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Seller: ancientgifts ✉️ (5,282) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, US, Ships to: WORLDWIDE, Item: 124336974898 Stone Age Lost Civilizations Cultures Neolithic Paleolithic Cave Art Astronomy . The Lost Civilizations Of The Stone Age by Richard Rudgley. NOTE: We have 75,000 books in our library, almost 10,000 different titles. Odds are we have other copies of this same title in varying conditions, some less expensive, some better condition. We might also have different editions as well (some paperback, some hardcover, oftentimes international editions). If you don’t see what you want, please contact us and ask. We’re happy to send you a summary of the differing conditions and prices we may have for the same title. DESCRIPTION: Hardcover with dustjacket. Publisher: The Free Press; (1999) 320 pages. Size: 9¾ x 6¾ x 1 inches, 1¼ pounds. This title challenges the notion that modern history is far superior to the events and accomplishments of early civilization. The author, a scholar of prehistoric art, religion, and technology, argues that the occurrences and characteristics of later human history have their origins in prehistory. He argues that the system of constellations in the night sky, the use of calculating instruments, and artistic representations all prove that the people of the Stone Age were anything but primitive. Perhaps after reading this insightful book, the reader will come away with an entirely different take on prehistory and its legacy. CONDITION: LIKE NEW. Unread (but not unblemished) hardcover w/dustjacket. Free Press (1999) 320 pages. Book is new and pristine in every respect EXCEPT for edge and corner shelfwear to the dustjacket and covers (due most likely to being sloppily shelved and reshelved - "shopwear"). Inside the pages are virtually pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unread; though I'd hasten to add that based on an examination of the binding I'd guess it was flipped through a few times by "lookie-loo" browsers while on the bookstore shelf. But otherwise the book bears no indications of having been actually read. The dustjacket is in relatively nice shape, with only one very small (1/2 inch) closed, neatly mended edge tear at the upper open corner of the front side of the dustjacket. Given the repair it is virtually indiscernible. Beneath the dustjacket all four open cover corners are slightly bumped (not so much that the underlying pages are affected/dented though), consequence one would presume of being carelessly shelved and re-shelved while in the bookstore. The overall condition of the book is consistent with what would pass as "new" (but blemished or "shop- worn") stock from an open-shelf book store (such as Barnes & Noble, or B. Dalton, for instance) wherein patrons are permitted to browse open stock, and so otherwise "new" books often have become blemished and/or show a little handling/shelf/browsing wear. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. We accept returns for any reason within 14 days! #008f. PLEASE SEE IMAGES BELOW FOR JACKET DESCRIPTION(S) AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEW: REVIEW: Award-winning British scholar takes a provocative and engaging look at the Stone Age, challenging some of the most basic assumptions about the beginnings of civilization, and offering a fascinating and rich introduction to a lost world. Line drawings and photo illustrations. Richard Rudgley is an Oxford-trained scholar of Stone Age art, religion and technology. PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: Ever wonder what it was like to be a caveman? Whether you are a dentist, sculptor or accountant, you may have more in common with our Stone Age ancestors than you think. Rudgley, a scholar of Stone Age art, religion and technology at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, takes issue with the standard descriptions of the origins of civilization, arguing that prehistoric peoples were far more accomplished than they are generally thought to have been. Although the title evokes science fiction, Rudgley's analysis elucidates the differences among numerous academic theories on topics as diverse as Venus figurines, Neolithic chewing gum and 300,000-year-old bone markings. Rudgley reinterprets these findings in order to paint a picture of Stone Age culture that rightly deserves to be called "civilization," even though conventional scholarship says that writing and, with it, civilization arose "suddenly" in the Near East around 3000 B.C. and that other written languages were derived from this first script. But Rudgley provides evidence of earlier sign systems, what Marija Gimbutas calls the "alphabet of the metaphysical," that developed independently at sites such as Transylvania, where tablets have been dated to about 4000 B.C. Historical linguists have reconstructed compelling precedents to these written systems, which, when combined with work by archeologists and other scientists, suggest the need to revise our present definition of civilization. Previously unpublished photographs. FYI: Rudgley won a British Museum Award for his last book, Essential Substances. REVIEW: A powerful tract on behalf of prehistoric culture, intended to show the importance and relatively advanced nature of Stone Age civilization. Rudgley (Stone Age Studies/Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford Univ.) points out that although 95 percent of humanities time on the planet preceded the dawn of history, prehistory has received 5 percent (or less) of scholarly attention. Here he sets about to rectify things. The author demonstrates at length that the rudiments of civilization, ranging from astronomy, mathematics, and art to pottery, dentistry, and accounting, originated in Neolithic cultures. Writing might be thought of as a unique innovation of civilizations indeed, history may have begun when people first recorded events in writing but Rudgley instead argues that proto-hieroglyphics may have existed in Egypt and that Chinese and other writing systems may also be vastly older than has been believed. And he argues, too, that prehistoric beings pioneered both visual art and science. The author's review of prehistoric cultural achievements is erudite and fascinating, especially his discussions of Stone Age language, technology, mining, and religious art. By necessity, his reasoning is sometimes speculative (e.g., he cites the possible existence of Paleolithic science and mathematics from the slenderest of archaeological evidence). Other claims, such as his assertion that an archaic progenitor language existed in prehistory, do not appear to advance his argument for the superiority of prehistoric culture. With some contempt, he decries the myopic attitudes of anthropologists and other social scientists who have disparaged Stone Age cultures as primitive. Rudgley's argument on prehistory's behalf is often forceful. But he's too quick to attribute 20th-century ignorance of the Stone Ages significance to our modern prejudices, when the more persuasive cause may be prehistory's scanty written records and archaeological legacy. READER REVIEWS: REVIEW: Among historians, one of the most widely accepted criteria for a society's being "civilized" is whether it has a writing system, one that permits complex record keeping and allows for an account of the past. By that measure, writes British scientist Richard Rudgley, many societies of the most ancient Stone Age are to be reckoned as civilizations, for new archaeological evidence suggests that the Neolithic writing systems of cultures like Mesopotamia and the Nile valley have their roots in even older systems, some dating back to the time of the Neanderthals. (Just what those writing systems say remains a matter of debate, and Rudgley acknowledges that "if a script cannot be deciphered, then it will always be possible to dismiss it.") Prehistoric sign systems aside, Rudgley urges that the chronology of human cultural evolution be pushed back well into the Paleolithic; "the most fundamental cultural innovations," he suggests, "actually occurred far earlier in the overall sequence [of human development] than is generally realized." He maintains, for instance, that fired pottery, another characteristic of civilized societies, existed among Siberian nomads some 13,000 years ago, and that a knowledge of metallurgy existed in Egypt 35,000 years ago. Any call for a revision in widely accepted chronologies is, of course, sure to be controversial among prehistorians, and Rudgley's book, well reasoned as it is, will provoke debate. But what an enthralling and intriguing read! REVIEW: An authoritative, eye-opening look at Stone Age civilizations that explodes traditional portrayals of prehistory. The rise of historical civilization 5,000 years ago is often depicted as if those societies were somehow created out of nothing. However, recent discoveries of astonishing accomplishments from the Neolithic Age -- in art, technology, writing, math, science, religion, medicine and exploration -- demand a fundamental rethinking of humanity before the dawn of written history. In this fascinating book, Richard Rudgley describes how the intrepid explorers of the Stone Age discovered all of the world's major land masses long before the so-called Age of Discovery. How Stone Age man performed medical operations, including amputations and delicate cranial surgeries. How Paleolithic cave artists of Western Europe used techniques that were forgotten until the Renaissance. How Prehistoric life expectancy was better than it is for contemporary third-world populations. Rudgley reminds us just how savage so-called civilized people can be, and demonstrates how the cultures that have been reviled as savage were truly civilized. The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age shows the great debt that contemporary society owes to its prehistoric predecessors. It is a rich introduction to a lost world that will redefine the meaning of civilization itself. REVIEW: I found many of the insights in this books valuable. Rudgely does a good job of compiling some information about the stone age into a nice, easily accessible form. He also is successful in showing the fairly obvious idea that "civilization" did not spring forth fully formed like Athena from the forehead of the first Sumerian kings. By bringing together evidence from archaeology, ancient history, linguistics and anthropology, the author convincingly demonstrates that the inventions, achievements and discoveries of prehistoric times have all but been edited out of popular accounts of human history. He describes how stone age explorers discovered all the world's land masses, presents strong evidence for writing before 5000BC and for mathematical, medical and astronomical science as well as tool-making and mining long before the Sumerians. Tracing the human story from the cusp of history back to the earliest known artefacts, he shows that the making of rugs, dental drilling and accountancy among others, were all known in the Neolithic. But not only that - the other "ideological wall" placed at about 40 000BC is also being shown up to be highly dubious as many anomalous cases of earlier symbolic and artistic activities are coming to light. Lost Civilisations Of The Stone Age is lavishly illustrated with figures, plates and a map of language families, and there's an extensive bibliography and index. A well-researched, well-written book that sometimes perhaps goes into too much technical detail for the casual reader, but always remains thought-provoking. REVIEW: Read it and think! That's what this book is about. Forget about reviews by people who quibble with technical issues that are the subject of debates in professional archaeology. This book (like Guns, Germs and Steel-Buy it!) takes the reader on an exploration of one perception of how and when civilization came into being. It is outstanding in its depth and breadth, and allows the reader to come to his or her own conclusions. No one knows what really happened and we probably never will, but Rudgely sure gives us information to ponder. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: STONE AGE PREHISTORY: From the dawn of our species to the present day stone-made artifacts are the dominant surviving form of material evidence of human technology. The term “Stone Age” was coined in the late 19th century along with a framework known as the “Three Age System” for the study of the human past. The basis of this framework is technological. The system identifies three successive periods or ages: Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. Each age is technologically more complex than the one before it. The concept for the system arose after archaeologists noticed that the artifacts found in archaeological sites displayed regularity in terms of the material that they were made with. Stone-made tools were always found in the deepest layers. Bronze artifacts were found in layers on top of the deepest stone-tool layers. Finally iron-made artifacts were found closest to the surface. This suggested that metal technologies developed later than stone-made tools. This “Three Age System” is not without its critics. There are scholars who believe that this approach is too technologically oriented. Others say that this stone-bronze-iron pattern has hardly any meaning when applied outside Europe. Despite the critics, this system is still largely used today. Although it has limitations it can be helpful as long as we remember that it is a simplified framework. The Stone Age begins with the first production of stone implements and ends with the first use of bronze. The chronological definition of the Stone Age is based on technological development rather than actual date ranges. Thus its length varies in different areas of the world. The earliest global date for the beginning of the Stone Age is 2.5 million years ago in Africa. The earliest end date is about 3300 BC, which is the beginning of Bronze Age in the Near East. There is evidence suggesting that the 2.5 million year limit for stone tool manufacture might be pushed further back. The reason is that the capacity of tool use and even its manufacture is not exclusive of our species. There are studies indicating that bonobos are capable of flaking and using stone tools in order to gain access to food in an experimental setting. Nevertheless there are differences between the tools produced by modern apes and those produced by the early toolmakers. The earliest homo toolmakers had better biomechanical and cognitive skills and produced more efficient tools. The difference however is of degree, not of nature. In fact the earliest tools pre-date the emergence of the Homo genus. It is believed that some of the Australopithecines were the first tool makers. In addition, some researchers have claimed that the earliest stone tools might even have an earlier origin: 3.4 million years ago. Although no stone tools that old have been found, some bones showing signs of striations and gouges have been found in Ethiopia. These might represent cut marks made with stone tools. This view however is not universally accepted. The marks have also been interpreted to be the result of crocodile predation or animal trampling. Another important point is that tools and weapons during the Stone Age were not made exclusively of stone. Organic materials such as antler, bone, fiber, leather, and wood were also employed. The Stone Age is also divided into three different periods. Paleolithic or Old Stone Age starts from the first production of stone tools. The Paleolithic runs until the end of the last Ice Age, about 9,600 BC. This is the longest Stone Age period. The main types of evidence are fossilized human remains and stone tools. The stone tools show a gradual increase in their complexity. On the basis of the techniques employed and the quality of the tools, there are several stone industries (sometimes referred to as “lithic” industries). The earliest of these “industries” was 2.5 million years ago and is called Oldowan. These were very simple choppers and flakes which remained unchanged for almost a million years. About 1.7 million years ago another lithic industry called Acheulean produced more complex and symmetrical shapes with sharp edges. There are several other types of lithic industries until finally towards the end of the Paleolithic we see a “revolution” of lithic industries. This was about 40,000 years ago where many different types coexisted and developed rapidly. Around this same time many other significant developments occurred. The first recorded expressions of the artistic life: personal ornaments, cave paintings, and mobilary art. Mobilary art as opposed to cave art (which was fixed and immobile) was smaller, portable, and could accompany and be transported by its owner). This period of time ends at the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age. In purely scientific terms the Mesolithic begins at the end of a period known in geology as the Younger Dryas stadial. This was about 9,600 BC, earth’s last cold snap, which marks the end of Ice Age. This is the time of the late hunter-gatherers. The Mesolithic period ends when agriculture starts. Because agriculture developed at different times in different regions of the world there is no single date for the end of the Mesolithic period. Even within a specific region agriculture developed during different times. For example, agriculture first developed in Southeast Europe about 7,000 BC, in Central Europe about 5,500 BC, and in Northern Europe about 4,000 BC. So the end of the Mesolithic period is somewhat fuzzy. Some regions did not even have a Mesolithic period. An example of that is the Near East. Agriculture was developed around 9,000 BC right after the end of the Ice Age, and right at that period of time when the Mesolithic starts in most areas of the world. During the Mesolithic period important large-scale changes took place on our planet. As the climate was getting warmer and the ice sheets were melting, some areas in the northern latitudes actually rose as they were being freed from the weight of the ice. At the same time the sea levels rose drowning low-lying areas. This resulted in major changes in the land worldwide. The Japanese islands were separated from the Asian mainland, and Tasmania from Australia. Sumatra separated from Malaysia with the corresponding formation of the Strait of Malacca. In Europe the British Isles separated from continental Europe. East Asia and North America became divided by the flooding of the Bering Strait. In the Middle East the Mediterranean broke through and flooded what had before been the massive freshwater lake we now call the “Black Sea”. With the recession of the Ice Age by 5,000 BC the shape of the continents and islands was very much those of the present day. The Neolithic or New Stone Age commences with the introduction of farming. This event varies from one region of the world to the next. It occurred about 9,000 BC in the Near East, about 7,000 BC in Southeast Europe, about 6,000 BC in East Asia, and even later in other regions. This is the time when cereal cultivation and animal domestication was introduced. In order to reflect the deep impact that agriculture had over the human population a prominent Australian archaeologist named Gordon Childe popularized the term “Neolithic Revolution” in the 1940s. Today it is believed that the impact of agricultural innovation was exaggerated within that perspective. The development of Neolithic culture appears to have been more gradual rather than a sudden “revolution”. However no doubt, agriculture brought major changes in the way human society is organized and how it uses the earth. This included forest clearance, root crops, and cereal cultivation which produced foot stuffs that could be stored for long periods of time. In addition there was the development of new technologies for farming and herding such as plows, irrigation systems, etc. More intensive agriculture brought greater and more reliable food sources. This was available for more people and more villages. This in turn influenced movement towards a more complex social and political organization. As the population density of the villages increased they gradually evolved into towns and finally into cities. Towards the end of the Neolithic era, copper metallurgy is introduced, which marks a transition period to the Bronze Age. This is sometimes referred to as the Chalcolithic or Eneolithic era. Tools and weapons during the Stone Age were not made exclusively of stone. Organic materials such as antler, bone, fiber, leather and wood were also employed. The archaeological record however is biased in favor of items made of stone because these are far more durable than the organic materials. Tools which were made of organic materials were easily obliterated by the many processes of decay that they were subjected to over the eons. Such tools can only survive under rare circumstances such as cold temperatures or very dry climate. Other durable materials such as copper and glass-made items have also survived. Under rare circumstances, plant, animal, and human remains have also managed to survive. Sometimes these remains are merely fossilized. However sometimes still preserved are a portion of the soft tissues. An example might be the several frozen specimens of the extinct woolly rhino and woolly mammoth that have survived in Siberia virtually intact. Clay is another material which is abundant in the bulk of Stone Age material remains. Clay can be fashioned into a desired shape and baked to fix its form. This is the birth of pottery. Usable clay is widely available, which explains why pottery was independently invented in many parts of the world at different times. The oldest evidence of pottery manufacture has been found in an archaeological site known as Odai Yamamoto, in Japan. Fragments from a specific vessel have been identified/radio-carbon dated as being between 14,920 and 16,500 years old. Non-agricultural Jomon peoples of Japan were producing clay pots that were elaborately decorated about 13,000 years ago (11,000 BC). The pots were used for food preparation. Around 8,000 BC during the Early Neolithic era special ovens were built in the Near East and used to parch cereal grains and to bake bread. The ovens allowed the operators to control the fire and produce high temperatures in enclosed facilities. Initially, pottery was made in open fires. However the use of ovens added new possibilities to the development of pottery. Around the same time some areas of South America were also developing pottery technology. With the introduction of Bronze metallurgy the Stone Age came to an end. Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin. Bronze is harder than copper. It also has better casting properties and a lower melting point. Bronze could be used for making weapons. This was not possible with copper. Copper was not hard enough to endure combat conditions. In time, bronze became the primary material for tools and weapons. A goodly portion of stone technology became obsolete, signaling the end of the Stone Age [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. The Paleolithic: The Paleolithic (“Old Stone Age”) makes up the earliest chunk of the Stone Age. The large swath of time during which hominins used stone to make tools ranges from the first known tool use roughly 2,6 million years ago to the end of the last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. In fact in some areas of the world the Paleolithic culture and technology continued even later, until about 10,000 years ago. As such the Paleolithic corresponds neatly with the time frame of the geological epoch known as the Pleistocene. The Pleistocene witnessed waves of glacials and interglacials sweep across the planet. The Paleolithic’s embrace extends beyond the characteristics of its stone industries. The Paleolithic is also more generally associated with the cultures and lifestyles of the hunter-gatherers who produced the tools in question. It describes a culture as much as it does a technology. The Paleolithic is succeeded by the Mesolithic (‘Middle Stone Age’). During the Mesolithic humankind adapted to the changing environment after the end of the last Ice Age. The succeeding Neolithic (‘New Stone Age’) ushered in the spread of agriculture and ended with the coming of shiny bronze tools (the “Bronze Age”). The Stone Age makes up around 99% of humanity’s technological history. Stone tools were the pinnacle of man’s technological achievements and sustained mankind for a very long time. With the Paleolithic spanning an almost incomprehensibly huge timeframe, thankfully there are a number of subdivisions. The different ‘stages’ and characteristics of stone tool cultures across the world during this period together with some fuzzy chronological parameters have produced the following terminology. The Lower or Early Paleolithic dates from the earliest known tool use around 2.6 million years up to roughly 250,000 years ago. The Stone Age tools produced were characterized by simple cores, flaked pieces, and later, large bifaces. The Middle Paleolithic commenced about 250,000 years ago. It was characterized by a new focus on retouched flakes and prepared cores. These features continued to be commonplace in certain areas until as late as 30,000 years ago. Meanwhile other areas had already made the transition to Upper or Late Paleolithic tools. The Upper or Late Paleolithic began somewhere around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. The stone technology saw a huge proliferation with regard to both tool shapes and source materials. The Late Paleolithic included the use of a lot of bone, antler, and ivory). In some areas the Late Paleolithic continued beyond the end of the last Ice Age all the way up to 10,000 years ago. Within the Lower Paleolithic are Oldowan and Acheulean stone age cultures. Within the Upper Paleolithic are the Châtelperronian, Aurignacian, Gravettian, Solutrean, and Magdalenian cultures in Europe. There were also the Clovis and Folsom cultures in the Americas. It should be noted that of course these are artificial constructs. They not only oversimplify things but also do not address the “grey areas” and transitional stages. Developments can moreover vary greatly between different places. The Lower or Early Paleolithic period traces mankind’s technology back a staggering 2.6 million years ago in Africa. This is when some early humans first began making simple stone tools. The first identified industry is the Oldowan, named after Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. There hunter-gatherers used simple stone cores as choppers and hammer stones. These were used for butchering