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Course Overview

You are about to explore a gift that has been left for you by people of the past. About 5,000 years ago (3000 BC), people in an area we now know as the Middle East began to keep records. They wrote down transactions, lists, and information about the life and times of their people. These are stories of our human experience, our legacy. The field of archaeology expands our knowledge about life before the written word, but it is the stories of our shared past that make up world history. Writing provides us with humankind’s first ever “time machine.” Reading the stories of the past enables us to take a journey in our time machine through the human experiences of those who wrote them.

You may ask, “What kinds of stories will I be reading?” The answer may well be, “Stories that will change your whole way of looking at the world!” Our journey in this course will take you from the very beginnings of civilization (prehistory–1000 BC) to the exciting and troubling age of exploration and expansion (1400–1700).

You’ll learn how anthropologists, archaeologists, and other researchers seek evidence of the time before writing, which is called prehistory. You’ll experience the building of the pyramids and the beginnings of civilization in India, China, and the Americas. You’ll witness the rise and fall of Greek democracy and the Roman Empire. You’ll see the start and growth of the world’s great religions. You’ll follow Europe through the Middle Ages and the awe-inspiring changes of the Renaissance and Reformation, and you’ll see how the age of exploration and discovery changed much of the rest of the world.

You will be able to continue your journey in World History 12W, which begins with the period from 1500–1800. This second semester of world history includes the monarchs of Europe and the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and Age of Imperialism, the two life-changing world wars, and contemporary economics, governments, and societies.

After you’ve successfully completed your study of human history in this first semester of world history, I hope