Roberta’s Timelines: Protohistory (8000 BCE-3100 BCE)

Here is the next part of my Timelines, dear friends: the very crucial early millennia of the ‘real’ history of mankind, from the Neolithic Revolution when people first settled down and became farmers to the building of villages, towns and cities and gigantic megalithic monuments and the foundation of the first kingdoms, to the first use of metal and the invention of vital tools like the wheel, and finally the development of the first scripts which marks the beginning of early documented history. (Due to writing not having been invented yet, this part of history, besides the archaeological and scientific evidence, inevitably also contains a bit of myth and legend.)

Let us start out where we left off last time: at the beginning of the Neolithic, the New Stone Age…

Part 2: Protohistory (8000 BCE-3100 BCE)

8000 BCE        

society: Jericho becomes the first fortified city in the world; agriculture begins on the banks of the Nile; agriculture also starts in Papua New Guinea (Kuk creek), bananas are cultivated and even hybridized; in Africa (Ounjougou, Mali) pottery is already well developed and spreading towards the east; in Mexico, squash is cultivated, in the Andes potatoes; farming leads to better nutrition, but there’s always the danger of famine in case of crop failure

arts: Linear Pottery culture spreads from the Fertile Crescent into Europe and Asia

fashion : textile clothing is woven and sewn together; in the warm parts of the world, most people only wear loincloths

food: people in the agricultural areas eat both meat (pork, beef, goat) and grain products such as bread; in the rest of the world, they still have the old hunter-gatherer diet of wild animals, wild grains and berries

7500 BCE

society: Jericho’s population is now about 2,500; in Palestine the first small granaries are built for storing grain and protecting it from animals; agriculture and stone buildings also in India (Bhirrana); first ceramics in South America (Amazon basin)

7000 BCE

society: Jarmo in Northern Mesopotamia is a fortified village with a population of 100-300; agriculture spreads from there to Asia Minor (Catalhoyuk, population of around 5,000 people in mudbrick houses clustered together without streets), farmers start breeding grain selectively (barley, rye, wheat); pottery spreads in India and the Near East and starts replacing the old stone receptacles

arts: simple handmade pottery in Jarmo, fertility goddesses; adorned ceramics, murals and clay figurines in Catalhoyuk

food: the secret of making alcoholic drinks is discovered, wine and beer are produced in the Middle East; also, bees are kept for honey for the first time; more refined flour makes for better bread, and pottery makes possible the cooking of stews

6900 BCE

society: Atlit Yam (Israel): trading settlement with a stone circle

6500 BCE

society: Crete is settled from Asia Minor, animal husbandry and agriculture also on the Cyclades and the Greek mainland (Carians and Pelasgians); agriculture spreads to the hitherto uninhabited southern banks of Tigris and Euphrates, Ubaid culture begins in Southern Mesopotamia; Mehrgarh culture in India (Indus Sarasvati valley) begins, animal husbandry and agriculture, influence from the Near East, and also early dentistry (drilled teeth!); hunter-gatherers in the southern USA (Monte Sano, lower Mississippi) build earthwork mounds for religious rites

arts: Mehrgahr figurines of women and animals; Ubaidian stone carved human figures

food: more carbs and sugar lead to tooth problems (see above!)

6100 BCE

society: Halaf culture along the Khabur River (Anatolia, Syria, Northern Mesopotamia) is developed by former mountain shepherds who have settled down, first use of stamp seals with geometrical patterns!

arts: decorated pottery, fertility figurines

6000 BCE

politics : the possibility to store grain leads to the development of an elite that doesn’t have to engage in farming but takes over decision-making; also, women are more restricted to the house now, bringing up more children than before (made possible by storing goat’s and cow’s milk in ceramic jars)

society: Almendres cromlech in Portugal: first stone circle in Europe! in the growing city of Mehrgarh grain is stored in large granaries; Hassuna culture in Northern Mesopotamia, stone houses and pottery; in Khuzistan (Iran) first evidence of irrigation to water the fields; in Eastern China (Yellow River basin) millet is grown in addition to the rice in the paddy fields

arts: painted pottery, female figurines (fertility!)

food: goat’s and cow’s milk are a new way of feeding children, along with mashed grain; chickens are first domesticated in South East Asia and provide cheap meat

5700 BCE

society: maize is first cultivated in Mexico

5500 BCE        

society : Samarra culture in Northern Mesopotamia, highly organized and cultured society; irrigation of the lands leads to prosperity and population growth (though held back on the other side by wars, famines and diseases spreading from animals to humans); early pottery in Mehrgarh; Linear Band Ware culture in Eastern and Central Europe

arts: decorated pottery (animals, geometric designs) and painted figurines

5400 BCE

society: Ubaidian culture of Eridu begins in Southern Mesopotamia, a mix of Samarra culture influence, Sumerian hunter-gatherers and Semitic shepherds

arts: long thin human figurines with lizard-like faces

5000 BCE

society: the Sumerian town of Eridu grows, mudbrick and reed buildings, canals; in Egypt, Badari culture begins, agriculture, villages, burial sites pottery production (influenced from the Levant); a growth in world population begins (presently about 5 million)

arts: late Linear Band Ware in Eastern Europe, finely designed pottery

fashion : weaving sticks make the weaving of textiles easier

4800 BCE

society: Brittany: cairn at Barnenez and tumulus (necropolis) at Bougon!

