Anaerobes are single-celled lifeforms which do not thrive on oxygen. Anaerobic archaea such as Pyrococcus Furiosus were the first living organisms on the planet. Pyrococcus Furiosus thrives on sulfur in near-boiling sea water close to Black Smokers (underwater volcanic vents), which are rich in iron sulfides.
Bacteria is a major group of single-celled organisms lacking a defined cell nucleus and inhabiting every space on the planet, from animal's stomachs to earth soil, even to the deepest part of the ocean. Archaea are single-celled organisms which also lack a cell nucleus. Archaea live in extreme enviroments and range from photosynthesis (converting sunlight into energy) to chemosynthesis (converting elements into energy). Eukarya is an organism with over 2-million species, each having complex cells with a nucleus and cell membrane. Eukaryotes range from microscopic single-celled amoeba to the giant redwood tree, and even the blue whale. Eukaryotes possess mitochondria which process respiration and energy production. Reproduction in Eukaryotes involves the seperation of duplicated chromosomes.
Eukaryote kingdoms include Rhodophytes (red algae, red seaweed), Phaeophytes (photsynthetic brown seaweed), Plantae (green seaweed, moss, grass, redwood trees), Fungi (mushrooms), and Animalia (multicellular organisms which consume other organisms as food). Animalia includes Vertebrates (animals with backbones) and Invertebrates (sponges, flatworms, arthropods, echinoderms).
Earliest Precambrian Records:
- Archean Eon (4000MYA to 2500MYA)
- Eoarchean Era (4000MYA to 3600MYA)
- Proterozoic Eon (2500MYA to 542MYA)
- Paleoproterozoic Era (2500MYA to 1600MYA)
- Siderian Period (2500MYA to 2300MYA)
Earliest Cambrian Records:
- Phanerozoic Eon (542MYA to Present?)
- Paleozoic Era (542MYA to 251MYA)
- Cambrian Period (542MYA to 488MYA)
- Fortunian Age (542MYA to 528MYA)
- Furongian Epoch (499MYA to 488MYA)
- Paibian Age (499MYA to 496MYA)
The Archean Eon begins when the cometary bombardment of Earth stopped, and ends with the oxygenation of Earth's atmosphere. The Archean Eon is marked by the crystalization of rocks, slabs of continental crust, and the presence of oceanic water. For much of the Archean, the Earth's atmosphere was devoid of oxygen and consisted mostly of nitrogen with methane and carbon dioxide. The sun was not as bright then, emitting less radiation, so that if it wasn't for these greenhouse gases, the world would've been a frozen rock. The thick gaseous atmosphere helped to create extremely high global temperatures with near-boiling seas. The only lifeforms capable of surviving this eon would have been thermophilic (heat-loving) anaerobic bacteria and archaea. Volcanoes helped to create Earth's early atmosphere. Descended from these organisms are modern eubacteria and archaebacteria, the most primitive existing lifeforms still around today. Microfossil evidence shows that life may have originated in the Komati River in South Africa close to 3.50 Billion Years Ago, and also from stromatolites around Strelley Pool in the Pilbara region of Australia close to 3 Billion Years Ago.
Prokaryotes are the first cyanobacteria (photosynthesizing single-celled organisms without nucleii) appearing 2400 Million Years Ago during the Paleoproterozoic era. Eukaryotes appeared with nucleii and other organelles around 1850 Million Years Ago near the end of the Paleoproterozoic era. The first structurally complex eukaryote (fungus) appeared 1500MYA during the Mesoproterozoic era. Microscopic colonization of land began with the first multicellular eukaryotes (red algae) around 1200MYA, also during the Mesoproterozoic era. The earliest dinoflagellates (single-celled eukaryotic organisms with flagellae or tails) appeared at the end of the Mesoproterozoic era 1100MYA. The first indirect evidence for metazoans (multicelled animals, i.e. sponges) appeared 713MYA during the Neoproterozoic era. Ctenophores (jellies) and anthozoans (corals, sea anemones) appeared 550MYA during the end of the Neoproterozoic era.
The Proterozoic era reveals a world dominated by microscopic bacteria. Complex eukaryotes only emerged after 1900MYA once there was enough oxygen to support them. Cyanobacteria made the earth habitable by ensuring that life had both oxygen and sunlight. Algae appeared 1400MYA and spread with the evolution of leaves and rootlike systems, eventually finding their way to land 450MYA. Protozoans were single-cells that could injest other creatures, having flasklike shells and digestive systems that appeared 750MYA in the form of early fungi, proterozoic algae, testate amoebae and animals. Sponges are filter feeders which helped to clean the ocean at the end of Precambrian history. Cyclomedusa jellyfish appeared during the late Precambrian and still exist today. Archaeogastropods (sea snails) and ostracods (tiny crustaceans) appeared with arthropods 500MYA during the very beginning of the Furongian epoch.
Protoconodonts (predatory worms) appeared 500MYA, which probably led to the reason many organisms developed hard protective outer shells like the mollusk (garden snail). Microarthropods developed tails, legs, gills, and appendages similar to modern shrimp, spider crabs and lobsters. These appeared during late Cambrian history. Trilobites are arthropods, and arthropodae come in several shapes and sizes as the ancestors of modern waterbugs and insects. Haikouichthys is a myllokunmingid which appeared 530MYA resembling a modern day tadpole, lamprey or hagfish. Haikouichthys represents possibly the first vertebral animal having a dorsal fin, tail fin and backbone. Arandaspids are the first known jawless fish, about as long as the human hand. Astraspids are similar looking boney fish with head shields. These vertebrates (fish) appeared 450MYA with tail fins and scales, but no dorsal fins or side fins, which gave them the appearance of strange snakelike tadpoles or miniature hand-sized whales. Nautiloids are cephalopods (shell squid) and top predators of the Silurian period, at a time when some invertebrates began their transition to land 410MYA. Eurypterids (sea scorpions) were ferocious predators reaching 6-foot-long with the ability to crawl on land for short distances during the Devonian period when the land turned green.
Fish developed teeth 410MYA during the early Devonian period, and by 400MYA sharks and lungfish appeared. Lichins, mites and arachnids appeared 395MYA, while lampreys and progymnosperms (treelike leafy plants) began developing forests around 385MYA. Attercopus (spiders), terrestrial millipedes, centipedes and scorpions appeared with the first amphibian-like fishes such as tiktaalik 380MYA during the middle to late Devonian period. Archaeopteris was a large 26-foot tree with dense wood and true leaves dominating the late Devonian landscape. During the late Devonian, miniature coil-shelled squid called Soliclymenia used its tentacles to capture prey. The strange 5-foot shark called Stethacanthus appeared at this time, and a hand-sized sting-ray looking placoderm called Gemuendina lived along the seafloor. A large plated 20-foot-long predatory placoderm (fish) called Dunkleosteus ruled the oceans. Other strange late Devonian creatures include the first tetrapods (four-legged amphibians), 3-foot Acanthostega and 5-foot Ichthyostega which both resembled gilled froglike geckos.
Massive 130-foot trees called Lepidodendrons appeared during the Carboniferous period and spread world-wide. These tall trees resembled a hybrid mix between a pine and a palm. An even taller tree was the 148-foot gymnosperm called the Cordaites, which appeared during the late Carboniferous period. Goniatites was another small cephalopod squid with a spiral shell, living during the early Carboniferous period. Bellerophons were thumb-sized gastropods (snails) with spiral shells which spread worldwide during this time. Carboniferous tetrapods like the Temnospondyls lurked near the muddy water's edge like a crocodile. One type of temnospondyls called Amphibamus gave rise to frogs and salamanders. Diapsids were the largest group of tetrapod reptiles, with long tails and legs which stand upright, making this predator a fast runner. Diapsids still exist today in the form of lizards, crocodilians, snakes, birds, and some turtles. Diapsids during the Carboniferous resemble crocodiles, and early dinosaurs probably descended from them. Synapsids were reptiles which gave rise to the first Carboniferous herbivores. Some synapsids like the 10-foot Ophiacodon were croc-like predators who ate fish, while others gave rise to later mammalia and plant eating dinosaurs. Phlegethontia was a 28-inch aistopod (legless amphibian) resembling the modern green garden snake, except it had a lizard's head. Diplocaulus was the largest Permian nectridean, an aquatic boomerang headed salamander type creature about 3-foot-long. Scutosaurus was a late Permian land walking herbivorous parareptile with a large fat tiny-spiked body and two tusks. Scutosaurus was about the size of a modern wild boar. Dimetrodon is an early Permian quatrupedal synapsid with a large sail on its back, often depicted in dinosaur books and movies. However, this 10-foot predator is more closely related to mammals than dinosaurs. The Permian period took place during the Paleozoic era and lasted from 300MYA to 250MYA, just before the Triassic period. Lystrosaurus was a Triassic piglike cousin or predecessor to early mammals, resembling a beaked dinosaur with two small tusks and rhinocerus hide. Cynodonts are true mammals which resemble a hybrid between dogs and otters, having hair and predating most dinosaurs. Cynodonts lived during the Triassic period.
