Prehistoric technology is technology that predates recorded history. History is the study of the past using written records. Anything prior to the first written accounts of history is prehistoric, including earlier technologies. About 2.5 million years before writing was developed, technology began with the earliest hominids who used stone tools, which they may have used to start fires, hunt, and bury their dead.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to prehistoric technology.
Old World 
Stone Age 
- Stone Age – broad prehistoric period during which stone was widely used in the manufacture of implements with a sharp edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The period lasted roughly 2.5 million years, from the time of early hominds to homo sapiens in the later Pleistocene era, and largely ended between 6000 and 2000 BCE with the advent of metalworking.
Lower Paleolithic 
Middle Paleolithic 
- Middle Paleolithic period – in Europe and the Near East during which the Neanderthals lived (c. 300,000–28,000 years ago). Their technology is mainly the Mousterian. The earliest evidence (Mungo Man) of settlement in Australia dates to around 40,000 years ago when modern humans likely crossed from Asia by island-hopping. The Bhimbetka rock shelters exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India, some of which are approximately 30,000 years old.
- Homo neanderthalensis
- Homo sapiens – the only living species in the Homo genus originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Greater mental capability and ability to walk erect provided freed hands for manipulating objects, which allowed for far greater use of tools.
- Art of the Middle Paleolithic –
- Burial – intentional burial, particularly with grave goods, may be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice since it may signify a "concern for the dead that transcends daily life." The earliest undisputed human burial so far dates back 130,000 years. Human skeletal remains stained with red ochre were discovered in the Skhul cave at Qafzeh, Israel with a variety of grave goods.
Upper Paleolithic Revolution 
- Upper Paleolithic Revolution – advancements in human intelligence and technology changed radically with the advent of Behavioral modernity between 60,000 and 30,000 years ago.
- Behavioral modernity – a set of traits that distinguish Homo sapiens from extinct hominid lineages. Homo sapiens reached full behavior modernity around 50,000 years ago due to a highly developed brain capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection, and problem solving.
- Tools – included Aurignacian tools, such as stone bladed tools, tools made of antlers, and tools made of bones.
- Clothing – evidence, such as possible sewing needles from around 40,000 years ago and dyed flax fibers dated 36,000 BP found in a prehistoric cave in the Republic of Georgia suggest that people were wearing clothes at this time. Human beings may have begun wearing clothing as far back as 190,000 years ago.
- Art of the Upper Paleolithic – included cave painting, sculpture such as the Venus figurines, carvings and engravings of bone and ivory, and musical instruments such as flutes. The most common subject matter was large animals that were hunted by the people of the time.
Mesolithic period 
- Mesolithic – the transitional period between the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers, beginning with the Holocene warm period around 11,660 BP and ending with the Neolithic introduction of farming, the date of which varied in each geographical region. Adaptation was required during this period due to climate changes that affected environment and the types of available food.
Neolithic Revolution 
Bronze Age 
- Bronze Age – characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons and of developing trade networks.
Iron Age 
- Iron Age – characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel, which coincided with other changes in society, including differing agricultural practices, religious beliefs and artistic styles.
- Tools – best tools and weapons were made from steel.
- Development of written language – generally agreed that true written language was invented independently in at least two places: Mesopotamia (specifically, ancient Sumer) 3200 BC and Mesoamerica 600 BC. Twelve Mesoamerican scripts are known of, the oldest from Zapotec Mexico. It is debated whether writing developed independently in Egypt 3200 BC and China 1300 BC, or whether the appearance of writing in either or both places was due to cultural diffusion.
The next period following the introduction of written language is the Middle Ages.
New World 
The New World, or American, periods began with the crossing of the Paleo-Indians, Athabaskan, Aleuts and Eskimos along the Bering Land Bridge onto the North American continent. In their book, Method and Theory in American Archaeology, Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips defined five cultural stages for the Americas, including the three prehistoric Lithic, Archaic and Formative stages. The historic stages are the Classic and Post-Classic stages.
- Archaic – was dated from 8,000 to 2,000 years before present. People were hunters of small game, such as deer, antelope and rabbits, and gatherers of wild plants, moving seasonally to hunting and gathering sites. Late in the Archaic period, about 200-500 A.D., corn was introduced into the diet and pottery-making became an occupation for storing and caring food.
