From the Beginning of Time: NBSE Class 12 History (Arts) notes

charles darwin, illustrating the chapter From the Beginning of Time
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Get summary, textual answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF to NBSE Class 11 (Arts) History (Themes in World History) Section A: Early Societies- From the Beginning of Time. However, the educational materials should only be used for reference and students are encouraged to make necessary changes.

Introduction

The study of human history encompasses both the prehistoric and historic periods, providing valuable insights into the development and achievements of our ancestors. Prehistory, the time before the advent of writing, spans millions of years, during which humans primarily relied on hunting and gathering for sustenance. They also crafted rudimentary stone tools and developed early communication methods. The origins of modern humans, or Homo sapiens, can be traced back approximately 160,000 years ago. Meanwhile, the historic period is marked by the emergence of written sources, which offer crucial documentation of human societies and their progress. Archaeological findings suggest that the first civilization, known as Maya, appeared around 5.6 million years ago, followed by the evolution of various human species such as Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens idaltu. Throughout this extensive timeline, humans have undergone significant physical, sexual, and psychological transformations, shaping the course of history and paving the way for the diverse societies we see today.

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Exercise/textual questions and answers

I. Very Short Answer Type Questions

1. What is the meaning of pre-historic period of history?

Answer: The pre-historic period refers to the time before the development of writing, which is estimated to be millions of years ago when early humans existed on earth. This period is also known as the pre-history.

2. Give the meaning of “Historic Period” of human progress.

Answer: The period of man’s progress for which we have written sources is known as “historic period.”

3. What is Archaeology?

Answer: Archaeology is the study of history and culture of ancient societies by examining the remains of the buildings, tombs, tools, pottery and other objects. It is mostly concerned with the human activities in the pre-historic period.

4. Who are Archaeologists?

Answer: The scholars who study the remains of pre-history and create the history of this period are called the Archaeologists.

5. Give the name of the book on evolution written by Charles Darwin.

Answer: Charles Darwin wrote the book on evolution titled “On the Origin of Species”.

6. Describe the two kinds of Dinosaurs.

Answer: There were two kinds of Dinosaurs. Some of them were plant eating beasts (herbivorous) while the others were meat eaters (carnivorous).

7. Give the views of Church about the origin of man.

Answer: There was bitter opposition in certain quarters, particularly amongst the Church leaders to Darwin’s Theory. This is understandable because Darwin denied God as the creator of the universe. Darwin seemed to dethrone humankind from the central place in the tenets of Christianity. However, the specific views of the Church about the origin of man are not mentioned in the provided information.

8. What are the meanings of Hominid and Hominoids?

Answer: Hominids evolved from hominoids and share certain common features, but they also have major differences. Hominoids had a smaller brain compared to hominids. They were quadrupeds, walking on all fours, but with flexible forelimbs. Hominids, by contrast, had an upright posture and bipedal locomotion (walking on two feet). There were also marked differences in the hands, which enable the making and use of tools. Hominoids are different from monkeys. They have a larger body and do not have a tail.

9. What do you know about Australopithecus?

Answer: Australopithecus was the first apeman known as the “Southern Ape.” They were found in East Africa and had basic traits of humans.

10. When did the Homo Habilis man exist?

Answer: Homo habilis men existed between 2.4 and 1.5 million years ago.

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16. What is the meaning of Neolithic Age?

Answer: The Neolithic Age is the period when humans became food producers, which began about 10,000 years ago. It is also known as the New Stone Age.

17. What is the most important feature of civilization?

Answer: The most important feature of civilization is the ability to utilize adequately the resources of nature and the knowledge of the art of writing which is essential to a civilized society. The early men of the Neolithic Age lacked these abilities and were considered barbarians despite their technical progress.

18. In which period did man become a food producer?

Answer: Between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, humans in different parts of the world learned to grow food plants and domesticate animals, which marked the transformation from food gatherers to food producers.

II. Short Answer Type Questions

1. Describe the meanings of archaeology and archaeologists.

Answer: Archaeology is the study of history and culture of ancient societies by examining the remains of the buildings, tombs, tools, pottery and other objects. It is mostly concerned with the human activities in the pre-historic period. Archaeologists are the scholars who study the remains of pre-history and create the history of this period. They excavate those sites which they presume were inhabited by the pre-historic people. By examining the fossils, tools and remains found there, they try to reconstruct the past.

