Prehistoric periods timeline Characteristics tools and in America


One of the periods of history that attracted the most attention but which have less information is Prehistory. However, although little is known, the little that is known about human life has been impressive. In this article we will provide you the Prehistoric periods timeline.

The term “Prehistory” refers to a stage of history that has traditionally studied human beings and their culture from their origins ( hominids ) to the appearance of writing . A fundamental fact of this period is the lack of written sources, for this reason, in addition to the task of the historian, it is necessary to resort to other sciences such as: Archeology, Stratigraphy, Ethnography, Ecology, Dendrochronology, among others.

Characteristics of the Study of Prehistory

In general terms we can say that the fundamental objectives of Prehistory are:

  1. The study of the origin of the human species and its first cultural manifestations.
  2. The study of the organic and inorganic environment in which the first human activities took place.
  3. The formation and development of human culture, in its broadest sense, and the processes of cultural change.
  4. The ways of life and subsistence of the different prehistoric communities.
  5. The social, technological, organizational, forms of production, beliefs and funeral rituals.
  6. The scientific interpretation of the past.

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Research and Dating of Prehistory

The study of Prehistory must be supported by material evidence obtained through scientific methods and techniques from auxiliary and complementary disciplines, in a space of time in which there is no writing. Here we will highlight three of those methods:

1. Archaeological stratigraphy

Analysis of the superposition of terrestrial layers on the ground with an archaeological purpose. Each layer has a different age and depending on where we find an object we can establish its age.

2. Carbon 14 Test

It is based on the fact that a radioactive isotope of carbon (C 14), which is found in all living organic matter in a known proportion, is gradually consumed after the death of the organism, and is reduced by half after 5,568 years. By measuring the amount of C 14 remaining in an organic residue, the date of its “death” can be established with an approximation that depends on the conditions and precision of the analysis.

3. Dendrochronology

It is based on the fact that the thickness of the annual growth rings, clearly visible in the cut of a tree trunk, is proportional to the (rainfall), and therefore homogeneous in the different trees of the same area for each anus. In this way, the log sections can be translated into graphs that record the oscillations in rainfall following a fixed pattern (regardless of the tree cut) for the same years. This pattern can be recognized and applied to other trunks, starting from sequences obtained from living tree trunks (whose final dating is known), and going back in time by superimposing them with those of older trunks (beams of palaces, temples, etc.) .

Stages/Timelines of Prehistory

The division of Prehistory into chronological and cultural periods is due to the need to facilitate the understanding of this stage, which, on the other hand, is the longest in human history. It is very important to clarify that the criteria for dividing ages and periods cannot always be applied equally in all regions . The divisions indicated are not absolute, but rather serve an orientation role .

  • STONE AGE : There were already the first weapons and utensils, all made of stone; was subdivided into :
    • Paleolithic : This stage of prehistory is the one that started this entire period and is characterized by the use of carved stone. It extends to approximately 10,000 years BC where the stone was used to make tools such as spears, knives, points and scrapers that allowed them to collect and make their first clothes to protect themselves from the cold.
    • Mesolithic : This period is also known as the Middle Stone Age and spans approximately between 12,000 BP and 9,000 BP. In this period, man was characterized by being nomadic and living in different places according to the climate. Even so, in some other regions there were more sedentary populations.
    • Neolithic : This is the stage of prehistory where man knows the polished stone and begins to give it a leading use. This covers from 10,000 to 3,000 BC approximately. It was in this period that man made great changes that prepared him for a better life in the Metal Age that followed.
  • AGE OF METALS : Man advanced, and his needs also; now the weapons and tools had to be more precise, they needed a new material. It was subdivided into:
    • Copper Age : This was the first period of the Metal Age, where man apart from using stone, wood and other materials for the elaboration of his work and hunting tools, implemented the use of metals through a melting process with fire.
    • Bronze Age : At this stage, man began to develop the craft of metal smelting and managed to know the alloy of metals, such as bronze, which consisted of 90% copper and 10% tin, resulting in a more resistant metal than copper only. This alloy allowed them to make different tools, weapons and ornaments.
    • Iron Age : In this period, metallurgy had been perfected and also smelting furnaces, which allowed them to melt more resistant minerals such as iron, forming tools and weapons of great resistance. In addition, agriculture and architecture developed at the same time, which was a huge development and growth for the culture of that time.

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Prehistory in America

In order to make a more appropriate description and analysis for the region, American prehistorians and archaeologists developed a different terminology to refer to similar events on the continent of America. They were aware that conditions existed in the American continent that prevented the strict application of the schemes used by the Europeans. Thus, GR Willey and Ph. Phillips proposed in 1958 the following scheme:

  • Lithic Period (origins in the ice age, equivalent to the European Paleolithic).
  • Archaic Period (postglacial nomads, equivalent to the European Mesolithic and Epipaleolithic).
  • Formative Period (beginnings of agriculture, equivalent to the European Neolithic).
  • Classic Period (urban civilizations, equivalent to the European Metal Age).
  • Postclassic Period ( Pre-Hispanic empires ).

Tools Prehistory

The tools of prehistory were also a clear reflection of the evolution of man , not only in a physical sense but in terms of knowledge, creativity and other key aspects. As new needs arose, man was adapting and discovering things like fire that allowed him to develop his tools to the degree that they were extremely effective and allowed them to save time and effort.

For example, the first weapons that man invented in the Stone Age consisted of carved stones mixed with wood for ease of grip . These tools were used to cut the skins, crush and even divide the meat into several pieces.

As time went by, the tools evolved and now consisted of polished stone, which was more resistant, and other elements such as wood itself . In addition, they began to create weapons that were used for hunting and were much more durable and effective.

Later, with the arrival of sedentary lifestyle in the daily life of man, the need arose to build durable houses that would resist the attacks of the weather or animals, so they needed more powerful tools. On the other hand, knowledge of agriculture and livestock led them to make other tools in order to plow the land and sow more quickly and efficiently.

Finally, with the discovery of fire , man learned about metallurgy and began to make metal tools that are more durable and resistant than stone , which allowed them to finish developing as a civilization and perform their tasks in a better way.

Prehistoric clothing

Clothing in prehistory was also evolving and adapting to the climate that prevailed at that time, which was extremely cold but later increased in temperature. It is believed that the clothes were invented in the Paleolithic and that they were not very elaborate, because the tools of that time were not very developed, so they consisted of slightly scraped, cured and thick skins . In addition, shoes were created to protect the feet from the freezing weather. It is worth mentioning that if the skin was very hard, they used tools to crush it and soften it as much as they could to make it flexible.

In the Mesolithic, obviously the clothes created were greatly improved and the climate was not as demanding as in the Paleolithic, so the craft of sewing and clothing also emerged. Although the textile industry as such was not possibly developed in this period, the leathers that were used in the previous period of history were worked in a better way and sewing was also added to join pieces together .

Later, in the Neolithic, agriculture arrived and the tools were getting better and better, so yarn and fabrics such as linen began to be created, which was widely used for this time . Later, wool appears as another of the fabrics that was used in times of very cold, even in later times and to this day.

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