Stone Age

The Stone Age is the world’s earliest epoch of human history and the dominant tradition of stone tools in. She started – according to current knowledge – the oldest found tools before about 2.6 million years ago in Africa, where it is as Early Stone Age . designated [1] As a concept the Stone Age in 1836 was by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen with the three periodic system introduced of the prehistory of Denmark under priority materials for tools, weapons and ornaments in stone, bronze and iron age was divided. At the end of the Stone Age is – regional variations – with the advent of the material copper an era of Chalcolithic inserted. Only with the Early Bronze Age , the Stone Age is being replaced in some regions of the world, in central Europe at about 2200 BC

The Stone Age in Europe is divided into the Palaeolithic , Mesolithic and Neolithic . For Sub-Saharan Africa has its own terminology ( Early , Middle and Later Stone Age ), the European content division and chronologically corresponds only in part.


The Paleolithic comprises the largest part of human history. The Early Stone Age in Africa began about 2.6 million years ago. The altpleistozäne Dmanisi archaeological site in Georgia is about 1.8 million years before the first wave of emigration from Africa. In Europe, the earliest evidence of hominids about 1.1 million years old (are Sierra de Atapuerca , Spain), in Central Europe about 600,000 years ago with the lower jaw of Mauer . The Paleolithic ended with the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene, about 12,000 years ago.
Lower Palaeolithic
Chopping Tool (Hack Tool)
Acheulian hand ax from the

By definition begins with the Stone Age to the first use of tools from the stone material by humans. Tools can be defined so that the base material has been changed in any way, for the purpose of use. Accordingly, devices rubble of the Oldowan , which by a few haircuts were sharp edges, the first documented tools of mankind. Whether these changes were initially brought into existence by chance or deliberately, will probably never be completely clarified. But at least recognized the benefits of early man and probably soon the traditional tools and their production methods. The oldest remains of the Lower Palaeolithic are found in Africa ( Ethiopia ) and are about 2.6 million years old, the oldest European finds come from the Dmanisi fossils from Georgia , which were dated to about 1.8 million years. With certainty were early representatives of the genus Homo ( Homo habilis , Homo erectus ) to producers, some of the earliest evidence comes also from Paranthropus robustus , a species from the shape of the circle Australopithecina . For thousands of years little changed on inventory.

About 600,000 years ago, is where the tool further culture, the Acheulian with his hand ax – Industries started again first in Africa. Even in this age changed a long time nothing that can be found Acheulian to about 100,000 years ago.

For the first time in the Lower Palaeolithic is fire used – an important prerequisite to colonize even colder regions and food for the digestion to make the people to digest. [2]
Middle Palaeolithic

The Acheulian hand axes of about 130,000 to 120,000 years ago changed, were asymmetrical (called hand ax blade ). We speak now of the Middle Palaeolithic and its first stage, the Micoquian , simultaneously developed a completely new type of tool machining: deductions from the core stone were produced, which were smaller and lighter, and could be more flexible ( Mousterian with Levallois ). In general, the Middle Palaeolithic is the Neanderthal associated, however, were found in about 90,000 in the Middle East and anatomically modern humans. The people were still hunter-gatherers , especially big game was hunted, composite weapons (wood and stone, connected by an adhesive made ​​of birch pitch ) and fire were known. First art ( Venus of Berekhat Ram ) [3] emerged, people buried their dead ( Shanidar , Teshik-Tash ), and gave them probably already grave goods with the tombs, which implies an idea of life after death. Wood, bone and antler tools were probably used intensively, of which almost nothing has survived.
Upper Palaeolithic

The beginning of the Upper Paleolithic is today recognized around 40,000 years before our time. For the first time one can determine regional differences in development – it might also gave previously, lack of fund inventory but are not detectable. Long, narrow blades and knives appear in the Aurignacian of Central, Western and Southern Europe, the carrier is now the modern man. Early cave paintings from the Aurignacian is younger is in France. The earliest example of an elaborate funeral was in Sungir (Russia) discovered with some 30,000 year old bones of a man and two children. Even devices from organic matter have now been handed far more often.