2. How do the archaeologists make discoveries of the ancient artefacts?

Answer: The archaeologists excavate those sites which they presume were inhabited by the pre-historic people. By examining the fossils, tools and remains found there, they try to reconstruct the past. They use specific tools to dig the places concerned with patience and utmost care. First, they remove the dust from above and around the objects with a knife and then brush them. They do not disturb their original form.

3. How do the archaeologists date their finds?

Answer: The archaeologists use various methods to determine the dates of the objects they discover. They can use coins of the emperor ruler to find the approximate ruling period of the king. They can also use science, such as Carbon-14 dating, to determine the age of an object. Geologists can also study the layers of rocks to know the history of the earth.

4. Describe briefly Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Answer: Darwin gave a systematic explanation of evolution of life. He holds that there are many similarities between the physical structures and functions of lower animals, and of men which is the highest product of the process of evolution. In the struggle for existence which environment imposes on living species, nature selects those species most fit or adapted to survive. Darwin collected a great mass of evidence to support his views. His conclusions have been further developed by the discoveries of fossils.

5. How far is Darwin’s theory of origin of man acceptable?

Answer:Despite some objections against the theory of Darwin, there is a wide acceptance of the idea based on Darwin’s findings that the best way to study all things – science, government, sports, the family and so on – is to find out how they have developed or evolved.

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9. Describe the main features of life of Neolithic Age men.

Answer: In the Neolithic Age, men began to settle in one place and cultivate crops and domesticate animals. They lived in well-constructed huts with central hearths for fires and made warm boots and clothes from animal skins. They used tools and weapons for hunting and fishing, and oil lamps for light. They also created necklaces and pendants, little statues made from ivory, antler, and bone, and cave art. Religious beliefs became more elaborate, with men worshiping many gods and resorting to human sacrifices, animal slaughter, and self-mutilation to please them. Burials became more elaborate, with the dead being accompanied by funerary items such as pottery, stone tools, animal offerings, jewelry, and slaves.

10. Give the main differences between the lives of the Paleolithic men and Neolithic Men.

Answer:The main differences between the lives of Paleolithic men and Neolithic men are that Paleolithic men obtained food from hunting animals and gathering plants while Neolithic men were transformed into food producers. Additionally, Paleolithic men made stone tools by grinding and polishing, while Neolithic men made tools of ground stone which were more durable than earlier tools. Finally, the Neolithic period saw important inventions like the plough and the wheel, which appeared towards the end of the period.

11. Explain briefly the Carbon-14 Dating System.

Answer: When plants and animals are alive, they absorb carbon-14 from the atmosphere. However, when they die, they stop absorbing carbon-14 but continue to lose it through radioactivity. Archaeologists measure the carbon-14 content in an object of antiquity to determine its date. This system of finding out the time of an object is called the Carbon-14 Dating. Through Carbon-14 dating, scientists can tell whether a skeleton is 3 million years old or an year old.

III. Essay Type Questions

1. Describe the methods of reconstructing the human evolution.

Answer: One way of reconstructing human evolution is through the work of archaeologists on pre-history. Archaeology is the study of the history and culture of ancient societies by examining the remains of buildings, tombs, tools, pottery, and other objects. Archaeologists excavate sites that they presume were inhabited by prehistoric people. By examining the fossils, tools, and remains found there, they try to reconstruct the past.

Archaeologists have found bones of ancient human beings and animals, stone tools, pottery, and remains of other objects by digging up various places in the world. When living things die, their bodies decay and perish, but some of their parts such as bones and skeletons last for a long time. The articles made of wood perish soon, but those made of stone, burnt clay, or metals last long.

Another way of reconstructing human evolution is through the study of genetics. Geneticists study the DNA of different species to understand their evolutionary history. By comparing the DNA of different species, geneticists can determine how closely related they are and how they evolved over time.

Paleoanthropologists study the fossil record of early human ancestors to understand their evolutionary history. They examine the physical characteristics of fossils and compare them to modern humans and other primates to understand how early humans evolved.

Finally, scientists use dating methods to determine the age of fossils and other artifacts. Carbon-14 dating is a commonly used dating method that measures the amount of carbon-14 in a sample to determine its age. Other dating methods include potassium-argon dating and thermoluminescence dating.

