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Paleolithic period

The Paleolithic, also called the Old Stone Age, is a period in human prehistory distinguished by
the original development of stone tools that covers c. 99% of human Technological Prehistory. It
extends from the earliest known use of stone tools by hominins c. 3.3 million years ago, to the end
of the Pleistocene c.

The Paleolithic Age is followed in Europe by the Mesolithic age, although the date of the transition
varies geographically by several thousand years. During the Paleolithic Age, hominins grouped
together in small societies such as bands , and subsisted by gathering plants and fishing, hunting
or scavenging wild animals. The Paleolithic Age is characterized by the use of knapped stone tools,
although at the time humans also used wood and bone tools. Other organic commodities were
adapted for use as tools, including leather and vegetable fibers; however, due to their rapid
decomposing nature, these have not been preserved to any great degree.

Lower Paleolithic Period


The Lower Paleolithic period, also known as the Early Stone Age, is currently believed to have
lasted from between about 2.7 million years ago to 200,000 years ago. It is the first
archaeological period in prehistory: that is to say, that period when the first evidence of what
scientists consider human behaviors have been found, including stone tool making and the
human use and control of fire.

The beginning of the Lower


Paleolithic is traditionally
marked when the first
known stone tool manufacture occurred, and so that date changes as we continue to find evidence
for tool-making behavior. Currently, the earliest stone tool tradition is called the Oldowan
tradition, and Oldowan tools have been found at sites in the Olduvai Gorge in Africa dated to 2.5-
1.5 million years ago. The earliest stone tools discovered so far are at Gona and Bouri in Ethiopia
and (a little later) Lokalalei in Kenya.

The Lower Paleolithic diet was based on the consumption of scavenged or (at least by the
Acheulean period of 1.4 million years ago) hunted large-sized (elephant, rhinoceros,
hippopotamus) and medium-sized (horse, cattle, deer) mammals.

The Rise of the Hominins


The behavioral changes seen during the Lower Paleolithic are ascribed to the evolution of the
hominin ancestors of human beings, including Australopithecus, and especially Homo erectus /
Homo ergaster.
Stone tools of the Paleolithic include Acheulean handaxes and cleavers; these suggest that most
humans of the earliest period were scavengers rather than hunters. Lower Paleolithic sites are also
characterized by the presence of extinct animal types dated to the Early or Middle Pleistocene.
Evidence seems to suggest that the controlled use of fire was figured out sometime during the LP.

Middle paleolithic period

The Middle Paleolithic period (ca 200,000 to 45,000 years agohalensis appeared and flourished
all over the world. Handaxes continued in use, but a new kind of stone tool kit was created--called
the Mousterian, it included purposefully prepared cores and specialized flake tools.

The living method in the Middle Paleolithic for both Homo sapiens and our Neanderthal cousins
included scavenging, but there is also clear evidence of hunting and gathering activities. Deliberate
human burials, with some evidence (if somewhat controversial) of ritual behavior, are found at a
handful of sites such as La Ferrassie and Shanidar Cave.

By 55,000 years ago, archaic humans were tending to their elderly, in evidence at sites such as La
Chapelle aux Saintes. Some evidence for cannibalism is also found in places such as Krapina
and Blombos Cave.
The Middle Paleolithic (or Middle Palaeolithic) is the second subdivision of the Paleolithic or
Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. The term Middle Stone Age is used
as an equivalent or a synonym for the Middle Paleolithic in African archeology. [1] The Middle
Paleolithic broadly spanned from 300,000 to 30,000 years ago. There are considerable dating
differences between regions. The Middle Paleolithic was succeeded by the Upper
Paleolithic subdivision which first began between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago.[1] Pettit and White
date the Early Middle Paleolithic in Great Britain to about 325,000 to 180,000 years ago
(late Marine Isotope Stage 9 to late Marine Isotope Stage 7), and the Late Middle Paleolithic as
about 60,000 to 35,000 years ago.

Upper
Paleolithic Period
The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic, Late Stone Age) is the third and last subdivision of
the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. Very broadly, it dates to between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago
(the beginning of the Holocene), according to some theories coinciding with the appearance of
behavioral modernity in early modern humans, until the advent of the Neolithic Revolution and
agriculture.

Anatomically modern humans (i.e. Homo sapiens) are believed to have emerged out of Africa
around 200,000 years ago, although these lifestyles changed very little from that of archaic humans
of the Middle Paleolithic,[1] until about 50,000 years ago, when there was a marked increase in
the diversity of artefacts. This period coincides with the expansion of modern humans from Africa
throughout Asia and Eurasia, which contributed to the extinction of the Neanderthals.

The Upper Paleolithic has the earliest known evidence of organized settlements, in the form of
campsites, some with storage pits. Artistic work blossomed, with cave painting, petroglyphs,
carvings and engravings on bone or ivory. The first evidence of human fishing is also found, from
artefacts in places such as Blombos cave in South Africa. More complex social groupings emerged,
supported by more varied and reliable food sources and specialized tool types. This probably
contributed to increasing group identification or ethnicity.
The peopling of Australia most likely took place before c. 60 ka. Europe was peopled after c. 45
ka. Anatomically modern humans are known to have expanded northward into Siberia as far as the
58th parallel by about 45 ka (Ust'-Ishim man). The Upper Paleolithic is divided by the Last Glacial
Maximum (LGM), during about 25 to 15 ka. The peopling of the Americas occurred during this
time, with East and Central Asia populations reaching the Bering land bridge after about 35 ka,
and expanding into the Americas by about 15 ka. In Western Eurasia, the Paleolithic eases into the
so-called Epipaleolithic or Mesolithic from the end of the LGM, beginning 15 ka. The Holocene
glacial retreat begins 11.7 ka (10th millennium BC), falling well into the Old World Epipaleolithic,
and marking the beginning of the earliest forms of farming in the Fertile Crescent.