The Paleolítico is the first period and the longer the prehistory of mankind. Its etymological meaning is ” Ancient Stone ” and refers to the fundamental use of stone for the elaboration of tools that allow social evolution. In this period, the homo genus evolved until it reached Homo Sapiens , the current man. In this article we will let you know about the Paleolithic age time period.
The Paleolithic is believed to have started around 2,850,000 BC and extends to approximately 12,000 BC . This period is divided into three stages : Lower, Middle and Upper .
Next, we will talk in more detail in this article about those years when the man made important advances and was developing physically, mentally and emotionally.
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Stages of the Paleolítico
- LOWER Palaeolithic: This period constitutes the first and longest prehistory . It is believed that it began around the year 2,850,000 BC and extends until the year 250,000 BC where man was characterized by living in caves in order to protect himself from animal attacks and at the same time from the freezing climate. Here “Homo habilis” is the first species to make tools with stones. The fire was the invention that most helped them survive and is believed to be the “Homo erectus” the first master.
- MIDDLE Paleolithic : This period began approximately in the year 250,000 BC until the year 30,000 BC where man had already shown traits of evolution, becoming more intelligent and capable for new tasks and inventions. In these years there is a greater development of working with stone. Decorative objects are also created and the cult of the dead begins.
- UPPER Palaeolithic: This stage extends from 30,000 BC to approximately 12,000 BC. This period ends what is known as the Paleolithic, the first stage of the Stone Age . It represents a definitive advance in the techniques of stone carving and the bone industry (utensils made with bones) that allows the development and improvement of work tools for hunting and fishing. New artistic manifestations of a symbolic nature made by “Homo sapiens” appear. The transition to the Mesolithic was rapid with respect to previous advances .
Chronological evolution of the human
- Homo habilis : This was the first type of human that existed and did not have much physical or mental capacity. He had an average height of 1.2 and 1.5 m, achieving a weight of approximately 50 kg. Its initial appearance is believed to have been on the African continent about 2 million years before present.
- Homo rudolfensis : This type of man also appeared in the eastern part of the African continent and had a very similar antiquity to Homo habilis, between 2.4 and 1.9 million years before the present, in fact some experts believe that it is the same class.
- Homo ergaster : This was a more developed man who managed to emigrate from Africa to other regions of the world, with an age of between 1.8 and 1.4 million years.
- Homo georgicus : This type of man had a cranial capacity of about 650 cm 3 and is characterized by inhabiting only the Georgia region. Its age amounts to about 1.6 million years before the present.
- Homo erectus : This type was a huge leap in the evolution of man, since he could stand upright like modern man, although he still had some features of the previous species. It is located on the Asian continent and was about 1.8 million years old.
- Homo antecessor : This type comes from Homo ergaster and has a cranial capacity of 1000 cm 3 . In addition, it is believed that it inhabited Europe and also a region of the African continent, about 800,000 years ago.
- Homo heidelbergensis : This is approximately 500,000 years before the present. It also inhabited the European continent like its predecessor and successor, but it had more capacity, measuring about 1.8 m on average and weighing about 100 kg.
- Homo neanderthaliensis ⁽ ⁴ ⁾ : he inhabited the region of the European continent and the Middle East between 110,000 and 30,000 years before the present. Its physical characteristics were striking because it was less robust than its predecessor, but its cranial capacity was superior, even more than that of modern man.
- Homo rhodesiensis : This species had a cranial capacity of between 1200 and 1400 cm 3 and inhabited the African continent between 500,000 and 200,000 years before the present. Some consider that it is a species of presapiens and others believe that it is the same Homo heidelbergensis.
- Homo sapiens : This is the species that appeared around 200,000 years ago in Africa and has survived to this day.
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Development of human traits
The main characteristic that triggers the development of human features is bipedalism (walking upright with the feet). This modification in the way of moving causes substantial transformations in the skeleton over time, affecting the pelvis and its lower extremities more elongated with respect to the upper ones, shorter as they are not necessary for movement.
When walking upright, locomotion (the transfer from one place to another) is more energy efficient, and by not intervening in the process, the upper limbs are released. The free arms can be dedicated to handling, harvesting roots and fruits, etc.
On the other hand, brain evolution and the growth of brain capacity in hominids are an ongoing process. Not only do they increase in size and triple in weight, they also increase in increasing specialization as a consequence of a more developed social life.
