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Cultural Evolution - Broad Outlines of Prehistoric cultures

Prehistory is one of the branches of Anthropology that deals with the remains of past human culture. It raised upon the fact that all human societies unconsciously left some concrete records not only of their material possessions but also of their behaviour, believes and social institution.

A significant landmark in prehistoric studies was the publication of Prehistoric times by Sir John Lubbock in 1865. According to Daniel Wilson the term prehistory was first introduced in English language in 1851. Lubbock first used the word in the sense of primitive culture. Similarly, Tylore(1871), Gladstone(1878) and others applied the term prehistory in an almost identical connotation but in reality the terminology was in use 20 years before Wilson. Piggot (1959) was the first man who made a major division of prehistory into primary prehistory and secondary marginal prehistory.

In the book Primitive Culture Lubbock made notable contributions particularly for its inclusion of human culture starting from palaeolithic to iron age. In Europe the studies of prehistoric culture formally began with the work of Boucher-de-Perthes discovery of Chellean and Acheulian industries of Europe. Edward Lartet began a systematic work in the Dordogne region of France in 1860. He discovered the Cro-magnon Man fossil (prehistoric man) and the materials of Aurignacian culture in Europe. Similar developments also took place in America, South Africa, East Africa and India. In South East Africa Mr. and Mrs. Leakey were able to trace out the earliest human fossil and his material culture. In India, Robert Bruce Foote was responsible for excavating the palaeolithic culture or culture of preliterate society.

The Ecology of man, in contrast to that of other living beings is heavily influenced by technology and its material products. As Beals and Hoijer (1971) rightly point out that technology is the sum total of the techniques possessed by members of a society; that is the totality of their ways of behaving in respect to collecting raw materials from the environments and processing these to make tools, containers, foods, clothing, shelters, etc.

What is usually called material culture, on the other hand, refers to the sum of the artifacts resulting from technology. Whereas most other animals simply utilize the natural environment as such for food and shelter, changing it relatively little in the process, man alters or transforms his environment. He makes tools of wood, stone, shell, bone and metal to increase his efficiency in using and controlling environment.

Artifacts are the main material remains of prehistoric culture, conceived and made by human beings. These are used to make inferences on the life style and food habit of early man, to note the evolutionary development and adaptations of man to the environment. According to the nature of the material on which the artifacts were manufactured such as stone, bone, shell, clay, wood etc. for example, stone artifacts may be classified as flint-objects, steatite objects etc. And bone objects may be categorized as coming from a particular bone of a particular species e.g. the shouldered blade of a deer or the upper leg-bone of a turkey (peru bird), etc. Similarly shell artifacts can be grouped as per the scope of their availability.

A shell from an ocean is distinguished from a shell belonging to fresh water environment. These can again be classified according to their place of occurrence, which is generally lake, a riverbed or a specific locality. Categorization of the artifacts may also take place on the basis of their function. For instance, the stone artifacts may make the groups of axes, knives, scrapers, points, borers and so on. In the same way bone artifacts may be differentiated into the groups of awls, hoes, pendent or beads. In this way, the different item like stone bone, shell, pottery, metal, ivory, wood etc. can be separated.

Stone: Stone is the first material that was used by man for making tools, implements and some other objects of daily use in prehistoric time.

Clay and Pottery:

Clay vessels and other utensils, beads, toys, figurines etc. have been excavated from many sites of prehistoric period, in different parts of the world. Clay was certainly an important discovery among man’s earliest discoveries of natural materials. Like the stone implements, pottery is also an artifact. It is another important indicator of cultural life because making of pottery is related to the higher accomplishment of primitive people.

Wood :

Wood being an organic material is especially susceptible to deterioration. Man used hard wood since the early days of stone age. He relied on it in the same scale as he did upon the stone. Normally he made various kinds of weapons, objects of daily use as well as materials for art and decoration. The oldest wooden implement so far as recovered, is a wooden spear-point about 200,000 years old.

Ivory and Bone:

The use of ivory and bone were recognized since the Upper Palaeolithic period. They have been making implements, ornaments, handles for weapons, beads etc. Ivory was the most common raw material for such works. Both ivory and bone can be easily stained because they are porous in nature.

Metals:

Apart from gold and silver, much work on copper, bronze and iron objects have been discovered as exhibits of Bronze and Iron Ages. The prehistoric people made many items from copper and bronze during that period.

The first or the oldest prehistoric culture is known as Paleolithic or the Old Stone Age. The term comes from the Greek word Palaios means old and lithos means stone. Therefore, palaios + lithos = Paleolithic. Still Paleolithic period or Old Stone Age is very important as it provides a clear cut sequence of cultural development throughout the entire Pleistocene time, all over the world. In this time, stone is used as tool or material in the way of life of prehistoric people, because all the peoples of this time are hunters and gatherers. It is considered as a crucial period for all round human evolution. Development of cultures can be traced out distinctively in this period. Paleolithic can be further divided into three cultural phases – Lower Paleolithic, Middle Palaeolithic and Upper Paleolithic.

The time span of Lower Palaeolithic was the maximum, covering the whole of Lower Pleistocene and bulk of the Middle Pleistocene epoch. The stratigraphic sequences of entire Pleistocene epoch containing Lower Palaeolithic artifacts have been discovered from the Somme Valley in the North France and Thames Valley in the south England. The tool making traditions of Lower Palaeolithic in western Europe can be divided into two groups, such as core and Flake industries. Basically, the core industry contained the core tools while the flake industry consisted of the flake tools. The stone is the only material of this two industries of prehistoric period.

Core Industry : Elementary feature of the core industry is the bifacial tool that means more or less pointed tool made on core where both the upper and lower surfaces are worked. This industry is sub-divided into two sub-types/traditions, such as Abbevillian and Acheulean. Typologically, very crude type of hand adzes, hand axes, choppers, chopping tools, discs, scrapers etc., are included in this group. The primary flaking has been worked out only at the working end.

During the first glacial period (Gunz) this industry flourished in western Europe and Africa. A group of Australopithecine might be responsible for this industry. At Olduvai Gorge of Africa Mr. and Mrs. Leakey discovered two fossil man Zinjanthropus boisei in 1951 and Homo-habilis in 1960.

Flake Industry :

The flake industry of Lower Palaeolithic culture has two traditions. They are : (i) the Clactonian tradition and (ii) Levalloisian.

The Clactonian tradition :

The Clactonian flakes are rough and struck out unsystematically from the prepared core. It is suggested that most of these flakes are produced by striking the lump on the edge of an anvil. The Clactonian flakes generally exhibited large, massive, unfacetted striking platforms and prominent positive bulbs of percussion.

Levalloisian tradition: It is predominantly represented by a flake tools which were produced by using the Levalloisian tool making technique. It requires a careful preparation of the core. The core is prepared to look like the back of tortoise. The flakes are detached from these specially prepared cores. The facetted striking platform makes an angle of 900 with the flake surface. The flake tradition is found well distributed in western Europe, Africa and India (specially in Madrasian industries). The Middle Palaeolithic cultural phase is differentiated mainly from the typological point of view where the core tool industry have totally been transferred to the flake industry in this level. Both Levalloisian and Mousterian traditions were developed on the flake industry involving a higher technology. It is marked by the large number of side scrapers, backed knives, points, nosed flakes, burins, and end scrapers have appeared. The geological age of this culture is middle Pleistocene and Neanderthal people were definitely responsible for the creation of this cultural phase.

