Talk:Prehistory

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Article merged: See old talk-page here

Gobekli Tepe[edit]

Why don't you wikipedia foools mention the Gobekli Tepe? If its not worthy enough to be put on this page and cross linked or whatever... then what are you waiting for? Its an extremely significant subject for anyone interested in prehistory anything. I'm drunk. -NJFiend — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.0.101.158 (talk) 06:39, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

Jade age[edit]

i read somewhere some people talking about a 'jade age'. is that stone age?

I don't belive so. i could see humans of the past using jade as a form of primative currency.

See http://english.people.com.cn/200402/25/eng20040225_135852.shtml for details. -Josiah Henderson

Prehistory?[edit]

This seems like a very strange definition to me -- is the statement "the dinosaurs were prehistoric animals" false?

No, it's valid, makes sense, and is an accepted term. Although it's strictly limited to the period before we have written sources, not before we learned to write (we could have written in sand for millions of years - but it's in our prehistory...). The period after is called "recorded history".


definition modified to try to explain the usage.

Can anybody improve the "surviving records" bit, i.e., explain why a cave painting is not a surviving record?

IMHO it pretty much boils down to "pre-writing" = "prehistoric", "post-writing" = "posthistoric"

A cave painting is a human record, but it's not human language. It's possible that for its makers, it symbolized something beyond simple visual depiction, the way a crucifixion or a patriotic emblem does for us; but it isn't a symbolically encoded communication. It's an artifact, not a written record.

We can incorporate a cave painting into histories we make. We cannot know whether the painting's makers intended its meanings to be read historically; and even if we were to posit such a reading of it, we could not know the histories they constructed around it. Those hypothetical meanings (if they existed) are lost to us in the depths of time. All that comes down to us is the object itself. It is pre-historic.

This all spins on a definition of writing, as opposed to pictographs or other extra-somatic containers of meaning (yep, that's a term, since the 1930's for the entire category of intentional symbolic representation, which arguably goes back to some tally marks on red ochre in Swaziland circa 120,000BP). Perhaps by adding a link to (and improving the article on) writing, we could get a benchmark for this article, which as it stands wavers all over the place as to what prehistory is or might be, and then settles down to what it actually is (the study of human activity pre-writing).Levalley (talk) 20:19, 10 April 2009 (UTC)


A primary division of History (uppercase H) and prehistory or a history (lowercase h) is the division that occurs between those events that can be precicely dated to a current calander and those that can't. For instance; we can know the precice date of the Moon landing, 20 July 1969, or the assasination of Caesar 15 March 44 BC. But we can't know the precice date of the death of Socrates or the crucifixtion of Jesus. Although those events were written histories (lowercase h) they were histories either dated to a calander which has no continuity to our current calander, in the case of Socrates, or were not written in calander dated material at all in the case of Jesus.

This is important in scientific History (uppercase H) as the precice relation of events to other events is important in understanding the context in which events occurred. An oft cited problem case is regarding which King Herod was in power at the time of Jesus' crucifixtion. While the reigns of both Herods are History (uppercase H) because they are dated with continuity to our calander the crucifixtion of Jesus, while happening at the same time and in the same area and culture, is a prehistoric event because there is no dated document referring to Jesus from that time. There are many problems with the Historicity (uppercase H) of Jesus precicely because he is a prehistoric figure. If there were a single mention of Jesus written in a document dated woth continuity to the current calander then Jesus' activities could be placed into a Historic context including such seemingly mundane, but occasionaly significant, events such as the documents of sales reciepts and shipping manefests. The movements of people such as Pilate could be related and it coult be determined if Pilate was in Judea at the time. If he wasn't that part of the history (lowercase h) of Jesus could be dismissed. All histories (lowercase h) which can't be dated to the current calander even if they are dated to their own calander, carbon 14 dating or some other means, are prehistory.

98.164.95.98 (talk) 17:46, 13 July 2011 (UTC)

Removed[edit]

The sheer scale of prehistory is surprising. From three to 150 human civilizations equal in duration to our own could have been lost in this period.

since surprising is just a POV, while 3-150 human civilizations is meaningless speculation 195.149.37.57 16:05 Feb 22, 2003 (UTC)

Uhh, more to the point, the estimate is probably low. Prehistory consists of all time before written histories exist for any given location.