Art / religion 
Types of tools 
Language / numbers 
See also 
- ^ Cassells, E. Steve. (1997). The Archaeology of Colorado, Revised Edition. Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books. pp. 6-14. ISBN 1-55566-193-9.
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- ^ Leakey, Richard (1981). The Making of Mankind. Dutton Adult. pp. 65-66. ISBN 0-525-15055-2.
- ^ Wilford, John Noble. (August 9, 2007). Fossils in Kenya Challenge Linear Evolution New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
- ^ Dalling, Robert. (2006). The Story of Us Humans, From Atoms to Today's Civilization. Lincoln: iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-391176.
- ^ Beck, Roger B.; Black, Linda; Krieger, Larry S.; Naylor, Phillip C.; Shabaka, Dahia Ibo. (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X.
- ^ Boehm, Christopher. (1999). Hierarchy in the forest: the evolution of egalitarian behavior. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 198. ISBN 0-674-39031-8.
- ^ New discovery suggests Homo erectus originated from Asia Daily News & Analysis. June 8, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- ^ Moore, Matthew. (July 8, 2010). "Norfolk earliest known settlement in northern Europe." London: The Daily Telegraph Retrieved July 8, 2010.
- ^ Ghosh, Pallab. (July 7, 2010). "Humans' early arrival in Britain." BBC Retrieved July 8, 2010.
- ^ Rightmire, G. P. (1998). "Human Evolution in the Middle Pleistocene: The Role of Homo heidelbergensis." Evolutionary Anthropology. 6(6):218–227. doi 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6505(1998)6:6<218::AID-EVAN4>3.0.CO;2-6.
- ^ Fire out of Africa: a key to the migration of prehistoric man. The Hebrew Museum of Jerusalem. October 27, 2008. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- ^ The Mystery of the Pit of Bones, Atapuerca, Spain: Species Homo heidelbergensis. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
- ^ Skinner, A.; Blackwell, B.; Long, R.; Seronie-Vivien, M.R.; Tillier, A.-M.; Blickstein, J. (March 28, 2007). "New ESR dates for a new bone-bearing layer at Pradayrol, Lot, France". Paleoanthropology Society.
- ^ Scarre, Chris. (2009). The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies. (2nd edition). Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-28781-3.
- ^ "Evolving in their graves: early burials hold clues to human origins - research of burial rituals of Neanderthals." Findarticles.com December 15, 2001. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- ^ a b Sternberg, Robert J.; Kaufman, Scott Barry. (editors). (2011). The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence. Cambridge University Press. p. 335. ISBN 978-0-521-51806-2.
- ^ Lieberman, Philip. (1991). Uniquely Human. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 162. ISBN 0-674-92183-6.
- ^ Lieberman, Philip Uniquely Human. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 163. ISBN 0-674-92183-6.
- ^ Mellars, Paul (2006). "Why did modern human populations disperse from Africa ca. 60,000 years ago? A new model." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103(25):9381-9386. doi:10.1073/pnas.0510792103 PMID 16772383. PMC 1480416. Bibcode 2006PNAS..103.9381M.
- ^ Mellars, Paul. (September/October 2006). "Archeology and the Dispersal of Modern Humans in Europe: Deconstructing the Aurignacian." Evolutionary Anthropology. 15(2006):167–182.
- ^ Travis, John. "The Naked Truth? Lice hint at a recent origin of clothing." Retrieved April 15, 2007.
- ^ Balter M. (2009). Clothes Make the (Hu) Man. Science. 325(5946):1329. doi:10.1126/science.325_1329a PMID 19745126
- ^ Kvavadze E, Bar-Yosef O, Belfer-Cohen A, Boaretto E,Jakeli N, Matskevich Z, Meshveliani T. (2009). "Supporting Online Material 30,000-Year-Old Wild Flax Fibers." Science. 325(5946):1359. doi:10.1126/science.1175404 PMID 19745144.
- ^ Travis, John. (August 23, 2003)."The naked truth? Lice hint at a recent origin of clothing." Science News. 164(8):118.