2. Describe the theories regarding the origin of human beings.

Answer: There are different theories regarding the origin of human beings. One theory suggests that the first humans appeared in Africa about two million years ago. Another theory suggests that Homo Sapiens did not evolve solely in Africa but simultaneously in Africa, Europe, and North and South-East Asia. This was the beginning of the Stone Age and the dawn of early man.

The theory of evolution, proposed by Charles Darwin, also sheds light on the origin of human beings. Darwin’s theory suggests that all plants and animals have developed from very simple forms over a very long period of time. He emphasized the survival of the fittest and struggle for survival, which fitted admirably with the temper of the times.

However, Darwin’s theory faced bitter opposition in certain quarters, particularly amongst the Church leaders, as it denied God as the creator of the universe and seemed to dethrone humankind from the central place in the tenets of Christianity. Despite some objections against the theory of Darwin, there is a wide acceptance of the idea based on Darwin’s findings that the best way to study all things – science, government, sports, the family, and so on – is to find out how they have developed or evolved.

In terms of physical characteristics, early man had many similarities with apes and gorillas. The head of the early man was very small and it stooped backward. His body was covered with thick hair. He could not speak but could produce intelligible sounds. He was a wanderer and went from place to place in search of food. He ate raw meat, wild fruits, and roots. He did not know the use of fire and lived the life of a wild animal. In the beginning, he walked on four legs like an animal. But with the passage of time, he learned to stand erect using his hands or legs.

Before studying the evolution of humans from the modern apes to modern man, it is important to know the meaning of the terms Hominids and Hominoids. The hominids evolved from hominoids and share certain common features. But they also have major differences as well. Hominoids had a smaller brain compared to hominids. They were quadrupeds, walking on all fours, but with flexible forelimbs. Hominids, by contrast, had an upright posture and bipedal locomotion (walking on two feet). There were also marked differences in the hands, which enable the making and use of tools. Hominoids are different from monkeys. They have a larger body and do not have a tail.

3. Write an essay on the life of the Homo Sapiens.

Answer: Homo Sapiens, also known as modern humans, are the only surviving species of the genus Homo. They evolved in Africa around 300,000 years ago and have since spread across the globe, becoming the dominant species on the planet. The evolution of Homo Sapiens is a fascinating story that sheds light on our origins and how we came to be the way we are today.

The earliest Homo Sapiens had a brain size similar to that of their predecessors, but over time, their brains grew larger and more complex. This increase in brain size allowed for the development of language, culture, and technology, which are all hallmarks of modern human society. Homo Sapiens were also able to adapt to a wide range of environments, from the deserts of Africa to the frozen tundras of Siberia, which allowed them to spread across the globe.

One of the most important developments in the evolution of Homo Sapiens was the ability to create and use tools. Early humans used simple stone tools to hunt, gather, and defend themselves, but over time, their tools became more sophisticated and complex. This allowed them to develop new technologies, such as agriculture and metallurgy, which revolutionized human society and allowed for the development of complex civilizations.

Another important development in the evolution of Homo Sapiens was the development of culture. Humans are social creatures, and the development of culture allowed them to share knowledge, beliefs, and values with one another. This allowed for the development of complex social structures, such as families, tribes, and nations, which have shaped human society to this day.

Despite their many achievements, Homo Sapiens have also faced many challenges throughout their history. They have had to adapt to changing environments, fend off predators, and compete with other species for resources. They have also faced internal conflicts, such as wars and social inequality, which have threatened their survival.

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6. Describe the life of man in the Neolithic Age.

Answer: In the Neolithic Age, humans transitioned from being food collectors to food producers. They made tools of ground stone which were more durable than earlier tools, facilitating important inventions like the plough and the wheel, which appeared towards the end of the Neolithic period. The distinctive feature of the Neolithic village was social homogeneity. All families had the necessary skills and tools to produce what they needed. All humans were equally important, and all had access to the basic natural resources essential for livelihood. Every family was automatically a component part of the village community, which owned the farm lands, pastures and other resources of nature. Hence there was no division between landed proprietors and landless cultivators in tribal society.

IV. Passage Based Questions

Read the following passage and answer the questions.