I removed the external link to an obscure Delphi forum that has 10 visitors in 3 days. The posts there are mostly URL links to pseudoanthropological theories. --Menchi 08:12 24 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Sentence[edit]

The following sentence is too long and doesn't make much sense to me. This could be divided into two or more sentences.

"If however, human prehistory is defined, as presumably it should be, as the pre-literate history of Homo sapiens sapiens then at least the matter can be resolved in principle, and the recent pace of progress in understanding the evolution of Homo sapiens suggests the answer will not be long in coming."

Homo erectus?[edit]

why homo erectus as beginning of prehistory?? --Yak 20:38, Feb 25, 2004 (UTC)

Recorded history might have began in 1900 A.D.? I don't think so...[edit]

I edited the part of the article which deals with the question of when recorded history began, which originally read as follows:

"The date marking the end of prehistory is also disputed. In Egypt it is generally accepted that prehistory ended around 3500 BC whereas in New Guinea the end of the prehistoric era is set much more recently, 1900 AD."

This is misleading and frankly, absurd, not to mention just plain WRONG. What is a reasonable person to make of such a statement - that all of the recorded history from the time of the pharaohs through the Spanish-American War is in dispute? C'est absurd. I can only presume that this was intended as a politically correct nod to the indigenous peoples of New Guinea and their myths at the expense of the truth.

It now reads: "While the date marking the end of prehistory is disputed, it is generally accepted that prehistory ended around 3500 BC in Egypt."

WikipediaEditor 21:07, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

Read it again. It means that prehistory ended and history began at different times in different places. Reverting adamsan 21:50, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

Re-removed. Pre-history refers to the time before historical records were kept. It ended when human beings started to keep records of events. The end of prehistory is thus dated to the oldest known credible records. This does not change from region to region, though perhaps knowledge of the oldest known records might. In any event, if the people of New Guinea think recorded history began in 1900 A.D., they are simply WRONG. If a previously unknown tribe were to emerge tomorrow with credible records from 25,000 years ago, the 'non-New Guinean' world would similarly have been proven wrong and be obliged to revise their date of the end of pre-history. The end of prehistory - the beginning of the documentation of historical events - was a real event in real time and a major milestone in the development of our species, not some culturally determined 'belief' that varies from region to region. WikipediaEditor 04:51, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