In France and northern Spain one finds the same Châtelperronian (until about 34,000 years), which in addition to the inventory items as the Upper Paleolithic Aurignacian (until about 28,000 years ago) also have a significant tradition of Levallois from the Middle has. Many researchers see the difference between the two cultures and the difference between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens in its earlier form as Cro-Magnon man . In Central and Eastern Europe can be simultaneously the cultures of Bohunicien and Szeletian differ. From about 28,000 to 21,000 years ago there is the Gravettian , fertility symbols or possibly representations of goddesses such as the Venus of Willendorf suggest religious beliefs.

In France, Spain and Portugal, the spread Solutrean of about 22,000 to 16,500 BC, through the blades and blade surface retouched and notched tips distinguished. Petroglyphs, carved bone and figures can be found as well. In the Magdalenian , the final section of the Upper Palaeolithic, the last Ice Age is coming to an end. Typical blade options are with the first signs of the Mesolithic widespread Mikrolithisierung . The most famous cave paintings ( Lascaux ) are from the Magdalenian, as an increasing number of small, movable works of art. Remains of tent structures were found, as well as lamps with wicks, improved hunting weapons and jewelry that was already widely traded. The best preserved Fund in Germany from this period are the 14,000 year old skeletons and cultural goods from the double grave of Oberkassel .
Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age

With the end of the Ice Age and the beginning of reforestation (from about 9600 BC) of the Holocene in central Europe begins the Mesolithic period . With the extinction of the Pleistocene fauna big game hunting new techniques were needed to hunt that is now spreading to the forest animals of the forest. This is reflected not least in the emergence of small arrowheads, called microliths from. Early Northern European culture was the Maglemosian culture , a different culture was known in the late phase, for example, the Ertebolle culture. The Central European Mesolithic period ended with the start of the Linear Pottery Culture, which is spread from 6000 BC in Pannonia in the next 2000 years to northern Europe.

Similar transitional periods will start in different parts of the world at very different times. Thus one finds in the Levant only a very short transition period to about 6000 BC, which also does not Mesolithic but Epipalaeolithic called.
Neolithic or New Stone Age
Pottery vessels from central Germany, in the existence of the pre-and early history collection of the University of Jena, the Friedrich Klopfleisch used in 1882 to define the Linear Pottery Culture

The beginning of the Neolithic period is now over the transition from appropriating the manufacturing economy ( Neolithic Revolution defined), so the start of farming and agriculture. This transition was made ​​at very different times, starting in Mesopotamia around 11,000 BC, in Central Europe around 5500 BC Some of those living in remote areas are still technically in the Neolithic period.

Uniformly to define regional and temporal cultural spaces can now be far more likely to determine from the archaeological finds, as is the case in previous eras.

In Central Europe the Neolithic period begins with the Pottery between about 5600 and 4900 BC On German soil following the Rössen culture , further east, the Stroked Pottery . In South Eastern Europe and in the Danubian area formed from the early Neolithic new independent cultures (eg, the Lengyel Culture and the Baden culture , to the late Neolithic cultures of Vinca in the Serbian-Romanian space and Tisza in Hungary).

The first trials of metalworking occurred in the 8th Millennium BC, initially limited to sterling precious metals like gold, silver and copper, and on the development of jewelery. For tools or weapons were without these soft metals alloys unsuitable.

Known finds of well-preserved Neolithic people include the Kennewick Man and Iceman .
Transition to Metal Age

At the end of the Stone Age, the transition began to use a fundamentally different material of the metal . New, better features enabled previously unknown potential uses, but also required a more complex operation and technology and a working distance trade in order to get the coveted material that was not available anywhere. This transition phase is Copper Age , also Chalcolithikum or Eneolithic called. It ends with the beginning of the Bronze Age .

Many tools and weapons were not made with the best materials, some of them with the new material, but in the best form, but relatively quickly emerged first new forms. Basic metalworking techniques such as metal castings were developed. By casting the first mass production similar looking tools was possible.