4500 BCE

society: the Copper Age starts in Palestine: for the first time, metal is used for tools! Copper is brought on donkeys from the copper mines east of the river Jordan, heated over fire and made into receptacles and jewellery; Ur is built in the fertile marshes of the Euphrates delta (the water level is more than 2 metres higher than today); international trade between Canaanites, Egyptians and Mesopotamian towns; stone circle at Nabta Playa (Egypt); in the Indus Sarasvati valley land is irrigated to enhance the harvest; Varna culture in Bulgaria, rich in gold!

arts: wall paintings in houses in the new cities; invention of the potter’s wheel makes pottery more even and symmetrical

fashion: metal jewellery is produced for the first time, copper in Palestine and gold in Eastern Europe

4400 BCE

society: Badari culture in Egypt flourishes: wooden houses, granaries, copper smelting

arts: Badari produces figurines of women and animals made of ivory and vessels made of copper

fashion: rich jewellery in Badari, made of copper and ivory

4100 BCE

society: Funnel Beaker culture in Germany, a mix of hunter-gatherer and animal husbandry society, wooden huts but burial monuments with grave goods

arts: decorated and very functional pottery

4000 BCE

politics: king-priests are the most powerful men in Uruk

society: when two Ubaidian settlements merge, the Uruk period in Mesopotamia begins, building of a mount topped with a cella dedicated to the god Anu; the Megalithic culture blooms in Western Europe (Carnac in France, Évora in Portugal, Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales), influenced from Northern Africa: causewayed enclosures, dolmens, cairns, stone circles, astronomical knowledge (solstices!), priests have a lot of power; proto-Indo-Europeans from the Southern Russian steppe start migrating into Anatolia; big cities evolve in the Indus Sarasvati valley; the world population is growing more rapidly now (about 7 million at the moment)

arts: first mass production of pottery bowls in Uruk, reliefs with both religious and everyday topics

3800 BCE

politics: expansion of the city of Uruk, hegemony over smaller settlements

society: construction of a ziggurat and a huge Anu temple on top at Uruk

3700 BCE

society: at Carrowmore, Ireland, a megalithic passage tomb is being built

3600 BCE

society: megalithic temples are built on Malta (Skorba, Mnajdra)

3500 BCE        

politics: kings reign in Sumer’s city states, Uruk and Kish are the most powerful ones, expanding constantly

society: early Sumerian cities have wealth, division of labour and the first bronze weapons, also schools, horses (imported from Russia), boats and ships and the wheel! Meanwhile, at Stonehenge, a ditch is built close to the causewayed enclosure for ceremonial purposes; Funnel Beaker people in central Europe have got an early form of wheel as well and also oxen-drawn ploughs, and they build passage graves (Kleinenkneten); in India many new settlements in the Quetta Valley near Mehrgarh, and also in the Sarasvati valley (Kalibangan); Valdivia culture in Ecuador: villages built around a plaza, ceramics, farming (maize, squash, kidney beans), fishing and hunting

music: Sumerians have a range of instruments, music becomes fashionable at court

arts: bronze (copper + tin) is developed for more durable artefacts; Togau ceramics spread from Baluchistan to India

fashion: both men and women of standing in Sumer wear long skirts (kaunakes) made of wool which women weave and men dye

sports: wrestling is big in Sumerian cities as a spectator sport

3400 BCE

politics: king-priest Meshkiangasher is said to found the first dynasty of Uruk

3300 BCE

society: Sumerians discover how to make bronze by smelting copper with tin or arsenic – beginning of the Bronze Age! a big stone circle is added to the ritual site at Carnac; at Kot Diji, India, the proper Indus-Sarasvati civilisation begins; proto-Indo-European Yamnaya culture in Southern Russia

arts: Grotta-Pelos culture begins in Greece: Cycladic art, stylised human figures with a very modern appeal

3200 BCE

politics: there is a Lower and an Upper Egyptian kingdom (Ka in Upper Egypt, capital Abydos, Wash in Lower Egypt, capital Memphis), they have armies and attack neighbouring tribes

society: first hieroglyphic inscriptions on pottery and walls in Egypt; the great passage tomb at Newgrange is being built; early Minoan culture begins in Crete, trade and craftsmanship are big

food: the standard diet of Egyptians is bread and beer, it’s often used as payment for workers

3102 BCE        

politics: Lower and Upper Egypt are united (king Menes=Narmer), the new world power calls itself Quemt

society:  bureaucracy rules the kingdom of Quemt, animal gods, trade relationships with Sumer

arts: hieroglyphic inscriptions on the tombs of pharaohs now

3100 BCE

politics: 1st dynasty in Egypt: capital Thinis, king Narmer; Enmerkar of Uruk attacks the city of Aratta with the help of his general Lugalbanda; Semitic migration ultimately causes the fall of the Uruk dynasty

society: Uruk has got a population of 40,000; the cuneiform script is developed in Sumer

Next time: Early history, Old Kingdoms (3100 BCE-2100 BCE)

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