In the beginning, they were predators.
Their ancestors evolved from a small clan of two-legged mammals on the edges of the great forest in the southernmost continent. Over the generations, these primates developed upright posture, night vision, toolmaking ability, parthenogenesis, and speech.
They slept through the day and hunted at night. During the nighttime, they traveled far and learned to tell time and direction by the stars. By day, each band appointed a sentinel, usually a nursing mother, to keep watch over her sleeping companions, and so learned language and social organization.
Over the course of hundreds of generations, they learned to cultivate plants for food. They began to form permanent settlements, and so conserved their time and energy to allow better care for the young. Their numbers grew rapidly.
The earliest written records were rosters of names and families, fertility calendars, and ledgers of grain offered in the temple or traded in the marketplace. Disputes over land, resources, and custody of the young were common and often deadly; law and mathematics first developed, not as civilizing luxuries, but as matters of survival.