Solar Energy

Everyday life in the past: energy sources and livelihoods

Everyday life in the past: energy sources and livelihoods

Daily life in the past has undergone a remarkable evolution over the centuries. From the dawn of humanity to the modern era, people have lived in very diverse ways, adapting to available resources, emerging technologies, and changing cultural norms.

The prehistory

Our prehistoric ancestors lived in small hunter-gatherer communities. Daily life was focused on finding food and survival.

Stone tools, such as spears and axes, were essential for hunting animals and chopping wood.

Social life centered on family and tribe, with clearly defined roles. Communication was based on gestures and grunts, since writing and spoken language had not yet evolved.

Energy sources

In prehistory, energy sources were limited and based on natural resources. Energy came mainly from biomass, such as firewood and bushes, which were used for cooking and keeping warm.

Fire, generated by friction or spark, was essential for survival and safety at night and played a crucial role in cooking and staying warm during cold nights.


During prehistory, when societies were nomadic, hunting animals and collecting plants were the main means of subsistence. Human groups depended on the migration of animals and the availability of fruits, nuts and roots.


In ancient Egyptian civilization, daily life was strongly influenced by the Nile. Agriculture flourished thanks to regular flooding, allowing the development of cities and the creation of a hierarchical society.

Everyday life in the past: energy sources and livelihoodsHieroglyphic writing and the construction of monuments such as the pyramids are testament to its advanced culture.

In ancient Greece and Rome, daily life was marked by the polis and the city, respectively. Education, philosophy and democracy were central to Greek life, while in Rome, cobblestone streets, aqueducts and baths were examples of its advanced engineering.

Energy sources

In ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and Romans, hydraulic energy was used to irrigate fields and grind grains.

The Egyptians, for example, built water wheels and canals to control the flow of the Nile and use it as a source of energy. Additionally, the wind was used in navigation and milling.

It is believed that the ancient Greeks and Romans were some of the first to use solar energy in a rudimentary way. They used the architecture and orientation of their buildings to take advantage of sunlight and keep heat inside during the winter.


With the development of agriculture in ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Mesopotamia and China, daily life changed significantly.

Agriculture allowed for the production of food in a more predictable manner, which led to the formation of permanent settlements and the development of more complex societies.

The Middle Ages

Daily life in the Middle Ages was dominated by the manor and the feudal system. Most of the people were peasants who worked the land of the feudal lords. The cities were small and the hygienic conditions precarious.

Religion also played a central role in everyday life, with churches and monasteries serving as centers of community and culture. The absence of modern technology meant that candles and natural light were essential for illumination.

Energy sources

During the Middle Ages, energy in everyday life was still quite limited.

Animal traction was essential for agriculture and transportation. Wind and water mills were used to grind grain and perform forging tasks. Human energy also played an essential role in everyday life, as people worked long hours in fields and workshops.


During the Middle Ages, daily life in Europe was influenced by feudalism and the feudal economy.

Most people were peasants who worked the land, but craft guilds that produced manufactured goods also developed. Long-distance trade was carried out through land and sea routes.

The industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution brought with it a radical transformation in everyday life. The mechanization of production changed the way people worked, moving from agriculture to factories. Working conditions were harsh, with long hours and few regulations.

Everyday life in the past: energy sources and livelihoodsTransportation also evolved with the emergence of trains and automobiles, facilitating mobility and urbanization. Families began to move away from rural areas and live in industrial cities.

Energy sources

The Industrial Revolution in the late 18th and early 19th centuries marked a drastic change in everyday life due to the introduction of steam power and machinery. 

Steam-powered factories increased production and transformed manufacturing.

Coal became the main source of energy and led to exponential growth in the use of fossil fuels.

On the other hand, steam locomotives revolutionized transportation.


The Industrial Revolution brought with it a significant economic transformation.

Mass production in factories largely replaced artisanal production. Many people's livelihood was tied to the industry, and working conditions were harsh.

the modern era

Today, everyday life has been transformed again with the advent of digital technology. Communication is carried out through electronic devices and social networks. Access to information is instant, and automation has changed the way we work.

Urban living prevails, with a large number of people living in metropolitan areas. Globalization has led to the interconnection of cultures and the diversification of food, music and experiences.

Energy sources

Everyday life in the past: energy sources and livelihoodsIn more recent times, electrical energy and fossil fuels have been the main sources of energy in everyday life.

Electricity enabled the invention of household appliances, lighting systems, and electronic devices that improved quality of life and efficiency at work. Reliance on fossil fuels, however, poses environmental challenges.

Today, solar, wind and other renewable sources are becoming increasingly important in everyday life. More sustainable technologies are being developed to supply the energy needs of the population and reduce environmental impact.

As an example, the first photovoltaic panels, also known as solar cells, were developed in the mid-20th century.


In the modern era, the market economy and wage employment became the norm in many parts of the world. People rely on paid work to earn income and meet their basic needs, including purchasing food and shelter rather than producing it directly.

Today, agriculture has become highly mechanized and industrialized in many regions. In addition, globalization has allowed the international trade of food and goods, which has influenced the availability and variety of products in daily life.

Data de publicació: September 7, 2023
Última revisió: September 7, 2023