1.1 The First Humans

1. The Age of Hunters and Farmers
1.1 The first humans

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Slide 1: Tekstslide
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In deze les zitten 25 slides, met interactieve quizzen, tekstslides en 2 videos.

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1. The Age of Hunters and Farmers
1.1 The first humans

Slide 1 - Tekstslide

What is this lesson about?
Some people believe that a god or gods created the first humans. Scientists say that it took millions of years before people evolved into what we are now. 
Archaeologists and palaeontologists have found bones of the first humans in Africa. Modern humans are called Homo sapiens and they didn’t stay living in Africa. Instead they spread all over the world.

Slide 2 - Tekstslide

Which Age are we studying in this Unit?

Slide 3 - Tekstslide

What you will learn in 
this lesson
  • the definition of the evolution theory
  • what the "Out of Africa" theory means
  • how to read the family tree of modern humans
  • explain what palaeontologists and archaeologists do

Slide 4 - Tekstslide

Word Duty

1.1 First humans

Fossils: remains of plants or animals that are preserved in stone
Scientist: someone who studies a science, for instance history or biology
Creation narrative: a story that says God created man and the rest of the world
Theory of evolution: theory written by Charles Darwin to explain the way species change
Excavation: process by which you uncover something through digging away the earth that covers it
Palaeontologist: someone who studies ancient life on the planet
Archaeologist: someone who digs up remains to investigate human activity in the past
Tool: an object held in one hand to accomplish a task
Out of Africa theory: theory of beliefs that modern man evolved in Africa and then migrated t
other areas in the world


Slide 5 - Tekstslide

Timeline of this module
(don't need to study for the test, only the events mentioned in the TEXTS)

Slide 6 - Tekstslide


Wherever you live on earth, we are all humans. But where do we come from? And
how did our ancestors live? We will start our study of the past by learning something
about the origins of mankind.

Slide 7 - Tekstslide

This story begins in Ethiopia.
Drag the box with the name Ethiopia to the correct country in the map.
When you see this symbol you need to use internet to help you find the answer.

Slide 8 - Sleepvraag


Our historical trip starts near the small village of Hadar in Ethiopia. On a very hot day in 1974, two men were looking for fossils. Fossils are remains of plants or animals that are preserved in stone. Many fossils can be found in Ethiopia and throughout the rest of the Great Rift Valley in Africa.
The men were scientists and particularly interested in remains of early humans. Their search was a success, because they discovered some old and very special bone fragments.
The fossilised bones were part of a skeleton that was 3.2 million years old! At first, the scientists thought that the skeleton was just like a small female chimpanzee. But when they looked closer, the scientists found out that this animal had been able to walk on two legs. The scientists were incredibly happy because they had just discovered the oldest skeleton of an early human in the world!

The female human skeleton that was found was named Lucy. She got this name from the song 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds'. This song was played during the discovery and was a popular song by The Beatles in the seventies.

The bones of Lucy that were found in Ethiopia (c. 3.2 million years old).

 This is probably how Lucy looked, when she was still alive. Why was this one of the most important discoveries in the history of mankind? (present-day drawing).

A skull of a Australopithecus afarensis, like Lucy was (c. 3.2 million years old).

Slide 9 - Tekstslide

2a. The scientists were looking for fossils, but were really interested in the remains of early humans in Ethiopia.


Slide 10 - Quizvraag

2b. The scientists knew right away that they had found remains of a human.


Slide 11 - Quizvraag

3. Look at the drawing of Lucy on page 8. Here you see another
kind of reconstruction; it shows us what Lucy might have
looked like when she was still alive. (click the photo to enlarge)

Why would a museum use this kind of reconstruction instead
of a display that only shows a few bones from a skeleton?

Because it attracts people more than showing only bones.
Because Lucy was a beautiful girl.
Because we know exactly what Lucy looked like.
A, B and C are all correct

Slide 12 - Quizvraag

4. Why was it special that Lucy’s skeleton was well preserved?

because the bones were found by accident.
because the bones were so old.

