Outline of prehistoric technology

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Acheulean hand axes from Kent. The types shown are (clockwise from top) cordate, ficron and ovate. It was the longest-used tool of human history.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to prehistoric technology.

Prehistoric technologytechnology that predates recorded history. History is the study of the past using written records; it is also the record itself. Anything prior to the first written accounts of history is prehistoric (meaning "before history"), 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, cut food, and bury their dead.

Nature of prehistoric technology[edit]

Prehistoric technology can be described as:

  • Prehistoric – "before we had written records," from the Latin word for "before," præ. Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history, that is, before the invention of writing systems.
  • Technology – making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function.

Old World prehistoric technology[edit]

  • Three-age system – in archaeology and physical anthropology, the periodization of human prehistory into three consecutive time periods, each named after the main material used in its respective tool-making technologies: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.
  • Beginning of prehistoric technology – the earliest technology began (2.5 million years) before recorded history, that is, at the beginning of the Stone Age.
  • Latest prehistoric technology – the level of technology reached before true writing was introduced differed by region (and usually included proto-writing)...
    • Latest prehistoric technology in the Near East – cultures in the Near East achieved the development of writing first, during their Bronze Age.
    • Latest prehistoric technology in the rest of the Old World: Europe, India, and China reached Iron Age technological development before the introduction of writing there.

Stone Age technology in the Old World[edit]

  • Stone Age – broad prehistoric period, lasting roughly 2.5 million years, during which stone was widely used in the manufacture of implements with a sharp edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The period began with hominids and ended between 6000 and 2000 BCE with the advent of metalworking.

Paleolithic technology[edit]

  • Paleolithic – prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered (Grahame Clark's Modes I and II), and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory.
Lower Paleolithic technology[edit]
Middle Paleolithic technology[edit]
Upper Paleolithic Revolution[edit]

Mesolithic technology[edit]

  • 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[edit]

Prehistoric Bronze Age technology in the Old World[edit]

Prehistoric Iron Age technology in the Old World[edit]

  • Iron Age – 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.

End of prehistory and the beginning of history[edit]

Transition from proto-writing to true writing[edit]

  • General developmental stages leading from proto-writing to true writing:
    • Picture writing system: glyphs directly represent objects and ideas or objective and ideational situations. In connection with this the following substages may be distinguished:
      1. The mnemonic: glyphs primarily a reminder;
      2. The pictographic (pictography): glyphs represent directly an object or an objective situation such as (A) chronological, (B) notices, (C) communications, (D) totems, titles, and names, (E) religious, (F) customs, (G) historical, and (H) biographical;
      3. The ideographic (ideography): glyphs represent directly an idea or an ideational situation.
    • Transitional system: glyphs refer not only to the object or idea which it represents but to its name as well.
    • Phonetic system: glyphs refer to sounds or spoken symbols irrespective of their meanings. This resolves itself into the following substages:
      1. The verbal: glyph (logogram) represents a whole word;
      2. The syllabic: glyph represent a syllable;
      3. The alphabetic: glyph represent an elementary sound.

Prehistoric technology of the Americas[edit]

The New World, or American, periods began with the crossing of the Paleo-Indians, Athabaskan, Aleuts, Inuit, and Yupik peoples along the Bering Land Bridge onto the North American continent.[36] 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.[37][38]

Lithic technology[edit]

Archaic period technology[edit]

  • Archaic – was dated from 8,000 to 2,000 years before present.[38] 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 CE, corn was introduced into the diet and pottery-making became an occupation for storing and caring food.[43]

Formative stage technology[edit]

Prehistoric technologies by type[edit]

Primitive skills[edit]

Prehistoric art[edit]

Domestication of animals[edit]

Language / numbers[edit]

Prehistoric fishing[edit]

Prehistoric hunting[edit]

Prehistoric mining[edit]

Prehistoric medicine[edit]

Prehistoric tools[edit]

Prehistoric clothing[edit]

Stone Age tools[edit]

Prehistoric weapons[edit]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

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  12. ^ 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.
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  19. ^ 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.
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  21. ^ Travis, John. "The Naked Truth? Lice hint at a recent origin of clothing." Retrieved April 15, 2007.
  22. ^ Balter M. (2009). Clothes Make the (Hu) Man. Science. 325(5946):1329. doi:10.1126/science.325_1329a PMID 19745126
  23. ^ 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.
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  32. ^ Hesse, Rayner, W. (2007). Jewelrymaking through History: an Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 56. ISBN 0-313-33507-9.
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  34. ^ Haarmann, Harald: "Geschichte der Schrift", C.H. Beck, 2002, ISBN 3-406-47998-7, p. 20
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  37. ^ 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.
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Further reading[edit]

  • 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[edit]