Stone Age

Conceptually, the Stone Age is considered to be the period that comprises the appearance of the first utensils produced by Man (700,000/600,000 BC) and the beginning of the Age of Metals. This very long period, which represents 98% of the time of Man’s existence on earth, for the purposes of a better understanding, is divided into two main periods: Paleolithic or Pedra Lascada and Neolithic or Pedra Polida. The Paleolithic period itself is subdivided into three parts, each part corresponding to a technological advance in working with stone.

Source: The museum Kulturama in Zürich, Switzerland. Tiia Monto , 2021

In the early period, findings in sites in Africa, China and Southeast Asia show that the Australoptecians were the first to develop the primitive technique for handling stones, followed by Homo erectus who developed the carving techniques for the production of axes. These axes were obtained from the impact of one stone on another in order to produce sharpened surfaces. This technique was later perfected by using wood and animal bones as stone carving tools in place of the stone itself.

Also in the Paleolithic period, in its middle period, homids already belonging to the same species as modern man, Homo sapiens, such as Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon, developed the technique of stone carving. This has made it possible to produce more elaborate artifacts such as scraping instruments, points, and cutting blades from small stone chips and knives made from flint chips.

In addition to warlike functions, these new instruments had the function of hunting animals and separating meat for food and skin and bones for the production of domestic artifacts and clothing now needed due to the fourth glaciation of the earth, which greatly lowered the ambient temperature. The appearance of artifacts such as needles, buris, shovels and hoes dates from this period, reinforcing the theory of the need for clothing as well as housing beyond the caves used until then. Stones became sources of raw materials for furniture and other pieces that represented superior status or mimicked human forms.

References:

Sahlins, Marshall, and David Graeber. Stone age economics. Routledge, 2017.

Deacon, H. J., & Deacon, J. (1999). Human beginnings in South Africa: uncovering the secrets of the Stone Age. New Africa Books.

Rudgley, Richard. The lost civilizations of the stone age. Simon and Schuster, 2000.

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