Slide 13 - Quizvraag

Where do humans come from?

For thousands of years, people answered this question by explaining that a god or a number of gods created humans. A well-known example of this is the story of Adam and Eve. These first man and woman were made by God and lived in paradise until they ate from the forbidden tree. A story like this is an example of a creation narrative.

But scientists have another explanation about the origin of humans. They studied the bones of Lucy and learned that the first humans lived in Africa and that they looked completely different from how we look today. Still, these scientists say that they were our ancestors because they walked on two legs. So they must have changed if they had become like us. How is that possible?

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Wenzel Peter, 19th century, Vatican Museum

Slide 14 - Tekstslide

5. What is a creation narrative?

It is a story that says....

humans were created by scientists
God was created by humans
God was created by scientists
humans were created by God

Slide 15 - Quizvraag

Theory of evolution

This was also the most important question that the biologist Charles Darwin asked himself around 1850. On his travels he discovered that species change over time. They adapt themselves to their environment in order to survive. A polar bear is white because it lives in the snow and a giraffe has a long neck to eat leaves on high trees. This process of adaption can take millions of years.
Darwin’s idea is called the theory of evolution. He also wrote that humans and apes have the same ancestors. It took three million years for these first humans to change into the people that we are today. In the family tree below you can see the different human-like ancestors that used to be alive.

Charles Darwin, 1809 - 1882

This is the human family tree, with the different species of early humans.

The Latin word Homo means ‘man’. When we talk about humans we use this word. For example: Homo habilis was ‘the tool using man’ and Homo erectus ‘the upright man’. We modern humans are Homo sapiens sapiens which means ‘very wise man’.

Slide 16 - Tekstslide

6. In your textbook, read "Theory of evolution".

Drag the missing words to the correct place in the text.

Slide 17 - Sleepvraag

Archaeology and Palaeontology

What we know about evolution comes from fossils and bones like Lucy’s, that were discovered by a team of different scientists. At Lucy’s excavation there was a palaeontologist, someone who studies ancient life on the planet. These palaeontologists investigate fossils that can be millions of years old. There was also an archaeologist, a person who digs up remains to investigate human activity in the past. Every new discovery helps us to determine how humans have evolved.

Archaeologists working on a dig in the Netherlands (present-day picture).

Slide 18 - Tekstslide

Slide 19 - Link

7. Go to the website in the previous slide.
Then click on ‘what is the job of an archaeologist?’ and read the text.

Use the information to make the correct combinations

studies written records
studies animal fossils
studies human artifacts

Slide 20 - Sleepvraag

Out of Africa

Modern humans evolved differently than apes. The first humans started to walk upright. This left their hands free so they could use tools. Tools are objects held in one hand to accomplish a task, like a sharp rock to cut flesh. They also learned to use fire.

Around 250,000 years ago, Homo sapiens evolved in Africa. This species left the continent and spread all over the world. This migration did not happen all at once. It took place between 250,000 to 56,000 years ago and is called the Out of Africa theory. According to this theory, modern man evolved in Africa and then migrated through the Middle East and then to Asia, Europe and the Americas. Homo sapiens were very good at adapting to changes in their environment, like various landscapes and the ever-changing climate. This skill to adapt could be why Homo sapiens survived and other human species did not.

The spreading of humans across the world.

The discovery of Lucy was not the only important one in Ethiopia. In 1994, a group of palaeontologists discovered the remains of a 4.4 million year-old skeleton. They called it 'Ardi'. Scientists are still debating if Ardi is human or ape. Some believe that her specie is 'the missing link' between us and apes.

Slide 21 - Tekstslide

Write down one question about something from this lesson that you find difficult.

Slide 22 - Open vraag

(the next slides show interesting videos you can watch to learn more about this subject)

Slide 23 - Tekstslide

Slide 24 - Video

Slide 25 - Video