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The Stone Age was a broad
prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study ...
period during which
stone A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. Rocks form the Earth's outer solid layer, th ...
was widely used to make tools with an edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The period lasted for roughly 3.4 million years, and ended between 4,000 BCE and 2,000 BCE, with the advent of
metalworking Metalworking is the process of shaping and reshaping metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearan ...
. Though some simple metalworking of malleable metals, particularly the use of
gold Gold is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numb ...

gold
and
copper Copper is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductility, ductile metal with very high thermal conductivity, thermal and electrical conductivity. A fre ...

copper
for purposes of ornamentation, was known in the Stone Age, it is the melting and
smelting Smelting is a process of applying heat to ore ore – psilomelane (size: 6.7 × 5.8 × 5.1 cm) ore – galena and anglesite (size: 4.8 × 4.0 × 3.0 cm) ore (size: 7.5 × 6.1 × 4.1 cm) File:OreCartPachuca.JPG, upMinecart on ...
of copper that marks the end of the Stone Age. In
Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), human impact character ...

Western Asia
, this occurred by about 3,000
BCE Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by as a modification of the , reducing the average year from 365.2 ...
, when
bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals (such as aluminum, manganese, nickel or zinc) and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or ...

bronze
became widespread. The term
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
is used to describe the period that followed the Stone Age, as well as to describe cultures that had developed techniques and technologies for working copper alloys (bronze: originally copper and arsenic, later copper and tin) into tools, supplanting stone in many uses. Stone Age artifacts that have been discovered include tools used by modern humans, by their predecessor species in the
genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying gr ...
''
Homo ''Homo'' () is the that emerged in the (otherwise extinct) genus ' that encompasses the extant species ' (), plus several extinct species classified as either to or closely related to modern humans (depending on the species), most notably ' ...

Homo
'', and possibly by the earlier partly contemporaneous genera ''
Australopithecus ''Australopithecus'' (, ; ) is a genus of early hominins that existed in Africa during the Late Pliocene Late may refer to: * LATE, an acronym which could stand for: ** Limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy, a proposed form of ...

Australopithecus
'' and ''
Paranthropus ''Paranthropus'' is a genus of extinct hominin which contains two widely accepted species: '' P. robustus'' and '' P. boisei''. However, the validity of ''Paranthropus'' is contested, and it is sometimes considered to be synonym (taxonomy), sy ...
''.
Bone toolIn archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biologic ...
s have been discovered that were used during this period as well but these are rarely preserved in the
archaeological record The archaeological record is the body of physical (Recorded history, not written) scientific evidence, evidence about the past. It is one of the core concepts in archaeology, the academic discipline concerned with documenting and interpreting the ar ...
. The Stone Age is further subdivided by the types of
stone tool A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of Rock (geology), stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with prehistory, prehisto ...

stone tool
s in use. The Stone Age is the first period in the
three-age system The three-age system is the periodization of human history (generally including pre-history) into three time-periods; for example: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age; although the concept may also refer to other tripartite divisio ...
frequently used in
archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biological, geological ...
to divide the timeline of human technological prehistory into functional periods, with the next two being the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
and the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominins 3.3 million years ago and the ...
respectively.


Historical significance

The Stone Age is contemporaneous with the evolution of the genus ''
Homo ''Homo'' () is the that emerged in the (otherwise extinct) genus ' that encompasses the extant species ' (), plus several extinct species classified as either to or closely related to modern humans (depending on the species), most notably ' ...

Homo
'', with the possible exception of the early Stone Age, when species prior to ''Homo'' may have manufactured tools. According to the age and location of the current evidence, the cradle of the genus is the
East African Rift File:East Africa Rift System GPS and stresses.png, Main rift faults, plates, plate boundaries, GPS plate velocities between adjacent blocks and minimum horizontal stress directions The East African Rift (EAR) or East African Rift System (EARS) is ...
System, especially toward the north in
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea and Djibouti to the north, Somaliland to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the sout ...

Ethiopia
, where it is bordered by
grasslands Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things ...
. The closest relative among the other living
primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian mammal constituting the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic order (biology), order Primates (). Primates arose 85–55 million years ago first from small Terrestrial animal, ...

primate
s, the genus ''
Pan Pan may refer to: Prefix *''Pan-'', a prefix A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. For example, when the prefix ''un-'' is added to the word ''happy ...
'', represents a branch that continued on in the deep forest, where the primates evolved. The rift served as a conduit for movement into
southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Pr ...
and also north down the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nub ...

Nile
into North Africa and through the continuation of the rift in the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
to the vast grasslands of Asia. Starting from about 4 million years ago ( mya) a single
biome A biome is a collection of flora, plants and fauna, animals that have common characteristics for the natural environment, environment they exist in. They can be found over a range of continents. Biomes are distinct biological community (ecology ...
established itself from South Africa through the rift, North Africa, and across Asia to modern China. This has been called "transcontinental 'savannahstan'" recently. Starting in the grasslands of the rift, ''
Homo erectus ''Homo erectus'' (meaning "upright Body relative directions (also known as egocentric coordinates) are geometrical orientations relative to a body such as a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread spec ...

Homo erectus
'', the predecessor of modern humans, found an
ecological niche In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms ...

ecological niche
as a tool-maker and developed a dependence on it, becoming a "tool-equipped
savanna A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ' woods), a low-density forming open s with plenty of sunlight and li ...

savanna
dweller".


Stone Age in archaeology


Beginning of the Stone Age

The oldest indirect evidence found of stone tool use is fossilised animal bones with tool marks; these are 3.4 million years old and were found in the Lower Awash Valley in Ethiopia. Archaeological discoveries in Kenya in 2015, identifying what may be the oldest evidence of hominin use of tools known to date, have indicated that ''
Kenyanthropus ''Kenyanthropus'' is a 3.5 to 3.2-million-year-old (Pliocene The Pliocene ( ; also Pleiocene) Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58
platyops'' (a 3.2 to 3.5-million-year-old
Pliocene The Pliocene ( ; also Pleiocene) epoch (geology), Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58Lomekwi Lomekwi 3 is the name of an archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the perio ...
3 in West Turkana, northwestern Kenya, and date to 3.3 million years old. Prior to the discovery of these "Lomekwian" tools, the oldest known stone tools had been found at several sites at
Gona, Ethiopia Gona is an archaeological site in the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia Ethiopia (; am, ኢትዮጵያ, , aa, Itiyoophiyaa, gez, ኢትዮጵያ, om , Itoophiyaa, so, Itoobiya, ti , ኢትዮጵያ), officially the Federal Democratic Republ ...
, on sediments of the paleo-
Awash River The Awash (sometimes spelled Hawash; Oromo language, Oromo: ''Awaash'', Amharic: አዋሽ, Afar language, Afar: ''We'ayot'', Somali language, Somali: ''Webiga Dir'') is a major river of Ethiopia. Its course is entirely contained within the boundar ...

