↑ before _Homo_ (
Late Stone Age
Late Stone Age _
Homo_ Control of fire Stone tools Middle
Middle Stone Age
Middle Stone Age _
Homoneanderthalensis _ _
Homosapiens _ Recent
African origin of modern humans Upper
Late Stone Age
Late Stone Age
Origin of the domestic dog
Origin of the domestic dog
Mesolithic Microliths , Bow ,
The STONE AGE was a broad prehistoric period during which stone was
widely used to make implements with an edge, a point, or a percussion
surface. The period lasted roughly 3.4 million years, and ended
BCE and 2000
BCEwith the advent of metalworking .
Stone Ageartifacts include tools used by modern humans and by their
predecessor species in the genus _
Homo_, and possibly by the earlier
partly contemporaneous genera _
Australopithecus_ and _
Bone tools were used during this period as well but are rarely
preserved in the archaeological record . The
Stone Ageis further
subdivided by the types of stone tools in use.
Stone Ageis the first of the three-age system of archaeology ,
which divides human technological prehistory into three periods:
* The STONE AGE
* 1 Historical significance
Stone Agein archaeology
* 2.1 Beginning of the
* 2.2 End of the
* 2.3 Concept of the
* 2.4 Three-stage system
* 2.5 Problem of the transitions
* 3 Chronology
* 3.1 Three-age chronology
* 3.1.1 Lower
Oldowanout of Africa
Acheuleanout of Africa
* 3.1.2 Middle
* 3.1.3 Upper
* 3.1.4 Epipaleolithic/
* 3.2 Three-stage chronology
* 3.2.1 The Earlier or Early
* 3.2.2 The
Middle Stone Age
Middle Stone Age(MSA)
* 3.2.3 The
Later Stone Age
Later Stone Age(LSA)
* 4 Material culture
* 4.1 Tools
* 4.2 Food and drink
* 4.3 Shelter and habitat
* 4.4 Art
* 4.4.1 Petroglyphs
* 4.4.2 Rock paintings
Stone Agerituals and beliefs
* 5 Modern popular culture
* 6 See also
* 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
Human timeline view • discuss • edit -10 — – -9 — –
-8 — – -7 — – -6 — – -5 — – -4 — – -3 — – -2
— – -1 — – 0 — Human-like
Australopithecus_ _HOMO HABILIS _
_HOMO ERECTUS _ _NEANDERTHAL _ _HOMO SAPIENS _
← Earlier apes ← Possibly bipedal ← Earliest
bipedal ← Earliest stone tools ← Earliest exit
from Africa ← Earliest fire use ← Earliest cooking
← Earliest clothes ← Modern humans
Axis scale : millions of years .
Also see: _Life timeline _ and _Nature timeline _ Modern Awash
River , Ethiopia, descendant of the Palaeo-Awash, source of the
sediments in which the oldest
Stone Agetools have been found
Stone Ageis contemporaneous with the evolution of the genus
Homo_, the only exception possibly being 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
East African Rift
East African RiftSystem, especially toward the north in Ethiopia
, where it is bordered by grasslands . The closest relative among the
other living primates , the genus _Pan _, 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 and also north
Nileinto North Africa and through the continuation of the
rift in the
Levantto the vast grasslands of Asia.
Starting from about 4 million years ago (mya ) a single biome
established itself from South Africa through the rift, North Africa,
and across Asia to modern China, which has been called
"transcontinental 'savannahstan'" recently. Starting in the
grasslands of the rift, _
Homoerectus _, the predecessor of modern
humans, found an ecological niche as a tool-maker and developed a
dependence on it, becoming a "tool equipped 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 year old and were
found in the Lower Awash Valley in Ethiopia. Archaeological
discoveries in Kenya in 2015, identifying possibly the oldest known
evidence of hominin use of tools to date, have indicated that
Kenyanthropusplatyops ( a 3.2 to 3.5-million-year-old Pliocene
hominin fossil discovered in Lake Turkana, Kenya in 1999 ) may have
been the earliest tool-users known.
The oldest stone tools were excavated from the site of
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, on the
sediments of the paleo-
Awash River, which serve to date them. All the
tools come from the Busidama Formation, which lies above a
disconformity , or missing layer, which would have been from 2.9 to
2.7 mya . The oldest sites containing 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, where previous to their
discovery tools were thought to have evolved only in the
Excavators at the locality point out that: "...the earliest stone
tool makers were skilled flintknappers .... The possible reasons
behind this seeming abrupt transition from the absence of stone tools
to the presence thereof include ... gaps in the geological record."
