Hey! Ever wondered when was the first time we “humans” started wearing clothes, innovated language, learned agriculture to grow crops, or domesticated animals? All these secrets of humanity are disclosed during a certain period of human culture- The Stone Age.
Yes, a significant era in human history that existed around 3.3 million years ago! If seen from a historical point of view, the Stone age may be defined as the period during which stone was used extensively for making tools, weapons, utensils, artifacts, and much more.
Don’t know much about it and want to explore it more? We are here for you, buddy. Buckle up! We are going to present to you the top 10 facts about the Stone Age:
1. Based on the Three-Age System
The three-age system represents three ages- Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. Among the three of these, the Stone Age is the oldest. This is supported by the fact that a Pliocene hominin fossil was discovered in Kenya in 1999 which was around 3.5 million years old.
2. Consists of Three periods
The stone age itself composes of three distinct periods, these are:
The Paleolithic Period
The Palaeolithic period lasted about 2.6 to 1 million years ago and it marks the earliest period of the Stone age. In this age, the Stone age people used stone tools by knapping stones. Different artifacts were also used during this period such as engraving tools, blades, and other drilling tools.
During this period, the hominins also formed small groups or societies together for hunting, scavenging, searching for plants, etc.
The Mesolithic Period
The Mesolithic Period, also known as the Epipaleolithic or the middle stone age, lasted from around 9000 B.C to 4000 B.C and it started after the last ice age ended.
This period traces the development of microliths- which are small stone tools generally triangular or trapezoid in shape and was used as arrowheads, jewelry, and spear points.
The Neolithic Period
The Neolithic period or the New stone age is described as the most vibrant and revolutionary period which is also termed as Neolithic Revolution. The Neolithic age started around 7000BCE.
The period marked the shift of people from food searching to producing food for themselves. People began to domesticize animals such as dogs, goats, and cattle. Stone age art was very prominent in the neolithic age and artworks such as figurines, statues, cave paintings, and also artifacts in the form of bracelets, chisels, stone tools, etc were also found in this period.
3. Four Different Types Of Humans
I’m sure, you all must have seen that chart which shows that we humans have evolved from animals like chimpanzees and gorillas. Yes, this one-
Though this transition shows a wide array of species constantly evolving from each of their predecessors, the four major species are:
The extinct group of human species which were known as “handymen” or “tool makers” are called Homo habilis. They are characterized by having a brain capacity of around 500 to 900 cubic cms, long proportionate limbs adapted for climbing, and males larger than females.
The habilis species were known to be scavengers as they preferred scavenging over hunting to consume meat, and created a stone stool classification system called Oldowan stone tool industry.
As the name indicates, they were known as the “Upright Men” (as they have an upright erect posture) and hence were called Homo erectus.
Their average brain size was about 1000 cubic cm. They have similar limb proportions and the males and females also showed similarities in size to each other as well as modern humans. That is why they are said to be more “human-like” as compared to modern humans.
They took a heavy meat diet due to their higher brain capacity and were probably the first to shift from scavenging to hunting. They hunted wild animals such as crocodiles, turtles, elephants, birds, rhinos, etc.
They also developed the Acheulean stone tool industry and were the first to use hand axes.
Known commonly as the Neanderthals, these species were present nearly 40000 years ago. They are also stated to be the subspecies of archaic humans who were native to Eurasia.
Their average brain capacity was found to be 1640 cc and their body was adapted to be “hyperarctic” to survive in cold climates. they also possessed an elongated skull with a large jaw.
They are known to be “Apex predators” and predominantly depended upon hunting and gathering. They were skilled hunters (likely did ambush hunting) and fed on wild animals like wild boars, straight-tusked elephants, etc but the most predominant feed for neanderthals were hoofed animals such as red deer or reindeer.
Homo sapiens or the early humans are the human species representing us. Yes, homo sapiens are described to be selective, wise, and sensible- now you can relate, right? Homo sapiens have smaller teeth with a prominent chin and a brain capacity of 1400- 1500 cc.
Homo sapiens are involved in the development of expressive language, art, and religion and hence they show behavioral modernity.
4. Stone Age People Discovered Fire!
Ever wondered who was the first person to discover fire if we place aside all other myths? Well, scientists say that the use of fire was domesticized by stone age humans- “Homo erectus” species, to say more specifically. This is the reason why the erectus species were also termed the “Fire Makers”
They used fire as a medium for cooking food, as a source of heat to warm themselves, to protect themselves from wild predators (especially at night), and it is also possible they used fire as a source of light to work the night also, or Maybe to dance and Celebrate! Who knows?
5. Developed Agriculture
The Neolithic period is the stone age period in which humans first learned about farming and developed the concept of agriculture. Stone age humans began to domesticize cattle and dogs and used them for farming. They also developed many irrigation- stone tools and grew wild plants such as Wheat and barley.
The shift from meat as a prime source of dietary food to switching toward plant sources may have several reasons, but a possible reason is the Holocene extinction event.
6. They Were Handymen
Yes, The stone age people mastered the skill of tool-making, especially stone tools.