Mastodonsaurus was a Triassic croc-frog looking amphibian over 20-feet in length, living near coastal lagoons. Mixosaurus was a Triassic ichthyosaur about 3-foot-long and resembling a reptillian dolphin. Parasuchus was a 6-foot phytosaur (crocodile) which lived worldwide during the Triassic period, having a long thin snout like a garfish or baracuda. Eudimorphodon is one of the oldest and most primitive pterosaurs (flying reptiles), about 3-foot-long with fur like a bat and tail like a rat, but head like a bird. Gojirasaurus was the largest, strongest and fiercest hunter of the North American theropods (raptors) during the Triassic, standing 23-feet-long and 10-feet-high while most other early pre-Jurassic theropods were much smaller than humans. Morganucudon was a synapsid hairy rat or mouse about 3-inches long with whiskers, living during the late Triassic period. Ginkgos were huge late Triassic trees reaching over 164-feet-high, providing much shade with its fanlike leaves. Ginkgo trees survive today in Asian gardens. Jurassic crustaceans were larger than Carboniferous shrimp, more closely resembling modern lobsters and crabs. Cylindroteuthis was a tiny Jurassic squid with a fan-finned cone-shell closely resembling more modern types of squid. Echinoderms such as the Palaeocoma (starfish) with its stringy tentacle-like arms and the Pentasteria (common starfish) with its five fatter arms were common during the Jurassic. Clypeus was a large flattened sea urchin closely resembling a plump bulby sand-dollar, and it too was in the Jurassic echinoderm group. Libellulium is a Jurassic arthropod which differs little from the common dragonfly. Mesolimulus is a Jurassic arthropod closely resembling the modern horseshoe crab. Eryma was a Jurassic arthropod resembling a miniature shrimp-sized lobster. Kayentachelys was a giant Jurassic alligator snapping turtle. Megalosaurus and other large tetanurans (theropod dinosaurs) rose during the Jurassic period as awesome hunters on two legs. Quetzalcoatlus was a coloassal species of pterosaurs which ruled the skies during the Cretaceous period. Diplodocus was a long necked sauropod dinosaur like the Brachiosaurus which lived during the Jurassic period. Ornithiscians are sauropods which include the plated Stegosaurus, the armored Ankylosaurus, and the Iguanodontian herbivores. Hybodus was a 6-foot Jurassic chondrichthyan resembling the great white shark. Prosalirus was a small Jurassic amphibian jumping frog. Plesiosaurs were Jurassic sauropterygians which had four flippers and a long neck like the Lochness monster. Liopleurodon was a huge 30-foot sauropterygian which resembled a crocodile with four flippers. Liopleurodon was a plesiosaur which survived for 10-million years starting in the late Jurassic period. Dakosaurus was the largest and fiercest member of the crocodylomorphs, 16-foot-long with a head like tyrannosaurus or veloca raptors, and a tail ending in a fin, with four webbed paddles for legs. Archaeopteryx was the first feathered bird, about 1-foot-long during the Jurassic period. Megazostrodons are placental ratlike mammals. So are Sinoconodons which more closely resemble Jurassic ferrets.
Sequoia are Cretaceous connifers which survive to present in the form of redwood cypress trees, only Sequoias are over 230-feet-tall. They are the largest trees in the world, some dating over 2,000 years old. Sequoias in Canada and California reach up to 360-feet-high and 20-feet-around in diameter, with bark 12-inches-thick. They have needlelike leaves and spiraling trunks which shoot straight up. Cymatocerus is a giant cephalopod shell-snail larger than the human hand. Avitelmessus is a tiny 2-inch Cretaceous crab. Cretaceous groups include chondrichthyans (sharks, rays, skates), mosasaurs (bone-crushing marine reptiles) which sometimes reached 59-feet in length as the largest ocean predators related to modern snakes, Alligatoroids which still exist today, Tyrannosauroids which reached 40-feet-long, Ceratopsians like the herbivorous triceratops, Aves (birds) like the Archeopteryx which evolved from theropods, Marsupials (kangaroos, opossums) with pouches, and Eutherians like the tiny eomanians (mice) which give live birth as the young develop inside the mother's womb. Elasmosaurus is a 30-foot-long sauropterygian of the Cretaceous, being one of the largest and last plesiosaurs on the planet. Elasmosaurus had the longest neck of any plesiosaur and is perfect for identifying the Lochness monster. Deinosuchus is a ten ton 40-foot-long Cretaceous crocodylomorph related to modern alligators. Pteranodon was a large 6-foot pterosaur with a streamlined skull, but it was dwarfed in size by the 40-foot-long wingspan of Quetzalcoatlus with its 8-foot beak and body weighing 550 pounds. Quetzalcoatlus had a 10-foot neck and fed not only on large fish, but also on small dinosaurs. Spinosaurus was a theropod predator with a crest on its back. Giganotosaurus was equal or larger than a tyrannosaurus, only it lived during the Cretaceous and had bony ridges along its snout, eye sockets, back and tail, more frightening in appearance than any tyrannosaur. Deinonychus was a 10-foot-long early Cretaceous raptor which stood only 4-feet off the ground, but its feathered body could lunge 10-feet off the ground with enlarged raking claws on the second toe. Velociraptors were smaller but similar. Euoplocephalus is one of the largest Cretaceous ankylosaurids, reaching 23-feet in length. Styracosaurus is an ornithischian from the late Cretaceous, about 18-feet-long, resembling triceratops only with one horn on its nose and several (6 to 8) horns sticking sideways out of its headcrest instead of straight forward. Ichthyornis is a Cretaceous seagull, while Vegavis is a Cretaceous duck or goose. Volaticotherium is a Cretaceous flying squirrel.
Anguilla was a 3-foot Eocene eel snake, still present today. Heliobatis is a 3-foot Eocene stingray, not nearly as long as today's 16-foot Chinese stingray. Titanoboa is a 43-foot-long giant lepidosaur (python), the largest land hunter of the Paleocene epoch (Cenozoic era) some 65-60 million years ago following the extinction of the dinosaurs. Diatryma is a 7-foot-tall flightless hunting bird with a sharp hooked beak but no wings. They were round and fat, too slow to outrun their prey so instead they would ambush them in the forest. Diatryma had heads like vultures and bodies like an ostriche, living during the Eocene after the dinosaurs. Uintatherium was a Eocene rhinocerus with canine tusks or sabertusks. Andrewsarchus is a late Eocene predator 12-feet-long resembling a hybrid between a hyena and a bear-wolf. Andrewsarchus lived 40-million-years ago as the largest predatory land mammal that ever existed. Darwinius was a middle Eocene squirrel-sized primate which though technically is a prosimian, still has characteristics which show resemblance to anthropoid primates and thus is considered an ancestor to humans. Eosimias was one of the smallest anthropoid primates, a very tiny monkey no larger than the human thumb. Andean condors are related to Argentavis, the largest flying bird that ever lived, with a 26-foot wingspan standing 10-feet off the ground, resembling a giant vulture. Argentavis lived during the Miocene epoch. Paraceratherium was a giant 26-foot-long hornless rhinosaurus reaching 18-feet off the ground, weighing 16 tons as the largest land mammal that ever lived.
