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Azilian points, microliths from epipaleolithic northern Spain and southern France.
The Stone Age

before Homo (Pliocene)


Lower Paleolithic
Late Stone Age
Control of fire
Stone tools
Middle Paleolithic
Middle Stone Age
Homo neanderthalensis
Homo sapiens
Recent African origin of modern humans
Upper Paleolithic
Late Stone Age
Behavioral modernity, Atlatl,
Origin of the domestic dog


Microliths, Bow, Canoe
Heavy Neolithic
Shepherd Neolithic
Trihedral Neolithic
Pre-Pottery Neolithic


Neolithic Revolution,
Pottery Neolithic

Epipaleolithic is a term used for the "final Upper Palaeolithic industries occurring at the end of the final glaciation which appear to merge technologically into the Mesolithic".[1] The period is generally dated from c. 20,000 BP to c. 10,500 BP, having emerged from the Palaeolithic era.[2]

Term usage[edit]

The term is sometimes used as a synonym of Mesolithic. When a distinction is made, Epipaleolithic stresses the continuity with the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic as we[who?] understand it today, whilst Protoneolithic stresses a subsequent transition to the Neolithic.[3] Alfonso Moure says in this respect:

In the language of Prehistorical Archaeology, the most extended trend is to use the term "Epipaleolithic" for the industrial complexes of the post-glacial hunter-gatherer groups. Inversely, those that are in transitional ways towards artificial production of food are inscribed in the "Mesolithic".[4]

Some authors[who?] reserve the term Mesolithic for the cultures of Europe, where the extinction of the megafauna had a great impact on the Paleolithic populations at the end of the Ice Age, from c. 8000 BCE until the advent of the Neolithic (Sauveterrian, Tardenoisian, Maglemosian, etc.).


Epipalaeolithic hunter-gatherers, generally nomadic, made relatively advanced tools from small flint or obsidian blades, known as microliths, that were hafted in wooden implements.

Animal food sources[edit]

The Epipaleolithic is best understood when discussing the southern Levant, as the period is well documented due to good preservation at the site. The most prevalent animal food sources in the Levant during this period were:

  • Gazelle
  • Wild equids
  • Wild boar
  • Deer
  • Wild cattle
  • Ibex
  • Wild goat
  • Wild sheep

These were most likely the main food sources throughout the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period. Of these animals, it is likely that only the equids were migrational.


  1. ^ Bahn, Paul, The Penguin Archaeology Guide, Penguin, London, pp. 141. ISBN 0-14-051448-1
  2. ^ Byrnes, Andie. "Epipalaeolithic." Epipalaeolithic. N.p., 2005. Web. December 2014.
  3. ^ "History of Europe". Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved 8 April 2013. The Scandinavian Ice Sheet itself started to retreat northward about 8300 bce, and the period between then and the origins of agriculture (at various times in the 7th to 4th millennia, depending on location) was one of great environmental and cultural change. It is termed the Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age) to emphasize its transitional importance, but the alternative term Epipaleolithic, used mostly in eastern Europe, stresses the continuity with processes begun earlier. 
  4. ^ A. Moure El Origen del Hombre, 1999. ISBN 84-7679-127-5