Inventions in Early Agricultural Societies: c. 10,000 BCE - 3000 BCE

AP Concept: 1.2 The Neolithic Revolution and Early Agricultural Societies
Key Concepts
  • The advent of agriculture contributed tocultural and technological changes in human society
Inventions in Metal
  • Thanks to a surplus in food, villages could afford to have specialized workers such as metalworkers
  • Early metallurgists used copper, but the more it was hammered, the more brittle it became
  • When copper was heated, it became more malleable could be shaped into more complex tools, weapons, and jewelry
  • In Mesopotamia around 3000 BCE, metalworkers discovered an alloy called bronze
  • At first, used arsenic and copper to make arsenic bronze
  • Later, mixed copper and tin together to make a metal more durable than copper
  • Bronze was used to make weapons such as spears, axes, and swords; armor; and tools such as the bronze-tipped plow
  • Tin was a rare metal encouraged the development of early long-distance trade networks to increase its availability
  • The most important development in metallurgy was the discovery of iron around 1200 BCE in the Near East
  • Iron was much more common than tin poorer classes coulddevelop iron tools and weapons, and all people did not have to rely on long-distance trade to make weapons
  • Societies that relied on iron weapons had a distinct advantage in warfare, such as the kingdom of Kush in northern Africa
  • The use of iron quickly spread from the Near East and the Mediterranean to Anatolia, Asia and finally Europe
Other Trades
  • Many hunter-gatherer societies developed pottery
  • Earliest examples are figures found at Dolni Vestonice in modern-day Czech Republic, dating from 29,000 - 25,000 BCE
  • Later, societies developed pottery as a better alternative to basketry, for use as containers and vessels
  • The earliest examples are from southern China (16,000 BCE) and Russia (14,000 BCE)
  • First agrarian societies went further with these inventions
  • First vessels were made by shaping coils of clay around a circular base, then firing the vessel in a basic kiln
  • Between 6000 and 4000 BCE the potter's wheel was invented in Mesopotamia allowed potters to increase their production significantly
  • Textiles were another important craft that developed in most societies, especially when used for clothing; again, had their roots in hunter-gatherer societies
  • Earliest examples of use of flax have been found in Republic of Georgia (36,000 years ago)
  • Earliest examples of weaving have been found at Dolni Vestonice in Czech Republic (along with figurines mentioned above): impressions of basketry and cloth on pieces of clay
  • Felt was probably the earliest type of woven textile, followed shortly by:
  • Cotton - Indus Valley Civilization (India), c. 5th millennium BCE
  • Linen - ancient Egypt, c. 5500 BCE
  • Silk - China, between 5000 and 3000 BCE
The Wheel
  • Sumerians were the first (according to archaeological evidence) to use the wheel, prior to 3200 BCE
  • Allowed people to transport heavier loads over longer distances long-distance trade
  • Wheel spread quickly across Europe, Africa, and Asia to become primary means of travel
  • Not used in the Americas, where there were no large animals that could be used to pull wheeled carts

  • Related Links:
    AP World History Quizzes
    AP World History
    AP World History Notes
    Early Civilizations: c. 5000 BCE - 600 BCE