The last part of the Palaeolithic culture gave rise to the Upper Palaeolithic phase. During this short span of time, the prehistoric man made his greatest cultural progress. This phase of Palaeolithic culture shows diversified and specialized tools made on blades by the replacement of the core and flake tools of earlier phases. It is also notable that, not only flint and similar rocks were used as tools, bone was also taken as a material for making tools. The culture has been referred as the Osteodontokeratic culture for the utilization of bone, teeth and horn at a time. Early man of primitive types disappeared at this cultural stage and the man of modern type came into existence. The cultural stage also shows the beginning and flowering of the Palaeolithic art.

Blade and burin industry :

The blade and burin industry of Upper Palaeolithic comprises of three traditions mainly (1) Aurignacian (2) Solutrean and (3) Magdalenian. The characteristic tools are blades of flint with one adge straight (razor like). The hunters possibly used these blades as knife in this period. This culture is represented by the blade, burin, tanged points, Gravette points, multi-angle gravers etc.

(1) Aurignacian tradition :

This tradition is named after the type – site, a rock shelter known as Aurignac in South France. The leading tool types of this stage include the steep-ended scrapers, nosed scrapers, blade artefacts with split-based bone lance points, batton- de- commandment, chisels, pierced teeth and shells, decorated bits of bone, ivory and stone. The Aurgnacian people were artistic. They are expert in engraving, sculpture and painters. Main responsible representatives of this cultural phase is the Cro-magnon group of man. The Cro-magnon people have been placed as the men of Late Pleistocene and they are the first runners of Neanthropic race, the homo sapiens.

(2) Solutrean tradition :

This cultural phase is named after the type site located at La-Solutre near central France. This cultural phase is notable for the finest development of flint workmanship in the Palaeolithic period.

The Solutrean tradition is recognized by three fold division-

  1. Proto Solutrean
  2. Typical Solutrean
  3. Upper Solutrean

Main cultural remains of the Solutrean peoples are willow leaf point, laurel-leaf points, tanged points, gravers, burins etc. The culture has limited distribution. An early form is found in the deposits of Hungary, Poland and elsewhere in central Europe. The Solutrean people are expert in making the beautiful but small laurel leaf points.

(3)Magdalenian traditions:

The last phase of Palaeolithic period is the Magdalenian phase which is noted for the wealth of bone and antler tools and specially remarkable for the works of art. The flint industry of the Magdalenian people bore a blade tool tradition. The main tools of Magdalenian tradition are the different types of harpoons (single row barbs, double row barbs, and lateral barbs), long and parallel sided blades etc.

The Magdalenian phase is the richest stage of Palaeolithic. They use pigments of ochres, minerals, burnt bones etc., to get different colours. They converted these pigments into paint by mixing with some fatty medium. Human skeletal remains of modern type of man have been unearthed from several sites. They are undoubtedly the Neanthropic man and perhaps the representatives of Chancelade group of man of late Pleistocene.

Mesolithic:

Another important culture Mesolithic is a part of Holocene that began at the end of Pleistocene. A change primarily affected the people of advanced Palaeolithic culture occupying the regions to the late glacial. In that time climate was gradually changed. The weather in temperature latitude got warmer whereas it became drier in Mediterranean and sub-tropical zones. Man had to adapt themselves to quite novel conditions. The cultural development of Mesolithic has been observed in Europe. The people altered their food pattern and changed tool technology was evident at this time. Flints are turned to pygmy tools, called microliths. Microliths are the characteristic tools of Mesolithic people. These are extremely minutes some measures only 3/16 inch, or even less in size. The shapes vary greatly but the usual forms are more or less Geometrical. All are the tiny tools, which could be attached, joined or embedded to the wooden or bone handles. Such microliths used to be hafted in rows to act as knives.

Mesolithic people invented a wonderful device for killing of the animals i.e., bow and arrow. The European Mesolithic culture may be divided into seven phases: (1) Azilian, (2) Tardenosian, (3)Asturian, (4) Larnean, (5) Maglemosean, (6) Kitchen-midden and (7) Campignion.

The Mesolithic people in Europe mostly lived in caves or in rock-shelters. The most significant developments of Mesolithic people were the domestication of animal (dog), invention of pottery, and the bow and arrow. All these became more important in later period, i.e., Neolithic. As in Europe, Africa and several part of Asia, India also witnessed a great climatic change toward the end of the Palaeolithic period. A number of sites of this age that have been discovered from western and central India. The Jarwas tribes of Andaman island still practicing this prehistoric tradition. They use bow and arrow in gathering times. Till today they are purely in nomadic stage. Neolithic is also a Greek word. It means ‘New stone’.

The period since the discovery of agriculture to the rise of urban civilization has been bracketed, as new stone or Neolithic period. During Neolithic period stone objects were manufactured by pecking, grinding, rubbing and polishing technique. They were far better in finishing as well as in its effectiveness. In this period man became a food-producer. Food collecting people completely rejected their nomadic life and started settled village life. Neolithic settlement was generally built close to the shores of lake.

Neolithic people learnt the use of the trunks of trees. They used to tie several logs of wood together to make a raft and that was used as a means of water-transport. They developed new types of stone tools by using grinding and polishing techniques. Some of these tools were mainly used for pounding grains so that the husks of the corns could be easily removed and the tough kernels could be broken for easy digest. Neolithic people continued to use flake implements made on flint, they were fitted into wooden handles to be used as Awl, Celt, Graver, Saw, Sickle etc. Characteristically all Neolithic axes and adzes are used after hafting to a handle. A polished stone axe-head of Neolithic time is commonly known as Celt. The bows and arrows were widely used in hunting as well as for war too. The most remarkable finding of Neolithic deposits is the skillfully made arrowheads and Celts. The practice of fishing was improved during Neolithic period. As a consequence of food-production, population growth was accelerated during Neolithic period. People had settled down in villages and tried to invent certain ways to make the life easier. These are:

  1. Invention of wheel,
  2. Invention of hand made and wheel made pottery,
  3. Invention of Weaving,
  4. Building of huts and dwelling complexes,
  5. Manufacturing of boats,
  6. Development of social organization,
  7. Domestication of plants and animals,
  8. Domesticating of plants and animals, all these made them possible to rise to the status of literate civilization V. Gordon Childe mentioned that Neolithic had opened an entire new way of life and he termed it as “Neolithic Revolution”.

Material Culture of Preliterate People: Man has always depended on three resources for his survival- Physical environment, culture and population. The purely hunting-gathering group depends totally on the merely and bounties of nature. Prehistoric man was totally food gatherer, hunter, fisherman, fowler and sore. Contemporary simple societies have been like this. Food gathering societies gather edible roots and fruits, marine products, do hunting of mammals, fishing and fowling as well as consume many insects and reptiles.

