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  • Context (IE): New research indicates that the Stone Age — a long prehistoric period characterised by the use of stone tools by humans— might as accurately be described as the ‘Wood Age’.
  • A recently published study of around 300,000-400,000-year-old wooden artefacts excavated from a coal mine in Schöningen, Germany, indicated that these were not simply “sharpened sticks” but “technologically advanced tools.

Tools of Stone Age - PMF IAS

Credit: IE

  • The discovered spears strongly suggest that systematic hunting, involving foresight, planning and the use of appropriate technology, was part of the behavioural repertoire of pre-modern hominids.
  • In the 19th century, Danish archaeologists devised the first scientifically rigorous periodisation of human prehistory into the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and finally, the Iron Age.

Stone Age

  • The Stone Age is a period in prehistory that lasted from around 3.4 million to 12,000 years ago.

timeline human prehistory - PMF IAS

Credit: Art History

  • In technical terms, human ‘history’ began with the advent of writing.
  • Everything before that is ‘prehistory’, studied primarily using archaeological evidence, although ethnographic research (study of human cultures and communities) can also provide important insights.
  • It is called the Stone Age because it is characterised by when early humans started using stones, such as flint, for tools and weapons. They also used stones to light fires.

Tools of Stone Age - PMF IAS

Credit: Walkagainsttraffick

  • Stone Age sites across the world also show evidence of a number of other materials being used, from bones and antlers, to clay, and some (very limited) metalworking.
  • It marks the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherers to the beginnings of agriculture, animal domestication and the use of tools.

Three Stages of the Stone Age

  • The Stone Age, which lasted until about 6,000-4,000 BP (Before the Present), comprises 99% of human history.
  • It is further divided into three periods: Palaeolithic (‘Old Stone Age’), Mesolithic (‘Middle Stone Age’), and Neolithic (‘New Stone Age’).

The Palaeolithic Period

  • It lasted from the first use of stone until the end of the last Ice Age. This stage was roughly between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago.
  • Palaeolithic humans were hunters and gatherers and had a nomadic lifestyle, moving from one place to another.
  • People lived in small groups and used caves or forests for shelter.
  • They created simple tools out of stone and made cave paintings.

The Mesolithic Period

  • The ‘Middle Stone Age’ lasted from the end of the last Ice Age until the beginning of farming.
  • During the Mesolithic period, the climate started to warm up, early farming developed and people started to raise animals as livestock.
  • Stone tools became more sophisticated. An important milestone was the invention of the prepared-core technique, which allowed early humans to create lots of similarly-shaped tools from the same stone.

The Neolithic Period

  • The ‘New Stone Age’ lasted from the start of farming until the first use of metal (which was the beginning of the Bronze Age).
  • It is marked by the domestication of animals, the advent of agriculture and people creating pottery/textiles.
  • Humans shifted from a nomadic lifestyle to a sedentary lifestyle (staying in one place and creating a village or town).
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