Awash River
, which serve to date them. All the tools come from the Busidama Formation, which lies above a
disconformity An unconformity is a buried erosional or non-depositional surface separating two rock masses or strata of different ages, indicating that sediment Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and er ...

disconformity
, or missing layer, which would have been from 2.9 to 2.7  mya. The oldest sites discovered to contain tools are dated to 2.6–2.55 mya. One of the most striking circumstances about these sites is that they are from the Late
Pliocene The Pliocene ( ; also Pleiocene) epoch (geology), Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
. Excavators at the locality point out that: The species who made the Pliocene tools remains unknown. Fragments of ''
Australopithecus garhi ''Australopithecus garhi'' is a species of australopithecine from the Bouri Formation in the Afar Region of Ethiopia 2.6–2.5 million years ago (mya) during the Early Pleistocene. The first remains were described in 1999 based on several ske ...
'', ''
Australopithecus aethiopicus ''Paranthropus aethiopicus'' is an Extinction, extinct species of robustness (morphology), robust australopithecine from the Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene of East Africa about 2.7–2.3 million years ago. However, it is much debated whether ...
'', and ''Homo'', possibly ''
Homo habilis ''Homo habilis'' ("handy man") is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the large ...

Homo habilis
'', have been found in sites near the age of the Gona tools. In July 2018, scientists reported the discovery in
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
of the known oldest stone tools outside Africa, estimated at 2.12 million years old.


End of the Stone Age

Innovation of the technique of
smelting Smelting is a process of applying heat to ore ore – psilomelane (size: 6.7 × 5.8 × 5.1 cm) ore – galena and anglesite (size: 4.8 × 4.0 × 3.0 cm) ore (size: 7.5 × 6.1 × 4.1 cm) File:OreCartPachuca.JPG, upMinecart on ...
ore ore – psilomelane Psilomelane is a group name for hard black manganese oxides including hollandite and romanechite. Psilomelane consists of hydrous manganese Manganese is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart- ...

ore
is regarded as ending the Stone Age and beginning the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
. The first highly significant metal manufactured was
bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals (such as aluminum, manganese, nickel or zinc) and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or ...

bronze
, an alloy of copper and
tin Tin is a with the Sn (from la, ) and  50. Tin is a silvery-colored metal that characteristically has a faint yellow hue. Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force and a bar of tin can be bent by hand with little effort. When bent ...

tin
or
arsenic Arsenic is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same num ...

arsenic
, each of which was smelted separately. The transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age was a period during which modern people could smelt copper, but did not yet manufacture bronze, a time known as the
Copper Age The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...
(or more technically the
Chalcolithic The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

Chalcolithic
or Eneolithic, both meaning 'copper–stone'). The Chalcolithic by convention is the initial period of the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age was followed by the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominins 3.3 million years ago and the ...
. The transition out of the Stone Age occurred between 6000 and 2500 
BCE Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by as a modification of the , reducing the average year from 365.2 ...
for much of humanity living in
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
and
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
. The first evidence of human
metallurgy Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering ''Materials Science and Engineering'' may refer to several journals in the field of materials science and engineering: * '' Materials Science and Engineering A'' * '' Materials Science ...
dates to between the 6th and 5th millennia BCE in the archaeological sites of
Majdanpek Majdanpek ( sr-cyr, Мајданпек) is a town and municipality located in the Bor District of the Southern and Eastern Serbia, eastern Serbia, and is not far of Border of Romania. According to 2011 census, the municipality of Majdanpek had a p ...

Majdanpek
, Yarmovac, and
Pločnik Pločnik ( sr, Плочник) is a village in the municipality of Prokuplje Prokuplje ( sr-cyrl, Прокупље, ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pengui ...
in modern-day Serbia (including a copper axe from 5500 BCE belonging to the
Vinca culture ''Vinca'' (; Latin: ''vincire'' "to bind, fetter") is a genus of flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae, native to Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia. The English name periwinkle is shared with the related genus ''Catharanthus'' (and ...
); though not conventionally considered part of the Chalcolithic, this provides the earliest known example of copper metallurgy. Note the Rudna Glava mine in
Serbia Serbia (, ; Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may ref ...

Serbia
.
Ötzi the Iceman Ötzi, also called the Iceman, is the natural mummy A mummy is a dead human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living orga ...
, a
mummy A mummy is a dead human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, B ...

mummy
from about 3300 BCE, carried with him a copper axe and a flint knife. In some regions, such as
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
, the Stone Age was followed directly by the Iron Age. The Middle East and
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
n regions progressed past Stone Age technology around 6000 BCE. Europe, and the rest of Asia became post-Stone Age societies by about 4000 BCE. The proto-Inca cultures of South America continued at a Stone Age level until around 2000 BCE, when gold, copper, and silver made their entrance. The peoples of the Americas notably did not develop a widespread behavior of smelting bronze or iron after the Stone Age period, although the technology existed. Stone-tool manufacture continued even after the Stone Age ended in a given area. In Europe and North America,
millstone Millstones or mill stones are stones used in gristmill A gristmill (also: grist mill, corn mill, flour mill, feed mill or feedmill) grinds cereal grain into flour and Wheat middlings, middlings. The term can refer to either the Mill (grinding ...

millstone
s were in use until well into the 20th century, and still are in many parts of the world.


Concept of the Stone Age

The terms "Stone Age", "Bronze Age", and "Iron Age" are not intended to suggest that advancements and time periods in prehistory are only measured by the type of tool material, rather than, for example,
social organization In sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The te ...
,
food sources Food is any substance consumed to provide Nutrient, nutritional support for an organism. Food is usually of plant, animal or Fungus, fungal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, protein (nutrient), proteins, vit ...
exploited, adaptation to climate, adoption of agriculture, cooking, settlement, and religion. Like
pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with clay Clay is a type of fine-grained natural soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="g ...

pottery
, the typology of the stone tools combined with the relative sequence of the types in various regions provide a chronological framework for the evolution of humanity and society. They serve as diagnostics of date, rather than characterizing the people or the society.
Lithic analysis In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biolo ...
is a major and specialised form of archaeological investigation. It involves measurement of stone tools to determine their typology, function and technologies involved. It includes scientific study of the
lithic reduction In archaeology, in particular of the Stone Age, lithic reduction is the process of fashioning stones or rocks from their natural state into Stone tool, tools or History of weapons#Prehistory_and_the_ancient_world, weapons by removing some parts. ...
of the raw materials and methods used to make the prehistoric artifacts that are discovered. Much of this study takes place in the laboratory in the presence of various specialists. In
experimental archaeology Experimental archaeology (also called experiment archaeology) is a field of study which attempts to generate and test archaeological hypotheses, usually by replicating or approximating the feasibility of ancient cultures performing various tasks ...
, researchers attempt to create replica tools, to understand how they were made.
Flintknapper Knapping is the shaping of flint Flint is a sedimentary rock, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as the variety of chert that occurs in chalk or marly limestone. Flint was widely used historically to make ston ...
s are craftsmen who use sharp tools to reduce
flint Flint is a sedimentary Sedimentary rocks are types of rock (geology), rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic matter, organic particles at Earth#Surface, Earth's surface, followed by cementation (geology ...

flint
stone to
flint tool A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any made either partially or entirely out of . Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with (particularly ) cultures that have become e ...
. In addition to lithic analysis, field prehistorians utilize a wide range of techniques derived from multiple fields. The work of archaeologists in determining the paleocontext and relative sequence of the layers is supplemented by the efforts of geologic specialists in identifying layers of rock developed or deposited over geologic time; of paleontological specialists in identifying bones and animals; of palynologists in discovering and identifying pollen, spores and plant species; of physicists and chemists in laboratories determining ages of materials by
carbon-14 Carbon-14 (14C), or radiocarbon, is a radioactive isotope A radionuclide (radioactive nuclide, radioisotope or radioactive isotope) is a nuclide that has excess nuclear energy, making it unstable. This excess energy can be used in one of three ...

