Prehistory and Ancient Civilizations

Vocabulary Log

Chapter 1

Alternative family Individuals who live together for economic, political, social, or religious reasons
Culture The behaviors, beliefs, customs, and attitudes of a group of people
Deforestation Cutting down or clearing away forests
Extended family Father, mother, children, and the families of the children when they grow up
History The study of the past
Myth A story told by people to explain their past
Nuclear family Father, mother, and children
Rain Forest Lush green regions that receive more than 140 inches of rain per year

Chapter 2

Cartographer Mapmaker
Climate The general pattern of weather in an area over time
Diffusion The spread of ideas, values, languages, and inventions of one culture into another culture
Inset A map that appears within a larger map and shows some of the same area
Legend Explains the symbols used on a map
Monsoon Wind system in Southeast Asia that brings heavy rains
Projection Way of transferring the curved surface of the earth onto a flat map
Regions Areas having similar characteristics that differ from surrounding areas
Scale The relationship between distance on a map and actual distance on the earth
Thematic map Shows information on a special theme or subject
Topography Referring to the surface, or physical, features of an area

Chapter 3

Archaeology The recovery and study of artifacts, ruins, bones, and fossils of the past`
Artifact A human-made object of archaeological or historical importance
Excavation The process of digging up the remains of the past
Fossil The remains or imprint of a human, animal, plant, or insect
Kitchen midden Rubbish, including bones and artifacts, left by people of the past
Megalith Large stone used in prehistoric buildings or monuments
Oral Tradition Stories, myths, and legends passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation
Prehistory The history of humans before writing
Primary source Information about people or events recorded at the time of the people or events
Radiocarbon dating A system for determining the age of a once-living remain based on the regular diminishing of carbon over time
Sarcophagus Stone coffin
Secondary source Information about people or events recorded long after the time of the people or events

Chapter 4

Band Small, loosely organized groups of perhaps 20 to 30 individuals
Glaciers Huge sheets of ice and snow
Hunter-gatherer People who hunt wild animals and gather wild plants
Technology All the tools, methods, and materials that people use to control and improve their lives

Chapter 5

Agriculture Farming
Civilization Complex society with food, labor specialization, government, social levels, and culture
Domesticate Make plants or animals more useful to humans
Environment All the living and nonliving things that make up one’s surroundings
Famine Terrible shortage of food that can cause starvation
Irrigation Bringing water to fields through canals, ditches, or pipes
Self-sufficient Not dependent upon others for survival
Shrine Sacred places where people worship
Surplus Extra

Chapter 6

Administrator Manager
Artisan A worker who is skilled at making a particular good by hand
Astronomer Scientists who study and record the movements of stars and planets
City-state A self-governing unit made up of a city and its surrounding villages and farmland
Code A complete and organized set of laws
Cuneiform The earliest type of writing, meaning "wedge shaped"
Empire A nation and the city-states and nations it has conquered
Epic A long poem about a hero
Exile Forced absence from their country
Fluvial Civilization built on a river or in a river valley
Nomad People who move with their flocks and herds
Oceanic Civilization built on an ocean
Pictograph Pictures that stand for ideas or words
Plain An area of flat, open land that is lower than a plateau
Plateau A broad area of high, flat land
Polytheism Belief in many gods
Thalassic Civilization built on a lake or sea

Chapter 7

Access Ability to reach
Afterlife Life that continues after death
Cataract Waterfalls and rapids that mark the southern border of ancient Egypt
Delta A triangle of marshy wetlands at the mouth of a river
Dynasty A series of rulers from the same family
Embalm Treat the body to protect it from decay
Hieroglyphics Egyptian writing
Mummy Preserved body (of a person or animal)
Obelisk An enormous granite pillar with pictures and writing engraved on the sides
Papyrus A long, thin reed that grows along the Nile, used for making paper
Pharaoh Originally meaining the palace, later a term for the Egyptian king
Tribute Gifts to a king, ruler, or country