An overview of the characteristics of paleolithic and neolithic cultures

Like its predecessor the Pleistocene, the Holocene epoch is a geological period, and its name derives from the Greek words "holos", whole or entire and "kainos", newmeaning "entirely recent". It is divided into 4 overlapping periods:

An overview of the characteristics of paleolithic and neolithic cultures

In Depth Tutorials and Information Neolithic cultures, overview Archaeology of Ancient Egypt The "Neolithic" literally the "New Stone Age" is the common if imprecise term widely used to denote the initial appearance in a given region of food-producing—that is, agricultural—economies.

How did this transition to agriculture occur, and precisely when? And most interesting of all, why? Generations of scholars have contemplated these questions, and not only in Egypt; agriculture appeared in many areas of the world at about the same time.

The key element in agriculture is environmental modification. Hunters and gatherers modify the environments of plants and animals in a small way, of course, by making camp fires and so forth, but farmers modify environments in much more intense ways. They plow fields, cut and burn forests, irrigate and weed crops, protect their farm animals from predators, and in many other ways alter the "natural" conditions of plant and animal life.

Even in Egypt, where the Nile provided a relatively easy form of agriculture in which seeds could be planted in the wet rich soils left every year by the Nile floods, people still had to weed, build dikes to trap basins of water for irrigation, hand-water some crops, pen cattle, herd sheep and do other simple agricultural tasks.

The essence of domestication is mutualism, the increasing dependence of plants, animals and people on each other, often to the point that plants and animals lose their ability to survive in the wild. This would be an extremely maladaptive change if these plants had to live in their natural environment, without human help in seeding these crops.

This ability to reproduce without human help has been largely An overview of the characteristics of paleolithic and neolithic cultures as people have manipulated these crops over the millennia. Some of the initial genetic changes were probably accidental, made by people who did not know that by, for example, harvesting wild cereals more intensively by tapping ripe heads and collecting the grains from the shattering grain heads they were removing from the genetic population the seeds with this brittle characteristic.

But cereals with this tough non-shattering grain head are far easier to collect with sickles than the brittle wild varieties, and at some point people undoubtedly began intentionally to plant seeds from parent plants with desirable characteristics, just as they began to select for sheep with better wool, cows that produced more milk, and so forth.

Given this sense of what agriculture and domestication are, we can consider how Egypt made the transition to an agricultural society. To begin with, farming in Egypt did not start because some genius observed natural reproduction in plants and animals and then domesticated animals and laid out a farm.

The transition from hunting-gathering to agriculture in Egypt took place over centuries and involved plants and animals whose domestication required many millennia of both "natural" and intentional selection. Agricultural economies also require the development of specialized tools.

Prehistoric Religions: An Overview

Though vague, the "Neolithic" is not altogether an inappropriate term for early farming, because farming called for an entirely different toolkit from that used in hunting and gathering. Sickles and hoes in particular are important cereal farming tools, and archaeologically one of the most visible signs of changing economies is an increase in the stone mortars and pestles grinding stones used by most ancient peoples to make flour from grain.

Perhaps the most infallible marker of the growing importance of agriculture is containers. Hunter-gatherers in different areas of the world used gourds, and occasionally stone and wood bowls and in Egypt, empty ostrich eggsbut farming requires many cheap containers for food preparation, storage, plant watering and a thousand other uses.

Pottery was, of course, the means by which early farmers across the world met this need for containers, and the processes of pottery production were independently invented many times.

An overview of the characteristics of paleolithic and neolithic cultures

It now seems very probable that all the major Egyptian farm crops and some of the domesticated animals were domesticated outside of Egypt, mainly in southwest Asia, and then introduced to Egypt.

Various scholars have advanced the hypothesis that agriculture appeared later in Egypt than in southwest Asia because the Nile Valley was so rich in native wild animals and plants that there was a "resistance" to farming, especially since we must assume that early farming was a laborious and not always reliable way of making a living in the preindustrial world.

However, there is some evidence that ancient Egyptians were not simply passive recipients of foreign domesticates, for they appear to have domesticated several plants and animals. Their work has given us a detailed picture of the hunter-gatherers who roamed the fringes of the Nile Valley before agriculture appeared.