Food gathering-hunting techniques vary from region to region and from society to society according to the local environmental conditions. The ecological adaptations provides basis for cultural variations. The custom, traditions and value systems of different society are not alike. During pre-historic times, man used to roam about in a definite territory in quest for food. This nomadism may still be observed in case of the surviving hunting gathering societies. Among the noteworthy food gatherers mention may be made of the Arunta and Arunda of Australia (the Australian aborigines), the Natuka of Columbia, the Blackfoot of north America, the Eskimo of Siberia, the Bushmen Hottentot of Kalahari desert, Africa, the Veddas of Shrilanka, and the Chenchus (Andhrapradesh), the Kadars (Kerela), the Birhor (Bihar) and some other tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India. Many of such tribes living in difficult terrain and geography face lot of problems in getting food.

Besides the typically food gathering-hunting societies, one may come across several food producing societies resorting to gathering to supplement their food requirements. Among the Indian tribes the Bhil, the Oraon, the Munda, the Bhotia, the Nagas, the Tharu and a host of others despite being expert cultivators go for gathering edible roots, fruits, honey, and several other minor and major forest produces.

Human societies living by food gathering and hunting did not posses, containers or utensils. Hence storing the surplus, if any for the winters always faced lots of problems. The tools and implements at the disposal of gatherers-hunters were so crude that the output in terms of quantity of food produced was usually too meager in proportion to the input involved. Gradually, man developed his technology; new tools and implements were developed. Thus the crude hand axes and choppers gave way to blade and flake tools and then microliths provided him an extra edge. But the digging stick always remained. Then he also evolved throwing weapons like throwing club, bow and arrow, spear, harpoons for fishing, noose and traps for hunting and so on. Gathering-hunting societies live in bands or small groups maintain consanguineous ties. Although they lead a nomadic existence but their range of mobility have territorial constraints.

The existing gathering-hunting societies of the world use throwing weapons for hunting. Besides these, they also use nets, traps and pets like dogs and hawks etc. in hunting expeditions. Pet panthers and hawks are used in Rajputana region of India while several central Asia societies use pet hawks in hunting and fowling. The Kurgiz and Tungu tribes of central Asia keep ferocious dogs who help them in hunting expeditions.

Nets of various types, nooses and traps are also used by different human groups. The nooses are laid on the ground and the target animals are forced to tread over them and thus the trodden animals were trapped. This technique is prevalent in East Africa and Egypt. The Dayak tribe of Borneo use this technique while hunting for deer. The practice of catching birds has always been a part of many gathering-hunting economics of the world. One of the popular techniques of catching birds is to spread some adhesive material over a wooden sheet or other thing and broadcast food grains around it. Tempted by the food grains the birds come down and rest their feet over the adhesive and are trapped. The Santhals used this technique. Some other tribes and rural groups of Bengal use throny sticks to trap the birds. Among such traps, pit traps, noose traps, wheel traps, cage traps have been most popular. Among the Indian tribes the Naga, the Gond, the Santhal, the Oraon, the Baiga etc. are experts in these types of hunting. Fishing has also been an important aspects of gathering-hunting economy. Various types of harpoons and hook and rods bear testimony to this fact. Among the existing simple societies various techniques of fishing have been in vogue depending upon the local environmental conditions. Some of the prevalent fishing methods are:

  1. Fishing by hands,
  2. Fishing by poisoning,
  3. Fishing by hook and rod,
  4. Fishing by stopping the flow of water over a patch of land,
  5. Fishing by weapons,
  6. Fishing by nets, and
  7. Fishing by trained birds.

Among the Indian tribes, the Tharu, the Bhoksa, the Buna, the Garo, the Khasi, the Naga, the Oragon, the Munda, the Santhal, the Baiga, the Chenchu etc., and the fishing communities of Combodia, Indonesia and Thailand use one of the above mentioned fishing techniques.

Initially man used to consume all his food uncoocked, including raw flesh. When he become familiar with fire and learnt the art of fire making he developed the habit of consuming cooked food and later on making his food tastier by mixing vegetables and spices. Significantly, a number of tribes also know how to prolong the life of food for safe consumptions. Many of the coastal tribes keep eggs etc., in the sand pits and cover them for preservation. The use of fire is almost as old as humanity. Man learnt many things from the nature and fire is one of them. During Neolithic times, the following fire making techniques have been prevalently used by several primitive societies.

(1) Fire making by blow: This technique involves a blow of any hard material like rock over another similar material.
(2) Fire making by friction: When pieces of rocks, wood, bamboo or any metals are ground against each other, till it generates heat. If this friction is further hastened and speeded up, it gives rise to sparks. Several tribes of Africa, Veddas of Sri Lanka and some American Indian tribes practise this technique of fire making.

Shelter or habitation has always been one of the primary needs of man. Obviously the types and nature of housing are related with the local environmental factors that include the availability of raw material for man made shelters. Initially man used nature made shelters like rockshelter, caves, bushes and trees. Even today the people of Tundra and Alaska live in snow made houses protected by leather coverings. The Beduins/Bedouins of Arabia live in tents. The whole of the Palaeolithic time, man had to face the major climatic fluctuations in the form of the great Ice age. Rock shelters and caves were his natural choice during the time of glaciations. All human groups have been making houses according to the local requirements based on the locally available resources. Thus we found mainly four types of houses:

  1. Rock shelters / caves,
  2. Hilly slopes,
  3. Huts and
  4. Snow houses.

Few tribes of India made tree dwellings for protection against wild animals. The lake dwelling has also been a popular type along with the pile dwellings in which huts are made over the piles of wooden logs. Mobility has been an integral picture of human activities. Moving from place to place for exploring avenues for food and other means of survival may be regarded as the basic and most popular reason of mobility. Neolithic onwards men learnt the art of domestication of animals and they had been used many tamable animals in his various economic activities including transport. Man also used to ride such animals for the safety of the goods as well as to avoid the drudgery of walking over long distances in difficult geographical terrains. Use of dogs in pulling sledge over icy surface is still in vogue among the Eskimos. Harnessing the buffaloes, ponies, elephants etc., in plains, whereas camels in desert regions and mammals like reindeer and yaks in the mountainous areas have helped a lot. The floating logs of wood might have shown man the way to devise boats and canoes. Some of the most well-known vessels built by primitive man are canoes used by the Andamanese, (still found among the present day canoes of Anandamanies. Painting the body is considered as the oldest method of personal adornment and it is still practised by many primitive societies of the world.

During prehistoric times various shades of ochre and vegetables colours were used to paint and decorate human body. Sometimes painting the body with a lotion is more for protection against insect bite than for the purpose of adornment. Primitive tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands are good example of this ‘protecting painting’ that use a mixture of the local soil and extraction of some medicinal plants and use such a lotion as protection from mosquito/poisonous insects bite.