So a culture that had no links with Ancient Egypt and was tens of thousands of miles away magically entered the historical period when some scribe beside the Nile wrote something down? Neolithic Europe, Iron Age South Africa and Archaic North America and are all historical societies by your reasoning even though they had no written history. By all means we can name the first society to enter the historical era but the end of prehistory is not a single date across the globe- just a series of single transitions for each culture. It is a fact that the Highlands of PNG have no history before the nineteenth century. Try telling someone who studies the Bronze Age that he isn't a prehistorian. It is not a question recorded history being invented somewhere or other but when a people adopts it. No historical or archaeological terms are globally applicable; societies like Amazonian tribes are still in the Neolithic. adamsan 07:06, 8 September 2005 (UTC)
With all due respect, you seem to be confused about the generally accepted meaning of the term 'prehistory'. It simply refers to the time before any humans anywhere are known to have kept records of events.It doesn't change from region to region as people take to recording events. Note also that the term 'prehistory' has no necessary connection to technology. Suppose, for example, that evidence of a high tech society - with airplanes and Internet and predating Egypt - were found tomorrow. Despite their technological achievements, such a society would remain correctly described as prehistoric if they kept no historical records. The fact that in New Guinea, local history was not recorded until 1900 AD simply means that we have no written records of events in New Guinea prior to 1900 AD. Societies that did not keep records of events during and after the time of the Pharaohs (eg. North Amercian Indians of 2000 years ago) are nevertheless correctly described as living within the timeframe of recorded history, even though their history was not recorded. I hope this clarifies the concept of prehistory for you.WikipediaEditor 22:18, 9 September 2005 (UTC)
Hello Wikipedia Editor. I must first apologise for reverting your contributions yesterday without noticing your post above first and am sorry about that. However, I am unable to find any references to say, North American Indians from 2000 years ago living in the historical period. Here] for example is a course description from a US university defining US prehistory as ending at the time of European contact not 3500 BC. You will find that academics who study the period since then and the arrival of historical records in their own regions will describe themselves as prehistorians. Here we see the Prehistory Department of the University of Hawaii studying the builders of the stone heads at Easter Island which was a society that existed around the same time as the European Middle Ages. And here is an Australian university teaching a course in European prehistory that covers the millennia following the development of writing by our Egyptian friends.
You are quite right that any society, no matter how technologically advanced is prehistoric if it has no historical records, but this does not alter the point that prehistory does not have a single defined ending. If anything it supports this view as it would show that cultural development varied considerably around the world.
The précis of the three age system article has little place in this wider piece on prehistory as it really cannot be applied in most of the world and most of the time period covered. I do hope that you will not revert my other edits to the article in future even if we disagree on the definition of the term. I look forward to your response but in the meantime will be asking some of the other Archaeological Wikipedians to comment on this important article. adamsan 11:30, 11 September 2005 (UTC)
WikipediaEditor, adamsan is right. Prehistory varies between different parts of the world. As far as Scandinavia is concerned, the Historic era begins during the Viking Age. Everything prior to this is Prehistory in spite of the fact that there are some historic accounts of Scandinavia prior to the Viking Age.--Wiglaf 11:42, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Adamsan and Wiglaf here, athough I think Wikipedia Editor has misunderstood the point. According to the disputed version of the article, events in New Guinea before about 1900 AD went unrecorded in writing, meaning the recorded history of New Guinea starts about 1900, and any events in New Guinea before then are prehistoric. It doesn't mean that any events anywhere in the world before 1900 are prehistoric to a New Guinean. History and prehistory are defined by the existence of writing, and writing arrived in different parts of the world at different times. In the same way, the Irish Iron Age didn't happen at the same time as, say, the Mesopotamian Iron Age as iron arrived in different parts of the world at different times. --Nicknack009 16:37, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with what you say, except for the writing part. Scandinavia was literate with the runic script for 600-800 years before it left prehistory. An area only enters history, when there is a consistent and conscious history writing in the area.--Wiglaf 16:53, 11 September 2005 (UTC)
Not to to prolong an old argument, but all the Norse scholars I know, including me, do not consider the runic period to be prehistoric. Prehistoric in the literature is always used to refer to the pre-Runic period ending after about 400 AD.DHBoggs 00:48, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

I understand the concept of prehistory argued originally by Adamsan and subsequently defended by Nicknack and Wiglaf, and agree that it's important to know when the practice of recording historical events began in particular regions of the world. Nevertheless, the article is flawed if it fails to acknowledge the sense of the term as the date of the oldest known historical records. I don't have a problem with the notion of regional prehistory so long as the important question of what the oldest known historical records are is also addressed. I suggest a re-edit that would include both the global and regional sense of the term (eg. 'World prehistory' as well as 'New Guinean prehistory' and 'Scandinavian prehistory' etc.).

WikipediaEditor 17:23, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

Bullets?[edit]

Why is this article a series of bullet points? This doesn't seem to be in line with the rest of Wikipedia. Threepounds 06:22, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Details of period[edit]

I reverted the additions "from other articles" -- its not clear if that is a fork of other articles or what or where it came from. There should be one place where this information is kept, linked to with "Main articles" - not replicated verbatum across multiple articles. Also it is not clear that this is the primary article for the history of the period - or is this a historiography article about the term. I'm leaning towards a historiography article as I think the term is somewhat deprecated in modern scholarly discourse. -- Stbalbach 14:20, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Merge with Prehistoric man[edit]

It looks like this was started in much the same way as that article and they underwent some divergent evolutionTrilobitealive 05:44, 7 January 2007 (UTC) This is displaying oddly as well. The other one normalized when I made a comment. What is happening?Trilobitealive 23:20, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Fixed it - that always happens when you start a line with a space. --Nicknack009 00:09, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
As to the proposed merge, on a cursory look at both articles you're probably right. --Nicknack009 00:10, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Unless somebody comes up with a compelling reason why not to do so I'm contemplating the merger in a week or so.Trilobitealive 23:36, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

While prehistoric man lived in prehistory. It should be noted that prehistory is a time period and therefor should not be dependant on man. It's like referring to the Jurassic period as the time when dinosaurs lived.--72.66.102.89 (UTC) 20:12 Apr 26 2007

Sumir Sharma 04:37, 7 October 2007 (UTC) Kindly note that there are some concepts and terms in history, which are inseparable part of learning the trade of a historian. The term "Prehistory" belongs to that genre. You may consult any history student, teacher and researcher, you will come to know that this term exists on its own merit in the realm of learning history.

