Musings of a Political Scientist

Human Rise of Civilization

Human Migration Map Relative to Last Ice Age - Rise of Human Civilization

Human Rise of Civilization

Humans, or human beings, are bipedal primates belonging to the mammalian species Homo sapiens (Latin: “wise man” or “knowing man”) in the family Hominidae (the great apes). Humans have a highly developed brain capable of abstract reasoning, language, and introspection. This mental capability, combined with an erect body carriage that frees their upper limbs for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other species. Humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago, but now they inhabit every continent, with a total population of over 7 billion as of 2013.

Homo sapiens originated in the African savanna around 200,000 BP (Before Present), descending from Homo erectus, had colonized Eurasia and Oceania by 40,000 BP, and finally colonized the Americas approximately 10,000 years ago. They displaced Homo neanderthalensis and other species descended from Homo erectus (which had colonized Eurasia as early as 2 million years ago) through more successful reproduction, competition for resources and the reduction of the species from the Penultimate Ice Age.

The earliest humans were hunter-gatherers, a lifestyle well-suited to the savanna. They generally lived in small, nomadic groups that spread across the continents over the last 170,000 years. Around 10,000 years ago, the advent of agriculture prompted the Neolithic Revolution. Access to a stable food source led to the formation of permanent human settlements, the domestication of animals, and the use of metal tools. Agriculture also encouraged trade and cooperation, leading to complex societies. Villages developed into thriving civilizations in regions such as the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent.

Around 6,000 years ago, the first proto-states developed in Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Indus Valley. Military forces were formed for protection, and government bureaucracies for administration. States cooperated and competed for resources, in some cases waging wars. Around 2,000 – 3,000 years ago, some states, such as Persia, China, and Rome, developed through conquest into the first expansive empires. Influential religions, such as the Abrahamic and Dharmic religions, also rose to prominence at this time.

The late Middle Ages saw the rise of revolutionary ideas and technologies. In China, an advanced and urbanized economy promoted innovations such as printing and the compass, while the Islamic Golden Age saw major scientific advancements in Muslim empires. In Europe, the rediscovery of classical learning and inventions such as the printing press led to the Renaissance in the 14th century. Over the next 500 years, exploration and imperialistic conquest brought much of the Americas, Asia, and Africa under European control, leading to later struggles for independence. The Scientific Revolution in the 17th century and the Industrial Revolution in the 18th – 19th centuries promoted major innovations in transport, such as the railway and automobile, energy development, such as coal and electricity, and government, such as representative democracy and Communism.

As a result of such changes, modern humans live in a world that has become increasingly globalized and interconnected. Although this has encouraged the growth of science, art, and technology, it has also led to culture clashes, the development and use of weapons of mass destruction, and increased environmental destruction and pollution that has accelerated beginning with the Industrial Revolution. World peace will only occur when the human race realizes that they are all related from a common gene and that the fate of Earth is truly in their hands. This is the bond that transcends culture, politics and religion.

Earth’s History with a Possible Future