carbon-14
, potassium-argon and other methods. Study of the Stone Age has never been limited to stone tools and archaeology, even though they are important forms of evidence. The chief focus of study has always been on the society and the living people who belonged to it. Useful as it has been, the concept of the Stone Age has its limitations. The date range of this period is ambiguous, disputed, and variable, depending upon the region in question. While it is possible to speak of a general 'stone age' period for the whole of humanity, some groups never developed metal-
smelting Smelting is a process of applying heat to ore ore – psilomelane (size: 6.7 × 5.8 × 5.1 cm) ore – galena and anglesite (size: 4.8 × 4.0 × 3.0 cm) ore (size: 7.5 × 6.1 × 4.1 cm) File:OreCartPachuca.JPG, upMinecart on ...
technology, and so remained in the so-called 'stone age' until they encountered technologically developed cultures. The term was innovated to describe the
archaeological culture An archaeological culture is a recurring Assemblage (archaeology), assemblage of types of Artifact (archaeology), artifacts, buildings and monuments from a specific period and region that may constitute the material culture remains of a particular ...
s of Europe. It may not always be the best in relation to regions such as some parts of the
Indies The East Indies (or simply the Indies), is a term used in historical narratives of the Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (sometimes also, particularly regionally, Age of Contact or Contact Period), is an info ...

Indies
and Oceania, where
farmers A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exe ...

farmers
or
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. T ...
s used stone for tools until European
colonisation Colonization, or colonisation refers to large-scale population movements where the migrants maintain strong links with their or their ancestors' former country, gaining significant privileges over other inhabitants of the territory by such links ...

colonisation
began. Archaeologists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries CE, who adapted the
three-age system The three-age system is the periodization of human history (generally including pre-history) into three time-periods; for example: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age; although the concept may also refer to other tripartite divisio ...
to their ideas, hoped to combine cultural anthropology and archaeology in such a way that a specific contemporaneous tribe can be used to illustrate the way of life and beliefs of the people exercising a particular Stone-Age technology. As a description of people living today, the term ''stone age'' is controversial. The
Association of Social AnthropologistsThe Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth, is a learned society in the United Kingdom dedicated to promoting the academic discipline of social anthropology. It is a member of the Academy of Social Sciences. References Ex ...
discourages this use, asserting:
To describe any living group as 'primitive' or 'Stone Age' inevitably implies that they are living representatives of some earlier stage of human development that the majority of humankind has left behind.


Three-stage system

In the 1920s, South African archaeologists organizing the stone tool collections of that country observed that they did not fit the newly detailed Three-Age System. In the words of
J. Desmond Clark John Desmond Clark (more commonly J. Desmond Clark, 10 April 1916 – 14 February 2002) was a British archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeol ...
,
It was early realized that the threefold division of culture into Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages adopted in the nineteenth century for Europe had no validity in Africa outside the Nile valley.
Consequently, they proposed a new system for Africa, the Three-stage System. Clark regarded the Three-age System as valid for North Africa; in sub-Saharan Africa, the Three-stage System was best. In practice, the failure of African archaeologists either to keep this distinction in mind, or to explain which one they mean, contributes to the considerable equivocation already present in the literature. There are in effect two Stone Ages, one part of the Three-age and the other constituting the Three-stage. They refer to one and the same artifacts and the same technologies, but vary by locality and time. The three-stage system was proposed in 1929 by Astley John Hilary Goodwin, a professional archaeologist, and
Clarence van Riet Lowe Clarence van Riet Lowe (4 November 1894 – 7 June 1956) was a South African civil engineer and archaeologist. He was appointed by Jan Smuts as the first director of the Bureau of Archaeology and was among the first group to investigate the archa ...
, a civil engineer and amateur archaeologist, in an article titled "Stone Age Cultures of South Africa" in the journal ''Annals of the South African Museum''. By then, the dates of the Early Stone Age, or
Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek palaios - old, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
, and Late Stone Age, or
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
(''neo'' = new), were fairly solid and were regarded by Goodwin as absolute. He therefore proposed a relative chronology of periods with floating dates, to be called the Earlier and Later Stone Age. The Middle Stone Age would not change its name, but it would not mean
Mesolithic The Mesolithic (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

Mesolithic
. The duo thus reinvented the Stone Age. In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, iron-working technologies were either invented independently or came across the Sahara from the north (see '' iron metallurgy in Africa''). The Neolithic was characterized primarily by herding societies rather than large agricultural societies, and although there was copper metallurgy in Africa as well as bronze smelting, archaeologists do not currently recognize a separate Copper Age or Bronze Age. Moreover, the technologies included in those 'stages', as Goodwin called them, were not exactly the same. Since then, the original relative terms have become identified with the technologies of the Paleolithic and Mesolithic, so that they are no longer relative. Moreover, there has been a tendency to drop the comparative degree in favor of the positive: resulting in two sets of Early, Middle and Late Stone Ages of quite different content and chronologies. By voluntary agreement, archaeologists respect the decisions of the Pan-African Congress on Prehistory, which meets every four years to resolve archaeological business brought before it. Delegates are actually international; the organization takes its name from the topic.
Louis Leakey Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey (7 August 1903 – 1 October 1972) was a Kenyan-British paleoanthropologist Paleoanthropology or paleo-anthropology is a branch of paleontology Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (), is the ...
hosted the first one in
Nairobi Nairobi ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller low ...

Nairobi
in 1947. It adopted Goodwin and Lowe's 3-stage system at that time, the stages to be called Early, Middle and Later.


Problem of the transitions

The problem of the transitions in archaeology is a branch of the general philosophic continuity problem, which examines how discrete objects of any sort that are
contiguous Contiguity or contiguous may refer to: *Contiguous data storage, in computer science *Contiguity (probability theory) *Contiguity (psychology) *Contiguous distribution of species, in biogeography *Geographic contiguity of territorial land *Contiguo ...
in any way can be presumed to have a relationship of any sort. In archaeology, the relationship is one of
causality Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is influence by which one Event (relativity), event, process, state or object (a ''cause'') contributes to the production of another event, process, state or object (an ''effect'') ...
. If Period B can be presumed to descend from Period A, there must be a boundary between A and B, the A–B boundary. The problem is in the nature of this boundary. If there is no distinct boundary, then the population of A suddenly stopped using the customs characteristic of A and suddenly started using those of B, an unlikely scenario in the process of
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
. More realistically, a distinct border period, the A/B transition, existed, in which the customs of A were gradually dropped and those of B acquired. If transitions do not exist, then there is no proof of any continuity between A and B. The Stone Age of Europe is characteristically in deficit of known transitions. The 19th and early 20th-century innovators of the modern
three-age system The three-age system is the periodization of human history (generally including pre-history) into three time-periods; for example: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age; although the concept may also refer to other tripartite divisio ...
recognized the problem of the initial transition, the "gap" between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic.
Louis Leakey Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey (7 August 1903 – 1 October 1972) was a Kenyan-British paleoanthropologist Paleoanthropology or paleo-anthropology is a branch of paleontology Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (), is the ...
provided something of an answer by proving that man evolved in Africa. The Stone Age must have begun there to be carried repeatedly to Europe by migrant populations. The different phases of the Stone Age thus could appear there without transitions. The burden on African archaeologists became all the greater, because now they must find the missing transitions in Africa. The problem is difficult and ongoing. After its adoption by the First Pan African Congress in 1947, the Three-Stage Chronology was amended by the Third Congress in 1955 to include a First Intermediate Period between Early and Middle, to encompass the Fauresmith and
Sangoan The Sangoan archaeological industry:''Not to be confused with industrial archaeology , and a common topic of study for industrial archaeologists. Industrial archaeology (IA) is the systematic study of material evidence associated with the Indus ...
technologies, and the Second Intermediate Period between Middle and Later, to encompass the
MagosianThe Magosian is the name given by archaeologists to an archaeological industry, industry found in southern and eastern Africa. It dates to between 10,000 and 6,000 years BC and is distinguished from its predecessors by the use of microliths and small ...
technology and others. The chronologic basis for definition was entirely relative. With the arrival of scientific means of finding an absolute chronology, the two intermediates turned out to be will-of-the-wisps. They were in fact Middle Paleolithic, Middle and Lower Paleolithic. Fauresmith is now considered to be a facies of Acheulean, while Sangoan is a facies of Lupemban. Magosian is "an artificial mix of two different periods". Once seriously questioned, the intermediates did not wait for the next Pan African Congress two years hence, but were officially rejected in 1965 (again on an advisory basis) by Burg Wartenstein Conference #29, ''Systematic Investigation of the African Later Tertiary and Quaternary'', a conference in anthropology held by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, at Burg Wartenstein Castle, which it then owned in Austria, attended by the same scholars that attended the Pan African Congress, including Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey, who was delivering a pilot presentation of her typological analysis of Early Stone Age tools, to be included in her 1971 contribution to ''Olduvai Gorge'', "Excavations in Beds I and II, 1960–1963." However, although the intermediate periods were gone, the search for the transitions continued.


Chronology

In 1859 Jens Jacob Worsaae first proposed a division of the Stone Age into older and younger parts based on his work with Danish kitchen middens that began in 1851. In the subsequent decades this simple distinction developed into the archaeological periods of today. The major subdivisions of the Three-age Stone Age cross two epoch (geology), epoch boundaries on the geologic time scale: * The geologic
Pliocene The Pliocene ( ; also Pleiocene) epoch (geology), Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
boundary (highly glaciated climate) ** The
Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek palaios - old, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
period of archaeology * The geologic
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
–Holocene boundary (modern climate) **
Mesolithic The Mesolithic (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

Mesolithic
or Epipaleolithic period of archaeology **
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
period of archaeology The succession of these phases varies enormously from one region (and archaeological culture, culture) to another.


Three-age chronology

The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic (from Greek: παλαιός, ''palaios'', "old"; and λίθος, ''lithos'', "stone" lit. "old stone", coined by archaeologist John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, John Lubbock and published in 1865) is the earliest division of the Stone Age. It covers the greatest portion of humanity's time (roughly 99% of "human technological history", where "human" and "humanity" are interpreted to mean the genus ''
Homo ''Homo'' () is the that emerged in the (otherwise extinct) genus ' that encompasses the extant species ' (), plus several extinct species classified as either to or closely related to modern humans (depending on the species), most notably ' ...

Homo
''), extending from 2.5 or 2.6 million years ago, with the first documented use of stone tools by hominans such as ''
Homo habilis ''Homo habilis'' ("handy man") is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the large ...

Homo habilis
'', to the end of the
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
around 10,000 BCE. The Paleolithic era ended with the
Mesolithic The Mesolithic (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

Mesolithic
, or in areas with an early Neolithic Revolution, neolithisation, the Epipaleolithic.


Lower Paleolithic

At sites dating from the Lower Paleolithic Period (about 2,500,000 to 200,000 years ago), simple pebble tools have been found in association with the remains of what may have been the earliest human ancestors. A somewhat more sophisticated Lower Paleolithic tradition, known as the Chopping tool, Chopper chopping-tool industry, is widely distributed in the Eastern Hemisphere. This tradition is thought to have been the work of the hominin species named
Homo erectus ''Homo erectus'' (meaning "upright Body relative directions (also known as egocentric coordinates) are geometrical orientations relative to a body such as a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread spec ...

Homo erectus
. Although no such fossil tools have yet been found, it is believed that H. erectus probably made tools of wood and bone as well as stone. About 700,000 years ago, a new Lower Paleolithic tool, the hand ax, appeared. The earliest European hand axes are assigned to the Abbevillian Industry, Abbevillian industry, which developed in northern France in the valley of the Somme River; a later, more refined hand-axe tradition is seen in the Acheulean industry, Acheulian industry, evidence of which has been found in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Some of the earliest known hand axes were found at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) in association with remains of H. erectus. Alongside the hand-axe tradition there developed a distinct and very different stone-tool industry, based on flakes of stone: special tools were made from worked (carefully shaped) flakes of flint. In Europe, the Clactonian Industry, Clactonian industry is one example of a flake tradition. The early flake industries probably contributed to the development of the Middle Paleolithic flake tools of the Mousterian Industry, Mousterian industry, which is associated with the remains of Neanderthal Man, Neanderthal man.


=Oldowan in Africa

= The earliest documented
stone tool A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of Rock (geology), stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with prehistory, prehisto ...

stone tool
s have been found in eastern Africa, manufacturers unknown, at the 3.3 million year old site of Lomekwi 3 in Kenya. Better known are the later tools belonging to an archaeological industry, industry known as Oldowan, after the type site of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The tools were formed by knocking pieces off a river pebble, or stones like it, with a hammerstone to obtain large and small pieces with one or more sharp edges. The original stone is called a core; the resultant pieces, flakes. Typically, but not necessarily, small pieces are detached from a larger piece, in which case the larger piece may be called the lithic core, core and the smaller pieces the lithic flake, flakes. The prevalent usage, however, is to call all the results flakes, which can be confusing. A split in half is called bipolar flaking. Consequently, the method is often called "core-and-flake". More recently, the tradition has been called "small flake" since the flakes were small compared to subsequent Acheulean#Acheulean stone tools, Acheulean tools.
The essence of the Oldowan is the making and often immediate use of small flakes.
Another naming scheme is "Pebble Core Technology (PBC)":
Pebble cores are ... artifacts that have been shaped by varying amounts of hard-hammer percussion.
Various refinements in the shape have been called choppers, discoids, polyhedrons, subspheroid, etc. To date no reasons for the variants have been ascertained:
From a functional standpoint, pebble cores seem designed for no specific purpose.
However, they would not have been manufactured for no purpose:
Pebble cores can be useful in many cutting, scraping or chopping tasks, but ... they are not particularly more efficient in such tasks than a sharp-edged rock.
The whole point of their utility is that each is a "sharp-edged rock" in locations where nature has not provided any. There is additional evidence that Oldowan, or Mode 1, tools were utilized in "percussion technology"; that is, they were designed to be gripped at the blunt end and strike something with the edge, from which use they were given the name of Chopper (archaeology), choppers. Modern science has been able to detect mammalian blood cells on Mode 1 tools at Sterkfontein, Member 5 East, in South Africa. As the blood must have come from a fresh kill, the tool users are likely to have done the killing and used the tools for butchering. Plant residues bonded to the silicon of some tools confirm the use to chop plants. Although the exact species authoring the tools remains unknown, Mode 1 tools in Africa were manufactured and used predominantly by ''
Homo habilis ''Homo habilis'' ("handy man") is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the large ...

Homo habilis
''. They cannot be said to have developed these tools or to have contributed the tradition to technology. They continued a tradition of yet unknown origin. As Common chimpanzee, chimpanzees sometimes naturally use percussion to extract or prepare food in the wild, and may use either unmodified stones or stones that they have split, creating an Oldowan tool, the tradition may well be far older than its current record. Towards the end of Oldowan in Africa a new species appeared over the range of ''Homo habilis'': ''Homo erectus''. The earliest "unambiguous" evidence is a whole cranium, KNM-ER 3733 (a find identifier) from Koobi Fora in Kenya, dated to 1.78 mya.. An early skull fragment, KNM-ER 2598, dated to 1.9 mya, is considered a good candidate also. Transitions in paleoanthropology are always hard to find, if not impossible, but based on the "long-legged" Comparative foot morphology, limb morphology shared by ''H. habilis'' and ''H. rudolfensis'' in East Africa, an evolution from one of those two has been suggested. The most immediate cause of the new adjustments appears to have been an increasing aridity in the region and consequent contraction of parkland
savanna A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ' woods), a low-density forming open s with plenty of sunlight and li ...

savanna
, interspersed with trees and groves, in favor of open grassland, dated 1.8–1.7 mya. During that transitional period the percentage of grazers among the fossil species increased from 15–25% to 45%, dispersing the food supply and requiring a facility among the hunters to travel longer distances comfortably, which ''H. erectus'' obviously had. The ultimate proof is the "dispersal" of ''H. erectus'' "across much of Africa and Asia, substantially before the development of the Mode 2 technology and use of fire ...." ''H. erectus'' carried Mode 1 tools over Eurasia. According to the current evidence (which may change at any time) Mode 1 tools are documented from about 2.6 mya to about 1.5 mya in Africa, and to 0.5 mya outside of it. The genus Homo is known from ''H. habilis'' and ''H. rudolfensis'' from 2.3 to 2.0 mya, with the latest habilis being an upper jaw from Koobi Fora, Kenya, from 1.4 mya. ''H. erectus'' is dated 1.8–0.6 mya. According to this chronology Mode 1 was inherited by ''Homo'' from unknown Hominina, Hominans, probably ''
Australopithecus ''Australopithecus'' (, ; ) is a genus of early hominins that existed in Africa during the Late Pliocene Late may refer to: * LATE, an acronym which could stand for: ** Limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy, a proposed form of ...

Australopithecus
'' and ''
Paranthropus ''Paranthropus'' is a genus of extinct hominin which contains two widely accepted species: '' P. robustus'' and '' P. boisei''. However, the validity of ''Paranthropus'' is contested, and it is sometimes considered to be synonym (taxonomy), sy ...
'', who must have continued on with Mode 1 and then with Mode 2 until their extinction no later than 1.1 mya. Meanwhile, living contemporaneously in the same regions ''H. habilis'' inherited the tools around 2.3 mya. At about 1.9 mya ''H. erectus'' came on stage and lived contemporaneously with the others. Mode 1 was now being shared by a number of Hominans over the same ranges, presumably subsisting in different niches, but the archaeology is not precise enough to say which.


=Oldowan out of Africa

= Tools of the Oldowan tradition first came to archaeological attention in Europe, where, being intrusive and not well defined, compared to the Acheulean, they were puzzling to archaeologists. The mystery would be elucidated by African archaeology at Olduvai, but meanwhile, in the early 20th century, the term "Pre-Acheulean" came into use in climatology. C.E.P, Brooks, a British climatologist working in the United States, used the term to describe a "chalky boulder clay" underlying a layer of gravel at Hoxne, central England, where Acheulean tools had been found. Whether any tools would be found in it and what type was not known. Hugo Obermaier, a contemporary German archaeologist working in Spain, quipped:
Unfortunately, the stage of human industry which corresponds to these deposits cannot be positively identified. All we can say is that it is pre-Acheulean.
This uncertainty was clarified by the subsequent excavations at Olduvai; nevertheless, the term is still in use for pre-Acheulean contexts, mainly across Eurasia, that are yet unspecified or uncertain but with the understanding that they are or will turn out to be pebble-tool. There are ample associations of Mode 2 with ''H. erectus'' in Eurasia. ''H. erectus'' – Mode 1 associations are scantier but they do exist, especially in the Far East. One strong piece of evidence prevents the conclusion that only ''H. erectus'' reached Eurasia: at Yiron, Israel, Mode 1 tools have been found dating to 2.4 mya, about 0.5 my earlier than the known ''H. erectus'' finds. If the date is correct, either another Hominan preceded ''H. erectus'' out of Africa or the earliest ''H. erectus'' has yet to be found. After the initial appearance at Gona in Ethiopia at 2.7 mya, pebble tools date from 2.0 mya at Sterkfontein, Member 5, South Africa, and from 1.8 mya at El Kherba, Algeria, North Africa. The manufacturers had already left pebble tools at Yiron, Israel, at 2.4 mya, Riwat, Pakistan, at 2.0 mya, and Renzidong, South China, at over 2 mya. The identification of a fossil skull at Mojokerta, Pernung Peninsula on Java, dated to 1.8 mya, as ''H. erectus'', suggests that the African finds are not the earliest to be found in Africa, or that, in fact, erectus did not originate in Africa after all but on the plains of Asia. The outcome of the issue waits for more substantial evidence. Erectus was found also at Dmanisi, Georgia, from 1.75 mya in association with pebble tools. Pebble tools are found the latest first in southern Europe and then in northern. They begin in the open areas of Italy and Spain, the earliest dated to 1.6 mya at Pirro Nord, Italy. The mountains of Italy are rising at a rapid rate in the framework of geologic time; at 1.6 mya they were lower and covered with grassland (as much of the highlands still are). Europe was otherwise mountainous and covered over with dense forest, a formidable terrain for warm-weather savanna dwellers. Similarly there is no evidence that the Mediterranean was passable at Gibraltar or anywhere else to ''H. erectus'' or earlier hominans. They might have reached Italy and Spain along the coasts. In northern Europe pebble tools are found earliest at Happisburgh, United Kingdom, from 0.8 mya. The last traces are from Kent's Cavern, dated 0.5 mya. By that time ''H. erectus'' is regarded as having been extinct; however, a more modern version apparently had evolved, ''Homo heidelbergensis'', who must have inherited the tools. He also explains the last of the Acheulean in Germany at 0.4 mya. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries archaeologists worked on the assumptions that a succession of Hominans and cultures prevailed, that one replaced another. Today the presence of multiple hominans living contemporaneously near each other for long periods is accepted as proved true; moreover, by the time the previously assumed "earliest" culture arrived in northern Europe, the rest of Africa and Eurasia had progressed to the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic, so that across the earth all three were for a time contemporaneous. In any given region there was a progression from Oldowan to Acheulean, Lower to Upper, no doubt.


=Acheulean in Africa

= The end of Oldowan in Africa was brought on by the appearance of Acheulean, or Mode 2,
stone tool A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of Rock (geology), stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with prehistory, prehisto ...

stone tool
s. The earliest known instances are in the 1.7–1.6 mya layer at Kokiselei, West Turkana, Kenya. At Sterkfontein, South Africa, they are in Member 5 West, 1.7–1.4 mya. The 1.7 is a fairly certain, fairly standard date. Mode 2 is often found in association with ''H. erectus''. It makes sense that the most advanced tools should have been innovated by the most advanced Hominan; consequently, they are typically given credit for the innovation. A Mode 2 tool is a biface consisting of two concave surfaces intersecting to form a cutting edge all the way around, except in the case of tools intended to feature a point. More work and planning go into the manufacture of a Mode 2 tool. The manufacturer hits a slab off a larger rock to use as a blank. Then large flakes are struck off the blank and worked into bifaces by hard-hammer percussion on an anvil stone. Finally the edge is retouched: small flakes are hit off with a bone or wood soft hammer to sharpen or resharpen it. The core can be either the blank or another flake. Blanks are ported for manufacturing supply in places where nature has provided no suitable stone. Although most Mode 2 tools are easily distinguished from Mode 1, there is a close similarity of some Oldowan and some Acheulean, which can lead to confusion. Some Oldowan tools are more carefully prepared to form a more regular edge. One distinguishing criterion is the size of the flakes. In contrast to the Oldowan "small flake" tradition, Acheulean is "large flake:" "The primary technological distinction remaining between Oldowan and the Acheulean is the preference for large flakes (>10 cm) as blanks for making large cutting tools (handaxes and cleavers) in the Acheulean." "Large Cutting Tool (LCT)" has become part of the standard terminology as well. In North Africa, the presence of Mode 2 remains a mystery, as the oldest finds are from Thomas Quarry in Morocco at 0.9 mya. Archaeological attention, however, shifts to the Jordan Rift Valley, an extension of the East African Rift Valley (the east bank of the Jordan is slowly sliding northward as East Africa is thrust away from Africa). Evidence of use of the Nile Valley is in deficit, but Hominans could easily have reached the palaeo-Jordan river from
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea and Djibouti to the north, Somaliland to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the sout ...

Ethiopia
along the shores of the Red Sea, one side or the other. A crossing would not have been necessary, but it is more likely there than over a theoretical but unproven land bridge through either Gibraltar or Sicily. Meanwhile, Acheulean went on in Africa past the 1.0 mya mark and also past the extinction of ''H. erectus'' there. The last Acheulean in East Africa is at Olorgesailie, Kenya, dated to about 0.9 mya. Its owner was still ''H. erectus'', but in South Africa, Acheulean at Elandsfontein, 1.0–0.6 mya, is associated with Saldanha man, classified as ''H. heidelbergensis'', a more advanced, but not yet modern, descendant most likely of ''H. erectus''. The Thoman Quarry Hominans in Morocco similarly are most likely Homo rhodesiensis, in the same evolutionary status as ''H. heidelbergensis''.


=Acheulean out of Africa

= Mode 2 is first known out of Africa at 'Ubeidiya prehistoric site, Ubeidiya, Israel, a site now on the Jordan River, then frequented over the long term (hundreds of thousands of years) by
Homo ''Homo'' () is the that emerged in the (otherwise extinct) genus ' that encompasses the extant species ' (), plus several extinct species classified as either to or closely related to modern humans (depending on the species), most notably ' ...

Homo
on the shore of a variable-level palaeo-lake, long since vanished. The geology was created by successive "transgression and regression" of the lake resulting in four cycles of layers. The tools are located in the first two, Cycles Li (Limnic Inferior) and Fi (Fluviatile Inferior), but mostly in Fi. The cycles represent different ecologies and therefore different cross-sections of fauna, which makes it possible to date them. They appear to be the same faunal assemblages as the Ferenta Faunal Unit in Italy, known from excavations at Selvella and Pieterfitta, dated to 1.6–1.2 mya. At 'Ubeidiya the marks on the bones of the animal species found there indicate that the manufacturers of the tools butchered the kills of large predators, an activity that has been termed "scavenging". There are no living floors, nor did they process bones to obtain the marrow. These activities cannot be understood therefore as the only or even the typical economic activity of Hominans. Their interests were selective: they were primarily harvesting the meat of Cervids, which is estimated to have been available without spoiling for up to four days after the kill. The majority of the animals at the site were of "Palaearctic biogeographic origin". However, these overlapped in range on 30–60% of "African biogeographic origin". The
biome A biome is a collection of flora, plants and fauna, animals that have common characteristics for the natural environment, environment they exist in. They can be found over a range of continents. Biomes are distinct biological community (ecology ...
was Mediterranean, not savanna. The animals were not passing through; there was simply an overlap of normal ranges. Of the Hominans, ''H. erectus'' left several cranial fragments. Teeth of undetermined species may have been ''H. ergaster''. The tools are classified as "Lower Acheulean" and "Developed Oldowan". The latter is a disputed classification created by Mary Leakey to describe an Acheulean-like tradition in Bed II at Olduvai Gorge, Olduvai. It is dated 1.53–1.27 mya. The date of the tools therefore probably does not exceed 1.5 mya; 1.4 is often given as a date. This chronology, which is definitely later than in Kenya, supports the "out of Africa" hypothesis for Acheulean, if not for the Hominans. From Southwest Asia, as the Levant is now called, the Acheulean extended itself more slowly eastward, arriving at Isampur, India, about 1.2 mya. It does not appear in China and Korea until after 1mya and not at all in Indonesia. There is a discernible boundary marking the furthest extent of the Acheulean eastward before 1 mya, called the Movius Line, after its proposer, Hallam L. Movius. On the east side of the line the small flake tradition continues, but the tools are additionally worked Mode 1, with flaking down the sides. In Athirampakkam at Chennai in Tamil Nadu the Acheulean age started at 1.51 mya and it is also prior than North India and Europe. The cause of the Movius Line remains speculative, whether it represents a real change in technology or a limitation of archeology, but after 1 mya evidence not available to Movius indicates the prevalence of Acheulean. For example, the Acheulean site at Bose, China, is dated 0.803±3K mya. The authors of this chronologically later East Asian Acheulean remain unknown, as does whether it evolved in the region or was brought in. There is no named boundary line between Mode 1 and Mode 2 on the west; nevertheless, Mode 2 is equally late in Europe as it is in the Far East. The earliest comes from a rock shelter at Estrecho de Quípar in Spain, dated to greater than 0.9 mya. Teeth from an undetermined Hominan were found there also. The last Mode 2 in Southern Europe is from a deposit at Fontana Ranuccio near Anagni in Italy dated to 0.45 mya, which is generally linked to ''Homo cepranensis'', a "late variant of ''H. erectus''", a fragment of whose skull was found at Ceprano nearby, dated 0.46 mya.


Middle Paleolithic

This period is best known as the era during which the Neanderthals lived in Europe and the Near East (c. 300,000–28,000 years ago). Their technology is mainly the Mousterian, but Neanderthal physical characteristics have been found also in ambiguous association with the more recent Châtelperronian archeological culture in Western Europe and several local industries like the Szeletian in Eastern Europe/Eurasia. There is no evidence for Neanderthals in Africa, Australia or the Americas. Neanderthals nursed their elderly and practised ritual burial indicating an organised society. The earliest evidence (Mungo Man) of settlement in Australia dates to around Prehistory of Australia, 40,000 years ago when modern humans likely crossed from Asia by island-hopping. Evidence for symbolic behavior such as body ornamentation and burial is ambiguous for the Middle Paleolithic and still subject to debate. The Bhimbetka rock shelters exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India, some of which are approximately 30,000 years old.


Upper Paleolithic

From 50,000 to 10,000 years ago in Europe, the Upper Paleolithic ends with the end of the Pleistocene and onset of the Holocene era (the end of the Last glacial period, last ice age). Modern humans spread out further across the Earth during the period known as the Upper Paleolithic. The Upper Paleolithic is marked by a relatively rapid succession of often complex stone artifact technologies and a large increase in the creation of art and personal ornaments. During period between 35 and 10 kya evolved: from 38 to 30 kya Châtelperronian, 40–28 Aurignacian, 28–22 Gravettian, 22–17 Solutrean, and 18–10 Magdalenian. All of these industries except the Châtelperronian are associated with anatomically modern humans. Authorship of the Châtelperronian is still the subject of much debate. Most scholars date the arrival of Indigenous Australians, humans in Australia at 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, with a possible range of up to 125,000 years ago. The earliest modern human, anatomically modern human remains found in Australia (and outside of Africa) are those of Mungo Man; they have been dated at 42,000 years old. The Americas were colonised via the Bering land bridge which was exposed during this period by lower sea levels. These people are called the Paleo-Indians, and the earliest accepted dates are those of the Clovis culture sites, some 13,500 years ago. Globally, societies were
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. T ...
s but evidence of regional identities begins to appear in the wide variety of stone tool types being developed to suit very different environments.


Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic

The period starting from the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago, to around 6,000 years ago was characterized by sea level rise, rising sea levels and a need to adapt to a changing environment and find new food sources. The development of Mode 5 (microlith) tools began in response to these changes. They were derived from the previous Paleolithic tools, hence the term Epipaleolithic, or were intermediate between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic, hence the term
Mesolithic The Mesolithic (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

Mesolithic
(Middle Stone Age), used for parts of Eurasia, but not outside it. The choice of a word depends on exact circumstances and the inclination of the archaeologists excavating the site. Microliths were used in the manufacture of more efficient composite tools, resulting in an intensification of hunting and fishing and with increasing social activity the development of more complex settlements, such as Lepenski Vir. Domestication of the dog as a hunting companion probably dates to this period. The earliest known battle occurred during the Mesolithic period at a site in Egypt known as Cemetery 117.


Neolithic

The
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
, or New Stone Age, was approximately characterized by the adoption of agriculture. The shift from food gathering to food producing, in itself one of the most revolutionary changes in human history, was accompanied by the so-called Neolithic Revolution: the development of
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pottery
, polished stone tools, and construction of more complex, larger settlements such as Göbekli Tepe and Çatal Hüyük. Some of these features began in certain localities even earlier, in the transitional Mesolithic. The first Neolithic cultures started around 7000 BCE in the fertile crescent and spread concentrically to other areas of the world; however, the Near East was probably not the only nucleus of agriculture, the cultivation of maize in Meso-America and of Oryza sativa, rice in the Far East being others. Due to the increased need to harvest and process plants, ground stone and polished stone artifacts became much more widespread, including tools for grinding, cutting, and chopping. Skara Brae located in Orkney off Scotland is one of Europe's best examples of a Neolithic village. The community contains stone beds, shelves and even an indoor toilet linked to a stream. The first large-scale constructions were built, including settlement towers and walls, e.g., Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) and ceremonial sites, e.g.: Stonehenge. The Ġgantija temples of Gozo in the Maltese archipelago are the oldest surviving free standing structures in the world, erected c. 3600–2500 BCE. The earliest evidence for established trade exists in the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
with newly settled people importing exotic goods over distances of many hundreds of miles. These facts show that there were sufficient resources and co-operation to enable large groups to work on these projects. To what extent this was a basis for the development of elites and social hierarchies is a matter of ongoing debate. Although some late Neolithic societies formed complex stratified chiefdoms similar to Polynesian societies such as the Ancient Hawaiians, based on the societies of modern tribesmen at an equivalent technological level, most Neolithic societies were relatively simple and egalitarian. A comparison of art in the two ages leads some theorists to conclude that Neolithic cultures were noticeably more hierarchical than the
Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek palaios - old, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
cultures that preceded them.


African chronology


Early Stone Age (ESA)

The Africa#Early Stone Age Africa, Early Stone Age in Africa is not to be identified with "Old Stone Age", a translation of Paleolithic, or with Paleolithic, or with the "Earlier Stone Age" that originally meant what became the Paleolithic and Mesolithic. In the initial decades of its definition by the Pan-African Congress of Prehistory, it was parallel in Africa to the Upper Paleolithic, Upper and Middle Paleolithic. However, since then Radiocarbon dating has shown that the Middle Stone Age is in fact contemporaneous with the Middle Paleolithic. The Early Stone Age therefore is contemporaneous with the Lower Paleolithic and happens to include the same main technologies, Oldowan and Acheulean, which produced Mode 1 and Mode 2
stone tool A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of Rock (geology), stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with prehistory, prehisto ...

stone tool
s respectively. A distinct regional term is warranted, however, by the location and chronology of the sites and the exact typology.


Middle Stone Age (MSA)

The Middle Stone Age was a period of African prehistory between Early Stone Age and Late Stone Age. It began around 300,000 years ago and ended around 50,000 years ago. It is considered as an equivalent of European Middle Paleolithic. It is associated with anatomically modern or almost modern ''Homo sapiens''. Early physical evidence comes from Omo and Herto, both in Ethiopia and dated respectively at c. 195 ka and at c. 160 ka.


Later Stone Age (LSA)

The Later Stone Age (LSA, sometimes also called the Late Stone Age) refers to a period in African prehistory. Its beginnings are roughly contemporaneous with the European Upper Paleolithic. It lasts until historical times and this includes cultures corresponding to Mesolithic and Neolithic in other regions.


Material culture


Tools

Stone tools were made from a variety of stones. For example,
flint Flint is a sedimentary Sedimentary rocks are types of rock (geology), rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic matter, organic particles at Earth#Surface, Earth's surface, followed by cementation (geology ...

flint
and chert were shaped (or ''chipped stone, chipped'') for use as cutting tools and weapons, while basalt and sandstone were used for ground stone tools, such as quern-stones. Wood, bone, Animal shell, shell, antler (deer) and other materials were widely used, as well. During the most recent part of the period, sediments (such as clay) were used to make
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pottery
. Agriculture was developed and certain animals were Domestication, domesticated as well. Some species of non-
primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian mammal constituting the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic order (biology), order Primates (). Primates arose 85–55 million years ago first from small Terrestrial animal, ...

primate
s are able to use stone tools, such as the sea otter, which breaks abalone shells with them. Primates can both use and manufacture stone tools. This combination of abilities is more marked in apes and men, but only men, or more generally Hominans, depend on tool use for survival. The key anatomical and behavioral features required for tool manufacture, which are possessed only by Hominans, are the larger thumb and the ability to hold by means of an assortment of grips.


