3 About This Module: Prehistoric Culture

Module Introduction

Topics Covered:

  • What is Culture?
  • What is Civilization?
  • Prehistoric Civilization (Paleolithic and Neolithic) to Include
    • The Agricultural Revolution
    • Venus Figurines
    • Stonehenge
    • Cave Art such as the Lascaux and Chauvet Cave Paintings

This module will introduce students to cultural expressions in both Paleolithic and Neolithic eras. Students will interpret cultural artifacts such as the Venus of Willendorf and Stonehenge to determine what these artifacts tell us about the daily lives of prehistoric men and women. Finally, the student will demonstrate proficiency in critical thought in two ways. First, students will sort events from Prehistoric era in historical order. Second, students will assess the extent to which religious belief motivated many of the artistic and architectural innovations from the Prehistoric era on this week’s Discussion Board.

Historians divide time in two eras. The era before year one is identified as BCE (Before the Common Era) or previously BC (Before Christ). The era after year is identified as CE (Common Era) or previously AD (Anno Domini–Latin for the ‘In the Year of Our Lord’). While the Christianized delineations of history sufficed in previous decades, scholars now prefer the more generic BCE and CE as they take into account that different religions have different starting points in history. Jewish tradition, for example, has seen the beginning of Creation as their first year. Muslims, on the other hand, identify Muhammad flight from Mecca as their first year (622 CE in the common calendar). Thus BCE and CE allow historians to speak about events in the past through a secular rather than religious lens.

Even so, the designations BCE/BC and CE/AD work the same. In the era of BCE/BC, time counts down backwards. Once you reach year one, however, time begins to march forward in the AD/CE era. Thus, Augustus comes to power in Rome in the year 27 BCE. He dies, however, in 14 CE. So, in essence, he ruled for 41 years. In terms of Jesus, many scholars now place his birth earlier than turn of the first millennia, sometime around 4 BCE.(1)

Learning Outcomes Related to this Module

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in critical thinking
  2. Recognize the relationships between cultural expressions and their contexts
  3. Understand cultural expressions
  4. Interpret and evaluate cultural artifacts and/or their contexts for significance


Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:

  • Sort events in historical order from the Prehistoric era.
  • Identify characteristics that distinguish the Paleolithic from the Neolithic eras.
  • Identify possible motivations for the creation of cave art during the Paleolithic era.
  • Identify possible explanations as to why Prehistoric communities created Venus statuettes.
  • Identify the reasons why the Neolithic era was revolutionary era in human history.
  • Identify possible explanations for the construction of megalithic sites such as Stonehenge and explain how they may have functioned.
  • Identify features that mark the end of the prehistoric era in human history. (1)

Assigned Readings

  • Syllabus Reading: Course Syllabus and Course Documents
  • Learning Unit – Prehistoric Culture

Assignments | Learning Activities

  • Carefully review the Syllabus
  • Review and submit Student Contract
  • Participate in Introduction Discussion
  • Complete assigned readings
  • Review Learning Unit
  • Participate in Discussion 1
  • Complete Timeline Assessment 1
  • Complete Assessment Module 1
  • Review Capstone Project | Introduction


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Humanities: Prehistory to the 15th Century Copyright © by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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