While the AP World History curriculum technically begins firmly in the Neolithic Era (c. 8000-3500 BCE), it is important to have a base knowledge of the Paleolithic Era, also known as the “Stone Age”. For thousands of years leading up to the Neolithic Revolution, human beings relied on a hunter-gatherer form of existence- a way of life that still exists today in parts of South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia. While hunting and gathering may seem to some today as a brutish existence, it has worked remarkably well and actually enjoyed some advantages over early sedentary farming life. The survival skill set that early humans developed during the Paleolithic Era allowed human beings to spread throughout the globe at a surprising pace. By 12,000 BCE, human beings could be found on six of the world’s seven continents. The purpose of this section is to introduce you to the movement of humans during the Paleolithic period, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle they employed to survive, and the slow transition toward sedentary agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution.
You will read a combination of sources and respond to the questions listed below. The questions are designed to make you think critically about what you have read and combine multiple sources to arrive at a single, well-written answer. In other words, you cannot and should not try to hunt down a passage or two to find an answer – you must read and understand the entire material to construct your response.
Your response for each question should be 1 to 2 typed pages in length, double spaced with an 12 point font.
Read “Human Life in the Era of Hunters and Gatherers” developed by History-World.org at
Read “Agriculture and the Origins of Civilization: The Neolithic Revolution” developed by Historian-World.org at
Read “The Neolithic Transition” developed by History-World.org at
1. Explain how human technology and social development fostered the rapid movement of people throughout the globe during the latter phases of the Paleolithic Era (c. 60,000 to 12,000 BCE). Be sure to include how developments allowed early hunter-gatherers to cope with various environmental pressures and challenges as they moved from continent to continent.
2. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of adopting a sedentary agricultural lifestyle. To answer this question, you need to look at the factors that motivated formerly nomadic peoples to settle down and adopt a sedentary lifestyle. What were some of the benefits? Were there any negative consequences of settling down? How did the social roles of men and women change?