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Artifacts of Early Man Paleolithic

Reprinted by permission from "Artifacts of Ancient Civilizations" by Alex G. Malloy

Homo, or man, first used stone tool as an extension of himself, to change other parts of his environment. In this way Paleolithic technology started and evolved. The earliest known stone tools are dated to the Oldowan period about 2.4 million years ago. They are found in Ethiopia, and belong to the sites known as the Oldowan industry. These are all based on Mary Leakey 's excavations at the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Homo Habilus is commonly thought to have made the Oldowan tools in East Africa. The tools were used for chipping and scraping. Hammer stones and axeheads were also made about 1.4 million yeas ago.

During the Acheulean period, heavy, sharp-edged tools were produced. Homo Erectus and later Homo Neanderthalensis produced these tools, along with Homo Sapiens. These tools were flaked on both sides, and made of quartzite, lava, chert, and flint. This technological similarity lasted for over a million years, starting in Africa and spreading to Europe, Western Asia, and India. At the early Acheulean sites, we find hand axes and cleavers in Eastern Africa only.  However, other sites dating 200,000 years ago reveal tools as far awary as Swanscombe, England. By 1 million years ago, the dominating tool was more slim, biface, and sometimes lanceolate hand axes.

The Mounsterian, or Middle Stone Age, was the period in which Homo Sapiens prospered technologically. Man 's modern capacity for culture started in and around 50,000 years ago. The tools found include notched flakes, denticulates or flakes with a serrated edge, Leallois flakes, and Aterian points.

The Upper Paleolithic period exemplifies the early artifacts of Homo Sapiens. The tool functions became more apparent, punch-struck blades were introduced, and a refined bifacial technique was used. Approximately between 40,000 to 10,000 years ago, technology flourished at different times in different areas. Various diverse industries came about: the Aurignacian, the Chatel Perronian, the Gravettian, the Solutrean, and the Magdalenian. This was the period in which man first began to learn the use of fire, making clothing, build shelters, bury the dead, and create art.

The Mesolithic Period was transition between the later Paleolithic and the beginning of the Neolithic. This period saw man change from a solely hunter society to civilized Neolithic peoples.

The Neolithic and Copper Ages saw the final stages of the conversion of man from nomadic hunters to the farmer existence in villages. The stone artifacts continued to be made, but the purpose changed. Axes were now used for felling trees and shaping timber for the building of houses and huts. Denmark was widely populated, and exceptional thin-butted axe heads, gouges, chisels, battle-axes, and daggers were produced. Many of these axe heads were finely polished. Western Neolithic polished axes were produced with fine craftsmanship. The first Neolithic farmers to reach Italy and Central Europe were coming from the east and originally from Turkey. Domestic pottery was their gift, as well as their techniques of farming. Corrugated, incised, painted pottery of many types were made throughout Europe during this period. With pottery vessels came terracotta dolls and figurines. The Copper Age began around 7000 B.C. in Southeastern Turkey at Diyar Bakir. We know this because small copper pins have been excavated there, which date to about that time. The Copper Age came to various regions and areas at different times. The earliest working metal was a nature, unalloyed copper. The objects were cast in single piece molds.

The Bronze Age arrived in Europe in stages: in Crete, 3300-2100 B.C., in Greece, 2500-1700 B.C., in Coastal Italy, 2500-1850 B.C., in Inland Italy, 1850-1625 B.C., in Northern Europe, 2500-1600 B.C. The objects reflect a barbarian society, concerned with warfare, weapons, and social status through ornamented pins, jewelry, finger, and arm rings, and bracelets. By 2000 B.C., bronze work was widespread in Europe. Most bronze swords, brooches, knives, pins, and ornaments were made by casting copper ores and tin. These were not common in Europe, so with Bronze Age came power struggles and warfare. A warlike society thrived in Europe from 2700-700 B.C.

The Iron Age came to Europe with a quick change in society. The use of iron for weapons and tools released the bronze workers to concentrate on producing luxury items and beautiful decorative objects. This period is known for its exceptional bronze work on jewelry, ornaments, and horse harness decorations.  The fibula, or brooch, was worn by all society. By the second half of the Iron Age, the Celts (also known as the Gauls, Galli, or Gallatae) had swept through Central and  Western Europe, where they settled, and extended their influence fir about five centuries. The Celts were barbarians who had a common language that was spoken, but not generally written. Most of what we know of the Celts comes from Greek and Roman writers, as well as the rich treasure of artifacts the Celts left behind. By the 2nd century B.C., Celtic tribes had reached across to the Black Sea, and certain tribes had even swept into parts of Asia Minor. The Celtic period in Europe is the La Tene period.


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