In support of my argument, I may not refer to some established authorities but I direct the attention to the definition as taken in the main article. It is stated that "is a term often used to describe the period before written history" which shows that it was some field of knowledge about which we do not have "written records". However that does not mean that there is no record as such for that period for which we do not have the written record. To substantiate my argument, I suggest that to look at the sources of Indus Valley civilization. There, we have written records but they are yet to be deciphered and read. Therefore, there are no written records as such for Indus Valley Civilization. Now that does not mean that Indus Valley Civilization should be merged with Prehistoric man when it was contemporary of Mesopotamian and Sumatra Culture. Sandros for cotton has been derived from the Mesopotamian sources only to prove that there was civilized trade relations between those culture.

In short, Prehistory is a concept. It is an established term and concept in the field of research and methodology of history. No doubt, it is related to prehistoric man also but here another concept, Proto History comes in which is not covered on Wikipedia for present.

I must suggest the very idea of merging it with Prehistoric man should be dropped. Now, Prehistoric man and Prehistory, both are concepts, a type of tools, in the realm of historic research and methodology. THIS SHOULD NOT' BE MERGED. It is a notable history field subject; an article by itself is needed. J. D. Redding 16:25, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

NO merge (of course!) --HanzoHattori 12:36, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Just to confirm, merging the two articles would be a grave mistake and in fact completely ridiculous. As noted in the article, a T-Rex is a prehistoric animal, but has nothing what-so-ever to do with prehistoric people. Prehistory is a period (albeit a very long one) that includes a vast number of things other than man (or woman for that matter). --24.20.198.152 23:35, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

I concur wholeheartedly. As there is SO much more to this universe, let alone our planet, than MAN. We are so arrogant. NO merge (of course!)68.118.131.86 04:05, 26 July 2007 (UTC)cpswarrior

Agree with all of the above, a merge would be ridiculous. Prehistoric Man is a -completely- different subject to Prehistory, to merge them merely based on the fact that Prehistoric Man lived in the period of Prehistory is absurd. It would be like merging pizza with food. Absurd. Well at least imho.. Themania 08:31, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

Why in the world would anyone even come up with the idea of merging these articles? There should, no doubt, always be a link to the "Prehistoric Man" article, but prehistory is so vast that, unfortunate as it may be to the egocentrics, it dates far, far before man. Alternately, the subject of prehistoric man is itself a specific study that is, although categorized in prehistory, not in any way congruent or synonymous to prehistory itself. Furthermore, the subject of prehistoric man is extremely important and encyclopedic, more than well enough to deserve its own article. TheGreenSaga 11:13, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

May I suggest that MAN is a phallocentric title. MAN implies that men were the prime movers and shakers in the world before written records. Should it not be a neutral title ie PEOPLE? To seemingly omit women from prehistory is liable to be seen as unethical and would not enhance the reputation of Wikipedia. 86.111.163.195 08:36, 5 September 2007 (UTC)LD A-B 5 Sepptember 2007

"Man", like it or not, is the term used, and is understood in this context to include both men and women. Maybe it's an unfortunate term, maybe it isn't, but Wikipedia is not the place to campaign to dislodge it's use. mike4ty4 06:40, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

I would normally oppose this merge in principle, because the concepts are really very different- but I just went and read the Prehistoric Man article, which appears to simply summarize fragments of other articles (like the Three Age System), and my opinion has changed. I don't think they should be merged, because I don't think much of the Prehistoric Man article is worth keeping- I actually think Prehistoric Man should be deleted or turned into a redirect to Prehistory unless someone is willing to rewrite the whole article. Furthermore, even if someone WAS going to rewrite Prehistoric Man, frankly, I'm not sure what that article should cover. TriNotch 17:31, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Because the Prehistoric man article consisted entirely of material duplicating other Wikipedia articles- those being Prehistory and Three-age system- I have turned the page into a redirect to this page until someone is willing to rewrite that article into something useful. This is not a merge, because no material from the Prehistoric man article was salvaged or added to this article. In some cases, these two articles had exactly identical content. Although I encourage discussion, since this has been under discussion since January, I think it was probably the right step to take. Oh, and for J. D. Redding, there is a protohistory article already. TriNotch 19:00, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps it's the Timeline of human evolution page that needs to be renamed, but I'd suggest that rather than Prehistoric Man, perhaps something like Prehistoric Humans would be a better option, even if that does subsume earlier hominids under the 'human'. BRahn 16:57, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
Better still, how about if prehistoric man and prehistoric humans both redirected to Human evolution, just like primitive man already does? TriNotch 19:24, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

