MemberJune 23, 2023 at 4:44 pm::
Stone Age :
The term “Stone Age” was coined in the late 19th century CE by the Danish scholar Christian J. Thomsen, who came up with a framework for the study of the human past, known as the “Three Age System”. The basis of this framework is technological: it revolves around the notion of three successive periods or ages: Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age, each age being technologically more complex than the one before it. Thomsen came up with this idea after noticing that the artefacts 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 artefacts in layers on top of the deepest layers, and finally iron-made artefacts were found closest to the surface. This suggested that metal technology developed later than stone-made tools.
This “Three Age System” has received some criticism. 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 and, although it has limitations, it can be helpful as long as we remember that it is a simplified framework.
Three stone age :
Paleolithic or Old Stone Age: from the first production of stone artefacts, about 2.5 million years ago, to the end of the last Ice Age, about 9,600 BCE. This is the longest Stone Age period.
The main types of evidence are fossilized human remains and stone tools, which 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 (2.5 million years ago) is called Oldowan, which are very simple choppers and flakes. About 1.7 million years ago, we find another type of lithic industry called Acheulean, producing more complex and symmetrical shapes with sharp edges. There are several other types of lithic industries until finally towards the end of the Paleolithic, about 40,000 years ago, we see a “revolution” of lithic industries where many different types coexisted and developed rapidly. Around this same time, we also have the first recorded expressions of the artistic life: personal ornaments, cave paintings, and mobilary art.
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, the last cold snap, which marks the end of Ice Age, about 9,600 BCE. The Mesolithic period ends when agriculture starts. This is the time of the late hunter-gatherers. 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 BCE, in Central Europe about 5,500 BCE, and Northern Europe about 4,000 BCE. All these factors make the chronological limits of the Mesolithic somehow fuzzy. Moreover, some regions do not have a Mesolithic period. An example is the Near East, where agriculture was developed around 9,000 BCE, right after the end of the Ice Age.
Neolithic or New Stone Age: begins with the introduction of farming, dating variously from c. 9,000 BCE in the Near East, c. 7,000 BCE in Southeast Europe, c. 6,000 BCE in East Asia, and even later in other regions. This is the time when cereal cultivation and animal domestication was introduced. Agriculture brought major changes in the way human society is organized and how it uses the earth, including forest clearance, root crops, and cereal cultivation that can be stored for long periods of time, along with the development of new technologies for farming and herding such as plows, irrigation systems, etc. More intensive agriculture implies more food available for more people, more villages, and a movement towards a more complex social and political organization. As the population density of the villages increase, they gradually evolve 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, sometimes referred to as Chalcolithic or Eneolithic era.