animals and crushing their bones to get at the nutritious marrow. The tools could also be used to pound plants and seeds into an edible mush. The Oldowan was mostly found within Africa in areas that correspond with present-day Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa. However later in time the technology was found in the Near East and eastern Asia. This transfer of technology was most likely due to the long legs of adventurous Homo erectus. The Oldowan overlaps a bit with the Acheulean industry/culture which developed later in time, around 1.7 million years ago. The Oldowan and has no fixed end point. proper endpoint, It seems to have gradually petered out in various areas and given way to the Acheulean. Nonetheless anthropologists tend to set the general conclusion of the Oldowan around one million years ago. The Acheulean period was characterized by large bifaces that were turned into hand axes, picks, and cleavers. The technology first developed in Africa and then spread through Eurasia. It accompanied the migrations of such humans as Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis across Europe and Asia and enabled them to process their kills (and side-dishes) much more effectively. These humans also gradually figured out how to harness fire properly. By no later than 400,000 years ago habitual fire use becomes visible in the archaeological record. The Middle Paleolithic embraces a period commencing about 250,000 years ago and running through about 30,000 years ago. In Europe, the Near East, and North Africa the previously hugely popular bifaces give up the preeminence. They were replaced by retouched flakes struck from carefully prepared cores (known as the “Levallois” technique). The process resulted in the creation of tools such as side scrapers, points, and backed knives. These tools became useful in more and varied ways as time progressed. These tools helped humans of the Middle Paleolithic conquer ever more challenging environments throughout almost the entire Old World. Middle Paleolithic sites moreover show the presence of local traditions and variation. Human groups still mostly used natural shelters such as caves and rock shelters. But these shelters and caves slowly began to have separate areas designated for specific activities. Fire and hearths also become much more common. These features were most commonly associated with the Neanderthals of the Mousterian industry/culture, but also early Homo sapiens. Africa around this time was home to the Middle Stone Age technology (not to be confused with the Mesolithic, and not synonymous with the Middle Paleolithic). Middle Stone Age technology also used prepared core techniques to produce a range of flake-based tools. However they also already showed signs of hafting (attaching points and flakes to handles, like with a spear. Other characteristics of the culture included the use of bone tools, and use of pigment and shells hinting at symbolic thought. A prime example is Blombos Cave in South Africa. The Upper or Late Paleolithic industry culture became predominant around 50,000 years ago, and last until about 10,000 years ago. The period represented an explosion in tool diversity. Stone gave up its status as the primary tool-making source material. It was supplanted by materials such as bone, antler, and ivory. These materials were shaped into intricate needles, points and burins (engravers/chisels with sharp, chiseled points or edges). Blade tools made of stone were still created as well. Sewing was now definitely practiced as indicated by the number of needles produced. Spear throwers, harpoons, and bows and arrows indicated a serious change to their makers’ way of life. These tools allow for much more varied and productive hunting behavior. Ever stronger regional material cultures became visible. A lot of areas today have their own label referring to the specific ins and outs of the particular area’s tool-making characteristics. The Upper Paleolithic is generally associated with Homo sapiens. But some Neanderthals appear to have come into contact with their culture. Whether the contact was direct or indirect, the Neanderthals borrowed some aspects of Homo sapien technology and culture. Scientists are relatively certain that reciprocally, Homo sapiens borrow from the Neanderthals as well. The Upper Paleolithic Châtelperronian industry was distinguished by curved backed blades. They were likely produced by Neanderthals. Culturally (anatomically) modern humans created a tremendous quantity of various forms of art including figurative objects. Symbolic expression becomes unequivocally visible within the framework of this Homo sapien industry/culture. Neanderthals also showed decorative skills. Some ceremonial burials are known for the Neanderthals. About 12,000 years ago the glaciers of the last ice age began to recede and the Holocene epoch began. Humans had conquered not only the Old World but had made it all the way into the southern tip of Australia and the Americas. This warmer period was sandwiched between the temperamental climatic conditions accompanying the Paleolithic cultures and the advent of agriculture that marks the start of the Neolithic. The period was also the transition between the Upper Paleolithic and the Mesolithic. The post-glacial climate and changing flora and fauna required that humans adapt. Different tools (such as forest-clearing axes) were needed and microliths (small flint blades generally only 5 mm long and 4 mm thick) became the predominant tool form. Fortunately throughout the Paleolithic various human species had succeeded in developing their technology fast enough to keep up with the challenges nature threw at them. Thus they were primed for the new challenges to come [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. The Neolithic: The term Neolithic Period refers to the last stage of the Stone Age. The term was coined in the late 19th century by scholars who divided the “Stone Age” into three different periods: Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic. The Neolithic period is significant for its megalithic architecture, the spread of agricultural practices, and the use of polished stone tools. The term Neolithic is most frequently associated with agriculture. This was the era in which cereal cultivation and animal domestication was introduced. Because agriculture developed at different times in different regions of the world, there is no single date for the beginning of the Neolithic. In the Near East agriculture was developed around 9,000 BC. In Southeast Europe it developed around 7,000 BC. It developed even later in other regions. Even within a specific region agriculture often developed at different points in time. For example agriculture first developed in Southeast Europe about 7,000 BC, in Central Europe about 5,500 BC, and in Northern Europe about 4,000 BC. In East Asia the Neolithic period runs from about 6000 BC to 2000 BC. Pottery is another element that makes the dating of the Neolithic problematic. In some regions the appearance of pottery is considered a symbol of the Neolithic. However this definition renders the term Neolithic even more ambiguous. The use of pottery does not always occur after the introduction of agriculture. In Japan for instance pottery appears before agriculture. However in the Near East the development of agriculture pre-dates pottery production. All these factors make the starting point of the Neolithic somewhat fuzzy, and we must keep in mind these generalizations have their limitations. In order to reflect the deep impact that agriculture had over the human population an Australian archaeologist named Gordon Childe popularized the term “Neolithic Revolution” in the 1940s. However today scholars believe that the impact of agricultural innovation was exaggerated in the past. The development of Neolithic culture appears to have been a gradual rather than a sudden change. Moreover before agriculture was established archaeological evidence has shown that there is usually a period of semi-nomadic life. Pre-agricultural societies seem to have had a network of campsites and lived in different locations depending on seasonal influences. Sometimes one of these campsites might be adopted as a base camp. The group might spend the majority of time there during the year exploiting local resources. These resources would have included wild plants, a step toward agriculture. Agriculture and foraging are not totally incompatible ways of life. This means that a group could perform hunter-gatherer activities for part of the year and some small-scale farming during the rest. Rather than a “revolution” the archaeological record suggests that the adoption of agriculture is the result of small and gradual changes. Agriculture developed independently in several regions, however regardless of locale, the rapid spread of agricultural economies was a commonality. The spread of agriculture was accompanied by a corresponding reduction of hunting and gathering activities. The transition was so complete that today hunting economies only persist in marginal areas where farming is not possible. These areas include the frozen arctic regions, densely forested areas, or arid deserts. Major changes were introduced by agriculture. These included even the way human society was organized. These changes resulted in changes in how humankind used the earth. Those changes included forest clearance, root crops, and cereal cultivation. These were foodstuffs that could be stored for long periods of time. Additional developments included new technologies for farming and herding such as plows, irrigation systems, etc. More intensive agriculture translated into more food available for more people, more villages. This created momentum moving mankind toward a more complex social and political organization. As the population density of the villages increased they gradually evolved into towns and finally into cities. In adopting a sedentary way of life the Neolithic groups increased territorial awareness. During the 9600-6900 BC period in the Near East there were also innovations in arrow points. However the archaeological record reflects no significant changes in the hunting of game. However human skeletons have been found with arrowheads embedded in them. Some settlements such as Jericho were surrounded with a massive wall and ditch around this time. The archaeological evidence of this period is a testimony of inter-communal conflicts not far removed from outright organized warfare. During the period there were also additional innovations in stone tool production that became widespread and adopted by many groups in distant locations. This fact provides evidence of extensive networks of exchange and cultural interaction. Living in permanent settlements also brought new ways of social organization. The subsistence strategies of Neolithic communities became more efficient. This led to an increase in population of various settlements. Archaeological and anthropological works have demonstrated that the larger the group the less egalitarian and more hierarchical societies became. Those in the community who were involved in the management and allocation of food resources increased their social importance. Archaeological evidence has shown that during the early Neolithic houses did not have individual storage facilities. Storage and those activities linked to food preparation for storage were managed at village level. At the site of Jarf el Ahmar in north Syria, there is a large subterranean structure which was used as a communal storage facility. This construction is in a central location among the households and there is also evidence that several rituals were performed in it. Another site in northern Syria named Tell Abu Hureyra displays evidence for the transition from foraging to farming. The archaeological record demonstrates it was a gradual process which took several centuries. The first inhabitants of the site hunted gazelles, wild asses and wild cattle. Later there is evidence that gazelle consumption dropped. The amount of sheep consumption rose. Initially the sheep were wild sheep, but by the end of the period the sheep were domesticated. Sheepherding turned into the main source of meat and gazelle hunting became a minor activity. Human remains also show an increase of tooth wear of all adults. This reflects the preeminence and importance of ground cereal in the diet. Once pottery was introduced tooth wear rates decreased. However the frequency of bad teeth increased. This pattern suggests baked food made from stone-ground flour was largely replaced by dishes such as porridge and gruel, which were boiled in pots. Toward the end of the Neolithic era copper metallurgy is introduced. This marks a transition period to the Bronze Age, sometimes referred to as the Chalcolithic or Eneolithic Era. Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin. Bronze has greater hardness than copper, better casting properties, and a lower melting point. Bronze could be used for making weapons. This was not possible with copper which was not hard enough to endure combat conditions. In time bronze became the primary material for tools and weapons. With the advent of the Bronze Age, a goodly portion of stone technology became obsolete. This signaled the end of the Neolithic and the end of the Stone Age [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. The Ice Age: An ice age is a period in which the earth’s climate is colder than normal. Ice sheets cap the poles and glaciers dominate higher altitudes. Within an ice age there are varying pulses of colder and warmer climatic conditions. These periods are known as 'glacials' and 'interglacials'. Even within the warmer interglacials ice continues to cover at least one of the poles. In contrast outside an ice age temperatures are higher and more stable. There is far less ice all around. The earth has thus far made it through at least five significant ice ages. Our planet’s icy poles and frozen peaks make it clear that our current epoch (the Holocene dating to around 10,000BC to the present day) actually represents an interglacial within the ice age. The interglacial spans the Quaternary geological period. This started around 2.6 million years ago. It encompasses both the Pleistocene (about 2.6 million years ago through about 12,000 years ago) and the Holocene epochs. This entire period is characterized by cycles of ups and downs in ice sheet volumes and temperatures which can sometimes change as much as 15°C within a couple of decades. This rapidly overturning climate can have huge knock-on effects all around the world. Vegetation is altered and the types of animals that can survive in certain areas are redefined. It also helped shape human evolution too. It is because of its connection with our own story that this definition will largely focus on the Quaternary Ice Age. Specific focus will be on the more unfamiliar world of the Pleistocene, with its magnificent mammoths and long-toothed cats. These mammals existing alongside early human hunter-gatherers who were weaving their way through these volatile conditions. The Antarctic ice sheet first began to spread through the world’s oceans around 38 million years ago. The cooling oceans allowed for the earth’s temperature swings to become stronger and stronger. A major cooling-down step occurred around 2.6 million years ago at the start of the Quaternary. It was followed by additional cool-down steps around 1.8 million years ago, then around 900,000 years ago, and finally around 400,000 years ago. Each step was increasingly severe. This increasing strength is especially noticeable from around 900,000 years ago onwards. It was at that point that major glaciations became common features of the Quaternary ice age. Sweeping ice sheets covered higher altitudes across Eurasia and North America. From this time on mankind’s survival required coping with much more extreme conditions. During the cold swings temperatures could reach up to a terrifying 38°F colder than the present, although the global average temperatures was closer to 9°F colder than today. In general during Quaternary glaciations sea levels could be up to 400 feet meters lower than they are now. This was due to the massive amount of water locked up in frozen form. A lot more land was thus left uncovered for species to explore. Places such as the British Isles could suddenly be reached because the North Sea would turn into a land bridge between Europe and the British Isles during these times. Meanwhile while the earth’s northern reaches were covered by tundra, Africa became drier. The climate varied in strength, effect, and affected different areas in different ways. Glacial climates generally crept up quite gradually. They began with cooler and wetter conditions that eventually climaxed in a cold and dry phase. The ice sheets grew so thick that they would cling on for a while into the start of a warming trend, Then they would suddenly collapse. This would lead to a very sudden switch into an interglacial. Temperatures could then remain quite temperate for millennia. Sea levels would rise, and the high latitudes would become accessible. During the last 1.2 million years or so these cycles were generally around 100,000 years in length. For species to be able to adapt to these fickle conditions is not an easy task. This is especially true considering the speed at which things could change. The iconic mammal of the Pleistocene is without a doubt the woolly mammoth. The beasts were huge, towering, curved-tusked, shaggy-coated foragers related to elephants. They actually originated in Africa and during the Pleistocene set out on a trek towards the northern tundras. They were not the only species that flourished during this period. The appearance and expansion of the genus Equus was notable. The genus includes horses and zebra, bison, aurochs, hippopotamus, giant ground sloths, voles, and the deer family. The deer family included various oversized versions such as Megaloceros or Giant Deer, and the moose genus). The most beastly member of this genus was the second woolly powerhouse of the Ice Age, the woolly rhinoceros. All these magnificent mammals filled the prehistoric landscape. The predators wanting to feast on such diversity figuratively did not lag behind. Saber-toothed cats (which were generally not closely related to cats) munched away on prey throughout the Pleistocene. Lions ranged all the way from southern Africa to southern North America during the late Pleistocene. These included cave lions that lived all the way from Europe to western Canada. Caves were popular domiciles. Cave bears could be found throughout Europe and Asia up to the northeast of Siberia. Ditto for cave hyena. Such diversity is hard to imagine from our own point of view. This is especially true in our contemporary world. Ours is a world were humans have shaped the world to suit their own needs. And we have done so to such an extent that the habitats of many animals have already shrunk or disappeared completely. Indeed, a lot of the creatures named above have long since vanished from the face of the earth. In particular quite a number of the larger mammals collectively referred to as the Pleistocene megafauna seem to have dwindled in population and then died out towards the end of the Pleistocene in a massive extinction event. The last of the cave bears seem to have met their end somewhere between 28,500 and 30,500 years ago. This would have been around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum. This was during the most recent glacial in which the ice sheets reached peak growth between 19,000 and 26,500 years ago. In fact the northern reaches of Eurasia witnessed the extinction of over a third of the species weighing over 100 pounds from this point in time onward. Species such as cave lions and woolly rhinoceros clung on until about 14,000 years ago. The woolly rhinoceros by that point in time had already retreated far into northeastern Siberia as a final refuge. It’s like that this species had difficulty adapting to the late-glacial warming climate which affected the plants it normally ate. The iconic woolly mammoth actually survived into the Holocene, as did the Giant Deer (“Megaloceros”). Megaloceros was last known from the Urals in Siberia around 7700 years ago. The woolly mammoth was pushed back to a last stand at Wrangel Island in Arctic Siberia where it finally succumbed as a species about 3600 years ago. This is one species on which the impact of climate change can clearly be seen. After the Last Glacial Maximum ended, the warmer conditions seem to have had a severe impact on the mammoths’ climatic niche. Their numbers plummeted. We know that humans also hunted them quite successfully. Between the impact of the hunters and the challenging climate the mammoths were left quite vulnerable. These two adverse influences was arguably the culprit not only with respect to the Woolly Mammoth, but also when it came to the extinction of more Pleistocene favorites. These would include the Eurasian steppe bison and the wild horse. The particulars of the relationship between the influences on their extinction such as the relative impact of being hunted versus climactic influences are still subject of fierce debate. Regardless as to the degree of influence hunting versus climate may have had on their extinction however, most scholars would agree that to some extent, both likely played a role. As with the other fauna prehistoric humans were directly impacted by the unpredictable Quaternary climate. In fact it seems that our survival and development was actually shaped by the rapid shifts in conditions that came with the Ice Age. All of the significant events within our evolutionary history can be linked to periods of very high climatic variation. This includes even the appearance of different stone technologies. Humans thus had to be able to adapt not just to rainy forests but also arid grasslands. The ones who were good at this obviously did better than their more limited peers. Humans were forced to become ever more resourceful even to survive during these periods of climatic stress. Adaptability also means it became possible to move to entirely new areas. It was necessary to adapt to their specific quirks or hazards, and to take advantage of the opportunities. For instance about 870,000 years ago there was a marked drop in temperature which pushed large herbivores into southern Europe and opened up a corridor through the Po Valley. The evidence suggests that Homo heidelbergensis seems to have been keenly aware of these circumstances. Within Europe they learned to ebb and flow along with the growth and decline of the glaciers, and established some very advantageous areas in which to prosper. The climatic variations also opened up green corridors across the Sahara between roughly 110,000 to 120,000 years ago, and then again 45,000 to 50,000 years ago. Interestingly their appearance coincides with the main migrations of Homo sapiens out of sub-Saharan Africa. Lower sea levels consequently even left Australia within reasonable striking distance. Beringia (the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska) was turned into steppe land during the cold snaps, forming a passageway for humans into the Americas. Homo sapiens flourished in the Late Pleistocene and spread out far and wide. The Neanderthals were not so lucky. While Eurasia was cooling down on its way to the Last Glacial Maximum it seems their numbers grew smaller. Homo sapiens had penetrated into Neanderthal environs around 45,000 years ago. Whether due to climatic conditions, extinction of their prey, or competition with those Homo sapiens, a combination of these things or something else entirely, the Neanderthal species disappeared about 30,000 years ago. The fact is Neanderthals were added to the list of species who did not survive the most recent glacial that took hold of the world. This extinction could be attributable to any of the factors mentioned above, climate fluctuation, competition from Homo sapiens, or loss of prey. It could be the result of a combination of these factors, a subset of these factors, or to something entirely different and unknown to contemporary anthropologists and scholars. Crucially the fluctuations in temperature that come along with the glacials and interglacials are the result of natural processes. Those species which could adapt survived and perhaps even flourished. Those that could not perished and oftentimes faced extinction [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers: Hunter-gatherer societies are cultures in which human beings obtain their food by hunting, fishing, scavenging, and gathering wild plants and other edibles. There are still groups of hunter-gatherers in our modern world. However in the main the lifestyle was predominant in the prehistoric societies that existed prior to the transition to agriculture. That transition began around 12,000 years ago. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers often lived in groups of a few dozens of people, consisting of several family units. They developed tools to help them survive and were dependent on the abundance of food in the area. If those resources were not plentiful enough they would have to migrate elsewhere. According to the anthropological records, it is most probable that generally, the men hunted while the women foraged. The differences which existed between hunter-gatherer societies throughout time were so great that it is impossible to attribute a single, comprehensive set of characteristics. The earliest hunter-gatherers showed very different adaptations to their environment than did groups at later points in time closer to the transition to agriculture. The road towards increasing complexity is a difficult yet interesting one to trace. Yet it is what we consider to be the hallmark characteristic of ‘modernity’. Tools for instance became ever more developed and specialized. This resulted in a large variety of sizes and shapes that allowed hunter-gatherers to become better and better at exploiting their environment. To say anything meaningful about prehistoric hunter-gatherers and their way of life requires that we highlight their developments and adaptations throughout time. This will allow us to catch glimpses of how different people may have interacted with their environments in different ways. From a geological perspective the time during which hunter-gatherers roamed the earth encompassed the epoch spanning from roughly 2.6 million to 12,000 years ago. Based on the repeating cycles of glaciation (or Ice Ages) the period was known as the Pleistocene. From an archaeological perspective the stone cultures of the Paleolithic Age fall within the same timeframe as the Pleistocene. The Paleolithic is further subdivided into the Early or Lower Paleolithic, about 2.6 million years ago to 250,000 years ago. The Paleolithic starts with the first recognizable stone tools. The second subdivision is the Middle Paleolithic, about 250,000 years ago to 30,000 years ago. The last subdivision is the Late or Upper Paleolithic, about 40,000 or 50,000 years ago through about 10,000 years ago. The Late Paleolithic ended when the Ice Age ended and the primary form of subsistence began its transition from hunting/gathering to agriculture. The dates overlap in many instances as some cultures persisted for longer in certain areas (as in Stone Age technology). Conversely others cultures had already developed to the point where they match the characteristics of the next age. An interesting reflection lies in the fact that our contemporary world is seemingly so tech-savvy. It’s easy to take that for granted. It “feels” like the world has always been technologically industrialized. However the Paleolithic and its old Stone Age technology actually makes up about 99% of human technological history. Our genus of Homo first developed within the massive space that is Africa, and it is there that hunter-gatherers first appeared. There are a few hotspots where the land clearly provided lush living opportunities and where the remains of often several different groups of humans living there at various times have been found. Southern Africa sites such as Swartkrans Cave and Sterkfontein show more than one occupation. This is despite the fact that they are a lot younger than sites in eastern Africa. In eastern African sites in or near Ethiopia the earliest known stone tools made by humans have been found. Some of these tools have been dated to as far back as 2.6 million years ago. One of the oldest sites is Lake Turkana in Kenya. This locale was already home to our presumed ancestors the Australopithecines, to which the famous Lucy belongs. The locale in ancient history was a popular spot for a very long time indeed. From humans’ early start in Africa humankind spilled out across Eurasia and later the rest of the world. All this exploration across vastly different terrains was done while living off the land by hunting and gathering whatever nature had to offer. Whether flora or fauna the amount of food directly impacted the number of people an environment could feasibly support. If food was abundant resident groups of hunter-gatherers were more likely to stay in the same place. They would find ways to effectively store their food and protect their territory against competing groups. Alternatively if there was not enough food in a group’s immediate vicinity, it meant they had to move around and lead more nomadic lifestyles in order to sustain themselves. Perhaps the need to relocate doesn’t strike us as necessarily life-threatening. However imagine that the environment with both its terrain and its weather proved fatal to these early humans. There were not only killer droughts or life-threatening storms, freezes, and floods, there was a preponderance of animals that had bigger teeth and claws than they did. These animals did not fear man. Rather they considered mankind to be a menu option. Fortunately prehistoric societies were made up of groups or bands of a few dozens of people. These groups were usually from several families that helped each other survive mother nature. This enabled a vast geographical spread of early man. A huge continent such as Africa in itself already possesses all sorts of different landscapes. In general of course to some degree of sun and heat would have been inescapable. But once man spread beyond the African continent a whole new kind of adaptability would have been necessary. Early bands of Homo erectus were likely among the first to venture out into new worlds nearly 2 million years ago. Eventually they spread out all the way to Eurasia, China, and Indonesia by about 1.6 to 1.7 million years ago. There are a few finds even older comprising tools made by unknown species. These tools date to rough 2 to 2.6 million years ago. These contradictory finds help illustrate how complex the history of early human migration must have been. It’s possible the unknown species were earlier migrants who failed to find a foothold and perished – to be followed hundreds of thousands of years later by a wave of new immigrants. Europe was most likely not explored until much later. However the Mediterranean does show some tentative and uncertain signs of human activity predating a million years ago. However in general the major mountain ranges were not braved by daring migrants until around 700,000 years ago. Most scholars agree that they were composed of bands of traveling Homo heidelbergensis. Once they had crossed into Europe they flourished. Neanderthals later evolved from this population. Neanderthal man themselves expanded beyond their initial European homelands into both the Near East and parts of Central Asia. They expanded all the way up to the Altai region in Siberia. There remains of not only Neanderthal have been discovered, remains of Denisovans have also were also found. The Denisovans were a closed related “sister species” to Neanderthal. By the end of the Middle Paleolithic almost the entirety of the Old World had been reached by at least one group of humans. Insular Asia, Australia and the New World would also all be conquered by humans by the end of the Pleistocene. With the entire planet populated for one form of human or another, there was no environment to which we did not eventually learn to adapt. Genetic studies are doing their best to come closer to a coherent picture of just how quiet or busy the world must have generally been during the Pleistocene. None has emerged just yet. However a non-genetic estimate of a total global human population of around 500,000 individuals is in agreement with a lot of the recent genetic results. In general areas would not have been very densely populated. Mostly prehistoric hunter-gatherers would have used natural shelters as living space. Overhanging cliffs would have provided a place to nestle into to escape the wind and rain. Caves were highly popular as comfortable living spaces could be created within. Those spaces were typically near the entrance to stay in range of the daylight. However ancient habitation sites which were open and exposed to the elements have also been found. The living spaces of the earliest hunter-gatherers were basic and not clearly structured. Throughout the Middle Paleolithic however designated areas for certain activities slowly become apparent. This was especially evident toward the late Middle Paleolithic. As man harnessed the use of fire, the controlled and habitual use of which dates back to at least around 400,000 years ago. Hearths also began to appear within settlements. Some of these sites even show the beginnings of long-distance transport. Certain raw materials can only have ended at the site if they were transported from 100 or more kilometers (60 miles) away. The archaeological record demonstrates that Middle Paleolithic hunter-gatherers also relied almost entirely on natural shelters. The evidence for manmade shelters is still extremely rare. In the Late Paleolithic, humans became ever more inventive and organized. Manmade dwelling structures were now created to a much higher degree than before. They offered an alternative to the still very popular cave life. But of course caves were not available everywhere. Further more caves were ever so popular among cave bears and cave lions, competition not necessarily desirable for frail humans. Thus some societies built huts or tents with wooden supports, or even with mammoth bones forming the structure. These huts or tents were illuminated by the light of hearths and had clear architectural features that organized the spaces into designated areas. Materials and tools were much more commonly transported over long distances than they were in the Middle Paleolithic. However it is in the persistently useful caves that one of the greatest and stunning developments of the Upper Paleolithic is visible: brilliant cave paintings. The most prominent examples would include those at Chauvet Cave or the famous Lascaux Cave. Both cave complexes are in present-day France. Both provide some stunning examples of hunter-gatherer art. Often connected with symbolic thought, it is this that greatly sets these later hunter-gatherers apart. The creativity, imagination, symbolism and mysticism constitute a portion of the rationale as to why these men are generally considered to be full-fledged modern humans. All in all human technology developed. Humans became more versatile. Eventually they were able to master all kinds of challenging environments. These ranged from scorching deserts to dense forests and frigid tundra. The exact types of food hunter-gatherers consumed obviously varied. It was dependent upon the landscape and its resident flora and fauna. Some human groups might specialize in hunting the impressive prehistoric megafauna such as the Megaloceros or giant elk, woolly mammoths and woolly rhinoceros. Others might focus on trapping small game or on fishing. Although their name implies an active stance, hunter-gatherers most likely scavenged to some degree too. The earliest humans in Africa were still quite far removed from woolly mammoth-hunting. Not just because the time and geographical location do not match. They had no sophisticated hunting tools or strategies capable of bringing down quite such enormous prey at that time. But they did eat meat. However after these people had obtained their food they still had to process it. For grinding down tough plants or biting into non-butchered flesh either powerful teeth or tools that did that for them were needed. Though they possessed strong molars which would help grinding vegetable matter down, early humans in general went down the path towards smaller teeth. Already in species such as Homo rudolfensis the molars were not as large as their ancestors had been. Later species such as Homo habilis and Erectus continued this trend. Teeth size declined while at the same time brain size grew. They made up for their smaller teeth by developing a stone tool culture. This stone technology allowed them to more efficiently exploit their environment than ever before. As such these humans became more omnivorous. The transition allowed them to be more versatile and adaptable, by adding more meat to their previously pretty green diet. Plant remains do not stand the test of time as well as butchered animal bones do. So it is generally hard to determine exactly what our ancestors’ veggie habits were like. However a recent 2016 study gives us a rare glimpse into the plant diet of the people living at Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov, Israel, some 780,000 years ago. A stunning 55 kinds of food plants were found there that include seeds, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and roots or tubers. The diversity shows these people had a good knowledge of which edible things could be found in their environment, and in which season. The study indicates they enjoyed a varied plant diet. Besides the plant matter the diet of this particular hunter-gatherer society also included both meat and fish. Moreover fire was visibly used in food processing by this group. Cooking and the sustained use of fire seem not to have been widespread until around 400,000 to 500,000 years ago. At 780,000 years ago this group was well in front of the curve. Whether this site just housed a group of prodigies or whether more general conclusions can be drawn from this is hard to say. Did mankind start routinely using fire earlier than has generally been supposed? It must at the very least be viewed in its geographical and chronological framework. A bit further along the timescale Middle Paleolithic sites show more evidence of local traditions and variation being present. Humans were now well-established both inside and outside of Africa. They had spanned out far north as well as east. Population density increased, and that would have had an effect on the available food. Under the yoke of increased competition hunters came up with new tactics. They began picking targets across a wider range than before. However when they were available the prized large or medium-sized deer, horses, and bovids like bison and gazelle were definitely the top picks on the hunter-gatherer menu. ‘The bigger the animal, the better’ is a philosophy that definitely holds up when one is concerned with feeding a whole band of hungry humans leading active lives. For living that dream the time to be alive was the Late Pleistocene (about 10,000-120,000 years ago). This was particularly true in the main part of Eurasia and stretching all the way into eastern Siberia. There humans would have found an astonishingly high concentration of megafauna such as mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, Lena horse, and bison. The region is referred to by modern scholars as the ‘Mammoth complex’. Neanderthals surely took advantage of this opportunity. The archaeological record demonstrates that they consumed a fair amount of mammoth and rhino meat in addition to other meat from mammals such as bison, wild cattle, reindeer, deer, ibex and wild boar. However various legumes and grasses, fruits, seeds and nuts generally made up a substantial