No. Not hardly. There might be substantial overlap among many different Wikipedia articles on these topics (I'm trying to get a sense of that right now), but Prehistory, itself, is a main article linked to the main anthropology page. "Prehistoric man" is a made-up somewhat nonsensical term (inside anthropology and archaeology anyway), as it indicates a whole bunch of different species (I count at least 11). So, it is the "Prehistoric man" page that needs to refer to other pages, which I suggest be written by tool tradition (especially useful for the casual reader, but also essential to understanding the archaeology and biological anthropology literature) and incorporated into the articles on each species (homo habilis, etc.). There will necessarily be a certain amount of redundancy and inter-referencing, as is the case in any encyclopedia. Good start, this article, though.Levalley (talk) 21:30, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Not quite correct.[edit]

The article says: Human prehistory differs from history not only in terms of chronology but in the way it deals with the activities of archaeological cultures rather than named nations or individuals. Restricted to material remains rather than written records (and indeed only those remains that have survived), prehistory is anonymous. This isn't entirely correct. Or rather, it isn't always correct. If we define any pre-literate society as pre-historical, then, for example, Tongan "history" prior to European contact was "prehistory". The Tu'i Tonga Empire would thus be a prehistoric empire. All right, then. But this raises three issues in relation to the excerpt quoted from this article:

  • One could argue that there was a Tongan nation prior to European contact. To say that there is no such thing as a prehistoric nation-state would thus be erroneous, at least in one specific case. One could debate the semantics, but few would dispute that "prehistoric" Tonga closely ressembled what you might call a "nation".
  • As in other Pacific societies, oral history complements the study of material remains. (Maori whakapapa in New Zealand, for example, are of some value to (pre-)historians, and they are not "material remains".) Tonga today draws its roots from a long (pre-)history, which has been preserved in oral accounts.
  • Most of all, in Tonga's case, "prehistory" is definitely not "anonymous". The history of Tonga prior to the introduction of writing deals with specific names (people) and events. Again, see the article on the Tu'i Tonga Empire.

What we have in the case of Pacific societies is a "prehistory" which can be differentiated from the prehistory of Europe. For one thing, it's a lot more recent. For another, Pacific people have always had an interest in preserving oral records of their history, and these oral records (which simply no longer exist in Europe) provide source materials to (pre-)historians today. Knowledge of history among Pacific peoples before the introduction of writing had a different emphasis to what we consider "history". In many cases, it was focused on the ancestry of smallish groups, and served to legitimise their ownership of an area of land. But in the case of Tonga, something ressembling a nation-state with a maritime empire pre-dated European contact, and has its own history, preserved in oral form before writing was available. Hence a problem whenever we try to make global generalisations on "prehistory" under the current definition of that term. Aridd (talk) 10:37, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Merger of Timeline of Human Prehistory with this article[edit]

I've merged a recently created article which is the start of a timeline of human prehistory -- 2 reasons. One, it seems to fit better here and should enhance this article. Secondly, I hope that merging will improve the timeline. The main editor and creator needs help with more current references and some help with criteria. You can see on the old talk page that he isn't too happy with this and fears that his timeline will be removed entirely, but I'm sure that we can built it up to something substantial and accurate here. There was no way I could see that happening as a stand alone article.Doug Weller (talk) 12:54, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Size of Tower in Jericho[edit]

"c. 8000 BCE - In northern Mesopotamia, now northern Iraq, cultivation of barley and wheat begins. At first they are used for beer, gruel, and soup, eventually for bread. Around this time, a round stone tower, about 30 feet high and 30 feet in diameter (100 meters high by 100 meters in diameter) is built in Jericho."

