WHP Lesson 7: Early Humans

Evidence of how the earliest humans lived is pretty scarce. We know they were nomadic and moved around, and then after 245,000 years of gathering food by foraging, many early humans switched to farming. We have some educated guesses about why this transition happened, but we don’t really know why. 

Driving Question: Why did we shift from foraging to farming?  

  • This is a question that historians are still trying to answer, because we don’t have written records from this time period. There are a few theories about why we made this shift. And while you might think the shift from foraging to farming was a good thing overall, there are some downsides to the story. 

Word of the Day: Forager

  • Definition: A person who searches for food or supplies.

  • Foragers relied on hunting and gathering resources from their surroundings in order to survive. Many of them were nomadic, meaning that they moved from place to place in search of food and other resources. They did not live in sedentary communities like most people do today. There are still some foraging societies that exist in the world now. 


  • Watch the Era 2 Overview video in Origins Lesson 2.0. 
  • As you watch this video, think about how historians rely on artifacts to investigate how humans shifted from foraging to farming. Consider whether the switch to farming was a good idea. 

Historian’s Journal Prompt

  • Could COVID-19 be viewed as a negative effect of the switch to farming? Why or why not? 

  • To help you answer this, consider the evidence for or against this hypothesis. For example, would this disease spread as easily in a nomadic community where people might not live as close together? And how does disease resistance differ between farmers and foragers?