Some of the earliest known human tools were used by stone age people belonging to the Oldowan stone tools such as edgy stone flakes, hammerstones, anvils, etc. The use of tools evolved with time and shifted from Oldowan Industry to Acheulean Industry and eventually reached the Neolithic Industry of tools.
Numerous stone weapons such as axeheads, chisels, use of arrowheads, etc were found in the new stone age along with wooden clubs and spears. It is very enthralling to take note of the fact that several physical pieces of evidence show numerous human skeletons being injured with injuries to the neck, ribs, head, and other body parts.
Not only did they make weapons but also carved beautiful home furniture such as shelves, cupboards, chairs, beds, etc. The Neolithic Orkney Village (Scara Brae) serves as a classical example of this fact.
7. Stone Age People—”The Veteran Artists”
The expression of art in the form of different mediums such as paintings, statues, figurines, artifacts, and many other types of mediums was prevalent during the stone age. In between the Palaeolithic period and the mesolithic period, several cave paintings, beads, and figurines were predominant.
Paleolithic cave paintings found in Kilvalai in Tamil Nadu and Yogimatha in Odisha show captivating prehistoric art expressions. The Bhimbetka Rock Shelters and their wall paintings symbolize some of the earliest forms of art.
Several carved stone balls were found at the Neolithic Orkney village. Several symbols in the form of writings, Walrus ivory, and even evidence of body paintings have been found on this site. The Neolithic period also depicted artworks in the form of Pottery, sculptures, megaliths, and the formation of neolithic permanent houses.
8. Stone Age Animals
A large number of stone age animals were used by the stone age people either as domesticized pets or to derive animal products for self benefits.
Animals such as the great Woolly Mammoth, Woolly Rhino, Cave lion, Dire Wolf, Giant Ground Sloths, and the Smilodon (aka as Sabre-toothed tiger – my favorite) were present during the Stone Age which have gone extinct now, but there are still some other animals from the Stone Age which are present even today! Some examples include Komodo Dragon, Echidna, White Rhinoceros, and Horseshoe crab.
Animal bones were used by stone age people to build their houses or huts. Huts made from bones of Mammoths have been found in Siberia and Europe. Also, Animal hides were used to cover the roof of these houses.
9. First Humans Who Started Wearing Clothes
Can you imagine your life without clothes? Maybe some of you… Ok, no lame jokes. So, the answer is No, right? People from the stone age felt the same urge to cover themselves with clothes to be protected from extreme weather conditions.
The use of animal skin by the stone age humans as a cloth to protect themselves from cold during winters was the first item of clothing for humans. During Summers, they probably would shift from animal skin to clothes made from leaves and grasses.
Women generally wore clothes woven from fibers of the flax plant. Towards the end of the stone age, people invented needles and thread which helped them to make their clothes.
It is also believed that people rubbed charcoal all over their bodies to protect themselves from the thorns of poisonous plants as charcoal acts as a natural antidote to most poisons.
10. Rituals and Beliefs
It is an indisputable fact that ever since the starting of human history, Rituals stand firm from that day to the present.
Religion in the paleolithic period is shown with the help of symbolism as well as sculpture. The “Venus figurines” serve as a classic example of the above statement, where these figurines represent female deities.
Also, the use of Burials and graves are well known to be associated with spirituality. Examples of such burials include La Chapelle-aux-saints 1 and Teshik-Tash 1 and Sungir. The ritual of Cannibalism is also evident through signs of Neanderthal cannibalism derived from the Vindija cave.
The Bronze Age
Though we are counting the top 10 facts about the stone age, it is important that you also learn- What happened after the Stone Age ended?
The answer will be the Bronze Age and then the Iron Age. Near the ending period of the stone age, people started smelting copper, and from this, the era of the Bronze Age started (from 3300 BC to 1200 BC). Bronze became predominant due to its high rigidity and strength and also highly durable from its competitive metals during that time.
Several civilizations such as those belonging to Mesopotamia and Egypt were the first to develop the earliest systems of practical writing. The Indus Valley Civilization played a very important role in defining the bronze age and is known for its advanced metallurgy.
The Indus people were the first to develop a system of uniform weights and measures. Major excavations of the Indus Civilization include vessels, bronze seals, gold jewelry, terracotta figurines, and much more.
The Stone Age is defined as the earliest period of human history which existed million years ago and is the earliest age of the three age system. The Stone age period is divided into three sub-periods namely the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic ages.
The Paleolithic Age represents the use of the earliest stone tools, while in the mesolithic and neolithic ages, more advanced stone tools, weapons as well as art expressions figurines, statues, etc were developed.
Stone Age Humans are of four different types- Homo habilis, Homo erectus, the Neanderthals, and Homo sapiens. The Erectus species first discovered fire. Stone age people were also the first to develop concepts of agriculture, clothing, and expression of art and they also domesticated wild animals for farming or personal use. The ending of the Stone age also marked the beginning of another important age- the Bronze age.
So, this concludes our list of the top 10 facts about the Stone Age. We hope that you like it. Please do share your thoughts and review by commenting below. It helps us to improve and come up with more interesting topics. Want to know some more astonishing facts, Click More than 20 Astonishing Facts About The Titanic. See ya!