Castoroides was a giant 8-foot-tall ice age beaver. Glyptodon was a giant 8-foot-long ice age armadillo. Canis Dirus was a 5-foot-long ice age dire wolf which lived during the late Pleistocene, about the same size as the modern gray wolf but much heavier. Smilodons were 6-foot-long sabertoothed tigers which lived during the Pleistocene, along with the 16-foot-tall Mammuthus or woolly mammoth. One dwarf mammoth survived on Wrangel Island near Alaska until 4,500 years ago. Coelodonta was the woolly rhino. Megaloceros was the Irish elk with enormous antlers reaching 11-feet-long from tip to tip. Gigantopithecus was a 10-foot-tall gorilla.
Humans and apes are the living members of a primate "superfamily", called the hominoids, that share a common ancestor. Primates diverged from other mammals at least 65 million years ago. The more primitive primates such as lemurs, galagos and lorises are known as prosimians. The earliest apes lived about 30 million years ago, and from these evolved many species including chimpanzees (proconsuls). The common ancestor of all primates likely lived during the Cretaceous period. Humans are most closely related to chimps, from which they diverged about 6 million years ago. The primates most distantly related to humans are the prosimians, and both species share a common ancestor in the extinct species of Plesiadapis, which lived 55 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.
- Sahelanthropus Tchadensis (7MYA)
- Orrorin Tugenensis (6MYA)
- Ardipithecus Kadabba (5.5MYA)
- Ardipithecus Ramidus (4.5MYA)
- Australopithecus Anamensis (4MYA)
- Australopithecus Afarensis (3.8MYA)
- Australopithecus Bahrelghazali (3.6MYA)
- Kenyanthropus Platyops (3.4MYA)
- Australopithecus Africanus (3.2MYA)
- Paranthropus Aethiopicus (2.5MYA)
- Paranthropus Boisei (2.3MYA)
- Homo Habilis (2.2MYA)
- Homo Rudolfensis (1.9MYA)
- Paranthropus Robustus (1.8MYA)
- Homo Ergaster (1.8MYA)
- Homo Antecessor (1.2MYA)
- Homo Erectus (1MYA)
- Homo Heidelbergensis (600,000YA)
- Homo Neanderthalensis (350,000YA)
- Homo Sapiens (150,000YA)
Homo Sapiens evolved from Homo Heidelbergensis, which evolved from Homo Ergaster, which seems to have evolved from a interbreeding between Homo Habilis (evolved from Australopithecus) and Homo Rudolfensis (evolved from Kenyanthropus). Both of these hominoids evolved from Australopithecus Anamensis, which evolved from Ardipithecus Ramidus, which evolved from Ardipithecus Kadabba, where the lineage becomes fadingly blurry. Homo Sapiens earliest hominin ancestor was most likely Sahelanthropus Tchadensis, which is suggested by scientists as the first bipedal ape. Sahelanthropus Tchadensis had a brain size of 23 cubic inches and lived in the Djurab Desert in Chad, central Africa. Another candidate for the first bipod is Orrorin Tugenensis which lived in Tugen Hills, Kenya ("orrorin" is the Tugen word for "original man"). Homo Habilis had a brain size of 35 cubic inches, was 3-to-4 feet tall, and lived mostly in southern regions of Africa near Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), East Turkana (Kenya), and Sterkfontein (South Africa).
Homo Ergaster stood 6-foot-tall with a brain size of 50 cubic inches. Homo Ergaster lived all over Africa, mostly along the coasts. Homo Ergaster had the same tall and slender body proportions as the Masai of Kenya, which helps them to be more adapted to hot and dry conditions. Homo Ergaster were the first Africans to become the earliest Europeans, migrating north to Dmanisi (Georgia) and Sima del Elefante (Spain) over 1 million years ago. It is suggested that early humanoids left Africa 1,800,000 years ago heading northeast. They reached Dmanisi near Armenia roughly 1,700,000 years ago. Because most of Europe was covered by high ice shelves at that time, they then migrated southeast into Asia and reached Sangiran (Java) roughly 1,600,000 years ago. Others reached Beijing (China) 1,600,000 years ago around the same time. Central Europe was penetrated about 1,200,000 years ago and migrations reached as far north as Swanscombe (Britain) close to 700,000 years ago. The hominins who reached Asia were Homo Erectus, which had a larger brain and probably learned to use fire. Because they did not have the resources to make stone handaxes, Homo Erectus used bamboo spears instead.
Homo Heidelbergensis lived throughout Africa and all over Europe, but not in the eastern Asian regions. Heidelbergensis had a brain size of 80 cubic inches and stood roughly 6-feet-tall. Heidelbergensis may have practiced cannibalism to account for their food shortages. Eventually they became scavengers and possibly good hunters. European fossils at this time become more like Neanderthals, while African fossils become more human. Heidelbergensis handaxes were used to butcher elephants, rhinos, horses, and bison. Heidelbergensis developed wooden spears with fire-hardened tips in England around 500,000 years ago.
Archaic Homo Sapiens lived in Africa between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago, with features closer to earlier species. But fossils from between 250,000 to 125,000 years ago show smaller brow ridges and rounded craniums. Modern Homo Sapiens appeared around 125,000 years ago with smaller faces, smaller teeth, and more rounded braincases. Homo Sapiens Idaltu appeared in Ethiopia close to 160,000 years ago. Modern Humans have a brain size of 120 cubic inches and stand about 6-feet-tall. The earliest Homo Sapiens fossils to be found outside Africa are found at Skhul and Qafzeh in Israel, dated to 130,000 years ago. These humans probably either competed against or bred with neanderthals. Cro-Magnons were large and muscular modern Homo Sapiens who lived at the Cro-Magnon rock sheltor (France), hence their name. 120,000 years ago modern humans migrated to Blombos cave near the Klasies river in South Africa where they started practicing complex behavior such as art, jewelry, bone tools and projectile weapons. The oldest genetic ancestor of all living humans on the planet today lived between 270,000 and 200,000 years ago. Humans and neanderthals moved in and out of the Levant region as the climate changed. Most scientists agree that modern Homo Sapiens originated near the Omo river. They migrated northwest through the Sahara desert 160,000 years ago. They passed through Afghanistan around 60,000 years ago and crossed the Himilayas into China about 50,000 years ago. Homo Sapiens were the first hominins to reach Australia, which they did as recently as 40,000 years ago. They reached northern Europe 45,000 years ago and far northern Asia about 25,000 years ago. 15,000 years ago they reached the Bering Straight between Siberia and Alaska and crossed over the land bridge. Beringia during the last ice age would have been dry land, a vast plain with habitats similar to the European steppes. These early humans bypassed the huge icesheets by migrating south along the North American coast of California as recently as 12,000 years ago. They reached Monte Verde (Chile) at the coastal tip of South America by 15,000 years ago.
Neanderthals migrated in and out of the Near East as climates changed to harsher European colder temperatures, while Homo Sapiens migrated in and out of the Near East as climates changed to warmer more African temperatures. Both the Neanderthals and Homosapiens used basically the same tools until 50,000 years ago when Homosapiens invented projectile weapons. Religious ritual begins with Homosapiens at the Qafzeh Cave site near Nazareth in Israel, suggested by a human burial with a set of antlers. Neanderthals of the Chatelperronian culture in Western Europe copied Homosapien behaviors by making beads, or perhaps by trading with them, or maybe even by taking them from those whom they had killed. However, true technology in Europe begins with the Homosapiens of the Aurignacian culture who made bone and antler tools, jewelry and art 40,000 years ago. The lion-man statuette was carved from ivory by Homosapiens in Germany roughly 32,000 years ago possibly to represent a deity. Homosapiens carved the dancing Galgenberg Venus figurine in Austria close to 30,000 years ago. The scattered Indonesian islands were once a single landmass called Sundaland, while Australia and New Guinea were connected in a single landmass called Sahul when sea levels were lower, but sea crossings would still have been necessary to travel between them. Homosapiens in Siberia developed the Diuktai tool culture, which probably inspired the early Clovis tool culture of North America about 12,000 years ago. Homosapiens may have interbred with Homoerectus in China over 100,000 to 40,000 years ago. Homosapiens reached Japan as recently as 25,000 years ago.