Also first techniques were prospecting and mining of copper ores in open pits ( mining development). Through the development of the smelting of copper could be defused quickly emerging bottleneck in native copper. This technique was later used for the extraction of tin , zinc and lead used and laid the technological foundation for the later Bronze Age. A first detectable hierarchy took place upper classes began to form that controlled the mining and smelting of metal and were buried after her death, with many valuable grave goods.

Settlements in Central Europe were tend to be smaller, but more secured. They were mainly hills. Especially in the Mediterranean region, the development of copper technology led to increased foreign trade. Ötzi beside otherwise Neolithic period baggage also already a copper ax was carrying.
Temporal boundaries

The temporal separation of the various eras and stages of the Stone Age is difficult. This is mainly due to the provenance, which is dependent on the geological conditions, the subsequent use or redevelopment of the site, and more. The stage boundaries and transitions also differ in different regions. Some division occurs only in certain areas. Parallelization with certain types of people is often not possible. Despite these difficulties, here the attempt of a chronological table and a detailed overview:

People of the Stone Age

As the first member of Hominini , used the tools apply Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis , but were also Paranthropus robustus from the shape of the circle Australopithecina attributed tool finds. Of them following Homo erectus has been used tools and fire, who discovered only in 2003, diminutive Homo floresiensis , the before about 17,000 years ago on the Indonesian island of Flores lived was possibly a direct ancestor of Homo erectus. All these species of the genus Homo are attributable to the Lower Palaeolithic and its rubble and hand ax cultures. Projections assume that at this time on earth only a few tens of thousands of individuals existed.

As a human type of Mittelpaläolithikums par by many researchers in Europe approximately 200,000 years ago of Homo erectus / Homo heidelbergensis emerged Neanderthals viewed. At the same time, there were already in Africa, the transitions from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens (that of modern humans, cf Archaic Homo sapiens ).

The first modern humans in Europe were then – 35,000 years ago – the Cro-Magnons . At the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic living Neanderthals and modern humans several thousand still side by side, some researchers see in the cultures of the Aurignacian ( Homo sapiens ) and the roughly contemporary Châtelperronian (Neanderthal) a possible distinction in the material culture, although this is disputed. About 30,000 years ago the Neanderthals died out, leaving the Earth solely to modern man, the support of other cultures.
Material Culture of the Stone Age

Food source for the hunter-gatherers long time was all that could be found in the immediate vicinity of the natural man: plants, fruits, seeds, roots, mushrooms, as well as honey, eggs, meats, fish and shellfish. Milk and milk products were before the domestication of grazing animals nor available as of cultivated varieties of fruit, vegetables and cereals, which later became the main sources of food.

The people lived in small clans that moved around with their hunting prey in the changing seasons. Modern research has shown that the Stone Age people about two-thirds of their energy from animal food-related and only one-third of plant sources.

At the end of the last ice age that walked Faunenbild complete: The far as hunting preferred large, cold-loving animals ( mammoths , woolly rhinoceros ) died out and smaller, nimble mammals migrated from warmer zones. Already in the Mesolithic, the first of these animals were kept at the now stationary becoming dwellings. Plant food took a little by a growing importance because of the improved climate could find more such food.

One of the greatest inventions of man, and a huge turning point put the Neolithic Revolution is – the deliberate and controlled growing of food ( agriculture ) and the livestock . This allowed the only truly lasting settlement support, the trend of increasing food stockpiling of surplus or the specific and far-reaching trade and thus not least a population explosion because more people could be fed. For the individuals had by this development, the food situation in the average, however, deteriorated more (lower protein content, famine through crop failure), as evidenced among other things by a decrease in body size compared to the hunter-gatherers. [4] Such developments which explores paleopathology . It also shows that the population is now living proof of a number of previously unknown infectious diseases was attacked. Agriculture has also enabled greater social differentiation because not all the adult population was engaged in the production of food. [4]