The species who made the
Pliocenetools remains unknown. Fragments of
Australopithecusgarhi _, _
Australopithecusaethiopicus _ and
_Homo_, possibly _
Homohabilis _, have been found in sites near the
age of the Gona tools.
END OF THE STONE AGE
Innovation of the technique of smelting ore ended the
Bronze Age. The first most significant metal manufactured
was bronze , an alloy of copper and tin , each of which was smelted
separately. The transition from the
Stone Ageto the
Bronze Agewas a
period during which modern people could smelt copper, but did not yet
manufacture bronze, a time known as the
Copper Age, or more
Chalcolithic, "copper-stone" age. The
convention is the initial period of the
followed by the
The transition out of the
Stone Ageoccurred between 6000
BCEfor much of humanity living in North Africa and
first evidence of human metallurgy dates to between the 5th and 6th
BCEin the archaeological sites of
Majdanpek, Yarmovac ,
Serbia(a copper axe from 5500 BCE
belonging to the
Vinca culture), though not conventionally considered
part of the
Chalcolithicor "Copper Age", this provides the earliest
known example of copper metallurgy. Note the
Rudna Glavamine in
Ötzi the Iceman, a mummy from about 3300
him a copper axe and a flint knife.
In regions such as
Sub-Saharan Africa, the
Stone Agewas followed
directly by the Iron Age. The Middle East and southeastern Asian
regions progressed past
Stone Agetechnology around 6000 BCE. Europe,
and the rest of Asia became post–
Stone Agesocieties 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 Americas notably did not develop a widespread behavior
Bronzeor Iron after the
Stone Ageperiod, although the
Stone toolmanufacture continued even after the
Stone Ageended in a given area. In Europe and North America,
millstones 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", "
BronzeAge", and "Iron Age" were never meant
to suggest that advancement and time periods in prehistory are only
measured by the type of tool material, rather than, for example,
social organization , food sources exploited, adaptation to climate,
adoption of agriculture, cooking, settlement and religion. Like
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 man and society. They serve as
diagnostics of date, rather than characterizing the people or the
Lithic analysisis a major and specialised form of archaeological
investigation. It involves the measurement of the stone tools to
determine their typology, function and the technology involved. It
includes scientific study of the lithic reduction of the raw
materials, examining how the artifacts were made. Much of this study
takes place in the laboratory in the presence of various specialists.
In experimental archaeology , researchers attempt to create replica
tools, to understand how they were made.
who use sharp tools to reduce flintstone to flint tool . A
variety of stone tools
In addition to lithic analysis, the field prehistorian utilizes a
wide range of techniques derived from multiple fields. The work of the
archaeologist in determining the paleocontext and relative sequence of
the layers is supplemented by the efforts of the geologic specialist
in identifying layers of rock over geologic time, of the
paleontological specialist in identifying bones and animals, of the
palynologist in discovering and identifying plant species, of the
physicist and chemist in laboratories determining dates by the
carbon-14 , potassium-argon and other methods. Study of the Stone Age
has never been mainly about stone tools and archaeology, which are
only one form of evidence. The chief focus has always been on the
society and the physical people who belonged to it.
Useful as it has been, the concept of the
Stone Agehas its
limitations. The date range of this period is ambiguous, disputed, and
variable according to 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 technology, so remained in a
'stone age' until they encountered technologically developed cultures.
The term was innovated to describe the archaeological cultures of
Europe. It may not always be the best in relation to regions such as
some parts of the
Indiesand Oceania, where farmers or
hunter-gatherers used stone for tools until European colonisation
The archaeologists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries CE, who
adapted the three-age system 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 specific Stone-Age technology. As a
description of people living today, the term _stone age_ is
Association of Social Anthropologistsdiscourages
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
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
J. Desmond Clark,
"It was early realized that the threefold division of culture into
Bronzeand Iron Ages adopted in the nineteenth century for
Europe had no validity in Africa outside the
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, 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, and Late Stone Age, or
Neolithic(_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
Middle Stone Agewould not
change its name, but it would not mean
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
Neolithicwas 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
BronzeAge. 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
Paleolithicand 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
By voluntary agreement, archaeologists respect the decisions of the
Pan-African Congress of Prehistory, which meets every four years to
resolve archaeological business brought before it. Delegates are
actually international; the organization takes its name from the
Louis Leakeyhosted the first one in
Nairobiin 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 in any way can be presumed to
have a relationship of any sort. In archaeology, the relationship is
one of causality . 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 . 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.
