he WOW discussion is an opportunity to share with the class something that surprised you in your reading, research, or study of the topics we cover in this module. As you read and watch the stories that make up our history, look for things that make you say to yourself “I didn’t know that” or “WOW! That’s cool!”. You will convert this fun fact or pertinent point into a mini-lesson on the topic and share it with your peers in this discussion.
This assignment is designed to help you develop an internal dialogue while reading and studying history. An internal dialogue while reading makes us more effective readers and efficient learners as it improves understanding and memory of the story told in the text.
- While reading the e-text, and explorations, as well as watching the video clips in this module, write down several WOW “I didn’t know that” or “That’s amazing!” facts.
- Select one WOW! fact that you noted and write at least 3 critical thinking** questions about this topic. **Critical thinking questions are questions that require you to analyze information and form a judgment. Questions such as When was X born? are not critical thinking questions.
- Research and find the answers to your WOW! fact questions. If you can’t find a definitive answer to a question, look for interesting related topics and list them as your answer.
- Use your questions and answers to build a WOW! lesson for your classmates (as described below). This may be the only thing your classmates learn about your WOW! fact and you are the teacher, so please be thorough!
- At the top of your discussion post, state the WOW! fact (as a quote or paraphrase) followed by an in-text citation of your fact’s source. Use in-text citation (not bibliographic citation) in APA, MLA or Chicago Style format.
- Write a paragraph (3 – 5 sentences in addition to your quote or paraphrased information) about why that information excited you or why you found it interesting.
- Below the paragraph, list each WOW! fact question followed immediately by your researched answer of at least a paragraph in length (3 sentences minimum). Each answer should also include an in-text citation or note in APA, MLA or Chicago Style format. (Note: this is a total of at least 4 in-text citations in your post and quotations should be used minimally in your answers or not at all).
- Include a bibliographic list (References, Works Cited, or Bibliography as appropriate) for all the sources you used for research. Remember these should be appropriate research resources – no tertiary sources.
- Post your WOW! lesson to the discussion to share with classmates. (While your instructor reads posts and shares comments as necessary, this discussion is intended to be a student-led conversation.)
- Respond to at least two classmates’ WOW assignments with two additional questions each that keep the discussion moving forward. Your responses should be both reflective and respectful as you pose your questions.
- Reply to any questions asked of your WOW! thread.
See the Course Schedule and Course Rubrics pages for due dates and grading information
Here are topics below to make a “wow statement on” from our etext book to do this assignment.
HUMAN BEGINNINGS IN AFRICA
The fossil record in Africa clearly establishes that a human lineage diverged there from African apes sometime between eight to six million years ago. Beginning as far back as eight million years ago, various species of hominids (the ancestors of modern humans or Homo sapiens) began to walk upright. This bipedalism would allow these hominids to use their hands to develop, craft, and use tools. Bipedalism would also eventually contribute to a move out of forests into the savanna and turn hominids into big game hunters and gatherers. Paleoanthropologists once theorized that hominids became bipedal to adapt to life in the grasslands. However, the fact that fossils of bipedal hominids were found alongside fossil remains of wood, seeds, and other forest dwellers has cast some doubt on that theory. In fact, bipedal hominids may have lived in the forest for some time. While some bipedal hominids may have stayed in the forest, climate changes did drive others to move into new areas within Africa and beyond it.
Peopling the New World
North and South America were the last continents to be settled by humans. Most scholars think that the Americas were populated from Beringia over land. Around 12,000 years ago, mammoth hunting became more common and supported larger populations on both the Asian and American sides of Beringia, a landmass (now divided by the Bering Strait) which at that time connected North America and Asia. On the Asian side, outlines of houses with stone-lined hearths have been found, remnants indicating permanent settlement that didn’t necessarily have colonization as an end goal. But colonize they did, one group pushing southward between 10,000 and 3,000 years ago and establishing settlements that would become the origins of modern Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Inuit populations. Another group migrated southeastward through Alaska, their descendants making it as far as Chile and Argentina.
While we know about when American colonization began, the pace and means of colonization are still debated. Complicating the discussion of timing is the fact that the Late Wisconsin Ice sheet blocked the overland route from about 30,000 years ago, when two sheets merged, up until about 12,000 years ago, when they opened after a thaw. At this point in time, only a handful of sites support possible pre-10,000 BCE occupation: Monte Verde in Chile, Meadowcraft near Pittsburgh, and Page-Ladson in Florida. As recently as 2015, excavations at Monte Verde and Chinchihuapi have strengthened the “possibility of an earlier human presence on the continent” to as far back as 17,000 BCE. This date has continued to move back in time as archeologists consider evidence of more mobile humans who did not leave large artifact clusters because of their ephemeral nature, but nonetheless may have been present before more sedentary groups.