Another consequence was the spread of man in previously uninhabited areas, as the remaining population of hunter-gatherers was forced into less favorable areas. [4]
Archeon , Netherlands: Reconstruction of a house from the Neolithic period
Reconstructed palisade of Cahokia , the main center of the Mississippian culture

In areas where the geological conditions caves and rock shelters are found, these have been used since ancient times as a shelter. Otherwise, for the Lower Palaeolithic were previously only artificial stone circles found, which can be interpreted as remnants of dwellings. It was probably already two million years ago branches or small trunks secured by stones and formed a short time occupied accommodation. The oldest lodge in Europe is about 600,000 years old and was in Přezletice found (in Prague). The cabins at Terra Amata in Nice in southern France have an age of about 400,000 years ago, in the Bilzingsleben . approximately 370,000 years

In the Middle Palaeolithic finds huts of mammoth hunters of bones and tusks , probably in conjunction with poles and skins, with fireplaces inside. In the Grotte du Lazaret in France cabin floor plan is approximately 35 square meters, has two fireplaces and filed as an accommodation for ten people.

In the Upper Paleolithic dive hut pits ( living pits on). They range from deep pits dug into the ground to almost ground level cottages. They usually contain hearths and arrayed post holes that indicate a fixed superstructure. It is believed that the huts had tent-like hut or tent-like shapes.

During the Neolithic period, with the first peasant cultures around 10,500 BC, there was also solid, permanent settlement houses. Depending on the region they are made of clay, stone or wood. Mud houses are known from the East as far as Hungary, stone buildings for over 10,000 years in the Orient, with walls made of wooden planks or wattle lehmverschmiertem in the wooded areas. In Central Europe, the post structure is the usual construction.

But no dwellings and graves or places of worship which are particularly in Western Europe to be found Megaliths and Dolmens .
Arts and culture
Newspaper Rock in Utah

Petroglyphs are carved on the stone base material pictorial or graphic representations. An important cultural and religious significance for the societies adopted. Find the illustrations on every continent. The meaning is not clear. Known references are found for example in Death Valley National Park , the Canyonlands National Park , Uluru (formerly “Ayers Rock”), etc. An exact dating is often difficult to generally assigns to the petroglyphs, but the Neolithic and the Metal Ages .

Not carved but painted with color are rock paintings or cave paintings . The artistic designs were mostly due to the weather only in caves and mainly reflects the religious beliefs of their producers. The colors were mainly ocher , charcoal and various rocks and ores used, juices and water as a binder, gum. Many paintings show already perspective drawings, the rock surface was included in the construction of the representation with, wiping and spraying were already using. Known localities are also found here the world, such as nearly 15,000 petroglyphs in the high plateau of Tassili n’Ajjer in Algeria , the Uluru in Australia, the famous Lascaux caves in France, or the cave of Altamira in Spain. About the C-14 method can be the oldest such art (via the analysis of the colors used and the binder) traced back to the Aurignacian, that tens of thousands of years before present.
Venus of Willendorf

First three-dimensional sculptures were mostly female figures with strongly emphasized sexual characteristics like large breasts and broad pelvis ( Venusfigurinen ) or hunting animals. They were made ​​of stone and clay, but also easily perishable materials such as wood or bone as the oldest representation of a human, the Venus of Hohle Fels , on the Swabian Alb was found. Here are some details in the female statuettes not or almost not running, such as faces, arms and legs. For the theory that it is these figurines to fertility goddesses and evidence of a matriarchy is no longer represented in science today. One can assume that the average normal stone age woman was not in a position to accept such outreaching forms.

The found animal figures, however often have an astonishing naturalism, they were often depicted as in flight entertainment or the moment of the deadly strike. Here the researchers interpret the figures as objects for invocation of hunting success.

One of the most famous sculptures is the Upper Paleolithic in Austria today and found about eleven inches high Venus of Willendorf . In addition there are engraved bone, but their interpretation is not usually possible. Representations of men are found far less often, which is probably due not only to the preservation conditions.

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