100,000 BC: Early Human Migration and Settlement in China

Episode 3 Early China and the Mysterious Xia

Foundations of Chinese Civilization

Dr Craig Benjamin (2013)

Film Review

Benjamin begins this lecture by discussing the remains of 40 Homo erectus skeletons discovered in China over the last century. This is the first evidence that pre-human hominids migrated from Africa to Asia long before the first human beings emerged. Archeological evidence suggests they had discovered fire.

The oldest human remains from China date from 100,000 BC. Like early human migrants elsewhere, these were hunter gatherers living in small groups and using infanticide and senicide to limit group size. Like hunter gatherers elsewhere, they worshiped spirits associated with nature and their ancestors.

Over time, however, like early humans elsewhere, they began growing food and living in larger communities.

China’s Neolithic (late Stone Age) Era dates from roughly 8,000 – 3,000 BC and there is evidence of agriculture along it’s major rivers by 7,000 BC. The main crop along the northern Yellow River was millet and along the southern Yangtze River was rice. There is also evidence of domestication of chickens, pigs, silkworms and horses (originally domesticated on the Eurasian Steppes – see https://archive.org/details/horsewheelandlanguage).

By 4,000 BC, there’s evidence of different neolithic cultures trading with one another. By 3,000 BC, there’s evidence they’re waging war against war with one another.

In 2100 BC, the first (Xia) hereditary dynasty formed after “great King Yu” bequeathed his throne to his son Xi. The territory ruled by the Xia Dynasty consisted mainly of farmland with a number of substantial villages and a few urban centers. Xia artisans mastered the use of bronze and jade carving, as well as creating a calendar noting lunar and solar movement. Owing to their ability to communicate with the spirit world, Xia kings also served as shamans.

Film can be viewed free with a library card on Kanopy.


How the Slave Trade Drove the Formation of Southern Colonies


Episode 4: The Southern Colonies Take Hold

A New History of the American South

Dr Edward Ayers (2018)

Film Review

In this lecture, Ayers traces the formation of the other Southern colonies, in most cases linked to the exploding North Atlantic slave trade.

Florida – the first colony to be settled by Europeans, was founded by the Spanish in 1565. By the time the English created the colonies north of it, Florida had established colonies along the eastern coast as far north as the sea islands of Georgia.

Maryland – founded in 1653 by Lord Baltimore after Charles 1 (a Catholic) granted him a plot of land north of Virginia to host 150 Catholic settlers (many of them Jesuits).

Carolina – In 1663 Charles II granted a plot of land to eight Barbados colonists to establish the colony of Carolina. Its initial purpose was to grow food for Barbados plantations that produced nothing but sugar. Most of the new settlers were former indentured servants from Barbados who had completed their seven year contract. Some brought their own slaves with them and some enslaved Native Americans or traded them in Barbados for African slaves. By 1700, the English had killed or expelled all Native Americans out of Carolina, which now became a slave colony like Virginia and Maryland. Carolina adopted rice as its main cash crop after Native Americans taught them how to grow it. In 1712, Northern Carolina, which had become a haven for poor whites to escape domination of Virginian and South Carolina elites, separated to become the colony of North Carolina.

Louisiana – in 1698 the French sailed down the Mississippi River to claim the region for the French, founding the city of New Orleans in 1718.

Georgia – in 1730 George II granted philanthropist James Ogelthorpe a charter to establish a colony for the “deserving” poor of English cities. Initially Georgia prohibited both strong drink and slavery. However Georgian farmers ignored the anti-slavery law, and in 1750 the governor of Georgia legalized slavery, making it a slave colony.

During this entire period the trans-Atlantic slave trade was expanding. Beginning around 1700, three new African states formed (Ashanti, Oyo and Dahomey) that sent special armies deep into the African interior to meeting growing demand. More than 10% of African captives died during their journey to the new world, Even more died following their arrival in the New World owing to overwork and starvation.

Film can be viewed free with library card on Kanopy.