Living in an Early Farm Town

Next week's work involves illustrating a scene from the Neolithic Era.

You will have a better understanding of this time period by reading a passage from A Message of Ancient Days (p. 118-133) and answering four questions about life in one of the earliest Neolithic (Stone Age farming) communities.

In this case, the town is called Çatal Huyuk and it is located in the present day country of Turkey. More directions will be posted on MyHomework tomorrow.

After looking at the readings on the early Neolithic period (Message of Ancient Days pgs. 127-133), the text asks you to answer the following questions:

1. What was life like in a Neolithic farming town?

You would live in a mud-brick house and take care of fields of crops outside of the village. Besides growing food, your family would continue to hunt wild animals and gather plants and berries. There would be different jobs for the different people in the town. The town would have a surplus of grain to trade with other people nearby. The people were polytheistic and they worshiped their gods in small shrines.

2. In the area of industry (making and trading stuff), how did the people of Çatal Huyuk differ from hunter-gatherers? What caused this difference?

Çatal Huyuk had a surplus of food, and so not everyone had to hunt and gather food all the time. People of the town were able to take on new and different jobs: tool makers, farmers, builders, traders, basket weavers, pottery-makers, and jewelers. The reason people could choose these different jobs was that the farmers grew more food than the town needed. The farmers had permanent homes, unlike the hunter-gatherers who had to move from place to place.

The farm towns also had a highly developed culture. Culture includes the art, architecture, religion, language, literature, customs, and traditions of the people. They had a system of government and a written language. 

3. What is obsidian, and how is it formed? What did the people of Çatal Huyuk do with it?

Obsidian is a dark volcanic glass which forms when lava cools quickly. People used obsidian to make fine tools, jewelry, and blades. Tools made from obsidian include razor blades, arrow heads, spear tips, and polished black mirrors. It could also be traded to other towns.

4. Why do you think the houses of Çatal Huyuk had rooftop entries?

There are several reasons why the people of Çatal Huyuk built mud-brick homes with entrances on the roof, and ladders to come in and out. Write your ideas in a comment, and we'll see what people come up with! 

Also in class, we'll be looking at a few key questions about these first human settlements. Before getting to the questions, you should check out a couple of really cool websites:

Here's a super-cheezy but interesting video about Catal Huyuk. You know its cheeziness is off the charts because of the background music :)

1. How did humans go from hunting and gathering to farming?
Humans learned to save seeds to plant the following year, and captured and domesticated wild animals to make them tame and more useful (for meat, milk, wool, eggs, feathers).

  -What changes happened in the way humans lived?
Humans settle down in one place instead of wandering around living as hunter–gatherers. This allows them to build settlements and is the beginning of civilization.

-What are some advantages and disadvantages of farming?An advantage of farming is that you can have a surplus and you don’t have to wander around looking for food. A disadvantage of farming is that you might not have a balanced diet. Plus you are more in danger of losing your crops because of bad weather.

2. What (where) are some of the earliest known settlements?
The earliest settlements in the Middle East were in an area known as the Fertile Crescent.

3. What was life like in an early Neolithic town? (daily life, homes, jobs, food, etc.)
Early farming towns were made out of mud bricks, with homes closely clustered together (for protection), and some had doors on the roof. There were no streets. Most houses had two rooms with one for storing food and the other for living. People were able to have specialized jobs (farmers, priests, tool makers, artisans (makers of things), builders, painters, and administrators).

 4. What tools or technology did humans develop at this time?
At the beginning of the Neolithic Era, people developed new tools and technology to help them farm and build cities. People invented new ways to store food, like firing pottery, building underground chambers, and salting meat to preserve it. Farming tools included the plow, rakes, hoes, shovels, and irrigation (moving water to fields).

And, as promised after today's discussion about domesticated animals...

5. What is a surplus? A scarcity? How did farming crops lead to a surplus?
A surplus is an extra supply of something (more than you need). A scarcity of something means you do not have enough. Farming allows people to grow large amounts of crops, and that leads to a surplus 

6. How did trading start? Why is a surplus a necessary part of trade?
Trading started when early villages used their surplus crops to purchase goods they needed from other villages. A surplus is a necessary part of trade because it doesn’t make sense to trade away the food you needed to survive. 

7. What does it mean for a village to have social classes?
Social classes are the levels of importance that the different people of a city have. A person’s social level is usually determined by their job, wealth, and their family’s social level. Social levels in a village signify an advanced civilization.

8. What makes a civilization?
A civilization is a complex society that includes:
  • A stable food supply
  • A specialization of labor (people have different jobs)
  • A system of government
  • Social levels
  • A highly developed culture