I believe that the biblical materials provided in the Bible show the role of ethics in history extensively.
Numerous times in the Bible it is stated that when you do good you will find favor and that when you sin you will reap the consequences of your sin.
Even now in modern times we still use the same logic. For instance, when a robber breaks into a store and steals something he may be caught afterward. When he is caught he is punished by being sentenced to jail for an allotted time so that he will see that it does not pay to steal. On the other side of things, when a child completes his chores, a positive thing, he is often rewarded by his parents or similarly when a person doesn’t steal he is not sentenced to jail and is rewarded with no criminal record.
All throughout history our ancestors have visualized ethics similarly to the way we view them today with consideration to sanctions, consequences, and outcomes in response to just and unjust actions.