Society in the Palaeolithic
The development of human society goes hand in hand with the development of man both physically, mentally and emotionally, but it is also true that the climate and the environment contributed to it. In the Paleolithic, man was characterized by leading a nomadic lifestyle , living in different places and in small groups of between 8 and 12 people , gradually getting to know the concept of the family.
Later, the roles in these groups began to be used to achieve different tasks at the same time. The men were the ones who did the hunting and protection tasks. However, it must be taken into account that, from the Paleolithic to the Metal Age , women not only carried out reproduction and maintenance tasks to which they have traditionally been linked, but also participated in work outside the domestic sphere . The goal was the same: survival. Anthropological studies show that in prehistory, hunting birds and small mammals, such as rodents or rabbits, was a task assumed by both sexes. When securing livelihoods, the whole group was working .
Inventions in paleolítico
The inventions can be separated by stages or periods, such as the following:
- Lower Palaeolithic : In this period fire was known or discovered , around 600,000 BC approximately. Later, around the year 500,000 BC, dresses made of animal skin were made. Then, wood began to be used as a supporting material for stone, around 400,000 BC. Small axes were invented around 250,000 BC approximately. Scrapers, biface, spearheads, knives, and scrapers were invented around 200,000 BC.
- Middle Palaeolithic : In this period percussion tools are invented around 100,000 BC Then other types of better quality knives, spears and scrapers are created in that same time. In addition, burins, points, scrapers and punches are invented to better work the stone and the hides. Finally, the bone industry developed to some extent in about 75,000 BC.
- Upper Palaeolithic : In the year 50,000 BC the oil lamp is invented. After the rock art is developed around 45,000 BC The clay began to work in 30,000 BC The bow and arrow as defense instruments were created in 30,000 BC as well. The needle (invented around 20,000 BC) did much to make clothing and furs to protect against the cold. The paintbrush, invented in the year 18,000, was key to rock art.
Food in the Paleolithic
The diet in this first period of prehistory was based mainly on hunting and gathering, with which they gathered meat, fruits, vegetables, firewood, minerals, skins, among other things . With some of these materials they managed to make work tools and also hunting weapons, although it is believed that hunting became part of life in other periods later.
When game came as the main means of food, they ate the organs, since they were an important source of protein, such as the liver, heart, kidney and brain . They also possibly came to know horticulture in a very primitive and simple way. The tubers were surely part of their diet, especially in the Asian region . Agriculture or livestock were not known at that time, the necessary tools had not yet been invented, but being collectors, they took it from the plants that grew from the earth.
Marine animals were also part of their diet, especially from the Middle Paleolithic and in the presence of Homo sapiens . Animals such as mollusks and mussels, as well as different kinds of fish, were part of their basic diet due to their nutritional properties. All this starting between 110,000 BC and 164,000 BC before the present.
Beliefs in the Paleolithic
The first steps of man towards religion were based mainly on the worship of their ancestors, which they carried out through funeral rites and customs . They buried their dead and placed a kind of stone plate to identify them and offered offerings as a form of worship. Others put their dead in graves through specific rites.
Dwellings in the Paleolithic
At the beginning of the Paleolithic, man lived in caves in a nomadic way , but in the later stages of the Paleolithic, the first houses began to be built because man began to lead a sedentary life. These houses were built mainly with tree branches and covered with animal skins.
Later, the houses were built with animal bones that made them more resistant, also covering them with skins and tree branches . After thousands of years living in simple and uncomfortable houses, they began to improve them with even more resistant materials, such as stone or wood.
Before the Upper Paleolithic there are some incipient artistic manifestations. But it is the arrival of Homo Sapien that makes the quantity and quality of works of art grow exponentially . Palaeolithic man combines his technique with adaptation to the support to create art. Both “Rock” and “Furniture” art take advantage of natural reliefs and fissures, as well as stones, bones and antlers (animal horns).
Rock or Parietal Art
It uses walls and ceilings of caves or rock shelters as support. They are mainly engraved or painted reddish, ocher or black.
Furniture or Furniture Art
It makes references to artistic manifestations made on utensils or small supports, which can be transported from one place to another. Includes Venus, tools, pendants. The usual support is bone or horn. Other supports such as plates and stone fragments also appear. The decorations range from simple linear markings to highly realistic animal figures.