Stone Ageof Europe is characteristically in deficit of known
transitions. The 19th and early 20th-century innovators of the modern
three-age system recognized the problem of the initial transition, the
"gap" between the
Paleolithicand the Neolithic.
something of an answer by proving that man evolved in Africa. The
Stone Agemust have begun there to be carried repeatedly to Europe by
migrant populations. The different phases of the
Stone Agethus 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
Sangoantechnologies, and the Second
Intermediate Period between Middle and Later, to encompass the
Magosiantechnology 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 and Lower
Fauresmith is now considered to be a facies of
Sangoanis a facies of
Magosianis "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
Mary Leakey, who was
delivering a pilot presentation of her typological analysis of Early
Stone Agetools, 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.
Time series plot of temperature over the previous 5 million
Jens Jacob Worsaae
Jens Jacob Worsaaefirst 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 Agecross two epoch
boundaries on the geologic time scale :
* The geologic
Pleistoceneboundary (highly glaciated
Paleolithicperiod of archaeology
* The geologic
Holoceneboundary (modern climate)
Epipaleolithicperiod of archaeology
Neolithicperiod of archaeology
The succession of these phases varies enormously from one region (and
culture ) to another.
Human evolution, and
Paleolithicor Palaeolithic (from Greek: παλαιός,
_palaios_, "old"; and λίθος, _lithos _, "stone" lit. "old stone",
coined by archaeologist 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 _
extending from 2.5 or 2.6 million years ago, with the first documented
use of stone tools by hominans such as _
Homohabilis _, to the end of
Pleistocenearound 10,000 BCE. The
Paleolithicera ended with the
Mesolithic, or in areas with an early neolithisation , the
Main article: Lower
At sites dating from the Lower
PaleolithicPeriod (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
Paleolithictradition, known as the
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
Homoerectus . 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
Paleolithictool, the hand ax, appeared. The earliest
European hand axes are assigned to the Abbevillian industry , which
developed in northern France in the valley of the
Somme River; a
later, more refined hand-ax tradition is seen in the 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
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 is one example of a flake tradition. The early
flake industries probably contributed to the development of the Middle
Paleolithicflake tools of the
Mousterianindustry, which is
associated with the remains of
Neanderthalman. This is a Mode
1, or Oldowan, stone tool from the western Sahara.
The earliest documented stone tools have been found in eastern
Africa, manufacturers unknown, at the 3.3 million year old site of
Lomekwi3 in Kenya. Better known are the later tools belonging to an
industry known as
Oldowan, after the type site of
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 core and the smaller pieces the 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
"The essence of the
Oldowanis the making and often immediate use of
Another naming scheme is "Pebble Core
"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
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 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 _. 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 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
Oldowantool, the tradition may well be far older than its current
Towards the end of
Oldowanin Africa a new species appeared over the
range of _
Homoerectus_. The earliest "unambiguous"
evidence is a whole cranium , KNM-ER 3733 (a find identifier) from
Koobi Forain 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" 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 , 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
Homois 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 Hominans , probably _
Australopithecus_ and _
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
OldowanOut Of Africa
Tools of the
Oldowantradition 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
Acheuleantools 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
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
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
Hominanpreceded _H. erectus_ out of Africa or the earliest
_H. erectus_ has yet to be found.
After the initial appearance at Gona in
Ethiopiaat 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,
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
Gibraltaror 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
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
Acheuleanin 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
Eurasiahad 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
Oldowanto Acheulean, Lower
to Upper, no doubt.
Acheuleantool, not worked over the
The end of
Oldowanin Africa was brought on by the appearance of
Acheulean, or Mode 2, stone tools . 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
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
Although most Mode 2 tools are easily distinguished from Mode 1,
there is a close similarity of some
Oldowanand some Acheulean, which
can lead to confusion. Some
Oldowantools 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,
Acheuleanis "large flake:" "The primary technological distinction
Acheuleanis 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
Moroccoat 0.9 mya.