part of their diet. This would have been true for most hunter-gatherer societies throughout time. Perhaps in their earliest beginnings Neanderthal subsisted primary on meat. But the modern stereotype that Neanderthal were primarily meat-eaters has long since been overthrown by recent discoveries. Recently an interesting window into the past opened up at a site called Shubayqa 1 in northeastern Jordan. Archaeologists that were excavating a hearth lined with stones found fragments of an ancient unleavened type of bread there. The bread was baked by a human culture living at the site around 14,400 years ago. This was a staggering 4000 years before agriculture developed in this region. Even without cultivation the early humans knew how to harvest wild grains, process them, and produce bread from the ground grains. The categories used to classify ancient tools are only broad, rough indicators encompassing certain sets of characteristics. Tools had to be functional in their direct environment and were made with products coming from that environment. The tools used by hunter-gatherers to make their lifestyle possible had their humble beginnings in the Oldowan technology. The Oldowan lasted until about one million years ago. The oldest tools have so far traced back to around 2.6 million years ago. Simple stone cores were used as choppers, hammer stones, and retouched flake scrapers. They were used to both cut the meat off of animals or to get to the nutritious marrow inside the bones of those animals. Stone tools were also used to process plants and seeds. This technology was brought out of Africa towards Asia by early waves of Homo erectus migrants. In the meantime in Africa during the Acheulean (about 250,000 to 1.7 million years ago) stone technology had begun to evolve, the evolution of which came to Eurasia a bit later on. It saw the development of tools into large bifaces like hand axes, picks and cleavers. These enabled Homo erectus and later on Homo heidelbergensis to literally get a better grip on the processing of their kills. Wood of such age generally does not survive. However a site in Northern Europe suggests that wooden tools may well have been a part of the daily life of early hunter-gatherers too, presumably stretching all the way into the Middle Paleolithic. Homo heidelbergensis appeared around 700,000 years ago and were very widespread in Africa. Historically they have been viewed as descendants of Homo erectus, although this linear view is being increasingly challenged by contemporary scholars. Homo heidelbergensis seemingly spread into Europe as far as present-day England by around 500,000 years ago. Dated to at least 300,000 years ago a site in Schöningen, Germany a Heidelbergensis find astounded researchers. Eight carefully crafted wooden spears were found alongside flint tools and chips. These weapons represent the earliest historical indication for active hunting behavior. Interestingly the weapons targets were also present. The bones of numerous horses showing cut marks were found at the site too. The systematic hunting of large animals is a feat not to be taken lightly. It is quite difficult to envision hunters being successful in this endeavor without cooperating with one another to a significant degree. Indeed researchers suggest that Homo heidelbergensis was already capable of making quite sophisticated tools and hunting not only large but also dangerous animals. Anthropologists believe this indicates that they likely engaged in cooperative social activities. Tool use was by this point in time well established. The succeeding Middle Paleolithic period saw a fine-tuning of stone technology. This included retouched flake tools, such as scrapers, points, and backed knives. These more advanced stone tools were produced by early precursors to Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and the earliest anatomically modern humans. A huge proliferation then occurred in the Late Paleolithic. Bladed tools were created alongside bone, antler and ivory implements. Even such technological feats as spear throwers and bows and arrows began to appear. We’re discovering that all in all, around the world, as time went on more and more variability appeared in the stone industries. Remains which we are uncovering not only suggests increasing innovation over time, but also the presence of stronger regional material cultures. In addition to the development of tools another huge change that had an incredible effect on our species is the harnessing of fire. In short the use of fire meant our ancestors could huddle around it for protection as wild animals in general are not very keen on fire. Fire also provided warmth during cold weather. Last it allowed them to cook their food, which had an amazing list of advantages. Fire thus plays a central role in human survival and was a catalyst for the processes of becoming ‘human’ as we define it. The earliest evidence we have found so far for the use of hominin fire dates back to over a million years ago. Around Lake Turkana in Kenya fire evidence of the use of fire is indicated from around 1.8 million years ago onwards. Sites exhibit heat-reddened patches and stones altered by heat. However the early African sites show no certain signs of hearths. Indeed throughout this early Paleolithic stage traces of fire remain very rare in open African sites. Here fire use may have been more connected to taking advantage of natural fire sources such as forest fires or the after-effects of a particularly violent lightning strike. As opposed to actively creating and maintaining a fire, once the fire petered out it was gone. After its first beginnings it is hard to accurately trace the way in which the use of fire gradually developed throughout time. However by at least 400,000 years ago it is clear that the human bands roving around and setting themselves up in caves knew and used fire. This was true not just in Africa, but also the Middle East and Europe. Clear evidence of hearths have been found in Acheulean levels. These people were clearly skilled at maintaining and using fire. Over the next 100,000 years, the habitual and very deliberate use of fire becomes very apparent. This is true all the way from the Middle East and even to open sites in southern France. It thus became a central part of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Fire had important benefits. First it provided protection and warmth. This would have helped even the earliest, most basic fire users in their struggle to survive. A major advantage that came when the deliberate use of fire began to become more widespread is the ability to cook. Until around 500,000 years ago cooking seems to have been a rare sight within hunter-gatherers societies. However once they leaned how to cook, they enjoyed innumerable benefits. First cooking softens food, making it easier to chew and digest. This meant that hominids could develop smaller teeth and shorter digestive systems, and spend less time and energy digesting their food. The traditional hunter-gatherer diet is so difficult to ingest and digest in its raw form that cooking really represented a big change. In addition to the calorific benefits it also left these early humans’ brains free to grow to a larger size than previously possible. Large brains are more complex but also more expensive, requiring high-quality, calorie-dense foods, and lots of it. Of course having larger and more complex brains meant that humans could come up with better ways to maintain and use fire, as well as develop better hunting strategies. Thus the circular cycle continued and grew upon itself. Fire in general also had an impact on the social side of these hunter-gatherer groups. Fire, with the light it provided enabled hunter-gatherers to stay active even after sundown. This extended their days and left more time for social bonding, These activities were very important, especially in larger groups. Modern humans are awake for nearly twice as long as many of their primate cousins. This prehistoric lifestyle with groups sharing and organizing a living space and working towards keeping everyone alive clearly had some sort of beneficial social aspects to it. Research suggests that a kind of social network structure could well have appeared quite early on in human history. That the connections likely stretched not just to family members but also to non-kin as well. These sociable characteristics may have helped spark increasingly intensive cooperation. The hunters at Schöningen, Germany (described earlier) belonged to a group of Homo heidelbergensis. Likewise with comparable sites such as Boxgrove and Arago. These sociable, cooperative aspects were rewarded with great success. That success may have enabled them in cooperative hunts to secure large amounts of meat. If this was indeed the case they may have shared or exchanged food with other groups in their neighborhood. Perhaps these exchanges may have even occurred at established meeting places. Another huge benchmark was the use of language. The origin of language is much debated and very hard to place on a timeline. Undeniably it started as some sort of language-like systems somewhere among the earlier forms of humans. It evolved into a full-fledged language as we understand and use it today. It all developed somewhere in these hunter-gatherer societies. Besides the organization of life within a group the ability to communicate inevitably made a huge difference. It likely enabled early humans to discuss hunting strategies in detail. It would have allowed them to pinpoint and broadcast the location of a nearby predator. It may even have enabled a poetic description of a newly found nearby blueberry bush. The sheer amount of different Homo species that survived for tens of thousand, hundreds of thousands, even a million years or more should be an indicator of just how diverse hunter-gatherers were. Each species had different strengths and weaknesses. Each had societies which were structured differently, though with time almost all walked a path that eventually led to agriculture. The only exception are a very few primitive hunter-gatherer societies that persist to this day [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Stone Age Tools: The Stone Age covers around 99% of our human technological history. It would seem then that there would be a lot to discuss when looking at the development of tools in this period. Despite the handicap of having to rely entirely on the oftentimes scarce archaeological record, this is definitely the case. The Stone Age indicates the large swathe of time during which stone was widely used to make implements. To date the oldest stone tools have been dated to roughly 2.6 million years ago. The end of the Stone Age is delineated at the first use of bronze. Of course this did not come into play at the same time everywhere. The Near East was the first to enter the Bronze Age around 3,300 BC. It must be recognized that stone was by no means the only material used for tools throughout this period – wood, bone, and antlers were also used. However stone is not subject to decay to the same extent that organic material is. Thus stone tools survive much longer than the alternatives. This results in stone tools being over-represented in the archaeological record. The bite-size chunks that the Stone Age is arbitrarily divided into by contemporary scholars depend on technological development, not on chronological boundaries. Because these developments did not occur at the same time in all areas, strict date ranges are not uniformly applicable. This method has some difficulties of course. The characteristics defining each stone tool culture are determined by us. As with all such artificially constructed ways of classification, they oversimplify things and leave many grey areas. This is particularly true when it comes to transition periods for instance. Keeping this in mind it is still a useful way of adding some sort of structure to such a hugely long period of time. The Stone Age is divided by scholars into the Paleolithic (or Old or Early Stone Age); the Mesolithic (or Middle Stone Age); and the Neolithic (or New or Late Stone Age). The Paleolithic begins at the time of the first known stone tools, about 2.6 million years ago. The Paleolithic extends to the end of the last Ice Age around 12,000 years ago. It is further subdivided into first, the Early or Lower Paleolithic (about 2.6 million years ago through about 250,000 years ago). The second subdivision is the Middle Paleolithic (about 250,000 years ago through about 30,000 years ago). The final subdivision is the Late or Upper Paleolithic (about 40,000 or 50,000 years ago through about 10,000 years ago). Some of these cultures persisted into the time when the Northern Hemisphere began warming up again. Within these frameworks multiple stone cultures are identified. The Mesolithic saw humans adapt to the warmer climate. This occurred from around 12,000 BC through until the transition to agriculture. That transition happened at different times in different regions. The earliest transition to agriculture was around 9,000 BC in the Near East. Due to rapid developments in the Near East the region virtually skipped over the Mesolithic altogether). At the other extreme farming took until around 4,000 BC to spread all the way to Northern Europe. The Neolithic has no clear chronological starting point