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Chapter: 11th 12th std standard Geography earth space Higher secondary school College Notes

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Human Evolution and Human Civilisations

There are some new insights into the human evolution that have come to light in recent years. One of them is that the humans appeared in the dense forests of Africa some 4 million years ago. The second of these is that all the human fossils we have until now located or found are of erect human beings.

Human Evolution

There are some new insights into the human evolution that have come to light in recent years. One of them is that the humans appeared in the dense forests of Africa some 4 million years ago. The second of these is that all the human fossils we have until now located or found are of erect human beings. A research related to a recent find from Indonesia has suggested that the homo erectus of this find is far more different than those of the African species. The researchers believe that there were situations conducive for the emergence of two separate human-like beings. One may have evolved into an African homo sapiens and the other an Asian homo sapiens. A skull of the Asian homo-sapiens has been found in China. This has shown that the homo-sapiens must have lived here even 200,000 years ago.

 

It has also been discovered that the African homo-sapiens used tools made of stone whereas the Asians used tools made of bamboo. These findings support the view that humans may have moved out of the places of their origin immediately after their emergence. 

The African branch may have moved out of the tropical cradles and the Asian may have done the same. The two branches may have been responsible for the emergence of a strong homo-sapiens group which may then have evolved into the fittest of our ancestors, from whom all the present human beings must have descended.

 

In sum, the present day humans have evolved over a long time into the intelligent beings they are, by a process of evolution which facilitated their intelligent ancestors to develop into the one species and but different races they belong to.

 

Human Civilisations

 

In their 2 million-year history, the humans lived mostly in close relations with the Nature. For us, who are much different from what they were, their efforts and progress are not immediately apparent. We think the history of the last 10,000 years has no parallel. But we still appreciate, and what we do know about, is that when they first began to stay at one appropriate place, they had already sowed the seeds of civilisations. Civilisations emerged some 5000 years ago. The villages significantly in the forefront were indeed the places where agriculture flourished. The small villages of those years were the beginning of the civilisations. When growth in production and therefore surplus occurred, trade and industrial development prospered. Cities and towns were built. Small towns and cities grew into big cities and towns. They became densely populated and congested. Science and technology developed. Revolutions happened. There were, side by side, hardships and suffering. In the midst of the civilised, some uncivilised behaviours lifted their heads. Economic and social discrimination became the order of the day. There was, and is, gender bias. And all these continue till this day, changing the lives of the people of world.

At the height of building civilisations, thousands of settlements came into being in the Indus Valley. In the cities of Mohanjodaro and Harappa, there were more than 30,000 population each. In the course of making the civilisations, the nomads moved out of their origins and travelled far and wide. The nomads who moved out of Central Asia transformed the Roman and the Chinese civilisations.

 

Then came the world religions. The religions which professed love and peace in the beginning ushered in widespread suppression and authoritarian tendencies. In the meantime, slave trade, forced displacement of people and population dispersal had occurred worldwide with far reaching consequences. Newer civilisations were built. The Greeks, the Romans, the Indian and the Chinese developed and enriched philosophy and sciences. The Arabs developed astronomy. In different eras of the historical times, knowledge, technologies and civilisations progressed with salutary effects.

 

Progress in Civilisations

 

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the sea navigational successes of the European continent have brought revolutionary changes in human knowledge. The discovery of sea routes through sea travels by Columbus, Vasco-de-Gama and Megallan was accomplished. It was made clear that the earth was a sphere. Soldiers, merchants, religious missionaries and administrative experts travelled the world with them. Several countries turned into empires and colonies. These developments made possible the development of a social and cultural geography. Then came the thirst for freedom. There were protests against the colonisers. Aggression became the order of the day. Non-violence has also become the political means. All countries of the Latin America, United States of America, Asian and African countries became independent, one after another. The World Wars were bought, in between. There came economic depression/recession and revival.

Even though the countries of the world today are all independent and free, there are invasions. Colonisation has not been completely eliminated. There are colour prejudices still. Famine and poverty still remain unresolved problems that are a result of political manoeuvres. There were discriminations in the name of East and West and South and North and they have now become slightly subdued. Human brotherhood is realised once a while with ideologies such as those of 'One World' and 'Our Common Future'. Even as we knew that 'United, We prosper; Divided, We face destruction', there emerged an unification (Germany) and disintegration (Soviet Union). With all round progress, poverty still haunts the majority. Terrorism or militancy and fundamentalism turn the civilised into the uncivilised. Health in an unhealthy life and peace in a tumultuous life become the much sought after. These are the painful characteristics of the civilisations today.


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