The Paliyan and Puliyan tribes of south India paint their face on certain religious occasions. Tribes of North America paint their back, hands, foreheads etc., with the picture of lions, peacocks, fishes etc. Besides, protection against insect bite and adornment for sexual attraction, painting is done, among many societies for frightening their enemies and also for signs of mourning. The practice of tattooing is most popular old painting. Interestingly this practice has been prevalent among the primitive as well as modern societies. Initially tattooing was done through pointed bones of birds, fishes and other animals, later iron needles also used. Some of the popular signs and designs of tattooing found among castes and the tribes of India are Lotus blossoms, Swastika, Scorpion and dots. Ornaments are one of the most popular and oldest ways of personal adornment. The practice of wearing ornaments go back definitely to middle Palaeolithic times. In the earliest stages some vital parts of animals and birds were used along with sea shells, bones and hornes for making ornaments. Leaves and flowers were also used for personal decorations. The popular motives behind ornamentations are its use as a prophylactic against the evil spirits, to improve personal appearance and to attract opposite sex through the enhancement of sexual appeal. The Australian aborigines use the teeth of kangaroo, the Melanesians sea shells and beads, the tribes of Chotanagpur region in India pieces of coloured stones and different types of seeds as ornaments. From the prehistoric times material used by prehistoric and preliterate people for their many purpose of way of life.

Cultural Evolution

In the past prehistoric cultures have been divided in to four stages i.e. Paleolithic, Mesolithic, neo lithic and Metal ages. These terms for stages of prehistory are often thought inadequate today, because they are based on tool making sequence found in western Europe.

They have little to do with what was going on elsewhere in the world or in other aspects of cultural evolution. But since they are so familiar, we will use these terms as rough guide to measure cultural stages.

The Paleolithic, a term still used commonly by the archaeologists, initially referred to the stage in which humans made chipped stone tools. Now however it stands for the period of cultural development that began during the late Pliocene epoch. Since this covers such a long time span it is often divided into thirds: the Lower, Middle and upper Paleolithic.

This have no connection with the geological subdivisions lower middle and upper Pleistocene. Instead the long lower Paleolithic is defined as simply everything in cultural evolution that preceded the middle Paleolithic.

The middle Paleolithic in turn refers to the state of human culture in western Europe during Neanderthal times. And the upper Paleolithic has additionally been defined as the time during which blades – long, thin stone tools with parallel sides and burins, tools used to cut and shape wood and bone, were used.

It is difficult to date this sequence because cultural evolution proceeded at different rate in different areas. Consequently, the dates presented will be area specific.

In this frame work, the Mesolithic (the middle stone age) refers to the gap between Paleolithic and Neolithic in Europe. It is less often used today. The period is transitional between the last upper Paleolithic culture and the first cultures having agriculture. In Europe and the Near East it is a very short period just before the emergence of agriculture.

With the exception of the archaic period in north America it is doubtful that a similar sequence appear elsewhere. Once again the dates for this period vary. In Europe and the New world, it began about 8000 to 10000 years ago while in the Near East it begun somewhat earlier.

During the Neolithic (New Stone age) humans began making tools by grinding and polishing rather than by chipping. A more recent definition of this cultural stages is – The period from the invention of agriculture to the invention of metal working. These stages, or ones like it, have been identified in Europe , Asia , Africa and the Americas.

The Neolithic was followed, at least in western Europe, by the bronze age and the iron age. Bronze and iron were the chief metals used in the art of metallurgy which developed at this time. Towards the end of the iron age, people began to keep written records, ending millions of periods of prehistory.

Various other frameworks have been suggested. One is based on the means of food procuring. This frame work divides prehistory in to two chunks: The food gathering stage and food producing stage. During the first, hominid societies were organized to efficiently gather plants and to hunt animals.

In the second major phase, humans began to assert more control over resources by domesticating plants and animals. The larger population that could be supported by this process eventually led to the development of complex political structure.

The question of which system is best to analyze cultural stages is subject to considerable debate. Many archeologists switch back and forth, depending on the time and the archeological culture they are discussing. Both systems break up a continues line of cultural evolution. Thus, as long as the types of cultures to which we refer are clear, it does not matter which system we use.

In this topic we use the traditional terms. The term Paleolithic will be used to mean that period during which Humans hunted and gathered. It was during this ling period that humans spread from their tropical origins to all parts of the world.

The term Neolithic will be used to mean that period during which agriculture emerged. And Mesolithic will stand for the transitional episode between the Paleolithic and Neolithic.

Paleolithic Culture:

The Paleolithic period is by far the longest of the major tool working stages, for it lasted from about 2.6 million to 10000 years before present in the near east. It persisted even later in Europe and the new world. Its history can be seen as a tale of cultural diversification. At the earliest and simplest level, stone tool assemblages were remarkably similar at sites throughout Africa Europe and the Near East.

In the next stage there were two major tool making traditions. By the late middle Paleolithic, traditions were still more diversified. And the by the upper Paleolithic there were a large number of specialized local cultural traditions.

The Oldowan Culture

The first signs that bring the hominids that began to shape their environment by learned patterns of behavior, rather than just adopting to it biologically, are the crude stone tools found at very ancient sites.

We can barely tell some of them apart from ordinary rocks. Perhaps the deliberate making of the stone tools was preceded by finding and using stones whose edges were sharp enough to be better than human has for certain chores.

Just what these chores were is hard to say for sure, but it is widely assumed that they mostly involved food getting. Perhaps sharp stones were used in cutting up carcasses or splitting bones to get at marrow: perhaps they used for making points on sticks so they could be used in diggings. Whatever their use, the discovery that sharp stones made certain task easier, was important for the survival of early hominids.

Stones were not the only material aspects of early cultures. Sticks and bones must have available too. But wood is rarely preserved, and crude bone tools are often hard to recognize as tools.

The wood and bone tools that have lasted show that until rather recent times they were cruder than stone tools. The earliest stones tools have been grouped together in the Oldowan tradition, so named because tools of this type were first uncovered in the lower beds at Olduvai gorge. These tools were made by striking one pebble against another rock to knock off enough flakes to form a single crude edge.

The range of Oldowan Culture:

The earliest Oldowan tools known do not come from Olduvai. They were found in another part of the great rift valley system of east Africa. Here 10 to 12 million years of prehistory has been preserved in natural basins by sedimentary deposits. Shifts in the tectonic plates below have since exposed them. Anthropologists Glynn Isaac recently discovered stone tools that may be 2.6 million years old at the Koobi Fora formation, a peninsula that cuts into lake Turkana in the north east corner of Kenya.

Tools found at Koobi Fora are similar to those found in sediments at Olduvai gorge that date from 1.89 million to about 4 lac years B.P. early stone tool traditions probably spread from east Africa to southern and northern Africa, and then were carried to the tropical and subtropical zones of Asia as hominids moved out of Africa.

Later these tools were used by early inhabitants of temperate zones in Europe. By about seven lac years B.P, the same kind of crude tools appeared in vallonet cave on the shore Mediterranean in southern France.

Just who made these tools is not yet clear. There may have been several species of bipedal hominids from the African scene at the time the earliest tools appear. Most anthropologists think the stone carriers and sharpens were probably the east African gracile hominids, who may have been meat eaters. The unspecialized tooth pattern of the gracials is often cited in the support of the notion that tools took over some dental functions, such as the preparation of food before eating it. Tools may also have expended the number of different types of foods that could have been eaten.