either. It is defined by the move to a more settled way of life based on farming and herding. The introduction of bronze marks the end of the Neolithic. This gradually happened in various areas from around 3,300 BC onward [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. The Paleolithic: The first Homo are known to have roamed the earth around 2.8 million years ago. Australopithecus afarensis, theorized to be our most distant ancestors, were thought to have produced marks on bovid bones at a site in Dikika, Ethiopia. A more critical evaluation of however has led researchers to reject the proposed interpretation of these finds,. The Dikika marks could also have been made by crocodile teeth or by trampling. This does not mean that humans were the only ones that can be conceived to have used tools. All of the hominins that were around at that early time may have used some sort of stone technology to a greater or lesser extent. Hominins are the group that consist of modern humans, extinct human species, and our immediate ancestors. These are species that are more closely related to modern humans than to anything else. This includes not only members of the genera Homo, but also of Australopithecus (to which the famous Lucy belongs), Paranthropus, and Ardipithecus. Many anthropologists argue that Homo was likely the more habitual tool user and maker. Its brain size grew very quickly over the first million years after the earliest tool use at 2.6 million years ago, and its teeth size declined. This could only have happened if there were tools to compensate for the smaller teeth. Some animals use some sort of tools to some limited extent. Chimpanzees for instance are known to use sticks to dig for termites. However the manufacturing process of early stone artifacts is unique to hominins. Despite the simplicity of early stone tools they still showcase a deliberate and controlled method of fracturing rock using percussive blows. This simple process demonstrates a definite behavioral innovation unique to hominins. The Early Paleolithic begins with the first evidence we have of stone (also known as “lithic”) technology. The latest evidence places the introduction of lithic technology to around 2.6 million years ago and stems from sites in Ethiopia. Two industries are recognized in this period, the Oldowan and the Acheulean. It lasts up to roughly 250,000 years ago, until the onset of the Middle Paleolithic. The Oldowan industry is named after Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. It comprises the earliest stone industry visible in our archaeological record. It is characterized by simple cores and flaked pieces. These are found alongside some battered artifacts like hammer stones, as well as the occasional animal bones showing cut marks. There is no clear end point to the Oldowan. It coexisted for some time with the later Acheulean industry, which began around 1.7 million years ago. However archaeologists usually define the end of the Oldowan as around 1 million years ago. Oldowan sites are found first and foremost in places like Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa. However they are later seen to spread towards the Near East and eastern Asia, probably carried there by Homo erectus. At these Oldowan sites simple technologies were used to turn materials such as volcanic lavas, quartz, and quartzite into tools. The techniques used are known as hard hammer percussion and the bipolar technique. A stone anvil serves as a base to rest the core on while it is hit with a stone hammer. By so doing cores were turned into choppers, heavy-duty scrapers and the similar stone tools. The techniques also yielded battered percussors like hammer stones and spheroids; flakes and fragments struck from rotated and manipulated cores; and retouched pieces such as scrapers and awls. It is clear these early humans were skilled and knew how to get the most out of a piece. Sites often show dozens of flaked cores accompanied by thousands of flake products. These indicate that many flakes were hammered from the same core piece. These early tools were most likely used to help these humans butcher animals. These might not be animals they actually hunted down. In the beginning they were likely scavenged animal carcasses. They tools would also have been useful to cut up plants and even do some woodworking. Researchers have done experiments that have shown that Oldowan flakes allow for a very successful butchering of carcasses ranging in size from small mammals to ones weighing hundreds of pounds. These sizes reflect the range of bones that are typically found at these sites. The nutritious marrow inside the bones and juicy brains inside strong skull cases could be retrieved by cracking them open with a hammer stone. Stone is pretty good at standing the test of time. This is why so many stone tools are found by archaeologists and anthropologists. However stone would not have been the only tool type these people used in their daily lives. It is likely that a whole range of material spanning from skin and bark were used to create containers. Wooden implements would have been used to create digging sticks, spears or clubs. Archaeological finds also establish that digging tools made out of horn or bone were also used. The Oldowan was still in full swing and had just about reached East Asia by the able hands of Homo erectus, when Africa became the initial host to a second tool industry. The Acheulean commenced about 1.7 million years ago, and lasted until about 250,000 years ago. Named after St. Acheul in France, the Acheulean spread far and wide across Eurasia shortly after its beginnings in Africa. The Acheulean witnessed the development of tools into new shapes. Large bifaces like hand axes, picks, cleavers and knives enabled the contemporary Homo erectus, to more efficiently process their kills and plant material gatherings. Later on these tools served the same purposed for Homo heidelbergensis. These bifaces were stone tools with two faces, a working surface on both sides. They represented a new innovation in stone tool making. They were made from large flakes that were struck from boulder cores or from larger cobbles and nodules. Tools were more extensively shaped than before. This is evidenced in the archaeological record by a large range of proficiently created retouched tools such as backed knives, awls and side scrapers. It is the hand axes and cleavers in particular that demonstrate the newly acquired talent for creating symmetrical objects from stone materials. These characteristics are an element that indicates a higher cognitive ability as well as motor skills than are visible in the Oldowan industry. More precisely shaped tools meant a more delicate technique was needed. Softer materials such as wood, bone, antler, ivory, or soft stones, were now used as percussors in what is known as the soft hammer technique. Flint became a popular material. By working flint and the already familiar lavas and quartzites this technique produced thinner flakes that were then refined. The Acheulean industry was successful and very widespread. It is found not only throughout Africa and Eurasia, but all the way to the Near East, the Indian subcontinent, as well as through Western Europe. In Western Europe some impressive Acheulean finds of sharpened wooden spears at Schöningen, Germany and Clacton in England were dated to no less than 300,000 years ago. These provide the earliest evidence of active hunting and tools specifically designed as hunting weaponry. They have been attributed to Homo heidelbergensis. Ice Age Europe would have presented some challenges in the shape of sometimes rather frigid weather conditions. This would have been especially true at certain higher latitudes. However usage patterns on Acheulean side scrapers suggest that they were used to scrape hides that could then be turned into simple clothing. It would not be surprising to find that the snuggie blankets currently the rage were actually developed hundreds of thousands of years ago. The shape of hand axes varies widely throughout time and geographic location. However certain Acheulean sites show recurrent shapes and sizes that make it seem as if their makers all had a subscription to the same tool making magazine. All the stone tools produced look as if they all stuck to very similar stylistic norms of production. The ‘Mousterian’ culture/technology succeeded the Acheulean. The name is derived from the site of Le Moustier in France. The Mousterian marks a shift away from the predominance of the hand axes and cleavers visible throughout the Acheulean. The Mousterian focus came to be on retouched forms made on flakes produced from carefully prepared cores. The production mechanism utilized to produce these stone tools came to be known as the Levallois technique. The same technique was also used to a small extent in the Early Paleolithic and Late Paleolithic. The use of this technique required careful preparation of the flint core by roughing it out first to give it a flattened face. Then it required designing a specific striking platform. By so doing toolmakers could control the shape of the flake that was to be struck off. From these flakes retouched forms such as side scrapers, points, denticulates, and sometimes blades were made. These forms are well-represented in the archaeological record. Both hard hammer and soft hammer techniques were employed to help the toolmakers achieve their desired shapes. Aside from stone implements the technology for making wooden spears that had its roots in the Acheulean continued into the Middle Paleolithic. This is witnessed at the site of Lehringen, Germany. There a spear with a fire-hardened tip has been found and connected to a mammoth carcass. Although rare, bone points are also found within this industry/culture. As well stone points have been found that have thinned bases. This suggests that they could have been hafted onto spear shafts. A discovery of the oldest known tar-hafted stone tools in Europe also falls within the general timeframe that corresponds with this industry. Along with the stone points discovered with thinned bases helps argue the case for the Middle Paleolithic development of composite tools. The use of tar as an adhesive for hafting arrowheads and other points is otherwise known from several European Mesolithic and Neolithic sites, much later points in time. All of these archaeological finds hint that these Middle Paleolithic humans may have been quite advanced. It has been argued that the steps and the forethought needed to successfully use the prepared core technique, for instance, would have demanded a considerable amount of skill from the maker. The beginning of hafting would seem to strengthen this notion. It is hard to say however whether this advance would have been mostly limited to the technological sphere. Or whether it can be taken to mean a more general advance in human capabilities? Does it imply advances in social and environmental intelligence? What is clear is that humans spread across the globe into ever more challenging environments. Most of the zones of Africa and Eurasia were conquered ranging from tropical and temperate to periglacial climates. The exceptions would include harsh deserts, the denser tropical forests, and the very northernmost or arctic tundras. The later reaches of this period overlaps the Late Paleolithic. By this time humans around 40,000 years ago had even reached faraway Australia. Australia was connected to Papua New Guinea by virtue of much lower sea levels at that point in time. Hominins within the timeframe of this industry are archaic homo sapiens, including Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens). There are areas in which the Middle Paleolithic continued to reign for some time still. However most hominins had since adopted the characteristics that push them into the Late Paleolithic. The Late Paleolithic began around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, and lasted until about 10,000 years ago. This generally accepted time frame demonstrates the typical dating muddle or ambiguity that results from this technological way of classification. The Late Paleolithic recedes together with the ice sheets of the last glaciation or Ice Age, after which the climate warmed up. It is best known from sites occupied by anatomically modern humans, and is generally associated with them. However the earlier portion of the Late Paleolithic also falls within the timeframe of the last populations of Neanderthals. Neanderthals disappeared from the fossil record by approximately 30,000 years ago. The Late Paleolithic saw a huge proliferation of Hominin tools. Blade tools made of stone were still created. However the emphasis shifted away from stone to tools made from materials such as bone, antler and ivory. Needles and points were made out of these non-lithic materials. These materials lent themselves excellently to these fine shapes. Furthermore their presence indicates that sewed garments must have been the norm from 20,000 years ago onward. Even such technological feats as spear throwers, shaft straighteners, harpoons, and bows and arrows began to appear. ‘ A spear thrower is basically a long shaft with a hook on its end to which an arrow could be fitted. The use of the thrower would increase both the distance and the speed of the projectile. Some of these were magnificently decorated