Homosapiens developed the highly complex Gravettian culture near La Gravette (France) some 28,000 to 21,000 years ago during the early ice age. This culture spread to the Ukraine, to Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic, to Italy and other sites. Gravettians are known for their ivory tools, abstract figures, mammoth bone houses, Venus figurines, idols, amulets, teeth beads, shell jewelry, and hunter-gatherer lifestyles. The glacial climate reached its coldest point of the ice age between 21,000 and 18,000 years ago. European enviroments changed dramatically, becoming almost treeless. However, the open grasslands brought new herds of large mammals such as mammoths, wild cattle and reindeer which humans learned to hunt near the river valleys by predicting and intercepting herd movements. Eventually this culture left Europe to find warmer climates. 18,000 years ago the European enviroment became warmer, bringing rise to the Magdalenian culture. Magdalenians had sophisticated tools with bone and antler points, needles and harpoons. Magdalenians were mainly reindeer hunters and also freshwater fishermen. These people were remarkable painters and artists who perfected carving and shading. Magdalenians invented the "atlatl" or spear-throwing device which allowed hunters to throw a spear up to 330 feet and thus tackle larger more dangerous animals. Magdalenians weren't the best at working stone tools, but their bone tools were unmatched.
The Mesolithic (middle stone age) was the period after the ice age and just before the spread of farming. Mesolithic peoples witnessed the rising of the sea levels as ice sheets melted, and the rise of forests which brought a shift in human diet. Mesolithic people used wicker baskets and fish traps, rope nets, twine as string, textiles, wooden boats and skis. Mesolithic burials suggest that groups developed heirarchical society at this time. Star Carr in northern England revealed fossils of a horned skull-cap mask made from a deer cranium. This face helmet may have been used ceremonially during religious rituals, or possibly by hunters to creep up on their prey. Mesolithic people also show an interest in barbed points and tiny stone blades, hooks and other tools. Mesolithic people were not potters and did not bake clay, but they did occupy some of the first villages in single-roomed round houses made of stacked rocks. Neolithic stone age villages begin with the 11,000 year old city of Jericho in Israel, built with a shrine tower for religious ceremonies and large walls to protect the city from floods. Neolithic people were mainly fishing cultures and many strange stone carved sculptures depict fishman deities. Around this time 8,000 years ago they also started to cultivate seeds and cereals.
The Stone Age:
The period from 10,000BC to 4,000BC witnessed the most important single innovation in human history before the industrial revolution. People started to produce food through cultivation and stockbreeding, rather than by hunting and gathering. The beginning of this change can be traced to the Neolithic period. The cultures that evolved in Southwest Asia during this time eventually gave rise to Western civilization. Southwest Asia comprises the modern-day states of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, where the Natufian culture emerged. The warmer and wetter climate that developed in Southwest Asia at the end of the Pleistocene era about 12,000 years ago brought about open woodlands with nuts which could be harvested and grasses which had the potential to be cultivated with wild grains such as barley and emmer. Harvesting in turn stimulated such developments as sickle blades, grinding stones and storage houses. The earliest Neolithic settlements were confined to the Levant and the western foothills of the Zagros mountains. In these regions along with the uplands of Anatolia, there was sufficient rainfall for wheat and barley to grow. Bone knives and flint blades became common tools of the time period. Sheep, goats, cattle and pigs abound the Anatolian plateau in large numbers.
Jericho was built in Jordan at Tell es-Sultan near the Dead Sea by people of the Natufian culture. Natufians are characterized by small villages of circular stone-walled huts. Natufians lived in heirarchical communities with commodities such as shells and obsidian. Natufians did not domesticate plants and animals, but they built totem poles and used wattle-and-daub as mortar. Natufians traded goods such as obsidian from Anatolia, cowrie shells from the Red Sea, and turquoise from the Sinai region. Natufian culture lasted from about 12,500 to 10,300 years ago. They made bowls, pestles and grinding stones from basalt long before metal tools were used. Houses were made of reeds and mud, with stone fireplaces and food storage basins or silos. Skeletons were buried with decorative necklaces and headdresses. Dust paint or chalk was made from colored ochers. Natufians ate gazelles, cattle, pigs, deer, horses, birds, hares, turtles, fish and shellfish.
Mureybet near Aleppo city in Syria yields evidence of the first farming culture between 9,000 and 8,000 years ago. The first domesticated plant from that area is einkorn, a type of wheat. Abu Hureyra is another area on the Euphrates river near Aleppo once known for its well wooded steppes. The Hureyra people hunted Persian gazelles each spring, but eventually in 6,500BC switched to herding domesticated sheep and goats. Hureyras lived in rectangular single-family mudbrick houses in small villages with narrow lanes. Sheep may have even been domesticated earlier by the Shanidar cave people of northern Syria some 3,000 years earlier. Syria thus marks the birthplace of agriculture in the form of domestic farming and animal husbandry. Anatolia (Turkey) was a favorable place for human settlement during the early Holocene period about 8,000BC, especially near the high banks of the tributary running off of the Tigris river. Cayonu people near Diyarbakir in Turkey were among the first to use copper by heating and pounding it. Cayonu settlers made copper pins, hooks and beads. Goddess figurines were popular at this time, especially in the form of pregnant women, suggesting a fertility cult of some kind. Goddesses were often associated with horned bull-gods and bull cults predominate this period up until the Bronze Age.
The Ubaid culture of Mesopotamia extended from 5,000BC to 3,750BC and represents the earliest manifestation of settled farming in the southern floodplains. The earliest traces of the Ubaid culture can be found at Eridu, slightly west of the Euphrates river. Ubaid peoples were irrigation farmers who learned to harness the destructive spring floods of the Euphrates to help improve their crop yields. Eridu had over 4,000 inhabitants. Ubaid peoples cast copper, fired clay bricks, and used simple sailboats for river transportation. They also had stamped seals, a sign of inventory and trade goods. African and Eurasian cultures differed little 12,000 years ago and both continents remained largely unchanged from the way they were 10,000 years earlier. But as the last Ice Age ended, the Holocene began and climates became warmer. This caused many animals to migrate, which caused the African hunters to adapt and experiment with domestication of herd animals like cattle. Oranians inhabited northwest Africa between 16,000 to 10,000 years ago. They herded cattle and cultivated peanuts. Oranians also hunted gazelles and zebra. At that time period, the Sahara was not as arid but much moister with grasslands and oasis ponds and lakes. Painted rock slabs from excavation levels dated 27,500 years ago at Apollo II Cave in Namibia, Africa may represent the oldest paintings anywhere in the world. However, paintings of animals on Saharan rock surfaces may be even older.
The last Ice Age reached its peak around 18,000 years ago. At that time, ice sheets covered most of Britain, Scandinavia, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and many smaller European mountain ranges. The rest of Europe, away from the Mediterranean, was covered by treeless tundra vegetation. The most common animal in these tundra regions was the reindeer, but red deer, aurochs, bison and horses were also present in smaller numbers. Humans during this period were largely confined to southwestern France, the Italian and Iberian peninsulas, and parts of central or eastern Europe away from the glaciers. The climate began to get warmer around 15,000 years ago before another period of cold set in 13,000 years ago. The end of the last Ice Age is put at 11,500 years ago, when temperatures reached their present levels. Not surprisingly, the result of this global warming was massive ecological change in the form of trees which spread north into the tundra. First the birch trees, then the pines, followed by hazel, oak, ash, lime and elm trees. Elk (moose) and wild boar migrated into the area, reaching Scandinavia where the reindeer can still be found today.
During the coldest peak of the Ice Age, so much water was landlocked in the form of glaciers that the sea level was more than 330 feet lower than it is today. Ireland and Britain were joined to continental Europe by dry land. Spain was probably also connected to Africa, since the straight of Gibraltor did not exist between the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea. Many scientists are still combing the Mediterranean for the legendary lost city of Atlantis, a mythical island preserved in myth by the ancient Egyptians who said it sank beneath the waters. Atlantis supposedly reached its peak just after the last Ice Age, when the Mediterranean sea level was much lower, and possibly more narrow with vegetation and swamps littering its coast. Many bog sites in Denmark show evidence of Mesolithic semi-nomadic settlements in the form of Maglemose culture. Maglemose were hunters and gatherers, trackers and woodworkers. They used flint arrowheads and axeheads, building canoes and possibly seasonal huts. Maglemose migrated to one place during the summer, then to another place during the winter when temperatures dropped. They hunted fur animals during the winter, and spent a great deal of time fishing during the summer months. Huts were probably built by wooden posthole frames with animal hide as a covering. These huts were either round in shape like a small dome tent (igloo), or more triangular in shape like a teepee. Maglemose bog dwellers had a variety of different arrows and arrowheads for different purposes. Flint blades were fixed to wooden or bone shafts, such as in the case of a bone spearhead, using resinous gum or sinew binding. Maglemose also hunted porpoises such as sperm whales during the winter, and probably used the oil from their blubber. They had bone fishhooks and may have domesticated the wolfdog.