I'm no scientist, but I'm reasonably sure that 30 feet is not 100 meters. However, I don't know if "feet" and "meters" were switched, if a zero was omitted from "30", if a zero was added to "10", or what, and I don't have the listed source to check the reference. Does anybody else have handy a National Geographic item from 1979? MssngrDeath (talk) 00:13, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

Well caught. There are other sources, better sources in fact, I'll look. 1979 is way to old for a comment on agriculture of course.Doug Weller (talk) 07:41, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
The tower is dated to PPN-A, Pre pottery Neolithic A, (ca 10,500/10,300-9300 BP), 8.5m diameter at base, preserved to 8m height. Fagan, Brian M, ed. The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1996 p 363Doug Weller (talk) 08:26, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

Fairly major problem perhaps[edit]

WP:Styleguide Uncalibrated (bce) radiocarbon dates: Do not give uncalibrated radiocarbon dates (represented by the lower-case bce unit, occasionally bc or b.c. in some sources), except in directly quoted material, and even then include a footnote, a [square-bracketed editor's note], or other indication to the reader what the calibrated date is, or at least that the date is uncalibrated. Calibrated and uncalibrated dates can diverge surprisingly widely, and the average reader does not recognize the distinction between bce and BCE-BC.

So, what are all these BP dates? Are they calibrated or uncalibrated? If they are uncalibrated, some of them could be very very misleading. --Doug Weller (talk) 16:34, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

Some of them are not based on radiocarbon dating in the first place (so don't need recalibration), the ones that overlap with radiocarbon dates, I'm checking. So far, they are calibrated. Most prehistorians use the BP convention (see the Wikipedia page on dating conventions, it's there) for dates that have no clear lines to historic peoples. Interestingly, some prehistorians start using the BCE/CE or BC/AD conventions in Europe for 22,000BP (20,000 BCE). Most writers try to explain their individual reasoning on this in the introductions to their books. There is no agreed-upon convention as to when to switch.Levalley (talk) 21:33, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

tower in Jericho[edit]

In the timeline section, it says the tower was 30 feet (100 meters) high. Those can't be right, but I don't know what the correct measurement is, so I can't fix it, but someone who knows should. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.125.233.175 (talk) 20:35, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

Fixed it. I'm not confident about any bits of the time line that don't have recent academic references.Doug Weller (talk) 06:31, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

Edit "Timeline of Human Prehistory" subsection[edit]

Why is the edit feature disabled? The subsection "Timeline of Human Prehistory" should include other notable events, such as first use of controlled fire, first evidence of hunting, bow and arrow usage, first cave art, certain migrations, etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 132.61.176.7 (talk) 14:59, 7 October 2008 (UTC) It is semi-protected due to repeated vandalism. Established users can use it, why not create an account? Or after 4 days and at least 10 edits you will be auto-confirmed with your IP address and could edit. Doug Weller (talk) 15:32, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Agriculture "spread" to India[edit]

This article argues that agriculture "spread" to the Indus valley circa. c. 7000 BC; however, the role of indigenous development in developing agriculture and domestication, by early-Harappan societies, has been archaeologically identified frequently in the past thirty years. It is far from a majority opinion that agriculture 'arrived' in India either through stimulus diffusion or the movement of populations across the Iranian plateau. Merhgarh urged a major revision of a stimulus diffusion model; the analysis of deposits in the strata of the site, which exhibits a 'tell-like' accumulation of material, produced a continuous transition from a pre-agricultural, pastoral economy to the increasing reliance on domestication and subsequent sedentism. Dune Sherban (talkcontribs) 07:13, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

Introduction is uncited, unorganized, too long, and mostly irrelevant[edit]

The introduction to this article fails to cite sources in at least a dozen places, and alternates between vague references to the historiographical approaches of various scientific disciplines, and a meta discussion about various possible definitions of the term "prehistory" without citing any evidence that there is a serious debate on the issue. A short definition followed by a sentence or two outlining what is to come in the article would be much more relevant. If someone with some expertise can rewrite this section that would be best, but I will try myself soon if I don't see sufficient objection in this discussion. Imran (talk) 23:59, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with File:Hagarqim aerial.jpg[edit]

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Slightly confusing[edit]

I first thought the article was not going to mention human prehistory, because it says this thing about "prehistory" being the whole history of the universe. Personally, I don't think that's how the term prehistory is used. Physicists use terms like "time" and "the past" to talk about the past, and sometimes even "history," as in Hawkings' Brief History of Time book. Only historians and prehistorians use the term strictly to mean "human doings before writing), because for some reasons historians make a very big deal out of starting their efforts with the beginning of writing ( a task which often leaves them without an interpretive context for the very earliest writings, hence their turning to archaeology, philology, linguistics and cultural anthropology for clues as to what the writings actually meant; historians are not usually translators of ancient scripts).