Their less advanced neighbors, the Robustus, were probably highly specialized vegetarians and therefore less likely to have made tools. Their specialization suggest that the Robustus were part of a separate evolutionary lineage, that did not contribute to later hominid evolution.

The presence of dental specialization suggests that cultural adaptations to the environment either were not made or were used in only a limited way. Although graciles seems to have been stone tool makers, the controversy over the number of gracile species and their names continues.

It is therefore not possible to say for certain whether the tool makers were gracile australopithecines or early members of genus homo.

Technology of the Oldowan Culture:

We that early hominids carried stones suitable for making tools rather than gathering them on the spot. Many have been found in places where the naturally occurring stones are no larger than peas. The favorite stones of these early hominids seem to have been water worn pebbles about the size of a tennis ball. These were given a sharp cutting edge by knocking a few flakes of one part of the rock with another rock called a hammer stone.

Sometimes the stone been flaked was struck against another rock called a hammer stone. Sometimes the stone been flaked was struck against another rock called an Anvil. Both methods of using one stone being flaked to strike off flakes from one or both sides of another are called percussion flaking.

The small flakes themselves make effective cutting or scrapping tools if held between the thumb and fingers and were probably used this way. What is left of the pebble after the flakes have been removed is called a chopper. We are not sure what they were used for but modern researchers who have experimented with choppers find themselves effective in cutting up game animals.

As the period progressed, tools of quartzite, such as hide scrappers and burins increasingly appeared in the Oldowan assemblage as well.

The Eco niche of the Early Hominids:

The hominids of the Oldowan culture seem to have been a part of the savannah eco system. Although they did hunt animals that lived in savannah forest fringes and along water courses, there diet included a large number of grassland plants and animals. These hominids usually camped near bodies water lakes, rivers or streams. They may have preferred these sites for a number of reasons. For one thing, they offered a ready supply of water before anybody invented things to carry it in. Water would have drawn many animals that could be prayed upon when they came looking for water. And the trees around this area would have provided shade, fruits, and a means of escape from predators.

Isaac suggested that in using tree lines streams of camp sites early hominids kept their ancestors means of security in an arboreal environment even as they began exploiting the more varied resources of the open grass lands.

Food Resources:

Our earliest ancestors were mainly vegetarians. They lacked the large flash ripping canines of other carnivores animals. It was a cultural solution – tool -making rather than a biological change that allowed them to tear through the fur and skin of the animals to get at the meat inside. The gradual switch from a diet of vegetation to one that included a variety of animals probably added to their success in making use of the food resources of the tropical areas.

It may also have made possible their later move to colder climates, where plant foods were only available in certain seasons.

Meat probably became the part of early hominid diet in a gradual way. When hominid first began to eat meat, they ate mostly small, easy to catch animals. The bones of creatures such as rodents, birds, bats, lizards turtles and fish are most common at their living sites. Judging from the diet of modern hunting and gathering tribes vegetation probably continued to provide about two third of what they ate. But occasionally they seemed to have fed on big games, such as hippopotamus. Some of the remains suggests that they chased large animals in to swamps and then clubbed or stoned them to death. They may also have taken meat from carcasses killed by animals, a practice still present in some primitive tribes.

Social Pattern:

Artifacts from the beginning of hominid culture revealed very little about social behaviors. To help reconstruct such behaviors, archeologist also draw on an awareness of the behaviors of modern primates and hunting and gathering groups. The evidence has convinced archeologist that late Pliocene and early Pleistocene hominids must already have been diverging from non-human primates in social and biological ways.

Like some modern primate’s early hominids probably lived in small bands. The members of the bands were probably fairly young for the probability of surviving until adulthood was low. Food sharing and the co-operative behavior in food getting may have been the forces most responsible for group cohesion. There are growing signs in the fossils records that systematic hunting was an important part of this behavior. Thus the hunting hypothesis put forth by S. Washburn and C. S. Lancaster seems more relevant than ever. According to this hypothesis hunting may have given rise to division of labour, a behavioral trait that is unique in the animal world; males left base camp to hunt in bands while females gathers plants and shellfish, eggs and the like. Care of the young while probably was still mainly a female activity, may also have been performed part time by males. This is the case among many non-human primates and human societies.

It is true that open country primates such as Baboons do have a highly evolved division of labour for defense and social control. But the cooperation involved in splitting up together different kinds of food and then bring them back to the base camp to share would be something new. Food sharing is almost unknown among the other primates, for they forage as individuals and eat as they go. Only chimpanzees share food and they do so rarely. When they have meat they allow scrounging by other members of the troop.

The hypothesis that hominid hunters and gatherers brought food back to camps and share with one another is supported by sites that have piles of the remains of many different animals. According to Isaac, it is unlikely that they were all killed and eaten at the same spot. Instead they were probably killed here and then carried to a butchering or camping site for group to eat. Some camps may have been built at near lakes and rivers during the dry season when water elsewhere was scarce. While their hunters killed large numbers of turtles and grazing animals, the same kind of animals hunted by modern bushmen during the dry season. During the rainy season Oldowan hominids moved on to other areas about which we know little.

Hominids may have evolved permanent pair bonds between males and females to reduce aggression between males and to allow their integration into a co bonding presumably would have lessened sexual jealousies by limiting promiscuity. Males would also help to protect and get food for mothers and their off springs.

Finally, to make all this cooperative behavior possible, hominids may have developed a communication system that was more advance than that of the other primates. Although we have no way of knowing that when language may have appeared, it seems logical that group planning called for some way of talking about objects, times and places.

By contrast primate communication is largely limited to responses to the object in the immediate environment. Nonhuman primates cannot express abstraction well enough to communicate about the future or make plans.

Forces for Change:

Although the cultural achievements these early hominids made were limited they represent a landmark in the evolutionary history. At these time hominids begin to assert conscious control over their environment. They could begin to change the environment with their behavior or if this was impossible change their behavior to suite the conditions.

Culture in effect created a new niche for hominids, in which natural selection begin to favor the best in culture users. Smart hunters and the tool users were the fit because of their better survival strategies. These strategies in turn probably began to select for a more complex brain. Hunting depends for its success on the ability to remember the nature and location of the environmental features, as well as the habits of the animals. Refinement in the co-ordination of hand and eye facilitated the making and use of the tool and perhaps simple language was necessary for teaching the young the basics of culture or to plan the hunt. All these ac5tivities required the culture bearer to process sensory data, to remember it, and to integrate new perception with those stored in the memory.

Hominids with the best brains were probably also the most adopt at using culture and therefore more likely to pass on their genes. Eventually these selective pressures produced extremely complexed brains of the members of the genus homo.

Early Migration from Africa:

As we noted earlier Oldowan tools have been found not only in Africa but in other tropical and subtropical areas of the old world as well. It is possible that they were invented separately at each location. But since the tools found that koobifor and Oldowan gorge are older than any found elsewhere, most archeologists believe that the earliest hominid tool makers originated in east Africa.

