World 3500 BCE

Stone Age hunter-gatherers and farmers live in much of the world. In one small area, however, cities are appearing, literacy is developing, and civilization is emerging.

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World history in 3500 BCE - ancient civilizations emerge

In the Middle East, the first civilizations in world history are emerging.

Cities, writing, organized states – all these are appearing in the land of Mesopotamia. A thousand or so miles away, the foundations for another great civilization are being laid, that of Ancient Egyptin the Nile Valley.

These two developments are the opening phases of that stage in global history which we call the Ancient World.

The spread of farming

In 3500 BCE, much of the world is inhabited by small groups of hunter-gatherers. Since about 9000 BCE, however, farming has been spreading in and around the Middle Eastsouthern and eastern Asia, Europe and northern Africa. The spread of agriculture has enabled populations to expand, and villages of farmers now dot the landscapes of these regions. This is a trend which will last throughout global history, right up to the present day, as farmers push hunter-gatherers into ever smaller corners of the planet.

The horse

Another notable development at around this time is the domesticating of the horse, on the steppes north of the Black Sea. Modern scholars think that this occured amongst people who spoke a tongue ancestral to the modern Indo-European family of languages. Their domestication of the horse, initially for their milk, meat and hides, is a first step along the road to an expansion over a huge area of Eurasia.

The Western Hemisphere

Agriculture is also practiced in a few places in the Western Hemisphere, in parts of Mexico and Peru. The rest of the populations of North and South America are hunter-gatherers.

Next map: the world in 2500 BCE

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Early farmers

Early pastoralists

What is civilization?

Origins of civilization

The role of cities in the rise of civilization

World history

Premium Units

The Rise and Spread of Farming: 10,000 to 3,000 BCE (PowerPoint Unit)

Early Civilizations

The Middle East: Cradle of Civilization

World Trade


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