But, in fact, the entire article is mostly about the proper topic (human prehistory), starting with the Paleolithic. Somehow the opening paragraph needs to indicate what the article is about to do; right now it's misleading, I was tempted to go off on another search to find the basic definitions of Paleolithic and Neolithic. I was trying to find out what Wikipedia would have to say about those topics should I decide to send anyone here in search of the meaning of those two basic terms (in cultural, biological and archaeological anthropology, anyway).Levalley (talk) 20:16, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

This sentence: In societies where the introduction of writing is relatively recent, oral histories, knowledge of the past handed down from generation to generation, may contain records of "prehistoric" times. seems to appear out of nowhere. The number of relevant contemporary field methods that may (or may not) reveal or corroborate prehistoric findings from other areas (such as archaeology) is huge, and they get no special mention. So, while oral accounts are quite important, they need to be shelved in terms of mentioning, until the set of techniques to which they belong is mentioned in the article - not in a section on human prehistory vs. world prehistory.Levalley (talk) 20:42, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Still working on making that lead less wordy, so that the content box shows up at least a little on the typical user's screen when they first see the page.Levalley (talk) 20:49, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Upper paleolithic? and other issues[edit]

The dates in this paragraph do not agree with dates in the literature:

Humans spread from East Africa to the Near East 80 millennia ago, and further to southern Asia and Australasia 60 millennia ago, northwestwards into Europe and eastwards into Central Asia 40 millennia ago, and further east to the Americas from ca. 15 millennia ago. The Upper Paleolithic is taken to begin some 40 millennia ago, with the appearance of "high" culture. Expansion to North America and Oceania took place at the climax of the most recent Ice Age, when today's temperate regions were extremely inhospitable. By the end of the Ice Age 12,000 BP, humans had colonised nearly all the ice-free parts of the globe.

Some of the dates are new, but much work shows that people were already in Israel/Palestine by 126,000BP - and new work in Java shows, as well as molecular data, shows that Asian homo sapiens is likely present by at least 100,000. The Toba megavolcano event (77,000) caused a big die back and subsequent second migration - but all of that should be on the page on the Paleolithic, not in this brief summary.

Where is the Upper Paleolithic? One expects it come next, after Lower and Middle, before moving on to the Neolithic. I'll find references and add that, next few days. Or I'll ask someone to help me to do it.Levalley (talk) 21:24, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Unsolved Problems[edit]

There are a slew of unsolved problems in either Archaeology or Anthropology related to Human prehistory - which I personally find quite fascinating. For example, the interaction between Humans and Neanderthals, why the Neanderthals died out, how Humans reached Australia, the spread of technology, etc. I could not find an article dedicated to this topic, much like the topics in List of unsolved problems - and I was wondering if anyone knew of a similar page in this field. I am certainly not qualified to start one if it does not exist, but if it does not, perhaps someone feels up to the task? Ignignot (talk) 18:53, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Graveltian[edit]

Need a definition.Jarhed (talk) 10:51, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

It's Gravettian and it has a link. Kortoso (talk) 21:16, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Confusing BC and AD[edit]

I am not an historian but this is probably wrong "Before 1800 AD, most populations did not belong to states." I suppose 1800 BC was intended. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.82.70.163 (talk) 21:12, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Mesolithic Europe included non-humans?[edit]

The beginning of the article states that Mesolithic Europe began around 10,000 BP.

The article concludes with the sentence:

"Mesolithic culture is normally associated with the homo-sapiens, there were other groups of humans alive at the same time, such as Neanderthals, and it is not sure that all mesolithic remains belong to homo-sapiens."

According to the article on Neanderthals, the last of that species disappeared 30,000 BP. I don't know of any other non-humans present in Europe after that (or elsewhere - other than possibly Homo Floresiensis on the other side of the globe.)