The earlier hominids to exploits the plants and animals of grasslands outside Africa were probably homo erectus. It is not yet clear that what kind of pressure lead to this expansion. One theory is that early hunters followed herds of savannah herbivores in their migrations to these new territories. Both in Africa and elsewhere this movement was accompanied by increase in technological sophistication. These in turn allowed hominids to move into colder regions. Probably during the Gunz and Mindel glaciation of the middle Pleistocene (from about six lacs to four lac year B.P.) Some lived in the temperate environments in Europe. And during the Riss glaciation (220000 to 150000 B.P.) Some population seem to have lived in perpetually cold areas of Europe.

During this time, the carriers of the Oldowan culture split into two different cultural and geographical groups. The two tradition were more or less separated by a mount barrier made up of the Himalayas in the east and the Caucasus and zagros mountains in the south west Asia and the Carpathians in south east Europe. To the east and the north of this mountain barrier as an elaboration of the Oldowan tradion called chopper tool culture. People to the west and the south of this string of mountain ranges evolved the life style and way of making tools, especially hand axes, known as acheulean culture.

The Acheulean Tradition:

The Acheulean tool making tradition first appeared about 1.2 million years B.P. at Olduwai gorge long before Oldowan technologies died out. It is also found throughout much of Africa, persisting until about 60000 years B.P. at one Rhodesian site, Kalambo falls. Acheulean tools have also been found in the Middle East, India, and Java. They were common in southern Europe as well, but were replaced thereabout one lac to 70000 years B.P. by the beginning of the Next cultural tradition, the Mousterian.

Acheulean technology:

The foremost characteristics of acheulean assemblages is the hand axe. It is considered a logical improvement over the Oldowan chopping tool, for instead of one sharpened edge it has two. These edges meet to form a point that added to the usefulness of the tool. The base or butt is broad for easy gripping. We are not sure how Homo erectus used the hand axe. Recent experiments show that these tools may have had a number of functions such as skinning, butchering and digging.

A variation on the hand axe the cleaver is also by facially worked, but instead of a point there is a third cutting edge. The cleaver could have been helpful in chopping, hacking, and prying apart carcasses. Retouched flake tools made from stone flakes chipped from a core, commonly appear in acheulean assemblages.

The transition from Oldowan to acheulean stone working technology seems to have happened in several stages. Some of the early Oldowan choppers had been worked on both sides. Gradually however early hominids flaked more and more of the surface of the stone, making the tool slenderer and symmetrical. By the end of the acheulean tradition the whole tool including the butt was shaped of then to the point that the original shape of the stone is unrecognizable.

At first this flaking was done with a hammer stone, as in the Oldowan industries. But eventually acheulean tool makers discovered that they could control the size and shape of the flake better by using of bone or a stick as hammer. This method is called the soft hammer technique. In this technique a bone, antler or piece of wood was used to strike off shallow flakes from the side of core tools. The use of this technique is marked by thinner access from which many more flakes have been removed to create a sharper edge.

The increasing sophistication in production of flakes in the Acheulean culture was its one of the specialities. As in Olduwan Industries the flakes were only useful by products of the main tool.

Acheulean used bone and Woods as well for making tools other than stone, bones and woods were also used. These were trimmed and shaped for specific purposes to be used as picks, axe and cleavers. Woods are also preserved in the shape of spear or Acheulean may also be using woods as clubs are throwing sticks and other tools to dig.

Eco niche:

Main Acheulean sites seems to have been located within grassland environment. Because these grasslands provided an optimal environment for animals that they regarded as food. Acheulean groups avoided Tropical rainforest and as well as barren deserts. So for most of this time they live in tropical or subtropical latitudes.

Fire was also used at a chopper tool site vertesszollos. It can also be seen in the bits of charcoal and charred bone at Torralba.

Shelter, too was an important another cultural adaptation to the cold weather. But some sites seem to have no shelter at all, it suggests that people did not build them unless the weather was bad or a long stay was expected. There are many remains of dismembered carcasses and smashed animal bones, this suggests that acheulean bands were also becoming increasingly systematic Hunters.

The Chopper tool culture :

Another cultural tradition existing during roughly the same time as of Acheulean culture.

Dates are not very well determined for this Chopper tool culture. However these Chopper tool assemblages lack hand axes and are found over a different geographical and environmental range than Acheulean.

Chopper tools culture sites are concentrated north and east of the Acheuleans in East Asia, south Asia and in India East of Indus river.

Technology of the chopper tool culture :

These toolkit lacks hand axe. Hand axes were so typical of Acheulean assemblages. Some of these assemblages consist mostly of flakes removed by striking a stone against an anvil. This was a bipolar working because percussion effects at both ends of the flake. Chopper and chopping tools were also present.

The Origins of this tool making traditions are not very well known but French archaeologist Francois Bordes suggests that it may have appeared first in Southeast Asia 475000 to 425000 years B. P.

Food resources

Though their tools were crude they killed and butchered a great variety of animals. The bones of following animals were found deer, elephant, Rhino, bison, water buffalo and many other animals. Some evidences of cannibalism were also found. Some of the bones of these hominids found were split probably so that the marrow could be reached. Similarly, skull seem to have been cracked open so that the brains could be removed.

Eco niche:

The sites are found on Northern edge of Euro- Asiatic mountain chain. If we compare them with Acheulean sites these were located in wooded and colder areas, far from ocean.

Conclusion

Acheulean and Chopper tool sites were separated for most of the part, but in Northern Europe they overlap. It could be explained as if the sites attributed to the two different cultures were representing different activities and therefore different types of tools of the same population was found.

But if we look closely to the environmental range and tool making Technology of these cultures then it shows that there were two different cultures. For example, the chopper tool complex was organized to exploit wooded terrain. Whereas Acheulean word specialized in game herds which were living in more open grassland environment.

Broad Outlines of Prehistoric cultures

Prehistory is one of the branches of Anthropology that deals with the remains of past human culture. It raised upon the fact that all human societies unconsciously left some concrete records not only of their material possessions but also of their behaviour, believes and social institution.

A significant landmark in prehistoric studies was the publication of Prehistoric times by Sir John Lubbock in 1865. According to Daniel Wilson the term prehistory was first introduced in English language in 1851. Lubbock first used the word in the sense of primitive culture. Similarly, Tylore(1871), Gladstone(1878) and others applied the term prehistory in an almost identical connotation but in reality the terminology was in use 20 years before Wilson. Piggot (1959) was the first man who made a major division of prehistory into primary prehistory and secondary marginal prehistory.

In the book Primitive Culture Lubbock made notable contributions particularly for its inclusion of human culture starting from palaeolithic to iron age. In Europe the studies of prehistoric culture formally began with the work of Boucher-de-Perthes discovery of Chellean and Acheulian industries of Europe. Edward Lartet began a systematic work in the Dordogne region of France in 1860. He discovered the Cro-magnon Man fossil (prehistoric man) and the materials of Aurignacian culture in Europe. Similar developments also took place in America, South Africa, East Africa and India. In South East Africa Mr. and Mrs. Leakey were able to trace out the earliest human fossil and his material culture. In India, Robert Bruce Foote was responsible for excavating the palaeolithic culture or culture of preliterate society.

