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Early villages

Why did early humans need a proper place to settle?


Early humans didn’t have a proper place to live. They lived in temporary (not permanent) shelters. They wandered through forests searching for food, warmth, water and shelter for many years. They wanted to protect themselves from other animals. During the colder seasons they had to either move away or seek shelter, such as in caves. They had been struggling many years to get these necessities, because they couldn’t get those by travelling place to place. Finally they were able to settle down in a certain place where they could get food, shelter, protection and other necessities. These places are known as early villages.


What are early villages?


Places where man came to live a settled life are called early villages.


What were the needs of early settlers?

  • Fresh water supplies
  • Flat land for crops
  • Woodland (forest), Safety or protection


Where did early settlers choose to settle?


a)   Near forests

b)   Near rivers or streams

c)   Near hills

d)   Near flat lands with good soil

e)   Near valuable materials that could be mined



What were the reasons to select such places?


Near forests


1. For firewood

2. For collecting fruits and yams for food

3. For hunting animals for food


Near rivers or streams


1. For drinking

2. For washing

3. For cooking

4. For farming etc.


But the village site (a piece of land on which something is located) had to be away from flooding and the rivers could be crossed by a bridge or ford (a shallow place where you can walk across a river)


Near hills 


Keep watch for enemies


Near flat lands with good soil 


For farming


Near valuable materials 


To start a trade (to buy and sell goods)


E.g. – The hilltop village of Les Baux de Provenece, in France, grew in the 19th century when aluminium ore (bauxite) was discovered in the hills nearby.


Village Settlements


What are settlements?


A settlement is a place with buildings and houses where people live in.


What are the 3 types of settlements?

  • City
  • Town
  • Village


How did early villages develop?


People in settlements grew more crops, produced more dairy products and meat, and made creative things from animals’ skins and stones. But they didn’t have anything to do with these extra products. So they decided to exchange their products with other villagers. To deal with other villagers they had to travel place to place with their products. Therefore they had to make roads or paths or routeways. Little by little they could improve their creativity and gained (increased) knowledge about day to day life and about the world. Finally they could improve their trade. They found money and they sold their products. They put up houses, shops and other buildings. Likewise early villages developed into settlements like big villages, towns and cities.


How can we identify early settlements?


Names of towns and villages sometimes have clues that show that they were early settlements. Here are some examples:


-chesterCamp or fortManchester
-leyForest clearingKeighley
Inver-River mouthInverness


Why did people settle in following four sites?


Ely – Near a river and a marsh (wet land)

Fordingbridge – Near a river which could be crossed by a bridge

Edinburgh – Near hills

Corfe Castle – Near hills and many routeways could be made


Also, read the lesson ‘How a village grows‘.