with carvings, or were even carved into the actual shapes of animals. The Magdalenian culture of Western Europe provides some stunning examples of this ancient art form. Towards the end of the Late Paleolithic, arrows (and thus, by implication, bows) were in use. Such weapons were found at a site in Stellmoor, Germany. The fact that the points were for use with an arrow is implied by the small size of many of the points that were produced by this industry. These mechanical devices represent a great leap in the advance of hunting technologies and weaponry. The stone blade technologies are typical of the stone side of the industry. They show elongated flakes being produced by soft hammer or indirect percussion. This involved a percussor striking a punch that was placed on the edge of a blade core. The resulting blades could be made into a whole array of tool forms such as backed knives, burins and end scrapers. There was great diversity and regional variations in Late Paleolithic technologies. Some of them such as the Solutrean of Spain and France and the Clovis and Folsom ones of the New World had their focus on bifacial points. These points were likely to have been produced by a soft hammer technique or by pressure flaking. Other technologies such as African and some central and eastern Asian ones emphasized small blades known as bladelets and geometric microliths. Microliths were small flint blades or fractions of blades that were turned into composite tools and projectiles through hafting. Falling within the timeframe of both the Middle and Late Paleolithic modern humans managed to reach Australia by about 40,000 years ago. However it was not until relatively late into the Late Paleolithic that we see the first evidence of humans making it across the Bering Strait and into the Americas. This event occurred no less than 15,000 years ago. The most visible culture of that time frame in the Americas is the Clovis culture. The Clovis Culture is dated to about 13,500 years ago, and is noteworthy for its fluted spear points and is often connected with the remains of mammoths. Humans had by the end of the Late Paleolithic conquered all feasible continents and climates ranging all the way from tropical to desert and stone-cold arctic climates. Humans used this new range of tools to effectively exploit their environment and help them adapt to all of these different temperatures and climates. Humans adapted to new terrains and a wider range of climates throughout the Late Paleolithic. This was a good precursor to the kind of adaptability that was required when the last glaciation or Ice Age ended round about 12,000 years ago. The climate warmed up causing sea levels to rise. This flooded low-lying coastal areas creating for instance the English Channel. The Mediterranean broken into what we now call the “Black Sea”, which had hitherto before been a fresh water lake. More dense woodlands began to appear. The warm up also played a role in precipitating the gradual extinction of many giant prehistoric mammals. They were probably pushed into extinction primarily due to the evolving climate, but perhaps also due to human hunters. The extinction of these large mammals would have impacted the type of food sources that were available to human hunter-gatherers. The Mesolithic: The Mesolithic spanned from the end of the Ice Age to the transition to agriculture. The required that humans adapt to the changing environmental conditions as the Ice Age ended. That transition to agriculture occurred at different times in different parts of the globe. Agriculture did not reach Northern Europe until around 4,000 BC. In the Near East the Mesolithic rarely occurred at all as it was the first place where the leap to farming was made around 9,000 BC. This was almost immediately after the end of the Ice Ages and at the very beginning of the Mesolithic eras. In the Near East there was almost no transitionary period at all between the end of the Ice Age and the beginning of agriculture. Although it also occurs outside of this Mesolithic the archetypal tool of the era was the microlith. This was a small flint blade or fraction of a blade often only around 5 mm long and 4 mm thick. Striking a small core could produce the desired results. A second technique involved a larger blade which was notched and then a small portion snapped off. A by-product of this are tiny waste chips known as microburins. The technique was named after these tiny waste chips. Microliths could be used as weapon or arrow tips, or multiple microliths could be hafted together to create cutting edges on tools. In the Early Mesolithic these microliths seem to be highly standardized relative to the same sort of items from the Later Mesolithic. The microliths may suggest clues to the different ways these people could have hunted. The rich, imaginative decorations seen in the Late Paleolithic are largely absent from the Mesolithic. However the Mesolithic development of these microliths demonstrate the development towards a very sophisticated and versatile composite tool type. Furthermore the tool type was much more efficient when it comes to the amount of flint used than previous industries had been. The huge percentage of arrowheads present in Mesolithic assemblages suggests that the animal protein portion of the meals these hunter-gatherers ate were provided by the hands of skilled bowmen. The sorts of prey these arrows could take down ranged from small animals like birds and fish to larger game such as onager and gazelle. The latter could be brought down with chisel-ended arrows. Barbs could also be fixed to arrows. Experiments have shown that such barbed points were very effective indeed at causing wide, gaping wounds once the arrow tip had entered its target. The bigger the wound was the more damage it caused the target internally. The bigger the consequential blood loss, the sooner the animals went down. The sooner it went down, the less energy and time was expended chasing the wounded critter. These Mesolithic people’s weapons were very much capable of bringing down huge beasts. But because the number of huge beasts declined during this time alternatives had to be found. Indeed many beasts humankind formerly preyed upon went extinct. Fortunately for us these hunter-gatherers successfully adapted to a more varied diet. They used their arrows on many different animals. They also developed sophisticated fishing gear. This gear included the first known nets and hooks. Mattocks and axes were even used to clear unwanted trees. Both axe-crafted canoes and skis have been found for this period. Bone adzes proved useful digging sticks for uprooting tubers. Bone awls were used in both plant processing and for hide working. Scrapers were used for defleshing, thinning and softening hides. Such scrapers were evidently very popular in the Late Mesolithic as they are frequent archaeological finds. They are often unearthed alongside similarly used bone and antler tools. Strikingly it seems these people were able to get in touch with faraway societies in order to trade goods and tools. This is evidenced in widespread archeological finds of Mediterranean obsidian and in Polish chocolate-colored flint. The shift from a hunter-gathering culture to an agricultural based culture started between around 9,000 BC for the Near East and as late as around 4,000 before it had made it all the way to Northern Europe. With the coming of agriculture the lifestyles of the societies affected obviously changed drastically. This is the only part of the Stone Age in which the societies in question are no longer hunter-gatherers. The Neolithic still saw the use of stone tools. However the age ended with the beginnings of the use of bronze. This occurred first in the Near East around 3,300 BC. Despite this huge change to a more sedentary lifestyle it is clear that some Mesolithic traditions carried over far into the Neolithic. Examples are bone and antler technologies and the use of projectile points. Harvesting knives and sickles have been found in both the Paleolithic and the Mesolithic. They had utility even before farming. However they became much more widely used in this new context. Likewise stone-working techniques such as grinding and drilling had not been even as far back as the later Paleolithic. These stone-working efforts took on a whole new dimension in the Neolithic and were applied much more fervently than before. The biggest effect on technology seems to stem from the economic requirements of supporting a larger agricultural, village-based population as contrasted to smaller hunter-gatherer bands). Such a fully sedentary lifestyle based on agriculture and animal husbandry would have altered the desired characteristics of tools. There would be less of a need for tools to be light and easy so they could be lugged across the terrain. It has been postulated that there is a marked contrast in this regards between even the most sedentary hunter-gatherers and an agricultural culture. A good example of a piece of equipment that would have been slightly impractical to carry by manpower only is the loom. The loom facilitated textile production and is almost exclusively known from agriculturalists. It is conceivable that tools used within textile production were among the first ones that appeared in the early Neolithic. A Neolithic site in Syria shows implements such as drills and reamers that may have been used for joining pieces of wood together by using pegs and the likes. If this all pastoralism and agriculture seems rather peaceful so far, do not despair. Humans would not be humans if they did not also demonstrate a proclivity for violence. Axes are very visibly present in the Neolithic archaeological record. Whole hoards of flint axes have been excavated. However materials other than flint were also used. These tools fall within the category of ground stone tools. They were carefully polished and could be hafted onto wooden handles. Rather than imagining nothing but rampaging hordes of axe warriors, however, a lot of them would have been work axes. It’s much more likely they were used to fell trees rather than neighboring people. As time went on humankind’s tool-making skills evolved through the Bronze and Iron ages. Their skills grew from prehistory into history, all the way to today. Unfortunately the use (and killing potential) of weapons also grew exponentially [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. SHIPPING & RETURNS/REFUNDS: We always ship books domestically (within the USA) via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). Most international orders cost an additional $15.49 to $46.49 for an insured shipment in a heavily padded mailer. There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Our postage charges are as reasonable as USPS rates allow. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are fully insured against loss, and our shipping rates include the cost of this coverage (through,, the USPS, UPS, or Fed-Ex). International tracking is provided free by the USPS for certain countries, other countries are at additional cost. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked 30-day return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price; 1) less our original shipping/insurance costs, 2) less non-refundable PayPal/eBay payment processing fees. Please note that PayPal does NOT refund fees. Even if you “accidentally” purchase something and then cancel the purchase before it is shipped, PayPal will not refund their fees. So all refunds for any reason, without exception, do not include PayPal/eBay payment processing fees (typically between 3% and 5%) and shipping/insurance costs (if any). If you’re unhappy with PayPal and eBay’s “no fee refund” policy, and we are EXTREMELY unhappy, please voice your displeasure by contacting PayPal and/or eBay. We have no ability to influence, modify or waive PayPal or eBay policies. ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Europe and Central Asia several times a year. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient jewelry and gemstones. Prior to our retirement we traveled to Russia every year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from one of the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers, the area between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia. From all corners of Siberia, as well as from India, Ceylon, Burma and Siam, gemstones have for centuries gone to Yekaterinburg where they have been cut and incorporated into the fabulous jewelry for which the Czars and the royal families of Europe were famous for. My wife grew up and received a university education in the Southern Urals of Russia, just a few hours away from the mountains of Siberia, where alexandrite, diamond, emerald, sapphire, chrysoberyl, topaz, demantoid garnet, and many other rare and precious gemstones are produced. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, antique gemstones are commonly unmounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them centuries old. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or eBay message, so please feel free to write. Condition: LIKE NEW. Unread but "shop worn". See detailed condition description below., Format: Hardcover with dustjacket, Length: 320 pages, Dimensions: 9¾ x 6¾ x 1 inches, 1¼ pounds, Publisher: Free Press (1999)

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