The human story starts in Africa. Homo sapiens, modern humans, evolved in Africa between 300,000 and 200,000 years ago. Homo sapiens were not the first species of humans, but we are the only species that still exists today.
Humans left Africa between 70,000 and 60,000 years ago. They reached Southeast Asia between 65,000 and 35,000 years ago and crossed the land bridge into North America around 15,000 years ago.
These first people were nomadic hunter-gatherers. They lived in small bands of people who followed the herds of wild animals across the land. Then, around 12,000 years ago, the climate began to change. The ice age that had gripped the Earth for over two million years ended.
New and different plants thrived in the warmer environment. Barley and wheat covered the fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The land between the two rivers had plenty of wild game and plants available, so when hunter-gatherers discovered it, they stayed. The land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers was named Mesopotamia by the Ancient Greeks. Mesopotamia means “between the rivers.”