Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures

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This synoptic table of the principal Old World prehistoric cultures gives a rough picture of the relationships between the various principal cultures of prehistory outside the Americas, Antarctica, Australia and Oceania. It also serves as an index of the broad features of that prehistory to be followed through links to articles. Literate cultures are shown in brackets (). Dates given in ka and MA are to be understood as before present (BP). All age determinations are circa.


The Principal prehistoric cultures of the Old World
Prehistoric Africa
Prehistoric Asia
Prehistoric Europe
East, South, Central and West Africa North Africa and Sahara Middle East/South-West Asia South Asia, Central Asia and North Asia East Asia and South-East Asia Europe
1000 CE Kingdom of Mapungubwe
(Sahelian kingdoms)
(Caliphate) (Caliphate) (Middle Kingdoms) (Song Dynasty) (Middle Ages)
1 CE Nok; Ile-Ife; Bantu expansion (Ancient North Africa) (Parthian Empire) (Satavahana Empire) (Han Dynasty) Iron Age in Europe
(Roman Empire)
1000 BCE Copper Age in Niger; Nok; Bantu expansion Late Bronze Age; Early Iron Age The development of the Indian Iron Age; Gandhara grave culture/Swat culture; Black and red ware culture; Painted Grey Ware culture; Copper Hoard Culture; Andronovo culture; Sintashta culture; BMAC- Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex; Karakol culture Chinese Bronze Age; Late Jōmon in Japan Bronze Age in Europe; Urnfield culture; Abashevo culture
2000 BCE Neolithic of Tichit; Tenerian culture Middle Bronze Age
Indus Valley civilisation; Sintashta culture; Andronovo culture; Afanasevo culture; BMAC- Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex; domestication of the horse Chinese Neolithic of Longshan Bell-Beaker culture; Chalcolithic; Corded Ware culture; Poltavka culture; Abashevo culture; Sintashta culture; domestication of the horse
3000 BCE Beginning of the hunter-gatherer art of South Africa Early Bronze Age Regionalization Era; Afanasevo culture Yamna culture and enclosed villages; Chalcolithic of Central Europe
4000 BCE Beginning of Neolithic in East Africa Mediterranean and Egyptian Neolithic Uruk period; Chalcolithic Mehrgarh Neolithic of Yang-Shao (rice-growing?) Samara culture; Lower Neolithic; Danubian Neolithic
5000 BCE Neolithic of the Sahara and Sahel Neolithic of the Sahara and Sahel Ubaid period; Ceramic Neolithic of Cyprus; megalith building spreads south into the Levant and Cyprus[1][2] Mehrgarh, Bhirrana in India Hongshan culture of Northeast Asia (4700 BCE) Cardial and Linear Pottery (agriculture, stock-rearing, pottery); earliest European megaliths;[1] Starčevo and Vinča culture (agriculture and stock-rearing: pigs, bovine, sheep); Chalcolithic
6000 BCE Neolithic with ceramic; Ubaid period Mehrgarh, Bhirrana (India) Neolithic of northern China Tardenoisian cultures (gathering of legumes); Neolithic (Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean); Sesklo and Choirokoitia
7000 BCE Wiltonian Pre-ceramic B; Pre-ceramic A; Neolithic in Asia Minor (wheat, barley) Hunter gatherers in Jōmon (ancient Japan) Sauveterrian cultures; Komornica culture
8000 BCE Capsian Goats are domesticated in Zagros, Iran; first towns of the Near East at Aşıklı Höyük and Jericho Hoabinhian of Southeast Asia Ahrensburg culture; Azilian and Asiloid cultures (northern Spain, southern France)
9000 BCE Magosian Natufian; the oldest known megaliths are built by the Hattians or their predecessors.[2] Kandivali Backed point culture (Federmesser); Mezine (Ukraine)
East, South, Central and West Africa North Africa and Sahara Middle East South Asia, Central Asia and North Asia East Asia and South-East Asia Europe
10,000 BCE Holocene begins;
Wisconsin glaciation ends (10,000 BCE);
Wisconsin glaciation at its peak (18,000 BCE).
