- People in the Stone Age used stone tools.
- This age lasted for about 2.5 million years.
- It ended when humans began to work with metal and bronze.
During the last ice age, glaciers came down from mountains. They covered the land. Glaciers are ice that comes down from the mountains.
The glaciers blocked off rivers, and they formed terraces when they retreated. The present coastlines were made when ice sheets retreated four times in the last ice age, around 10,000 years ago. The environment influenced the Paleolithic culture in the Pleistocene Epoch. Humans started to get different from other animals. They began being able to make things out of rocks.
This evolution journey covers 2.5 million years, and it involves improvements in physical aspects like walking on two legs and in the brain. It also has cultural changes, like making tools from natural materials such as stone or wood.
During the Stone Age, humans shared the planet with another kind of human. The Neanderthals and Denisovans are now extinct.
Humans weren’t the first to make or use stone tools. 3.3 million years ago, an ancient species on Lake Turkana made stone tools and used them 700,000 years before humans existed.
Evolution is not a straight line. It’s more complicated. A group may have become isolated due to some change in the weather, which made it, so they needed different things to eat or survive. Over time, this might have led them to change their genetic makeup, and eventually, they turned into something new that we would recognize as a new species or subspecies.
A long time ago, a species of people called Australopithecus afarensis evolved in eastern Africa. The bones of Lucy, a famous Australopithecus afarensis fossil found in Africa, were of a species that walked on two feet and ate fruit and roots.
Around 2 million years ago, another notable species of this genus emerged called Homo erectus. This was the first species to control fire. It is said that these people lived in Africa.
Neanderthals were well-suited for life in cold climates. They were also good hunters. But they became extinct around 40,000 years ago because there were changes to the weather, and they competed with other groups for resources.
Modern humans (Homo sapiens and then Homo sapiens sapiens) came into East Africa around 200,000 years ago. Then they spread to Eurasia.
We are the only living human species that has not become extinct. We may believe we are prosperous, but it is worth bearing in mind that humans have been on Earth for a little over 200,000 years. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t long.
The Division of the Stone Age
The Stone Age had three different periods. The first one was the Paleolithic Period when people first found stone tools and started making them. The Mesolithic Period was when people made better tools than they did before. The Neolithic Period started farming and growing plants on land to eat, like corn, beans, squash, and potatoes.
Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age)
The Palaeolithic era was the most complicated of the Stone Age periods. This is because it contained multiple human species and a series of climate changes.
Throughout the Paleolithic, humans were food collectors. This means they collected wild animals and fish to eat. They also collected fruit, nuts, and berries.
People were nomadic. This means they were always moving with their families. They got food, firewood, materials for tools, clothes, and shelter from where they lived.
The people in that time ate lots of different animals. They had wild horses, red deer, arctic hares, reindeer, wild cattle, and lynxes. They killed these animals to eat them and use their parts for things like clothes and glue. People in the Stone Age also hunted large mammals like wooly mammoths and giant bison.
The Palaeolithic people practiced hunting magic. They took care of disabled people too. People found out how to start a fire. They used this fire for warmth, cooking, and scaring away animals.
The earliest stage of the Lower Palaeolithic culture is represented by stone tools found in Ethiopia’s Kadar Gona and Hadar regions. The tools are 2.5 million years old.
The Middle Palaeolithic culture is a time when people made tools from flakes such as scrapers, points, borers, and awls. They also had fine workmanship with miniature handaxes and cleavers.
The Upper Palaeolithic had advancements in stone tool making. They made blades that were finished in many ways. People also retouched the blades.
In the Upper Palaeolithic period, there were a lot of kinds of art. People painted pictures on cave walls and ceilings and drew pictures on the rocks. The paintings are called “cave art,” but some drawings are called “petroglyphs.”
Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age)
Mesolithic people traveled around the country with animal herds. They were looking for good flint to make tools.
Living in groups of about 10 to 40 people, they hunted animals in woodlands. A Mesolithic hunter-gatherer might start a fire on the forest floor to attract deer. This is just a small step away from farming.
As a result of the climate getting warmer, the sea level rose, leading to Britain becoming an island. Before that, there was no sea between Europe and Britain.
These new farmers, who came from mainland Europe, made up roughly 20% of the population in Great Britain. These new farmers brought with them a whole slew of burial customs, including barrows or mounds. These tombs were made of big stones. We call them megaliths.
Food was not always available in every location throughout the Mesolithic period. People were frequently compelled to become nomadic hunters or to take up residence in rock shelters.
The type of tool used is different among these cultures. Mesolithic tools were made from small stone chips, and Paleolithic tools were made from more primitive stones. Neolithic tools were mainly polished and not chipped.
In this time, people made art that was different from before. It was easier to make art in a warmer climate and because there were more people.
A few rock art sites were created during the Mesolithic period, and they are in Spain. The art consists of small painted figures of humans or animals.
In 2015, a pendant from the Mesolithic period was found in England. It is believed to be the earliest art in England. It may imply the use of jewelry during this period.
Neolithic Period (New Stone Age)
People began to stop moving around and stay in one place permanently. People started to farm crops like spelt and wheat. They also kept animals, like goats and sheep.
Farmers needed more land. They cut down forests to make space. Flint was used to making tools, so mines were made to find the best flint deep underground.
In the early Neolithic, communities were made up of 50-100 people, and their clans and family organized them. Some people in the community raised animals, and some farmed. This didn’t create any economic or social differences.
From the Late Neolithic, the number of settlements increased, and there were more different types of homes. The community reached up to 300 people. Nuclear families were the social unit of the Neolithic people.
People in Britain started using pottery during the Neolithic. Pottery has been used for 2,500 years in Greece. People used pottery for cooking and storing food.
Pottery became a way of showing art. You can put many colors on it and designs too. The best pottery was made in the Neolithic Period because they had better ideas about making the clay and how to fire it or paint with color on it.
The pottery contained dairy products, according to examinations. This implies farmers would have milked their cattle, much as we do today.
The culture of the Neolithic society impressed its achievements on things that we have today. Buildings, burials, tools, pottery, figurines, and jewelry were all made by the Neolithic society’s culture. Basketry and weaving also encouraged artistic production, as did pottery.
Burial practices from the Neolithic show a belief in life after death. They include the offering of funerary items. The three types of burials include:
- The dead could be buried in a simple hole. The body is in a fetal position.
- Cremation is when people’s bodies are burned. In some cases, the cremated were put in vases.
- Collecting the bones of a dead person and burying them under the floor in a house.
At first, people did not make their things. Soon, people made and traded goods with other communities. The new conditions and values that arose during the Neolithic period were reflected in objects that only a select few members of society had during the Late Neolithic period.
These objects were symbols of social prestige. They are leaf-shaped arrowheads made out of obsidian from Melian, jewelry of gold or silver, and jewelry strips.