What is the Prehistoric Age?
In general, human history can divide into two parts; the Prehistoric Age and Historical Age. “Prehistory” is a term used to describe the era before written records of human civilization, or the past. Humans reached several milestones during the Prehistoric Age such as the Cognitive Revolution and the Agricultural revolution. Hence Prehistoric Age is an important era in human evolution. The Prehistoric period can be divide into three; the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. This method was invented by Danish archaeologist Christian Jurgensen Thomson in 1806.
The Stone Age was the first era in which human evolution saw a significant change. The people of this era used tools made of stone, bones, and shells, which were mainly used for hunting and defense. The Stone Age can further divide into three parts.
- Paleolithic Age
- Mesolithic Age
- Neolithic Age
The first evidence of tool construction by early humans marks the beginning of the Paleolithic period. And it is believed to have occurred about 2.58 million years ago. Paleolithic Age people were hunters and gathers. They had primitive behaviors. Fish, fruits, and nuts were part of their diet. They were able to create simple stone weapons and used those for hunting, slaughtering, and defense. Paleolithic age men were nomads and were continually on the move. Their movements changed over time according to the availability of prey and food.
People of this era lived in small groups in the open air or caves. And there were between 20-30 members in such a group. They used the leaves, bark of trees, and the skins of slaughtered animals to create clothes. During the late Paleolithic period, humans started drawing and sculpting. They obtained Minerals or charcoal from the environment. Then those were mixed with water or blood and used to draw various symbols and images of animals. Moreover, the people of this age were accustomed to holding funeral rites. One of the rituals was the application of paint on the skeletons. These artistic activities reflect the Paleolithic Age man’s ability to think about ideas or concepts outside of everyday existence. And it can be considered as a big step in human evolution.
Similarly, Mesolithic life denotes a lifestyle based on hunting and gathering. However, their stone tools were more advanced than before. As a result, they created more composite devices such as harpoons, bow, and arrows.
People of this age were semi-nomads. Rather than moving regularly, they were used to migrate between temporary settlements. The distinctive feature of this era is the transformation from hunting to agriculture. Humans domesticated the first grains 30,000 years ago. Yet, it was not widespread due to the frosty climate that prevailed throughout the Paleolithic age. However, the last glacial period ended at the end of the Paleolithic Age. As a result, the climate of the Mesolithic Age was warmer and more fertile. This induced people to cultivate seeds of wild plants around their temporary settlements.
According to the general belief, the Neolithic Age began approximately 10,000 years ago. However, the point of transition is controversial as various parts of the world reached the Neolithic at different times. During that time, people gave up hunting and made agriculture their primary means of subsistence. Instead of migrating from place to place, the people of this age started to settle in one place. Subsequently, villages began to form. Cereals such as wheat, barley, and paddy were cultivated during this period and advanced stone tools such as hoes and plows were used for the cultivation.
Neolithic men domesticated animals (cattle, goats, and sheep) for agricultural purposes. Due to cultivation, people were able to settle in one place. And this gave them free time to attempt different craftsmanship. Consequently, people started to engage in various domestic industries. They were able to make pottery, crates, and watercraft. The climax of these innovations was the production of the wooden wheel. And they knew the way to spin and weave and made cloth from yarn and cotton. And also, they create small statues out of clay or wood. The language improved. They engaged in activities such as singing and dancing during the happiest moments of their lives.
Bronze Age and Iron Age
The Bronze Age was when bronze was widely used in the manufacture of tools and weapons. With evolution, man was able to extract metals from ore. The first metal to extracts was copper metal. According to the evidence, copper metal was discovered by people in Eastern Anatolia around 6500 BC. Gradually tools such as knives, axes, and hammers were made of copper metal. However, copper was a very soft metal, so the sharpness of the weapons was easily broken.
With the later discovery of tin, people created bronze by blending alloys of tin and copper. This discovery, which took place around 3000 BC, first spread in West Asia and later to other parts of the world. The use of metal led to the start of various industries and consequently to trade. With this, villages and towns gradually started to emerge and finally led to great civilizations.
Around 2000 BC, West Asians were able to extract iron from iron ore. The use of iron tools considers being a critical milestone in the progress of man. Iron ore can be found easily than copper and tin. Thus, for the first time in history, man was able to manufacture metal tools and weapons on a large scale. These tools are used widely in agriculture and warfare.