From a modern perspective it’s hard to imagine a time when maps didn’t exist, however for thousands of years that was the case, with humans living without them up to around 6500 BCE when the art of cartography emerged in Ancient Babylonia. One of the earliest examples is a wall map found in Qatalhoyuk (now in Turkey), clearly showing the layout of the town and the surrounding landscape.
With 70 per cent of Earth’s surface covered in water, there was always a demand for water-going transport — something that was first met in the mid-eighth millennium BCE. The earliest boats were dugouts: simple tree trunks hollowed out to form canoe-like vessels. But over the following centuries and millennia, they grew in size and complexity dramatically. Here we pull out some of the boat’s evolutionary stages up to the present day…
The inevitable evolution of the dugout, the canoe was fashioned around the world by peoples from the Americas, Europe and Oceania.
Developed in the Han Dynasty (206 BCE — 220 CE), this was a wooden, ocean-going transport and cargo vessel with fully battened sails.
A multi-decked sailing ship used for transport, trade and combat, the 16th-century galleon became famous for its speed and versatility.
Combining paddle-wheel propulsion and a steam engine, this became the most popular way to cross oceans in the late-19th century.
12,000 years ago
The invention of basic farming tools and techniques was vital to the development of civilisation, allowing us to transition from small hunter-gatherer groups into larger, more advanced trading societies. Evidence suggests that around 12,000 years ago planned cultivation was in effect, with specialised tools such as harvesting sickles, while advanced agricultural techniques like irrigation followed later in Mesopotamia circa 6000 BCE.
2.6 million years ago
Early humans discovered the use of sharp stones early on in the Palaeolithic period and, after identifying their ability to cut and skewer, began artificially sharpening stones of their own accord and fashioning them into primitive weapons. This tool-making evolution enabled us to perform a wide array of tasks that before would have been impossible — or at least much more difficult -such as hunting, skinning animals and cutting wood. The earliest stone tools discovered to date are from 2.6 million years ago; they were unearthed in Ethiopia.