The Ecology of man, in contrast to that of other living beings is heavily influenced by technology and its material products. As Beals and Hoijer (1971) rightly point out that technology is the sum total of the techniques possessed by members of a society; that is the totality of their ways of behaving in respect to collecting raw materials from the environments and processing these to make tools, containers, foods, clothing, shelters, etc.

What is usually called material culture, on the other hand, refers to the sum of the artifacts resulting from technology. Whereas most other animals simply utilize the natural environment as such for food and shelter, changing it relatively little in the process, man alters or transforms his environment. He makes tools of wood, stone, shell, bone and metal to increase his efficiency in using and controlling environment.

Artifacts are the main material remains of prehistoric culture, conceived and made by human beings. These are used to make inferences on the life style and food habit of early man, to note the evolutionary development and adaptations of man to the environment. According to the nature of the material on which the artifacts were manufactured such as stone, bone, shell, clay, wood etc. for example, stone artifacts may be classified as flint-objects, steatite objects etc. And bone objects may be categorized as coming from a particular bone of a particular species e.g. the shouldered blade of a deer or the upper leg-bone of a turkey (peru bird), etc. Similarly shell artifacts can be grouped as per the scope of their availability.

A shell from an ocean is distinguished from a shell belonging to fresh water environment. These can again be classified according to their place of occurrence, which is generally lake, a riverbed or a specific locality. Categorization of the artifacts may also take place on the basis of their function. For instance, the stone artifacts may make the groups of axes, knives, scrapers, points, borers and so on. In the same way bone artifacts may be differentiated into the groups of awls, hoes, pendent or beads. In this way, the different item like stone bone, shell, pottery, metal, ivory, wood etc. can be separated.

Stone: Stone is the first material that was used by man for making tools, implements and some other objects of daily use in prehistoric time.

Clay and Pottery:

Clay vessels and other utensils, beads, toys, figurines etc. have been excavated from many sites of prehistoric period, in different parts of the world. Clay was certainly an important discovery among man’s earliest discoveries of natural materials. Like the stone implements, pottery is also an artifact. It is another important indicator of cultural life because making of pottery is related to the higher accomplishment of primitive people.

Wood :

Wood being an organic material is specially susceptible to deterioration. Man used hard wood since the early days of stone age. He relied on it in the same scale as he did upon the stone. Normally he made various kinds of weapons, objects of daily use as well as materials for art and decoration. The oldest wooden implement so far as recovered, is a wooden spear-point about 200,000 years old.

Ivory and Bone:

The use of ivory and bone were recognized since the Upper Palaeolithic period. They have been making implements, ornaments, handles for weapons, beads etc. Ivory was the most common raw material for such works. Both ivory and bone can be easily stained because they are porous in nature.

Metals:

Apart from gold and silver, much work on copper, bronze and iron objects have been discovered as exhibits of Bronze and Iron Ages. The prehistoric people made many items from copper and bronze during that period.

The first or the oldest prehistoric culture is known as Paleolithic or the Old Stone Age. The term comes from the Greek word Palaios means old and lithos means stone. Therefore, palaios + lithos = Paleolithic. Still Paleolithic period or Old Stone Age is very important as it provides a clear cut sequence of cultural development throughout the entire Pleistocene time, all over the world. In this time, stone is used as tool or material in the way of life of prehistoric people, because all the peoples of this time are hunters and gatherers. It is considered as a crucial period for all round human evolution. Development of cultures can be traced out distinctively in this period. Paleolithic can be further divided into three cultural phases – Lower Paleolithic, Middle Palaeolithic and Upper Paleolithic.

The time span of Lower Palaeolithic was the maximum, covering the whole of Lower Pleistocene and bulk of the Middle Pleistocene epoch. The stratigraphic sequences of entire Pleistocene epoch containing Lower Palaeolithic artifacts have been discovered from the Somme Valley in the North France and Thames Valley in the south England. The tool making traditions of Lower Palaeolithic in western Europe can be divided into two groups, such as core and Flake industries. Basically, the core industry contained the core tools while the flake industry consisted of the flake tools. The stone is the only material of this two industries of prehistoric period.

Core Industry :

Elementary feature of the core industry is the bifacial tool that means more or less pointed tool made on core where both the upper and lower surfaces are worked. This industry is sub-divided into two sub-types/traditions, such as Abbevillian and Acheulean. Typologically, very crude type of hand adzes, hand axes, choppers, chopping tools, discs, scrapers etc., are included in this group. The primary flaking has been worked out only at the working end.

During the first glacial period (Gunz) this industry flourished in western Europe and Africa. A group of Australopithecine might be responsible for this industry. At Olduvai Gorge of Africa Mr. and Mrs. Leakey discovered two fossil man Zinjanthropus boisei in 1951 and Homo-habilis in 1960.

Flake Industry:

The flake industry of Lower Palaeolithic culture has two traditions. They are: (i) the Clactonian tradition and (ii) Levalloisian.

The Clactonian Tradition:

The Clactonian flakes are rough and struck out unsystematically from the prepared core. It is suggested that most of these flakes are produced by striking the lump on the edge of an anvil. The Clactonian flakes generally exhibited large, massive, unfacetted striking platforms and prominent positive bulbs of percussion.

Levalloisian tradition:

It is predominantly represented by a flake tools which were produced by using the Levalloisian tool making technique. It requires a careful preparation of the core. The core is prepared to look like the back of tortoise. The flakes are detached from these specially prepared cores. The facetted striking platform makes an angle of 900 with the flake surface. The flake tradition is found well distributed in western Europe, Africa and India (specially in Madrasian industries). The Middle Palaeolithic cultural phase is differentiated mainly from the typological point of view where the core tool industry has totally been transferred to the flake industry in this level. Both Levalloisian and Mousterian traditions were developed on the flake industry involving a higher technology. It is marked by the large number of side scrapers, backed knives, points, nosed flakes, burins, and end scrapers have appeared. The geological age of this culture is middle Pleistocene and Neanderthal people were definitely responsible for the creation of this cultural phase.

The last part of the Palaeolithic culture gave rise to the Upper Palaeolithic phase. During this short span of time, the prehistoric man made his greatest cultural progress. This phase of Palaeolithic culture shows diversified and specialized tools made on blades by the replacement of the core and flake tools of earlier phases. It is also notable that, not only flint and similar rocks were used as tools, bone was also taken as a material for making tools. The culture has been referred as the Osteodontokeratic culture for the utilization of bone, teeth and horn at a time. Early man of primitive types disappeared at this cultural stage and the man of modern type came into existence. The cultural stage also shows the beginning and flowering of the Palaeolithic art.

Blade and burin Industry:

The blade and burin industry of Upper Palaeolithic comprises of three traditions mainly (1) Aurignacian (2) Solutrean and (3) Magdalenian. The characteristic tools are blades of flint with one adge straight (razor like). The hunters possibly used these blades as knife in this period. This culture is represented by the blade, burin, tanged points, Gravette points, multi-angle gravers etc.