Archaeological attention, however, shifts to the Jordan Rift Valley,
an extension of the
East African Rift
East African RiftValley (the east bank of the
Jordan is slowly sliding northward as East Africa is thrust away from
Africa). Evidence of use of the
NileValley is in deficit, but
Hominans could easily have reached the palaeo-
Ethiopiaalong 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
Acheuleanwent on in Africa past the 1.0 mya mark and also
past the extinction of _H. erectus_ there. The last
Africa is at
Olorgesailie, Kenya, dated to about 0.9 mya. Its owner
was still _H. erectus_, but in South Africa,
Elandsfontein , 1.0–0.6 mya, is associated with
classified as _H. heidelbergensis_, a more advanced, but not yet
modern, descendant most likely of _H. erectus_. The Thoman Quarry
Moroccosimilarly are most likely
Homorhodesiensis , in
the same evolutionary status as _H. heidelbergensis_.
AcheuleanOut Of Africa
Mode 2 is first known out of Africa at '
Ubeidiya, Israel, a site now
Jordan River, then frequented over the long term (hundreds of
thousands of years) by
Homoon 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
Ubeidiyathe 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 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
Mary Leakeyto describe an Acheulean-like tradition in Bed II at
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
Levantis 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
Acheuleaneastward 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
Acheuleanage started at
1.51 mya and it is also prior than North India and Europe.
The cause of the
Movius Lineremains 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
Acheuleansite at Bose,
China, is dated 0.803±3K mya. The authors of this chronologically
later East Asian
Acheuleanremain 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
Hominanwere found there also. The last Mode 2 in
Southern Europe is from a deposit at Fontana Ranuccio near
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.
Main article: Middle
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
characteristics have been found also in ambiguous association with the
Châtelperronianarcheological 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 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
Paleolithicand 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.
Main article: Upper
Bradshaw rock paintings
Bradshaw rock paintingsfound
in the north-west
Kimberley region of Western Australia
Kimberley region of Western Australia.
From 50,000 to 10,000 years ago in Europe, the Upper
with the end of the
Pleistoceneand onset of the
Holoceneera (the end
of the last ice age ). Modern humans spread out further across the
Earth during the period known as the Upper Paleolithic.
Paleolithicis 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
Solutrean, and 18–10
Magdalenian. All of these industries except the
associated with anatomically modern humans. Authorship of the
Châtelperronianis still the subject of much debate.
Most scholars date the arrival of humans in Australia at 40,000 to
50,000 years ago, with a possible range of up to 125,000 years ago.
The earliest 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
Bering land bridgewhich was
exposed during this period by lower sea levels. These people are
Paleo-Indians, and the earliest accepted dates are those
Clovis culturesites, some 13,500 years ago. Globally,
societies were hunter-gatherers but evidence of regional identities
begins to appear in the wide variety of stone tool types being
developed to suit very different environments.
The period starting from the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years
ago, to around 6,000 years ago was characterized by 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
Paleolithictools, hence the term Epipaleolithic, or were intermediate
Paleolithicand the Neolithic, hence the term Mesolithic
(Middle Stone Age). 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
Domesticationof the dog
as a hunting companion probably dates to this period.
The earliest known battle occurred during the
Mesolithicperiod at a
site in Egypt known as
Skara Brae, Scotland. Europe's most
Neolithic, 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
NeolithicRevolution : the
development of pottery , polished stone tools, and construction of
more complex, larger settlements such as
Göbekli Tepeand Çatal
Hüyük . Some of these features began in certain localities even
earlier, in the transitional Mesolithic. The first
started around 7000
BCEin 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 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 Braelocated on
Scotlandis one of Europe's best examples of a
Neolithicvillage. 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.,
Jerichoand ceremonial sites, e.g.:
Gozoin 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
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
Neolithicsocieties 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,
Neolithicsocieties were relatively simple and egalitarian . A
comparison of art in the two ages leads some theorists to conclude
Neolithiccultures were noticeably more hierarchical than the
Paleolithiccultures that preceded them.
The Earlier Or Early
biface from Lake Langano area, Ethiopia.