Food and drink

Food sources of the Palaeolithic
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. T ...
s were wild plants and animals harvested from the environment (biophysical), environment. They liked animal organ (anatomy), organ meats, including the livers, kidneys and brains. Large seeded legumes were part of the human diet long before the Neolithic Revolution, agricultural revolution, as is evident from archaeobotanical finds from the Mousterian layers of Kebara Cave, in Israel. Moreover, recent evidence indicates that humans processed and consumed wild cereal grains as far back as 23,000 years ago in the Upper Paleolithic. Near the end of the Wisconsin glaciation, 15,000 to 9,000 years ago, mass extinction of Megafauna such as the woolly mammoth occurred in Asia, Europe, North America and Australia. This was the first Holocene extinction event. It possibly forced modification in the dietary habits of the humans of that age and with the emergence of agricultural practices, plant-based foods also became a regular part of the diet. A number of factors have been suggested for the extinction: certainly over-hunting, but also deforestation and climate change. The net effect was to fragment the vast ranges required by the large animals and extinguish them piecemeal in each fragment.


Shelter and habitat

Around 2 million years ago, ''
Homo habilis ''Homo habilis'' ("handy man") is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the large ...

Homo habilis
'' is believed to have constructed the first man-made structure in East Africa, consisting of simple arrangements of stones to hold branches of trees in position. A similar stone circular arrangement believed to be around 380,000 years old was discovered at Terra Amata (archaeological site), Terra Amata, near Nice, France. (Concerns about the dating have been raised, see Terra Amata (archaeological site), Terra Amata). Several human habitats dating back to the Stone Age have been discovered around the globe, including: * A tent-like structure inside a cave near the Grotte du Lazaret, Nice, France. * A Dolní Věstonice (archaeology), structure with a roof supported with timber, discovered in Dolni Vestonice, the Czech Republic, dates to around 23,000 BCE. The walls were made of packed clay blocks and stones. * Many huts made of mammoth bones have been found in Eastern Europe and Siberia. The people who made these huts were expert mammoth hunters. Examples have been found along the Dniepr river valley of Ukraine, including near Chernihiv, in Moravia, Czech Republic and in southern Poland. * An animal hide tent dated to around 15000 to 10000 BCE, in the Magdalenian, was discovered at Plateau Parain, France.


Art

Prehistoric art is visible in the artifacts. Prehistoric music is inferred from found instruments, while parietal art can be found on rocks of any kind. The latter are petroglyphs and rock paintings. The art may or may not have had a religious function.


Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs appeared in the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
. A Petroglyph is an intaglio (sculpture), intaglio abstract or symbolic image engraved on natural stone by various methods, usually by prehistoric peoples. They were a dominant form of pre-writing symbols. Petroglyphs have been discovered in different parts of the world, including Australia (Sydney rock engravings), Asia (Bhimbetka, Bhimbetka, India), North America (Death Valley National Park), South America (Cumbe Mayo, Peru), and Europe (Rock carvings at Alta, Finnmark, Norway).


Rock paintings

In paleolithic times, mostly animals were painted, in theory ones that were used as food or represented strength, such as the rhinoceros or large Felidae, cats (as in the Chauvet Cave). Signs such as dots were sometimes drawn. Rare human representations include handprints and half-human/half-animal figures. The Cave of Chauvet in the Ardèche ''département'', France, contains the most important cave paintings of the paleolithic era, dating from about 36,000 BCE. The Altamira (cave), Altamira cave paintings in Spain were done 14,000 to 12,000 BCE and show, among others, bisons. The hall of bulls in Lascaux, Dordogne, France, dates from about 15,000 to 10,000 BCE. The meaning of many of these paintings remains unknown. They may have been used for seasonal rituals. The animals are accompanied by signs that suggest a possible magic use. Arrow-like symbols in Lascaux are sometimes interpreted as calendar or almanac use, but the evidence remains interpretative. Some scenes of the Mesolithic, however, can be typed and therefore, judging from their various modifications, are fairly clear. One of these is the battle scene between organized bands of archers. For example, "the marching Warriors", a rock painting at Cingle de la Mola, Castellón de la Plana, Castellón in Spain, dated to about 7,000–4,000 BCE, depicts about 50 bowmen in two groups marching or running in step toward each other, each man carrying a bow in one hand and a fistful of arrows in the other. A file of five men leads one band, one of whom is a figure with a "high crowned hat". In other scenes elsewhere, the men wear head-dresses and knee ornaments but otherwise fight nude. Some scenes depict the dead and wounded, bristling with arrows. One is reminded of
Ötzi the Iceman Ötzi, also called the Iceman, is the natural mummy A mummy is a dead human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living orga ...
, a Copper Age mummy revealed by an Alpine melting glacier, who collapsed from loss of blood due to an arrow wound in the back.


Stone Age rituals and beliefs

Modern studies and the in-depth analysis of finds dating from the Stone Age indicate certain rituals and beliefs of the people in those prehistoric times. It is now believed that activities of the Stone Age humans went beyond the immediate requirements of procuring food, body coverings, and shelters. Specific rites relating to death and burial were practiced, though certainly differing in style and execution between cultures. * Megalithic tombs, multichambered, and dolmens, single-chambered, were Grave (burial), graves with a huge stone slab stacked over other similarly large stone slabs; they have been discovered all across Europe and Asia and were built in the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
and the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
.


Modern popular culture

The image of the caveman is commonly associated with the Stone Age. For example, a 2003 documentary series showing the evolution of humans through the Stone Age was called ''Walking with Cavemen'', but only the last programme showed humans living in caves. While the idea that human beings and dinosaurs coexisted is sometimes portrayed in popular culture in cartoons, films and computer games, such as ''The Flintstones'', ''One Million Years B.C.'' and ''Chuck Rock'', the notion of hominids and non-bird, avian dinosaurs co-existing is not supported by any scientific evidence. Other depictions of the Stone Age include the best-selling ''Earth's Children'' series of books by Jean M. Auel, which are set in the
Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek palaios - old, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
and are loosely based on archaeological and anthropology, anthropological findings. The 1981 film ''Quest for Fire (film), Quest for Fire'' by Jean-Jacques Annaud tells the story of a group of early homo sapiens searching for their lost fire. A 21st-century series, ''Chronicles of Ancient Darkness'' by Michelle Paver tells of two New Stone Age children fighting to fulfil a prophecy and save their clan.


See also

* ''
Homo ''Homo'' () is the that emerged in the (otherwise extinct) genus ' that encompasses the extant species ' (), plus several extinct species classified as either to or closely related to modern humans (depending on the species), most notably ' ...

Homo
'' * Ice Age * List of Stone Age art * Megalith *
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
* Prehistoric warfare * Timeline of the Stone Age


Notes


References

* * * * * * * *


Further reading

*


External links

* * * * * *
Human Timeline (Interactive)
– Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History (August 2016). {{Portal bar, History, Science Stone Age,