Unit 1 - World History


The earliest communities of people were small and their primary activities revolved around the basics of survival: food, shelter, water, and safety. Since there was no form of writing in these communities, there are no historical records to tell us what their lifestyle was like. Much of what we know about this era in human development comes from archeological findings such as bone, tool, and pottery fragments and hypotheses that anthropologists have made about those findings. This Prehistory is also known as the Stone Age that lasted approximately 3.4 million years.

Unit Learning Objectives

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After completing this unit you will be able to:

  1. Explain why and how we study history.
  2. Compare and contrast early hunter-gatherer communities during the Paleolithic Age to the Agrarian communities in the Neo Paleolithic Age.

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Lesson 1 - The Study of History

Tools Used to Study History

In this lesson, we will focus on why we should study history and how it is studied. We will learn the terms necessary to evaluate and describe events, places, and things in history.

Remember to fill out your Unit 1 Study Guide as you complete the lesson.

Lesson Learning Objectives

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After completing this lesson you will be able to:

  1. Discuss the important reasons one should study history.
  2. Define the standard terms used for writing historical dates.

Key Terms

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  • A.D.: Anno Domini which translates to "In the year of our Lord", used when writing dates
  • B.C.: Before Christ, used when writing dates
  • B.C.E: Before the Common Era, used when writing dates
  • C.E.: in the Common Era, used when writing dates

Image: Bodyguard of an ancient Persian king, ca. 400 B.C. IRC, 2005 . Image. Discovery Education. Web. 14 December 2014. < http://www.discoveryeducation.com/ >.

Why Study History?

Image Description: A West African King holding gold.What is history? Quite simply, it is the study of the human experience. The human experience is how human beings interact with each other, their environment, and the things that they create or establish.

Why should history be studied then? How is it relevant to you today? Answering these questions will help us start off on the right foot as we begin this class. Below are five reasons learning history is beneficial.

  1. To help us understand and make judgments about current world issues by examining the behaviors of past people and societies.
  2. To help us understand how and why change has occurred and how our world came to be.
  3. To help us develop the skills and knowledge necessary to be active, participating citizens in the communities in which we live.
  4. To inspire us and encourage us to be unique individuals that have the ability to change the world, no matter how small or great that change might be.
  5. To help us develop critical thinking skills that will benefit us in many aspects of our lives.

Image: A West African king holding a gold nugget. IRC, 2005 . Image. Discovery Education. Web. 11 December 2014. <http://www.discoveryeducation.com/>.

Time and Sources

Now, It's time to consider how historians talk about history in regard to time/date and the resources they use to create historical accounts.

In the western world, we have kept time by using a solar calendar that originated in Ancient Egypt. We now count the years from the birth of Jesus Christ known as "Anno Domini" in Latin which means "in the year of our Lord." For abbreviation purposes, this became known as "A.D." The time before Christ was born is referred to as "Before Christ," abbreviated as "B.C." The years A.D. are counted forward from year one and the years B.C. are counted backwards from year one. In other words, 600 B.C. is earlier that 300 B.C.

In order to generalize use of the western calendar, some historians now use religiously neutral terms in place of "B.C." and "A.D." They commonly replace "B.C." with "B.C.E.," meaning "Before Common Era." For the years "A.D.", they use "C.E." meaning "Common Era." In other words B.C. refers to the same time period as B.C.E and it is the same with A.D. and C.E. In this course, you may see these terms interchangeably. You can use either term when referring to a historical time period.

Lesson 2 - Tools Used To Study History


In this lesson, we will focus on tools historians use to study history. These include anthropology, archaeology, oral history, and written history.

Remember to fill out your Unit 1 Study Guide as you complete the lesson. It will help prepare you for the unit test and most importantly the final exam. Contact your teacher if you have trouble finding the information to complete the study guide.


Lesson Learning Objectives

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After completing this lesson you will be able to:

  1. Describe the five tools that historians use to determine how people in the past lived.
  2. Identify key features on a world map.
  3. Determine what is a primary and secondary source.
  4. Describe the different types of evidence that archeologists and anthropologists use to learn about the development of early people and cultures.

Key Terms

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  • Anthropology: the study of humans, past and present
  • Archaeologist: a scientist who studies human history by examining artifacts and human remains that have been found at a dig site.
  • Artifacts: items such as pottery, tools, art, and architecture that archaeologists use to hypothesize about the era in question
  • Fossil: the evidence or impression of a plant or an animal left in rock from an earlier time period
  • Hypothesis: an educated guess or conclusion
  • Primary Source: A primary source is a written text that was created by someone who witnessed an event.
  • Secondary Source: A secondary source is created by someone who did not witness an event, but wrote down what others have said about an event.
  • Continents: most of earth's land surfaces are divided into 7 major landmasses: Europe, Asia, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, North America, and South America
  • Equator: 0 degree line of latitude that divides earth's Northern and Southern Hemispheres
  • Hemisphere: half of the earth's surface, North, South, West, East
  • Prime Meridian: 0 degree line of longitude that divides earth's Western and Eastern Hemispheres
  • Temperate Zones: the areas of the earth where the temperature and climate is most moderate, between the arctic/Antarctic and the tropical regions.