This period 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
Mesolithic. In the initial decades of its definition by the
Pan-African Congress of Prehistory, it was parallel in Africa to the
Upper and Middle
Paleolithic. However, since then Radiocarbon dating
has shown that the
Middle Stone Age
Middle Stone Ageis in fact contemporaneous with
Paleolithic. The Early
Stone Agetherefore is
contemporaneous with the Lower
Paleolithicand happens to include the
same main technologies,
Acheulean, which produced Mode 1
and Mode 2 stone tools respectively. A distinct regional term is
warranted, however, by the location and chronology of the sites and
the exact typology.
Middle Stone Age
Middle Stone Age(MSA)
Middle Stone Age
Middle Stone Age
Middle Stone Age
Middle Stone Agewas a period of African prehistory between Early
Stone Ageand Late Stone Age. It began around 300,000 years ago and
ended around 50,000 years ago. It is considered as an equivalent of
Paleolithic. It is associated with anatomically
modern or almost modern _
Homosapiens _. Early physical evidence comes
from Omo and Herto, both in
Ethiopiaand dated respectively at c.
195 ka and at c. 160 ka.
Later Stone Age
Later Stone Age(LSA)
Later Stone Age
Later Stone Age
Later Stone Age
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
Neolithicin other regions.
Stone tools were made from a variety of stones. For example, flint
and chert were shaped (or _chipped _) for use as cutting tools and
weapons , while basalt and sandstone were used for ground stone tools,
such as quern-stones . Wood, bone, 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 pottery .
Agriculture was developed and certain animals were domesticated as
Some species of non-primates 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
Paleolithicdiet and nutrition
Food sourcesof the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers were wild plants
and animals harvested from the environment . They liked animal organ
meats, including the livers , kidneys and brains . Large seeded
legumes were part of the human diet long before the agricultural
revolution , as is evident from archaeobotanical finds from the
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
Near the end of the
Wisconsin glaciation, 15,000 to 9,000 years ago,
mass extinction of
Megafaunasuch as the
Wooly mammothoccurred 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, _
Homohabilis _ 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 , near
Nice, France. (Concerns
about the dating have been raised, see Terra Amata ). Several human
habitats dating back to the
Stone Agehave been discovered around the
* A tent-like structure inside a cave near the
Grotte du Lazaret,
* A 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 were found in Eastern Europe and
Siberia. The people who made these huts were expert mammoth hunters.
Examples have been found along the
Dnieprriver valley of
Czech Republicand in southern
* An animal hide tent dated to around 15000 to 10000
BCE, in the
Magdalenian, was discovered at Plateau Parain, France.
Prehistoric artis visible in the artifacts.
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 appeared in the
Petroglyphis an 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 Asia (Bhimbetka, India ), North America
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park), South America (
Cumbe Mayo, Peru), and
Europe (Finnmark, Norway ).
Rock painting at
Bhimbetka, India, a
World heritage site
World heritage site
In paleolithic times, mostly animals were painted, in theory ones
that were used as food or represented strength, such as the rhinoceros
or large 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
Caveof 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
paintings in Spain were done 14,000 to 12,000
BCEand 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
sometimes interpreted as calendar or almanac use, but the evidence
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 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
Ötzi the Iceman, a
Copper Agemummy revealed by an Alpine melting
glacier, who collapsed from loss of blood due to an arrow wound in the
STONE AGE RITUALS AND BELIEFS
Prehistoric religion, and
County Clare, Ireland
MONTE BUBBONIA dolmen (single-chambered tomb),
Modern studies and the in-depth analysis of finds dating from the
Stone Ageindicate 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
* Megalithic tombs , multichambered, and dolmens , single-chambered,
were 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
MODERN POPULAR CULTURE
Imaginative depiction of the Stone Age, by
The image of the caveman is commonly associated with the Stone Age.
For example, a 2003 documentary series showing the evolution of humans
Stone Agewas called _
Walking with Cavemen
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.
One Million Years B.C._ and _
Chuck Rock_, the notion
of hominids and non-avian dinosaurs co-existing is not supported by
any scientific evidence.
Other depictions of the
Stone Ageinclude the best-selling _Earth\'s
Children _ series of books by
Jean M. Auel, which are set in the
Paleolithicand are loosely based on archaeological and
The 1981 film _Quest for Fire _ by
Jean-Jacques Annaudtells 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 Agechildren fighting to fulfil a
prophecy and save their clan.
* Life timeline
List of Stone Age art
List of Stone Age art
* Nature timeline
Timeline of the Stone Age
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