Altamira is a cave site in Spain. The paintings on the ceiling of the cave were first brought to the attention of Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, a local landowner and an amateur archaeologist, by his daughter Maria in November 1879. The little girl was ‘running about in the cavern and playing about here and there’, while her father was digging the floor of the cave. Suddenly, she noticed the paintings on the ceiling: “Look Papa, Oxen!” At first her father just laughed, but soon realized that some sort of paste rather than paint had been used for the paintings and became so enthusiastic that he could hardly speak. He published a booklet in the following year, but for almost two decades, his findings were dismissed by European archaeologists on the ground that these were too good to be ancient.

1. In which country, the cave site of Altamira is situated?

Answer: Spain.

2. Who brought to the notice of Marcelino, an archaeologist, the paintings on the ceiling of the cave.

Answer: His daughter Maria.

3. What did Marcelino realize on seeing the painting?

Answer: He realized that some sort of paste rather than paint had been used for the paintings.

4. What were the views of Europeans at first about the findings of Marcelino above the Altamira cave painting?

Answer: They dismissed his findings, believing the paintings were too good to be ancient.

V. Objective Type Questions

1. “Southern Apes” were found in

Answer: (a) Africa

2. Which period is known as new stone age?

Answer: (b) Neolithic

3. Who are categorised as ‘Wise Man’?

Answer: (c) Homo sapiens

4. Name the book written by Darwin.

Answer: (a) Origin of species

Extra/additional questions and answers

1. What is the study of history? 

Answer: The study of history is the study of human past which started millions of years ago and is a continuous and unending phenomenon.

2. What are the two periods in human history based on the availability of sources? 

Answer: The two periods in human history based on the availability of sources are the “historic period,” for which we have written sources, and the “pre-history” or Pre-historic period, which is the time before the development of writing.

3. When did the modern humans (Homo sapiens) originate? 

Answer: Modern humans (Homo sapiens) originated about 1,60,000 years ago.

4. Define Archaeology and the role of archaeologists in studying pre-history. 

Answer: Archaeology is the study of history and culture of ancient societies by examining the remains of buildings, tombs, tools, pottery, and other objects. It is mostly concerned with human activities in the pre-historic period. The scholars who study the remains of pre-history and create the history of this period are called archaeologists. They excavate sites that they presume were inhabited by pre-historic people, and by examining the fossils, tools, and remains found there, they try to reconstruct the past.

5. Explain the way of reconstructing human evolution using the work of archaeologists on pre-history. 

Answer: Archaeologists play a vital role in reconstructing human evolution by studying pre-history. They excavate sites that they presume were inhabited by pre-historic people. By examining the fossils, tools, and remains found there, they try to reconstruct the past. They believe that when living things die, their bodies decay and perish, but some parts, such as bones and skeletons, last for a long time. Articles made of wood perish soon, but those made of stone, burnt clay, or metals last long. Through the discovery of human fossils, old tools, pottery, and bones of ancient human beings and animals, archaeologists have gathered valuable information about pre-historic times. This information has allowed scholars to bring to light the way men lived in the pre-historic age and to estimate the beginning of human existence.

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56. Define the following terms: Pre-history Period, Historic Period, Mummy, Carbon-14 Dating. 

Answer:

  • Pre-history Period: The period before man developed the art of writing.
  • Historic Period: The period for which man has written records.
  • Mummy: The body of a person preserved after death by being rubbed with oils and wrapped in cloth.
  • Carbon-14 Dating: A system of calculating the age of a very old object such as a fossil by measuring the amount of radioactive carbon it contains.

Extra/additional MCQs 

1. What term is used for the period of human history before the development of writing?

A. Historic period B. Post-history C. Pre-history D. Prehistoric age

Answer: C. Pre-history

2. When did the first civilization, known as Maya, emerge according to archaeologists?

A. 1,60,000 years ago B. 5.6 million years ago C. 3 million years ago D. 1 million years ago

Answer: B. 5.6 million years ago

3. Which human species is considered the ancestor of modern humans?

A. Homo habilis B. Homo erectus C. Homo sapiens idaltu D. Homo sapiens

Answer: D. Homo sapiens

4. What is the primary method used by archaeologists to study pre-history?

A. Excavations B. Written sources C. Observations D. Interviews

Answer: A. Excavations

5. Which of the following is NOT a form of early humans mentioned in the text?

A. Homo neanderthalensis B. Homo habilis C. Homo erectus D. Homo sapiens idaltu

Answer: A. Homo neanderthalensis

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89. What type of life did humans lead as a result of agriculture?

A. Nomadic B. Settled C. Maritime D. Warrior

Answer: B. Settled

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