I recommend deleting the entire sentence. Wmurphy41 (talk) 02:45, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

I have to partly disagree with you, Murphy. Actually, the Mesolithic did not begin at 10,000 BC. The date varies very widely indeed depending on locality and culture. I've seen 30,000. But if some textbook editor asks, when did the Mesolithic begin? It is customary to give a conventional answer and one of the most conventional is 10K BP. I imagine somewhere it actually began at 10K. Not very frequently, however. Frankly, most of what you think you know, or learned in school, or read in the texts, is BS. You need the technical journals and reports. Here on WP I would not discard the statement without looking into it. My guess is, somewhere out there is an article in which the author points out that Neanderthals in a certain locality were living a Mesolithic way of life. Perhaps it struck the editor's attention so he reported it but omitted the reference. I will check for that and if the sentence is still there make sure it has a request for a reference. Ciao.Dave (talk) 02:09, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Timeline of human prehistory - New Guinea[edit]

I'm no expert, but this statement looks very wrong to me: "c. 28,500 BCE - New Guinea is populated by colonists from Asia or Australia.[12]" It implies that New Guinea was unoccupied prior to that date. It's well established that the Australian continent was inhabited by at least 40,000 BP, probably longer. Australia and New Guinea were joined as a single landmass for most of their history before about 10,000 BP. It doesn't make sense that one part of the continent would be inhabited but not the other. SDavies (talk) 13:53, 26 November 2010 (UTC)

Recorded history revisited[edit]

I am new to using the talk pages. I am having a difficult time accepting the fact that, visual depictions; i.e. cave paintings, of local fauna or flora that no longer exist naturally within a given region, are not considered historic record? How can this be? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.22.161.160 (talk) 00:45, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Revisit, hey? Come in, sit down, have a cup of tea. If you are going contribute regularly it would be better all the way around for you to register as a user. I corrected your English above. If English is not your first language you may want to defer contributing until it improves. I am sure there must be a WP in your native language. Now, you got the dotted box because you started the line with a space. For the issue, you know, you have a point there. History is by convention a written story. But what if the story is told in pictures? Or in Pictograms? Are those a form of writing? Our article does make clear that the distinction between history and prehistory is beginning to break down. There is a request for a reference on it, which should not be hard to find. This breakdown is more pervasive than might be thought. For example, Neolithic pottery from Europe often is inscribed with pot marks that we know now are undoubtedly writing. If someone should decipher them, would the period be historic or prehistoric? I would say, the article does not do enough to explore this issue. The trouble is, the mandate of WP is not to do original research but to report on the results of others. YOU may think the stories on the walls of caves are history, but until some expert raises the issue, WP cannot raise it. We have to play along here to a large degree. I think the best we can do is report how the experts react to this issue. The article can improve, no doubt. Most articles can. But, improvements need improvers, do they not?Dave (talk) 01:55, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Timeline Inconsistency[edit]

It is unfortunate that many pages are at odds on a consistent timeline as to the Mesolithic Age and Neolithic Age. Most sources I've found including the internal sources of Timeline of Galician History and Prehistory#Mesolithic claim the Neolithic started around 5000 BCE. However, Neolithic Age claims 10,000 BCE. Does anyone have a reference to a consensus among scientists? Niluop (talk) 01:49, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Such ages are defined by technology, so the dates vary geographically. Thus you find people writing about "recent 'Neolithic' village communities in New Guinea and South America". Dougweller (talk) 05:32, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for this addition. I did encounter this discussion in my reading. I was hoping that some convention would exist to allow us to create a consistent timeline. Perhaps it might be referenced to the most technologically advanced culture, which I assume is the assumption for Timeline of Galician History. Niluop (talk) 23:35, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Citation number 9 : dead link[edit]

The reference number 9 links to http://perfectirishgifts.com/blog/2008/06/prehistoric_massacres_the_twin.html, a non existent page. It is a citation for the phrase "The Neolithic period saw the development of early villages, agriculture, animal domestication, tools and the onset of the earliest recorded incidents of warfare.". I am not able to find an adequate reference for this claim myself, maybe someone could fix this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hennels (talkcontribs) 13:22, 1 June 2011 (UTC)