Module Menu Printable View


Essential Purpose

About 10,000 years ago, humans began to produce their food in a more systematic way – through agriculture. The shift toward agriculture happened gradually over a long period of time, independently on all continents, except Australia. For the vast majority of history, humans lived as hunters and gatherers. The emergence of farming resulted in a whole new way of living. By producing food more systematically, humans were able to live together in greater numbers and greater density than ever before. But such growth in population also required new ways of social organization.

Jericho, one of the earliest farming towns in the world

This module will help students understand how and why agrarian societies developed around the world and how the advent of agriculture involved a complex interaction of topography, climate, resources, and human innovation.

National History Standards

Era 1: The Beginnings of Human Society

Standard 2: The processes that led to the emergence of agricultural societies around the world.

Standard 2A: The student understands how and why humans established settled communities and experimented with agriculture.
  • Infer from archaeological evidence the technology, social organization, and cultural life of settled farming communities in Southwest Asia.
  • Identify areas in Southwest Asia and the Nile valley where early farming communities probably appeared and analyze the environmental and technological factors that made possible experiments with farming in these regions.
Standard 2B: The student understands how agricultural societies developed around the world.
  • Analyze differences between hunter gatherer and agrarian communities in economy, social organization, and quality of living.
  • Analyze archaeological evidence from agricultural village sites in Southwest Asia, North Africa, China, or Europe indicating the emergence of social class divisions, occupational specializations, and differences in the daily tasks that men and women performed.
  • Assess archaeological evidence for long-distance trade in Southwest Asia.

State/Local Standards

States should align these modules to their own state/local standards as appropriate.

Essential Questions

Essential Content

Hunting and Gathering

Complex Societies The need for communities to work cooperatively in order to make the most productive use possible of their environment further spurred the early development of some highly complex societies.

Essential Skills

Standard 3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation

Standard 5: Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making

Summative Assessment

This summative assessment and scoring guide should be reviewed with students prior to using the activities in the module. Students should do the assessment after the activities have been completed.

Essential Questions Addressed by the Summative Assessment:

Printable Student View

Connection to Prior Knowledge
Product/ Performance
Criteria for an Exemplary Response
Now that you have learned the distinguishing characteristics of a complex society, you are ready to analyze an excavation site to see if this site gives evidence of being a complex society.

Artifacts have recently been found that appear to have come from a previously unknown agrarian settlement. Since the artifacts first appeared for sale on the illegal black market for ancient art, the exact location of their discovery is unknown. However, there is evidence that the artifacts originated somewhere in the region shown on the map. A university has agreed to sponsor a summer expedition to find this lost civilization. The university has provided only enough time and money to excavate one site in the region.

You are an archaeologist working for the university. As head of the archaeology department, you have been given the opportunity to lead the expedition. After careful consideration, you have selected a site which you think will yield evidence of a complex society.

After excavating the site, you are anxious to write a brief report telling the university’s Board of Trustees why you have made a wise decision to excavate this particular site. Review the Summary of Archaeological Findings and also photographs of artifacts from this site. Analyze this evidence and use it in your report to support your conclusion. In your report, be sure to:

  • Review the characteristics of a complex society
  • Make a determination of whether or not your team has found a complex society
  • Using the map provided, identify the site by number. Tell why this might be the location of a more complex society.
  • Use specific artifacts from the site to support your opinion

Scoring Guide