For now, however, the clearest evidence for when the Americas were widely populated comes through the Clovis point, a specific arrowhead shape that was unique in its ubiquity and sophistication. The Clovis point was also found in mammoths that had grown extinct by 10,500 years ago, this discovery meaning that humans were common in North America by then. From Beringia, humans moved at a rate of roughly 10 miles a year until they reached Tierra del Fuego and fully populated the Americas (with the exception of some tropical areas mentioned above).
The term civilization often elicits mostly idealized images of ancient empires, monumental architecture, and the luxurious lives of ruling classes. Civilization, however, is a tricky term. In the United States, students of history studied Western Civilization, almost exclusively, through the 1950s. In their studies, civilizations were advanced societies with urban centers, rooted in European or Middle Eastern culture. America’s origins in these Western civilizations was used to explain our own high level of development. However, more recent scholars have definitely broadened the geographical focus by recognizing that worldwide from 3500 to 1000 BCE at least seven independent civilizations emerged in different regions. These recent scholars also continue to debate the definition of civilization, and the current compromise amongst World Historians is to recognize characteristics that civilizations tended to share. Common characteristics of civilizations included food surpluses, higher population densities, social stratification, systems of taxation, labor specialization, regular trade, and accumulated learning (or knowledge passed down from generation to generation). The list here is not all-inclusive by any means, but it indicates the complexity of the societies that scholars have labeled civilizations.
In addition to heated debates about its exact definition, civilization is a loaded term, meaning that it can contain a value judgment. If we use the term carelessly, it seems to indicate that some societies are deemed civilized and worthy of inclusion, while others are uncivilized and thus not worth our study. In part, our sensitivity to this issue is a response to the tendency of past historians, including many of those working in Europe in the 1800s, to assume that there was a natural progression from an uncivilized state to civilization. These historians viewed people who had values, ways of living, and religious beliefs different than theirs as uncivilized. They further believed that these allegedly uncivilized peoples were behind or needed to catch up with those who were civilized. Today, World Historians try to appreciate the great diversity of human experiences and consciously remove these sorts of value judgments. World Historians avoid assumptions that some societies in the past were better or further along than others. Therefore, many World Historians remain wary of the uncritical use of the term civilization.
For our purposes, let us leave aside any value judgments. Societies labeled as civilizations were not inherently better than any others. In fact, as we will see, civilizations demonstrated various vulnerabilities. Considering things like war, slavery, and the spread of diseases, there were sometimes advantages to living outside the nexus of civilizations. For example, in comparing societies, scholars have found that in many instances people residing in decentralized states were healthier and lived longer than did their counterparts in early civilizations. However, people living in societies with social stratification, labor specialization, and trade usually left more written records and archeological evidence, which historians can analyze to narrate our past. The available resources mean that civilizations tend to be better represented in the written historical records. As you read about past civilizations, keep in mind that historians are currently enhancing our understanding of societies that perhaps remained mobile, rejected hierarchies, or preserved their histories orally. These societies were also part of our shared past, even if they are harder to study or have received less scholarly attention.
This section focuses on early civilizations in the Fertile Crescent and Northeast Africa. The civilizations in the Fertile Crescent (Mesopotamia) and Northeast Africa left written records, so that is where we will begin. They also all initially had economies based on farming and developed alongside rivers. Their locations alongside rivers allowed populations to grow the surplus food that they used to support urbanization, social stratification, labor specialization, and trade.
Reference requirements: In your own words, explained why the WOW fact excited you, surprised you, or related to you in a grammatically correct, paragraph (3 – 5 sentences)
Quoted or paraphrased the WOW! fact using appropriate detail.
Provided 3 critical thinking questions
Provided 3 researched, informed answers of a paragraph (at least 3 sentences) each in length
Provided an in-text citation for each answer formatted in one of the approved styles (APA, MLA or Chicago Style for Humanities) and a bibliographic list of sources also in one of the approved styles.
Information to CITE these readings above is: This reading was adopted from World History: Cultures, States, and Societies to 1500. by Dohlenga, GA: University of North Georgia Press, 2018 is licensed under CC BY 4.0 and has been remixed with supplementary material to adapt for CCConline.