The Paleolithic and Neolithic Periods

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In the 1820’s, in order to address the prehistory of mankind more clearly, it was thought necessary to divide it into time periods, thus a ‘three-age’ system of the (1) Stone Age, (2) Bronze Age and (3) Iron Age was adopted. While this system is still more-or-less in common use today, refinements were inevitable and the Stone Age, so immensely long, was later subdivided into three major periods as follows:

Paleolithic (c 2,000,000 – c 10,000 B.C.) (Old Stone Age)

The Paleolithic time period is by far the longest, beginning some (circa) two million years ago to coincide with the first evidence of toolmaking and ending around 10,000 B.C. to coincide with the end of the last ice age (Pleistocene epoch). Later, as notable advancements in stone toolmaking capabilities were recognized and identified pertaining to the Paleolithic, it was also subdivided thusly:

• Lower Paleolithic (two million – 100,000 B.C.)
• Middle Paleolithic (100,000 – 30,000 B.C.)
• Upper Paleolithic (30,000 – 10,000 B.C.)
Mesolithic (c 10,000 – c 5,500 B.C.) (Middle Stone Age)

This relatively short Mesolithic time period, sometimes called the Epipaleolithic Era in areas where glaciers did not exist, was set-up to cover the period from the last ice age until the introduction of farming considered to have occurred sometime around 5,500 B.C. However, that particular date just represents widespread farming; it apparently was already taking place a few (or several) thousand years earlier in the Middle East. Farming began at different times between the various cultures but was generally more pronounced between continents. From a broad point-of-view, that is, if uniformly applied worldwide, the Mesolithic could overlap the next one (Neolithic) by a few (or several) thousand years. In other words, in one part of the world it could still be Mesolithic (no farming) yet having already advanced to Neolithic (farming) in another. Because of this, its application became regionalized....
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