Tools for Studying History

Now that we have established why we should study history, we are going to switch gears a bit and discuss the tools necessary to learn about history. Geography, Archaeology, Anthropology, Oral History, and Written History are the tools that historians use to determine how earlier people lived.

The image below shows a man driving a chariot led by two horses. Art forms like this can help archaeologists and historians create or support hypothesis about how earlier people lived.

Chariot Driver

Chariot Driver Pixabay.com (Public Domain)

Tool #1 Geography

Knowing the location of an area is the first step to understanding the people who lived there in the past. Geography can help historians by understanding the environment as well as where the location was for earlier people(s) by creating maps.

Finding Your Way around the Earth (Hemispheres and Climate Zones)

Geographers have divided up the world to make it easier to pinpoint exact locations. They did this by using imaginary lines that cut across the globe to make a grid. These lines are necessary to find geographic positions whether you are studying a country in the comfort of your home or taking a plane to travel to it!

Latitude lines are the imaginary lines that come across the globe from East to West. These lines, however, measure what degree north or south a location is.

Longitude lines are the imaginary lines that come across the globe from North to South. These lines measure what degree east or south a location is at.

Images from IDLA Eastern Geography coursetion.com.

In order to use measurements, we must have a zero point. The zero degree latitude or longitude points are the Equator and Prime Meridian, respectively. The Equator is the 0 degree point of latitude that divides up the earth into Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The Prime Meridian is the 0 degree point of longitude that divides up the earth into Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

In this course, we will be studying the Eastern Hemisphere. The location of the Eastern Hemisphere is the area that is East of the Prime Meridian. The continents in the Eastern Hemisphere are most of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and part of Antarctica. Oceans that are included in this hemisphere are the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic.

Hemispheres video link thumbnailThis short video will give you a good visual of what hemispheres are as well as how and where the dividing lines are that divide the Earth into hemispheres.What hemispheres do we live in? (Media may take time to load; please be patient.)

Hemispheres Colgren Communications, 1998. Video Segment Discovery Education. Web. 13/2/2017. http://www.discoveryeduca

Climate Zones (Tool #1: Geography continued...)

This video gives you a visual of what climate zones are and where they are located. What type of climate zone do we live in? (Media may take time to load; please be patient.)

Weather Climates video thumbnail

Weather Climates Mazzarella Educational Media, 2003. Video Segment Discovery Education. Web. 13/2/2017. http://www.discoveryeducation.com.

The Continents (Tool #1: Geography continued....)


world mapContinents are large landmasses and there are seven of them on earth. These are North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica. If you examine the image below, you can see that the continent of Europe seems to blend into the continent of Asia. The dividing point between these continents is the Ural Mountains in Russia. Although these contents look large, combined they only make up about ⅓ of the earth's surface as the rest is water. The earths four oceans, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic make up 97% of the earth's water. Unfortunately, only 1% of the earth's water is freshwater which is required for the survival of humans, animals, and plants.

This video will review where the continents are and some of their features. What continent are we on? What are some of its features? (Media may take time to load; please be patient.)

Continents video thumbnail

Image: World Map pixabay.com (Public Domain)
Continents100% Educational Videos, 2000. Video Segment Discovery Education. Web. 13/2/2017. http://www.discoveryeducation.com. 

Tool #2: Archaeology

Historians use many tools to make educated hypothesis about how previous peoples lived. A hypothesis is an educated guess or conclusion. Historians use information from geography as mentioned in lesson one to understand how the environment impacted humans and how humans altered their environment to survive. Archaeologists help historians hypothesize about how people lived by analyzing items found in the soil like pottery, tools, art, and architecture. These items are also called artifacts. Fossils, evidence or impression of a plant or animal left in rock/soil from an earlier time period, can also be evaluated to help make educated hypothesis of how earlier people lived.

The following video summarizes what archaeologists do and how they help support historians in uncovering how earlier people lived.

archeology video thumbnail

Archaeology: Video Vocab. Films Media Group, 2013, learn360.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=152479&xtid=77630

Tool #3: Anthropology

Clay pottery

Anthropologists support historians by uncovering how humans developed biologically and culturally. They work with archaeologists to uncover artifacts, but are focused on what the culture was like. Biological anthropologists focus on how humans have physically changed over time.

Archaeology and Anthropology help people understand their common beginnings.

Pottery Pixabay.com (Public Domain)

Tool #4: Oral History

Tool #5: Written History

Historians take great time testing written history to discover if sources are valid or not. As mentioned before, historians use primary and secondary sources. A primary source is a written text that was created by someone who witnessed an event. A secondary source is created by someone who did not witness an event, but wrote down what others have said or compiled what they wrote about an event. Secondary sources can provide a more balanced view of an event since it provides time to analyze the facts. The image on the right shows a primary document--the U.S. Constitution.

Examples of primary sources:

  • laws
  • eyewitness accounts
  • letters
  • speeches
  • artifacts.

Examples of secondary sources:

  • essays/reviews of events
  • reports from interviews with eyewitnesses.

The U.S. Constitution Pixabay.com (Public Domain)


This interactivity will review the vocabulary from this unit. Please complete it before attempting the reading quiz.(Media may take time to load; please be patient.)