More than 6,000 years ago, Stone Age people of western Europe started to erect stone monuments (megaliths) over the grave sites of their dead, possibly as early tombstones. The megalithic tradition died out 5,000 years ago, but some sites like Stonehenge (England) and Newgrange (Ireland) were built just before 3,000BC. carrowmore has an interesting stone circle in Ireland built over 4,500BC. Carrowmore has many stone circles, dolmens and megaliths, and in fact Carrowmore is an old Celtic name meaning "field of many stones". People of Carrowmore were hunter-gatherers who were increasingly becoming cattle breeders. Similar megalithic traditions were being practiced by the Tardenoisian culture in France, Spain and nearby places. There were obviously figurines of a frog goddess who symbolized life, and an owl goddess who symbolized death. Bees, butterflies, triangles, fish, bulls, and egg stones were also symbolic of life and fertility. Many white lady figurines with stiff erect bodies and crossed arms also represent the goddess of death. There are many such Venus statuettes from this time period. Such early people had knowledge of astronomy and calendars.
The postglacial Chulmun culture occupied Korea from 6,000BC to 1,500BC, while the Jomon culture occupied Japan from 10,000BC to 300BC, both being hunter-gatherers who ate red deer (worldwide diet), wild boar, salmon, shellfish and nuts. Jomon people domesticated red beans and gourds around 5,000BC, while the Chulmun domesticated millet at about the same time. The wet-rice agriculture and rice terraces began around 1,000BC. Chulmun people also had a dolmen tradition, with dolmen burials not unsimilar to the ones found in Europe around that time period. Dates for the Xinle culture of Mongolia and Manchuria on the Chinese mainland range between 5,500BC and 2,500BC and there is much similarity between the Xinle millet farmers and Chulmun millet farmers. These cultures had a variety of different agriculture tools for farming, plowing, seeding and winnowing. Most of their tools were made of wood and rope. While bronze was used rarely, clay pottery was used regularly.
Mexico saw the rise of the Tehuacan culture at the end of the Pleistocene period. Tehuacanos lived in caves or open areas, eating food with corn and syrup. Then by 5,000BC these Indians domesticated squash, chili peppers, bottle gourds and avocados. They also hunted horses, antelopes, and red deer. They gathered fruits, nuts and seeds. As the population grew, these hunter-gatherer tribes became less mobile and more territorial, perhaps trading and fighting with one another as time progressed. Tehuacanos domesticated maize and started making tortillas around 4,000BC, developing permanent settlements around 2,500BC.
- Eskimos (Canadian Arctic)
- Chukchi (Siberian Arctic)
- Plateau Indians (Northwest North America)
- California Indians (Southwest North America)
- Great Basin Indians (Eastern North America)
- Plains Indians (Central North America)
- Subarctic Indians (Central Canada)
- Gran Chaco Indians (Central South America)
- Tehuelche & Fuegians (Southern South America)
- Pygmies (Central Africa)
- Okiek & Hadza (East Africa)
- Sankhoi Bushmen (South Africa)
- Birhor (North India)
- Kadar (South India)
- Mlabri (Southern China)
- Semang (Malaysia)
- Toala & Punan (New Guinea)
- Australian Aborigines (Central Australia)
- Ainu (Northern Japan)
- Moari (Southern Australia)
The people who crossed the Beringia land bridge during the last glacial period and settled in the New World originated from the eastern Siberian hunter-gatherer communities that roamed the harsh tundras around the Aldan River valley. 18,000 to 12,000 years ago, the Dyukhtai tradition evolved there, but not all of these Siberians made their way northeast towards the Chukchi Peninsula and Alaska, some moved further south into more eastern Asian regions. Overseas, the Hensbacka culture rose along the western coast of Sweden as far back as 9,000BC while the Fosna culture developed in Norway at the same time. These traditions hunted reindeer in the highlands. Their main food resources however came from marine life in the form of seals, whales, fish and water birds. In many ways, they were similar to the Paleoeskimo societies that spread across arctic areas of North America some 3,000 years later. The northern Scandinavians developed the Komsa culture as they penetrated the arctic circle in 6,000BC. Since these cultures did not have flint to work with, they made tools out of quartz and slate instead. Their arrowheads and spearheads looked similar to other cultures of the same time period.
The arctic culture known as Thule emerged from the Birnik culture in northern Alaska about 900AD, centered on the hunting of 40-ton bowhead whales whose rib bones were used to construct Thule pit houses. Thule culture spread to Canada, Greenland and Labrador by the fifteenth century. Thule hunters drove caribou between drift fences called "inuksuit", made from piles of rocks. Thules also hunted walrus and antlered reindeer. Thule bowstrings were made of sinew, and Thule sleds were drawn by four to six domestic dogs. Thule culture was replaced by the later Inuit (eskimo) culture in later times. As for Australia and New Guinea, fossil shell midden (mound) sites from these regions show evidence that people were gathering and eating shellfish there during the Pleistocene period 30,000 years ago. Cuckadoo rock sheltor in Australia shows that the Aborigines used this site 15,000 years ago during the most arid time in Australia's history.
The earliest phase of rock art in Africa comes from the Bubalus period 12,000BC to 8,000BC, named after a common type of extinct buffalo once found in those rock carvings. Eastern North America witnessed the Archaic period, which marks the time between the Paleoindian cultures and the later Woodland cultures 10,000 years ago. The very first people to migrate into North America belonged to the Dyukhtai tradition 18,000 to 12,000 years ago. The copper stone age is often referred to as the Chalcolithic period. A "dogu" is a female fertility goddess figurine made in Japan during the time of the Jomon period. People of the Bandkeramik culture built longhouses in Germany and central Europe around 4,500BC. A "menhir" is a standing stone most often refered to in megalithic structures. Microliths are small arrowheads, barbs, or other implements made most often of flint and other stones. An "orthostat" is a standing stone in megalithic structures used to support one or more capstones. Paleoindians are the big-game hunters of the Americas who lived 10,000BC to 6,000BC. Paleoindians mostly hunted now extinct mammoths, bisons and other large animals. An "umiak" is a large open boat used by Arctic people, made of skins stretched out over a wooden frame. Early cultures in China did not have flint or slate, so they made bladed tools out of jade instead.
- Origin of Kingship (Persian Gulf)
- The Earliest Story (Sumer)
- Rise of Aristocracy, 3600BC (Sumer)
- The First Empire, 3200BC (Nile River)
- Age of Iron, 3102BC (Indus River)
- The First Philosopher, 2852BC (China)
- The First Written Record, 3800BC (Sumer)
- The First Civil War, 3100BC (Egypt)
- The First Epic Hero, 2600BC (Sumer)
- The First Victory over Death, 2686BC (Egypt)
- The First Reformer, 2350BC (Sumer)
- The First Military Dictator, 2334BC (Sumer)
- The First Planned Cities, 2300BC (Indus River)
- The First Empire Collapse, 2450BC (Egypt)
- The First Barbarian Invasions, 2278BC (Sumer)
- The First Monotheist, 2166BC (Sumer)
- Hammurabis Empire, 1782BC (Babylon)
- Hyksos Invasion, 1782BC (Egypt)
- King Minos, 1720BC (Crete)
- The Harappan Disintegration, 1750BC (India)
- The Rise of the Hittites, 1790BC (Asia Minor)
- The Threeway Contest, 1525BC (Egypt, Sumer, Asia Minor)
- Struggle of the Gods, 1386BC (Egypt)
- The Greatest Ancient Battle, 1321BC (Egypt, Assyria, Asia Minor)
- The Trojan War, 1260BC (Greece, Asia Minor)
- The Rig Veda, 1200BC (India)
- The Bharata War, 950BC (India)
- The Son of David, 1050BC (Israel)
- The Assyrian Renaissance, 934BC (Assyria, Egypt, Israel, Phoenicia)
- Cyrus the Great, 580BC (Babylon)
- The Art of War, 551BC (China)
- The Persian Wars, 527BC (Persia, Egypt, Greece)
- The First Sack of Rome, 495BC (Italy)
- Alexander the Great, 336BC (The Known Old World)
Alulim ruled over Eridu in Sumer many thousands of years ago. According to the Sumerians, he ruled as king for 28,000 years. Alulim's heir was Alalgar, who is said to have ruled after him for 36,000 years. The Persian Gulf in 11,000BC was much smaller, with its coastline possibly as far south as modern Qatar's (East Arabia's) location today. That is roughly 400 miles south of Eridu, meaning that 400 miles of the Persian Gulf was once dry land. The northern end of the Persian Gulf in that area was probably a 400-mile-long plain with streams running through it. Very ancient people may have walked along this plain 13,000 years ago before the ice caps melted and the Persian Gulf rose up to Eridu in Southern Mesopotamia along the Euphrates river, at a rate of one foot every 10 years. The people in the lower Mesopotamian plain from 5,000BC-4,000BC are called the Ubaid culture. Settlements before 5,000BC are referenced variously as the Samarra, Hassuna and Halaf eras, named after the sites where these pottery styles were found. Semites and Sumerians both travelled along the southern plain, both settlers having a similar language and culture. Semites brought the skills of plowing, basketmaking, leatherworking, and carpentry to the Mesopotamian region, while the Sumerians adopted these skills later. Over time, the population increased and the Sumerian culture spread. Life became so complicated that they needed a king to help them. That is when Alulim enters the scene as the king of Eridu at the beginning of civilization.
Far from the picture of Eden, settlers of the Fertile Crescent needed careful management to survive the hostile enviroment. Farmers worked together to build the canals and reservoirs needed to capture floodwaters. Food and water was limited, and had to be rationed. Sometimes water was too much and appeared in great floods, so the Sumerians had to build thick mud-brick walls to protect their villages from invading waters and also from hungry raiders. Many villagers preferred to settle on the hills and mountains rather than the lowland river valleys. As villages grew into cities, leaders started appointing armed men who policed their decrees. In this way, the first kingdoms arose. The later Babylonians wrote a myth about how the god-king Marduk created Eridu from reeds and dirt, placing it into a completely watery world covered by sea. Marduk then created mankind, and from heaven descended Eridu's kingship on earth. Eridu never disappears like Eden did, instead standing as a division between the hunter-gatherers and civilization. Settled farmers often quarrelled against nomadic shepherds and herdsmen in the region.
The fifth king in the Sumerian list is Dumuzi, who was a shepherd instead of a farmer. Dumuzi also had the blood of the gods in his veins. According to Sumerian legends, the sun-god Utu commands the goddess Inanna to sleep with Dumuzi, but Inanna objects because Dumuzi is a shepherd and she would rather marry a farmer. Dumuzi wins Inanna's favor with an offering of fresh milk. The story of Inanna echoes the later Semitic account of queen Ishtar, the goddess of love and war. The story of Cain and Abel seems also reflected here. Settled farmers were clustered in cities along the riverbanks while nomadic herdsmen and shepherds wandered beyond them in the deserts. Herders and farmers needed one another, exchanging meat for grain, but kept mostly to themselves since neither one of them liked the other. The first eight kings of Sumer ruled in this type of enviroment until catastrophe struck. Sumer experiences a dryspell so intense that the reservoirs become filled with mud instead of water. The people are thirsty. Finally, a storm comes and it begins to sprinkle. Everyone gathers their pots and pans to collect the rain drops. Normally these squalls blow across the plains in moments, but not this time. The drops strengthen and stream down into pools and swells. An unfamiliar thunder roars and shakes the earth. Lightning flashes, and then it happens. Historians call it the Great Flood, and it is the closest thing to a universal story that the human race shares together.
The king-list only briefly mentions the occurance of a very great flood, but the ancient Sumerian epic of Ziusudra was later translated by the Akkadians (Semitic speakers) whose writings were preserved in an Assyrian library. Enlil, king of the gods, became angry because the roar of mankind kept him from sleeping. Enlil convinces the other gods to wipe out the entire human race with a great flood, but the god Ea swore an oath to protect mankind and whispers news of the plot to the wiseman Utnapishtim in a dream. The gods of the abyss rose up, while Utnapishtim escapes in a boat with his family. Babylonians told a similar story about the wise king Atrahasis who was warned of the upcoming disaster. Ziusudra (Sumerian), Utnapishtim (Akkadian), Atrahasis (Babylonian), and Noah (Hebrew) all refer to the same king who survived the flood. Historians believe that as the northern ice melted and the Mediterranean Sea rose, the Bosphorus Straight (once solid land) burst open, the Black Sea overran its banks in 7,000BC and settled into a new bed, forever drowning the villages along its edge. The people who escaped the Black Sea Flood headed east from Asia Minor into northern Mesopotamia and took with them the memory of the disaster. This story spread orally from place to place, reaching the other side of the world in India, China, and even Peru in South America where a man supposedly climbed a mountain to escape the flood.
Despite mythology, scientists disagree that a single flood covered almost the entire world. Some now believe that as the last glacial period ended and the ice caps began to melt, several land bridges all over the planet may have sunk beneath the rising waters. These regions include the Bosphorus land bridge, the Beringia land bridge, the Japanese land bridge to mainland Asia, and others around the globe. Coastal regions of Africa, India and Australia may have also been effected where ancient people once settled. Events such as these probably inspired the stories of Atlantis and Noah's Ark, which seem to be connected to somewhat truthful histories. Noah is said to have planted a vineyard after the flood and became drunk with wine. The world's oldest wine comes from a site in Iran, where grapes were fermented 7,000 years ago. Noah's Ark rested on the summit of Mount Ararat, a large mountain range in the Armenian highlands. Akkadians refer to Utnapishtim as the king of Shurrupak, a city in Mesopotamia, and after the Great Flood the ancient Sumerian king-list tells us that the city of Kish in the northern cornfields became the new center of kingship. The first ruler of Kish was Gaur, and the 22nd king of Kish after the flood was Enmebaraggesi, of whom we have many inscriptions. From these inscriptions we know that Enmebaraggesi reigned close to 2,700BC, making it the first accurate date we can assign to any Sumerian king. At that time, Sumerians refered to the Euphrates river as the Uruttu (Perat) river, and the Tigris as the Idiglat (Hiddeqel) river. By 3,000BC there were many cities along these two rivers; Kish, Nippur, Adab, Lagesh, Uruk, Ur and Eridu, which all battled each other for power. Imports to the land between the two rivers were numerous. Copper was imported from the mountains south of the Persian Gulf in eastern Arabia, while stone was imported from Egypt and wood from the Lebanon mountains close to the Mediterranean sea coast. Obsidian was imported from Armenia, while the Zagros mountains east of the Tigris river provided lapis lazuli.
In the Nile river valley around 3,200BC, the Scorpion King united northern and southern Egypt into the world's first empire, and Narmer of the First Dynasty made the union permanent. The Scorpion King was the descendant of an African people who once lived on either side of the Nile valley. Centuries before his birth when Alulim ruled over a damper and cooler Sumer, the Nile valley was probably uninhabitable. Flooding was so violent in the Nile that few groups of hunters and gatherers dared to linger. They instead wandered through the Sahara, which at that time was wetter grasslands. As the weather changed to the hot dry pattern that effected the Mesopotamian plain, it also converted the Sahara into the large desert we see today. When this happened, the people of the Sahara travelled east into the watery Nile valley, which became more habitable during the decreasing rains. Reservoirs were built to contain water at flood times, and canals were dug to irrigate fields during dryer months. They built settlements and planted grain in the dark black silt left by the floods, hunting wildlife near the marshlands. Egyptian game included wild cattle, ibex, crocodiles, hippopotami, fish and birds. Unlike the area in Sumer, ancient Egypt was rich in fish, stone, copper, gold, flax, papyrus and everything else except wood. Egyptians made trades with the west for ivory, the east for shells, and the north for semiprecious gemstones. Egypt became known as the land of the living (Kemet) or the black land, while the Sahara became known as the land of the dead (Deshret) or the red land. The earliest Egyptian settlements date to the Badarian culture between 5,000BC to 4,000BC, followed by the Naqada period from 4,000BC to 3,000BC.
