparent .PNG | Creazilla by OpenClipArt (accessed, saved, and archived 10/04/20). Bloodline Icons – Download Free Vector Icons | Noun Project (thenounproject.com) by Silviu Ojog (accessed, saved, and archived 1/17/21). Corn Field Agriculture – Free image on Pixabay by josemairing (accessed, saved, and archived 1/17/21). Wagon Ox Wheels – Free image on Pixabay by ArtsyBeeKids (accessed, saved, and archived 1/17/21). Priest and temple image Aztec Mayan Temple – Free image on Pixabay by Venita Oberholster (accessed, saved, and archived 1/17/21). ↩
- George Frideric Handel, “The Messiah”, adapted from Psalms 2:1. ↩
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