Journey Across Time National Edition
Chapter 1: The First Civilizations
Historians tell us that history began about 5,500 years ago when people first began to write. The
period before this, or prehistory, is called the Stone Age. Archaeologists have studied artifacts
and fossils to learn more about the people from this earlier period. The Paleolithic, or Old Stone
Age, people were nomads who adapted to their environment. They were the first people to use
tools, technology, and fire for survival. The farming revolution occurred during the Neolithic
Age, or New Stone Age, when people learned to domesticate animals and plants. These early
farmers settled villages in Europe, India, Egypt, China, and Mexico.
Civilization in Mesopotamia arose on a flat plain bordered by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
Farmers developed methods of irrigation, which allowed more than enough crops to support the
population. City-states developed in the region of Mesopotamia known as Sumer. Around 2340
B.C., the Akkadian king Sargon conquered all of Mesopotamia and created the world's first
empire. Power in the region continued to switch hands as Babylonian king Hammurabi took
control and established the Babylonian Empire. He is best known for his code of laws.
About 1,000 years after Hammurabi's rule, Assyria's military power and well-organized
government helped it establish a new empire in Mesopotamia. Despite their strong government,
rebellions against the Assyrians led to fighting. The Chaldeans seized the opportunity to rebel
and captured Nineveh, the capital, in 612 B.C.
Under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldeans controlled Mesopotamia for more than
40 years. They rebuilt the city of Babylon, and it became the world's largest and richest city.
Much like the ones before it, the Chaldean Empire weakened under the strain of its conquered
peoples. The Persians conquered Mesopotamia in 539 B.C.
Chapter 2: Ancient Egypt
Egyptian civilization began in the fertile Nile River valley. The Egyptians depended on the Nile
and its dependable floods for survival. They also relied on the river for trade and transportation.
The geographic features of the region—cataracts, deltas, and deserts—protected the Egyptians
from invasions. The advancements of the civilization created a need for government. Around
3100 B.C., Narmer united Upper and Lower Egypt into one kingdom. After his death, Narmer's
family created Egypt's first dynasty. Over a period of about 2,800 years, Egypt would be ruled by
31 dynasties. These years are divided into three periods—the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms.
Egypt experienced growth and prosperity during the Old Kingdom. Egyptian kings, called
pharaohs, were believed to be the sons of Re, Egypt's sun god. Pyramids served as elaborate
tombs to store the mummy of the pharaoh. The Middle Kingdom was marked with peace,
prosperity, and accomplishments in art, literature, and architecture. During the New Kingdom,