Since the current of the Nile river ran from south to north, Egyptians viewed the world upside down, with maps placing the Mediterranean below Egypt rather than above it. Memphis (Egypt) was roughly 800 miles "east" of Kish (Sumer), instead of west. Nubt (Naqada) in Upper Egypt was 300 miles "north" of Memphis in Lower Egypt, rather than south as our maps show today. Nubt and Memphis were both located on the Nile river. The reason why the Nile ran upwards is because the rain waters flowed from the Ethiopian highlands through lowland Egypt into the Mediterranean Sea, instead of the opposite direction. The king named Scorpion was a native of Hierakonpolis in Upper Egypt, described as a white crowned king who defeated soldiers of the red kingdom. Hierakonpolis was itself a city divided by the Nile river, with the west bank dedicated to Nehken the falcon god and the east bank dedicated to Nekheb the vulture goddess. Over time, the two cities were combined into one, and this unity of Hierakonpolis probably inspired Scorpion to make attempts at a larger united kingdom. There may have been two different Scorpion Kings, the first Scorpion I being a ruler in the south who is buried at the U-jat Abydos tomb. Scorpion II was the world's first emperor, or empire builder. Later attempts by the scribes at Heliopolis to make an Egyptian king-list mentions Menes (Narmer) as the first king of a united Egyptian civilization. Narmer built a capital at Memphis so that he could control the southern valley and the northern delta. Narmer was a white crowned king who married the princess of the red kingdom, perhaps to ensure the strength of his empire. Narmer used the symbol of the southern vulture and the northern cobra, one guarding the sky while the other guarded the earth. Narmer ruled united Egypt for 64 years and then was killed by a hippopotamus during a hippo hunt. Such hunts were normally performed by ancient rulers as a display of power after conquering neighboring kingdoms.
- Warming began in Mesopotamia and the Sahara around 11,000BC.
- Sumerians and Semites mingle in Mesopotamia as early as 9,000BC.
- King Alulim is the ruler of Eridu (Sumer) as early as 8,000BC.
- The Flood Story begins to spread as early as 7,000BC.
- First Egyptians settle in the Nile Valley around 6,000BC.
- Ubaids (Sumer) contemporary with Badarians (Egypt) from 5,000BC to 4,000BC.
- Uruks (Sumer) contemporary with Naqadas (Egypt) from 4,000BC to 3,000BC.
- King Scorpion is the ruler of Nubt (Egypt) in 3,200BC.
- King Atab of Nasr (Sumer) contemporary with Menes (Egypt) and Manu Vaivaswata (India) in 3,100BC.
- King Etanah is the ruler of Nasr (Sumer) in 2,900BC.
- Fu Xi is the ruler of Yang-shao (China) in 2,850BC.
- King Balih (Sumer) and King Menes (Egypt) contemporaries around 2,800BC.
- King Meskiaggasher is the ruler of Uruk (Sumer) in 2,800BC.
- King Gilgamesh is the ruler of Uruk (Sumer) in 2,700BC.
- Huangdi is the Yellow Emperor of China in 2,696BC.
- Xia Dynasty in China from 2,205BC until 1,766BC.
Both the Sumerian king-list (Alulim) and the Egyptian king-list (Menes) strongly and undeniably mention gods and demigods who ruled before kingship descended to earth. The first human king of India was Manu Vaivaswata in 3,102BC, also having been preceeded by the rule of six semi-divine beings. According to Indian mythology, Manu survived a great flood by building a wooden ark. Villages grew into towns along India's river plain roughly 5,000 years ago, about the same time Manu became king. Indian settlers began to throw their pots on wheels and to make tools of copper. They cut down forests and baked their clay in kilns. India's oven-burned bricks were more durable than Sumer's sun-dried bricks and more resistant to floods. Settlements appeared along the Yellow River (north) and the Yangtze River (south) in China around 2,852BC. Between the two rivers was a large area of swampland, lakes and mud. Hunter-gatherers may have once wandered through the Shandong peninsula between the rivers, but had little reason to settle on water-soaked land. Then the Sahara warmed, the Nile floods lessened, the river that once watered Thar Desert disappeared, the braided and intertwined stream of Mesopotamia became two seperate rivers as soil built up between them, and the land between the two great rivers of China began to dry. By 5,000BC the expanse between the Chinese rivers was a wide plain with forests on the highlands near the Tibetan plateau. The wanderers began to settle, planting rice in the wet ground near the rivers. The first Chinese villages were clustered in Yang-shao on the Yellow River and thus is called the Yang-shao culture.
The Yang-shao settlements were usually surrounded by a ditch, while ancient Chinese burial of the dead with food rations suggests the Yang-shao believed in the afterlife. The first king of Chinese mythology was Fu Hsi, who began to rule a civilized Chinese kingdom around 2,850BC during the turtle-shell tradition. The second king of China was Shennong, who was the first person in China to make a wooden plow and farm the earth. The third king of China was Huangdi, also known as the Yellow Emperor who ruled from 2,696BC to 2,598BC after winning a foggy battle against Chi You the southern warleader. This story is anachronistic, however. At the time when Memphis and Kish were flourishing, the Yellow River settlements were still wood-posted, wattle-and-daub clusters of huts surrounded by earthen ditches and walls. The people in those settlements had learned to fish, plant and harvest grain, and to fight against invaders. Huangdi if he ever lived did not inherit an empire of thriving cities, he inherited a cluster of small huts and villages. Huangdi's term marks the beginning of Chinese civilization.
During the rule of Meskiaggasher, the city of Uruk was the largest city in the world. Its walls were six miles long, with 50,000 inhabitants. Two huge temple complexes lay within its gates. In the complex called Kullaba, the Sumerians gathered to worship the remote and reticent sky-god An, while at the complex called Eanna they carried on a much more rigorous devotion to Inanna, the goddess of love and war. Uruk was not the crown jewel of Sumer, however. That honor still belonged to the city of Kish, whose king could claim the formal right of overlordship. By this point, Kish extended its protection and control over the city of Nippur, where the shrines of the chief god Enlil stood and where the kings of every Sumerian city went to make sacrifices and seek recognition. Uruk's merchants had a clear path down the Gulf of Oman to Magan in eastern Arabia, where the Copper Mountains produced the materials they needed for war. Meskiaggasher sent miners into the Zagros Mountains to gather tin, which allowed the smiths to make bronze weapons for battle. After the death of Meskiaggasher, his son Enmerkar inherited the throne.
Enmerkar defeated the Elamites in the land of Aratta, in the eastern mountains south of the Caspian sea. The mysterious Elamites didn't look for copper, but for silver and gold. Enmerkar had no political reason for invading his trade partner, only than to surpass his father and assure his own fame. Inanna was the chief goddess of Aratta, and when the war was over, Uruk had Inanna's favor the most, but she preferred for Enmerkar not to destroy Aratta, instead giving the Elamites their freedom. This myth is Sumerian and probably related to Enmerkar's defeat, without extending his father's empire and without any heir to succeed him. Enmerkar was instead succeeded by one of his fellow warriors Lugulbanda, and a hundred years later Gilgamesh was named Uruk's king and ruler. Gilgamesh was not descended from a king, but from a priest of the Kullaba temple complex devoted to the god An, which explains Gilgamesh's reputation for having demonic powers. Gilgamesh claimed Lugulbanda as his father, which is silly since Lugulbanda inherited the throne decades before Gilgamesh was born. By the time of Gilgamesh's reign, Lugulbanda was viewed as a Sumerian war-god.