(1) Aurignacian Tradition:

This tradition is named after the type – site, a rock shelter known as Aurignac in South France. The leading tool types of this stage include the steep-ended scrapers, nosed scrapers, blade artefacts with split-based bone lance points, batton- de- commandment, chisels, pierced teeth and shells, decorated bits of bone, ivory and stone. The Aurgnacian people were artistic. They are expert in engraving, sculpture and painters. Main responsible representatives of this cultural phase is the Cro-magnon group of man. The Cro-magnon people have been placed as the men of Late Pleistocene and they are the first runners of Neanthropic race, the homo sapiens.

(2) Solutrean Tradition:

This cultural phase is named after the type site located at La-Solutre near central France. This cultural phase is notable for the finest development of flint workmanship in the Palaeolithic period.

The Solutrean tradition is recognized by three fold division-

  1. Proto Solutrean
  2. Typical Solutrean
  3. Upper Solutrean

Main cultural remains of the Solutrean peoples are willow leaf point, laurel-leaf points, tanged points, gravers, burins etc. The culture has limited distribution. An early form is found in the deposits of Hungary, Poland and elsewhere in central Europe. The Solutrean people are expert in making the beautiful but small laurel leaf points.

(3)Magdalenian Traditions:

The last phase of Palaeolithic period is the Magdalenian phase which is noted for the wealth of bone and antler tools and specially remarkable for the works of art. The flint industry of the Magdalenian people bore a blade tool tradition. The main tools of Magdalenian tradition are the different types of harpoons (single row barbs, double row barbs, and lateral barbs), long and parallel sided blades etc.

The Magdalenian phase is the richest stage of Palaeolithic. They use pigments of ochres, minerals, burnt bones etc., to get different colours. They converted these pigments into paint by mixing with some fatty medium. Human skeletal remains of modern type of man have been unearthed from several sites. They are undoubtedly the Neanthropic man and perhaps the representatives of Chancelade group of man of late Pleistocene.

Mesolithic:

Another important culture Mesolithic is a part of Holocene that began at the end of Pleistocene. A change primarily affected the people of advanced Palaeolithic culture occupying the regions to the late glacial. In that time climate was gradually changed. The weather in temperature latitude got warmer whereas it became drier in Mediterranean and sub-tropical zones. Man had to adapt themselves to quite novel conditions. The cultural development of Mesolithic has been observed in Europe. The people altered their food pattern and changed tool technology was evident at this time. Flints are turned to pygmy tools, called microliths. Microliths are the characteristic tools of Mesolithic people. These are extremely minutes some measures only 3/16 inch, or even less in size. The shapes vary greatly but the usual forms are more or less Geometrical. All are the tiny tools, which could be attached, joined or embedded to the wooden or bone handles. Such microliths used to be hafted in rows to act as knives.

Mesolithic people invented a wonderful device for killing of the animals i.e., bow and arrow. The European Mesolithic culture may be divided into seven phases: (1) Azilian, (2) Tardenosian, (3)Asturian, (4) Larnean, (5) Maglemosean, (6) Kitchen-midden and (7) Campignion.

The Mesolithic people in Europe mostly lived in caves or in rock-shelters. The most significant developments of Mesolithic people were the domestication of animal (dog), invention of pottery, and the bow and arrow. All these became more important in later period, i.e., Neolithic. As in Europe, Africa and several part of Asia, India also witnessed a great climatic change toward the end of the Palaeolithic period. A number of sites of this age that have been discovered from western and central India. The Jarwas tribes of Andaman island still practicing this prehistoric tradition. They use bow and arrow in gathering times. Till today they are purely in nomadic stage. Neolithic is also a Greek word. It means ‘New stone’.

The period since the discovery of agriculture to the rise of urban civilization has been bracketed, as new stone or Neolithic period. During Neolithic period stone objects were manufactured by pecking, grinding, rubbing and polishing technique. They were far better in finishing as well as in its effectiveness. In this period man became a food-producer. Food collecting people completely rejected their nomadic life and started settled village life. Neolithic settlement was generally built close to the shores of lake.

Neolithic people learnt the use of the trunks of trees. They used to tie several logs of wood together to make a raft and that was used as a means of water-transport. They developed new types of stone tools by using grinding and polishing techniques. Some of these tools were mainly used for pounding grains so that the husks of the corns could be easily removed and the tough kernels could be broken for easy digest. Neolithic people continued to use flake implements made on flint, they were fitted into wooden handles to be used as Awl, Celt, Graver, Saw, Sickle etc. Characteristically all Neolithic axes and adzes are used after hafting to a handle. A polished stone axe-head of Neolithic time is commonly known as Celt. The bows and arrows were widely used in hunting as well as for war too. The most remarkable finding of Neolithic deposits is the skillfully made arrowheads and Celts. The practice of fishing was improved during Neolithic period. As a consequence of food-production, population growth was accelerated during Neolithic period. People had settled down in villages and tried to invent certain ways to make the life easier. These are:

  1. Invention of wheel,
  2. Invention of hand made and wheel made pottery,
  3. Invention of Weaving,
  4. Building of huts and dwelling complexes,
  5. Manufacturing of boats,
  6. Development of social organization,
  7. Domestication of plants and animals,
  8. Domesticating of plants and animals, all these made them possible to rise to the status of literate civilization V. Gordon Childe mentioned that Neolithic had opened an entire new way of life and he termed it as “Neolithic Revolution”.

Material Culture of Preliterate People: Man has always depended on three resources for his survival- Physical environment, culture and population. The purely hunting-gathering group depends totally on the merely and bounties of nature. Prehistoric man was totally food gatherer, hunter, fisherman, fowler and sore. Contemporary simple societies have been like this. Food gathering societies gather edible roots and fruits, marine products, do hunting of mammals, fishing and fowling as well as consume many insects and reptiles.

Food gathering-hunting techniques vary from region to region and from society to society according to the local environmental conditions. The ecological adaptations provides basis for cultural variations. The custom, traditions and value systems of different society are not alike. During pre-historic times, man used to roam about in a definite territory in quest for food. This nomadism may still be observed in case of the surviving hunting gathering societies. Among the noteworthy food gatherers mention may be made of the Arunta and Arunda of Australia (the Australian aborigines), the Natuka of Columbia, the Blackfoot of north America, the Eskimo of Siberia, the Bushmen Hottentot of Kalahari desert, Africa, the Veddas of Shrilanka, and the Chenchus (Andhrapradesh), the Kadars (Kerela), the Birhor (Bihar) and some other tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India. Many of such tribes living in difficult terrain and geography face lot of problems in getting food.

Besides the typically food gathering-hunting societies, one may come across several food producing societies resorting to gathering to supplement their food requirements. Among the Indian tribes the Bhil, the Oraon, the Munda, the Bhotia, the Nagas, the Tharu and a host of others despite being expert cultivators go for gathering edible roots, fruits, honey, and several other minor and major forest produces.

Human societies living by food gathering and hunting did not posses, containers or utensils. