Ancient World Now:From Earth’s Beginning to Early Hominids

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Yes. I’ve gone right back to the beginning. In my quest to understand the origins of democracy from ancient Athens and the spread of Hellenism after Alexander the Great, I had to go right back to Neolithic times. And to understand Neolithic times, I had to understand Paleolithic times, and on and on, until finally, I was back at the beginning of life on Earth itself. That’s what I call a top-notch three-day weekend! So hunker down and let’s take a look at those oh, so early days.

Thanks to the efforts of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, we have these mostly-standardized chronological divisions:

The 3 Pre-Cambrian eons:
Hadean Eon
Archean Eon (Eo era, Paleo era, Meso era, & Neo era)
Proterozoic Eon (Paleo era, Meso era, & Neo era)

The 1 Cambrian (multi-celled plants & animals) eon:
Paleozoic era
Mesozoic era (Triassic period, Jurassic period, & Cretaceous period)
Cenozoic era-current era, divided thus:
Paleogene period (Paleocene epoch, Eocene epoch, & Oligocene epoch)
Neogene period (Miocene epoch & Pliocene epoch)
Quaternary period (Pleistocene epoch & Holocene epoch YOU ARE HERE!)

And look at all those Greek affixes! My students would have a field day! And the very first eon is named after the Greek underworld, Hades! I did not include the dates, as they do not concern me much. I mean, really, who can comprehend 4.6 billion years?

This week’s podcast will walk you through the Pre-Cambrian eons and give you a brief overview of the Phanerozoic eon in order to prepare you for next week’s look at Stone Age humankind. Enjoy!

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