- ^ Ian Shaw, Robert Jameson. (2002). A Dictionary of Archaeology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. pp. 394, 396. ISBN 0-631-17423-0.
- ^ Dawn of Ancient Warfare. Ancient Military History. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- ^ Comstock, P. (1992). Ancient European Bows, The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 2. The Lyons Press. pp. 87-88. ISBN 1-58574-086-1.
- ^ a b Gupta, Anil.(October 2010). "Origin of agriculture and domestication of plants and animals linked to early Holocene climate amelioration". Current Science. 87(1).
- ^ a b c d Ian Shaw, Robert Jameson. (2002). A Dictionary of Archaeology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. pp. 422-423. ISBN 0-631-17423-0.
- ^ Ian Shaw, Robert Jameson. (2002). A Dictionary of Archaeology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. pp. 72, 390, 422-423, 466. ISBN 0-631-17423-0.
- ^ "CSA – Discovery Guides, A Brief History of Copper." CSA.com. Retrieved September 12, 2008.
- ^ Hesse, Rayner, W. (2007). Jewelrymaking through History: an Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 56. ISBN 0-313-33507-9.
- ^ Schmandt-Besserat, Denise. (1997). How Writing Came About. University of Texas Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-292-77704-3.
- ^ Ian Shaw, Robert Jameson. (2002). A Dictionary of Archaeology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. p. 125. ISBN 0-631-17423-0.
- ^ Spoerl, Joseph S. A Brief History of Iron and Steel Production.. Saint Anselm College. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- ^ Cassells, E. Steve. (1997). The Archaeology of Colorado, Revised Edition. Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books. p. 13. ISBN 1-55566-193-9.
- ^ Willey, Gordon R. (1989). Glyn Edmund Daniel and Christopher Chippindale (eds.). The Pastmasters: Eleven Modern Pioneers of Archaeology. New York: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05051-1. OCLC 19750309.
- ^ a b c d Cassells, E. Steve. (1997). The Archaeology of Colorado. (revised edition). Boulder: Johnson Books. p. 9. ISBN 9781-55566-193-9.
- ^ "Atlas of the Human Journey-The Genographic Project." National Geographic Society. 1996-2008.
- ^ Viegas, Jennifer. "First Americans Endured 20,000-Year Layover." Discovery News.
- ^ Bhanoo, Sindya N. (October 20, 2011). "Big-Game Hunt Adds to Evidence of Early North American Settlement." New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- ^ Kipfer, Barbara Ann. (2000). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology. New York:Plenum Publisher. p. 341. ISBN 0-306-46158-7.
Further reading 
- Fagan, Brian; Shermer, Michael; Wrangham, Richard. (2010). Science & Humanity: From Past to the Future. Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
- Karlin, C.; Julien, M. Prehistoric technology: a cognitive science? University of Washington.
- Klein, Richard. (2009). The Human Career: Human Biological and Cultural Origins, Third Edition.
- Palmer, Douglas. (1999). Atlas of the Prehistoric World. Discovery Channel Books.
- Schick, Kathy Diane. (1994). Making Silent Stones Speak: Human Evolution and the Dawn of Technology.
- Tudge, Colin. (1997). The Time Before History: 5 Million Years of Human Impact. Touchstone.
- Wescott, David. (2001). Primitive Technology:A Book of Earth Skills.
- Wescott, David. (2001). Primitive Technology II: Ancestral Skill - From the Society of Primitive Technology.
- Wrangham, Richard. (2010). Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition.
- Zimmer, Carl. (2007). Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins. Harper Perennial.
External links 
- Ancient human occupation of Britain
- Department of Prehistory of Europe, British Museum
- Index of Ancient Sites and Monuments, Ancient Wisdom
- Online Exhibits, University of California Museum of Paleontology
- Prehistoric Science and Technology, Ancient Wisdom
- Prehistoric Technology, Ancient Arts
- Prehistoric Technology, Access Science
- Prehistoric Technology, Royal Alberta Museum, Canada
- Prehistory for Kids
- Show me: Prehistory, Interactive, educational site
- Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History
- Timeline: 2,500,000 BCE to 8,000 BCE, Jeremy Norman
- Quinson's Museum of Prehistory, France