Lupemban culture Iberomaurusian/Mechta-Afalou/Mouillian/Oranian; Mushabian; Sebilian Kebarian; Mushabian; Athlitian; beginning of Neolithic religion at Göbekli Tepe (southern Anatolia). Bhimbetka rock paintings south Asia; Mal'ta-Buret' culture Pre-Jōmon ceramic (Japan) Magdalenian; Solutrean; Epigravettian; Hamburg culture
20,000 BCE Iberomaurusian/Mechta-Afalou/Mouillian/Oranian Antelian; Aurignacian; Zarzian culture Mal'ta-Buret' culture Sơn Vi culture (northern Vietnam) Pavlovian; Aurignacian; Kostienki (western Russia)
30,000 BCE Stillbay Aterian Baradostian culture Bhimbetka rock paintings; Balangoda Culture; Angara Culture Sen-Doki Homo sapiens: Gravettian; Szeletian (Hungary)
40,000 BCE Aterian Jabroudian Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens: Châtelperronian; Lincombian-Ranisian-Jerzmanowician; Aurignacian (Paleolithic art)
East, South, Central and West Africa North Africa and Sahara Middle East South Asia, Central Asia and North Asia East Asia and South-East Asia Europe
50,000 BCE Fauresmithian Mousterian Soanian Ngandong culture Mousterian; Micoquien
80,000 BCE
Latest Wisconsin glaciation begins (93,000 BCE).
Mousteroid Aterian
100,000 BCE
Wolstonian glaciation ends (128,000 BCE).
Sangoan Aterian Homo neanderthalensis (100-55 ka) Acheulean; Soanian Late Acheulean
200,000 BCE
Wolstonian glaciation begins (350,000 BCE).
Homo sapiens: Acheulean Acheulean[3] Homo neanderthalensis (243–40 ka): Tayacian (southern France)
300,000 BCE Homo heidelbergensis (350–200 ka) Pre-Soanian Homo heidelbergensis (350–200 ka):
Middle Acheulean; Clactonian (England)
500,000 BCE Homo heidelbergensis (since 700 ka): Middle Acheulean Homo heidelbergensis: Early Acheulean Bhimbetka rock shelters (600–200 ka)[4][5]; Soanian (500–125 ka) Homo erectus pekinensis (750 ka) Pre-Neanderthal (450–300 ka):
Early Acheulean; worked pebbles
1,000,000 BCE Homo ergaster: Early Acheulean (from 176 ka) Worked pebbles Early Acheulean Early Acheulean and Madrasian (both 1.5 Ma) Early Acheulean; worked pebbles Homo antecessor (1.2–0.8 Ma; northern Spain, England, France): worked pebbles
2,000,000 BCE Australopithecus garhi (2.5 Ma);
Homo habilis (2.1–1.5 Ma);[6]
Homo ergaster / erectus (1.9–1.4 Ma):
Oldowan (2.6–0.25 Ma)
Homo erectus (1.9–0.14 Ma): Oldowan Homo erectus (Transcaucasia 1.8 Ma; Europe proper 1.2 Ma): Oldowan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dolmens in Western Europe (from 5000 BCE), progressing to Russia and through Italy and Cyprus, then reaching Israel, and Syria (3000–4000 BCE);[clarification needed] Gilgal Refaim Stonehenge in Mideast associated with the era and builders of Dolmens, aka "Rogem Hiri," (also 4000-3000 BCE); French Carnac stones (4500–3000 BCE).
  2. ^ a b Göbekli Tepe (10,000 BCE); Atlit Yam, semi-circle of megaliths in Mediterranean Sea south of Haifa (Natufians; 6700–6460 BCE).
  3. ^ Israel Museum exhibits figurine/sculpture; National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ Chakravarty, Kalyan Kumar; Bednarik, Robert S. (1997). Indian Rock Art: And Its Global Context. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 59. ISBN 9788120814646. 
  5. ^ "Bhimbetka Petroglyphs". 2016-05-09. 
  6. ^ Wilford, John Noble. "Fossils in Kenya Challenge Linear Evolution". New York Times. Retrieved 21 May 2013.