By about 9, years ago, people began moving into the areas bordering the Nile Valley, into the rich grasslands that supported great herds of gazelles, wild cattle and other animals. The evidence is sketchy but it seems to suggest that people moved out into these grasslands from the Nile Valley itself, which at this time teemed with huge catfish, hippopotami, waterfowl and many other animal and plant resources.

At Kom Ombo,Wadi Kubbaniya and other southern Egyptian sites, stone tools and other remains have been found that represent sedentary communities of people who relied heavily on animals and plants whose environments they significantly modified.

The mortars, sickle blades and other implements found at these sites suggest substantial plant use, but the adaptation appears to have been a mobile one, based on small groups pursuing a diversified hunting- gathering economy.

The earliest evidence of forms of subsistence, settlement and technology in northeast Africa that differed significantly from those of the late Pleistocene comes from the desert areas of Bir Kiseiba and Nabta in what is now southwest Egypt.

On the basis of evidence from this area, Wendorf, Schild and Close note that both cattle and pottery were known here as early as anywhere else in the world. Thus, as early as 9, years ago, ancient Egyptians seem to have been in the process of domesticating plants and animals and developing the ground stone tools and other implements of an agricultural economy.

But these local domesticates appear to have been displaced at some point after about 8, years ago, when domesticated strains of wheat and barley were introduced into Egypt, along with domesticated sheep and goats there is no reliable evidence that the wild ancestors of either sheep Ovis orientalis or goats Capra hircus lived in North Africa.

An overview of the characteristics of paleolithic and neolithic cultures

We do not know—and may never know—if people using these domesticated plants and animals immigrated to Egypt or whether these domesticates were simply introduced along trade routes that had been in operation for many centuries before farming appeared.

Once established, however, the farming communities quickly spread through the Delta and Nile Valley, displacing both those hunter-gatherer groups that might have remained as well as groups that were already highly dependent on local plants and had developed something of an agricultural technology.

The growing aridity of the period after about BC may well have forced people into the Nile Valley from the increasingly barren desert margins, and perhaps they brought with them both domesticated cattle and the ground stone tools that would have been especially productive when combined with southwest Asian domesticated crops and animals.

The origin of humans and early human societies

Around the ancient shorelines of the lake that used to fill this oasis are the remains of hundreds of camp sites of people who hunted, fished and foraged this rich lacustrine environment between about and Paleolithic and Neolithic times tools were made of stone, bone or wood, so there is no major difference in the material used for tools, both are LITHIC cultures (“stoneage”).

Aside of the materials used there were no letters and no writing used in both time epochs, so they both are prehistoric as well.

PREHISTORIC RELIGIONS: AN OVERVIEW. The term prehistory refers to the vast period of time between the appearance of humanity's early hominid ancestors and the beginning of the historical period. Since the invention of writing is used to mark the transition between prehistory and history, the date of this boundary varies greatly from region to region.

In Old World archaeology, Mesolithic (Greek: μέσος, mesos "middle"; λίθος, lithos "stone") is the period between the Upper Paleolithic and the term Epipaleolithic is often used synonymously, especially for outside northern Europe, and for the corresponding period in the Levant and Mesolithic has different time spans in different parts of Eurasia.

The Paleolithic era is defined by the appearance and development of the earliest cultures to use stone tools. The Stone Age as a larger category is divided into three eras: the Paleolithic, the oldest Stone Age; the Mesolithic, or middle Stone Age; and the Neolithic, or new Stone Age.

Paleolithic technology, culture, and art Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age), and Neolithic (New Stone Age). 1 ^1 1 start superscript, 1, end superscript. Stone tools also give us insight into the development of culture. Anthropologists think Paleolithic people likely hunted, foraged, and employed a communal system for dividing.

An Overview of the Characteristics of Paleolithic and Neolithic Cultures PAGES 3. WORDS 1, View Full Essay. More essays like this: ancient civilization, neolithic cultures, paleolithic cultures, paleolithic old stone era.

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Prehistoric Religions: An Overview |