Gilgamesh first defeated the giant of the forest (Elamites) and then waged war on Kish's king Enmebaraggesi who was also overseer of Nippur's protection. Enmebaraggesi is the first Sumerian king whose reign can be estimated. He ruled in roughly 2,700BC, which allows us to date Gilgamesh's life to the same period as well. Enmebaraggesi built the temple of Enlil in Nippur, which gave him considerable power. Gilgamesh never defeated Enmebaraggesi on account of Uruk's lack of support. Gilgamesh exhausted his people to the point where they revolted against him. Enmebaraggesi died of old age, and his son Agga of Kish sent messengers of peace. Gilgamesh seems to have taken this as a sign of weakness, and decides to raise another army to attack. Again the war drags on, and again Gilgamesh withdraws. Kish would not be defeated by the king of Uruk, but by another ruler who claimed Ur as his kingdom. Mesannepadda was the king of Ur, quietly waiting for a long time to make his move. Mesannepadda sat back and watched as Uruk and Kish depleated their forces, and then he made his move. Mesannepadda became the ruler of Ur, Kish and Nippur, but after his death Gilgamesh was determined to attack a third time. Gilgamesh was triumphant against Mesannepada's son Meskiagunna and in one last push became ruler of the four great Sumerian cities of Kish, Ur, Uruk and Nippur.
- Meskiaggasher ruled Uruk in 2,800BC.
- Enmerkar ruled Uruk in 2,775BC.
- Lugulbanda (Uruk) was contemporary with Mesannepadda (Ur) in 2,750BC.
- Enmebaraggesi ruled Kish in 2,725BC.
- Gilgamesh ruled Uruk in 2,700BC.
- Agga ruled Kish in 2,675BC.
- Meskiagunna ruled Ur in 2,650BC.
Archeologists believe that the Yang-shao period (China) was contemporary with the Uruk period (Sumer) and the Naqada period (Egypt) between 4,000BC and 3,200BC. Huangdi would have been contemporary with Gilgamesh in 2,696BC. Gilgamesh's legendary friend Enkidu represents the wild nomads who lurked outside the Sumerian cities in the wilderness, but eventually became civilized and learned how to become settlers. The wrestling match between Gilgamesh and Enkidu represents the struggle between settlers and nomads. Gilgamesh wins, but is so impressed by Enkidu's strength that the two of them become friends and team up against the giant of the cedar forest, this time represented by the Elamites of the north. Enkidu dies, and Gilgamesh goes off in search of the "plant of youth" which will destroy death. Gilgamesh learns the story of the flood, but he never succeeds in finding immortality. The Sumerian afterlife was unpleasant and akin to purgatory. Sumerian afterlife took place in an underground realm, neither light nor darkness, neither hot nor cold, where food and drink was tasteless and unquenching, a place where all the residents wandered around naked. This underworld was reached across a river which devoured flesh, a world so distant that Gilgamesh refused to bury Enkidu for a whole week until a worm crawled out of his nose.
Djoser was the king of Egypt from 2,686BC to 2,566BC and made his own quests for immortality. Djoser conquered many lands according to mythological stories from Aswan, and dedicated his expanding empire to Khnum the local deity. Djoser wasn't buried in the traditional tomb area at Abydos, but had built his own tomb in Saqqara to the north. He also abandoned the traditional sun-dried mud bricks for stone which would last forever, since his tomb did not represent a place of the dead but rather a place where the pharoah still lived. Laid around Djoser's tomb was an entire city for his spirit. This was the "city of the dead", with imitation reeds and wooden gates carved entirely of stone so that they could last for all eternity. Even a statue of Djoser himself was erected on a throne with holes drilled in the eye sockets so that his spirit could look out at the rising sun. Djoser also erected the first pyramid, a step pyramid designed by Imhotep who was Djoser's vizier. It is very likely that this step pyramid at Saqqara was based on the design of the Sumerian ziggurats or layered temples further east.
- Second Early Dynastic Period in Mesopotamia (Gilgamesh), 2800-2600BC.
- Third Dynasty in Egypt (Djoser), 2686-2613BC.
- Fourth Dynasty in Egypt (Snefru & Khufu), 2613-2498BC.
- Akkadian Period in Mesopotamia (Sargon), 2334-2100BC.
- Third Dynasty of Ur in Mesopotamia (Ur-Nammu & Shulgi), 2112-2004BC.
- Shao Kang of China (Xia Dynasty) contemporary with Ur-Nammu of Mesopotamia (Ur Dynasty).
- Abram the Hebrew is contemporary with Shulgi (Ur), 2004BC.
- The Fall of Ur, 2004BC.
- Twelfth Dynasty in Egypt (Amenhemhet I), 1991-1782BC.
- Hammurabi is the ruler of Babylon in Mesopotamia, 1792-1750BC.
- Shang Dynasty in China, 1766-1122BC.
- Minos is the ruler of Knossos (Crete), 1720-1550BC.
- Hyksos takeover Egypt, 1663BC.
- Volcanic Eruption of Thera Island (Atlantis), 1628BC.
- Hittites takeover Babylon, 1595BC.
- Aryans settle in India, 1550BC.
- Mycenaean invasion of Crete, 1450BC.
- Akhenaten is the ruler of Egypt, 1349-1334BC.
- Tutankhamun is the ruler of Egypt, 1333-1325BC.
- Rameses II is the ruler of Egypt, 1278-1212BC.
- Mycenaean invasion of Troy (Trojan War), 1260BC.
- Tukulti Ninurta is the ruler of Assyria, 1255BC.
- Nebuchadnezzar I is the ruler of Babylon, 1125-1104BC.
- Tiglath Pileser is the ruler of Assyria, 1115-1076BC.
- Aramaeans takeover Babylon, 1050BC.
- Solomon of Jerusalem (Canaan) contemporary with K'ang of Zhou Dynasty (China), 996-977BC.
- Romulus is the ruler of Rome, 753BC.
The early inhabitants of Crete probably migrated from Asia Minor long before. Knossos was the settlement which became the center of their culture. The early settlers of Crete made pottery jars for holding wine and oil. They traded these products with the Egyptians and the Western Semites on the mainlands. They also practiced human sacrifice. Earthquakes shook the mountainous island regularly. Minos was the stepson of a Cretan nobleman. Pasiphae was his wife, who had a sexual lust for a bull in an odd coupling which resulted in a mythological offspring, Asterius the minotaur. Minos was disgusted and had Asterius locked up in a labyrinth designed by Daedalus beneath Knossos palace. After a battle on the Greek mainland, Minos fed the minotaur seven young men and seven young women every year. King Minos ruled Crete during the Neopalatial period between 1720-1550BC, with the eruption of Thera taking place in 1628BC. Thera was a tiny volcanic island east of Melos island by about one hundred kilometers, and directly north of Crete by about seventy miles. Thera was part of a cluster known as the Cyclades islands. The earliest settlers of Crete lived during the Protopalatial period between 2000-1720BC. Minos lived during the fourteenth dynasty of Egypt, roughly 1700-1640BC, shortly before the Hyksos invasions. The Minoans probably borrowed the legend of the Minotaur from a Mesopotamian tale about Gilgamesh and his wrestling match with the Bull of Heaven, who was partly human. Minos ruled the sea and its many islands of Kea, Thera, Melos and beyond. Each island served as a trading post and a naval base. Minos was the first king to own a navy and put a stop to piracy. Bull jumping was practiced by young athletes who were willing to be sacrifices in the courtyard. These bull jumping contests inside Knossos city with its network of doors, stairs and corridors may have inspired the story of the labyrinth. Akrotiri was the only large town on Thera island. What once was a volcano eventually became a caldera, or sink hole in the island's center. As the earthquakes intensified, the inhabitants of Akrotiri fled to other islands and made sacrifices in hopes that the disaster would end. The sudden eruption of the Thera volcano was so massive that the ash eventually effected Crete's shores and nearby islands until the Minoan population began to shrink. The eruption also caused a tsunami which probably submerged nearby islands, crashing into Crete with waves thirty feet high. The huge smoke cloud darkened the sun for some time. Electrical thunder storms followed. This cataclysmic event probably inspired Plato's story of Atlantis, a strong sea power possibly connected with the Minoan civilization. Knossos was abandoned, and the Minoans eventually disappeared. Close to a century later, the Aryan nomads settled in the Punjab where the Harappan civilization had already started to decline. Evidence suggests that rather than conquering the Harappans by force, the Aryans most likely mingled with them until the Harappan culture disappeared.
DIONYSUS THE TWICE BORNE
THE HUMAN BEING WHO DIED TO BECOME THE IMMORTAL GOD
VETERAN ROLEPLAYER AND GUARDIAN OF TEXTUAL COMBAT SINCE 1998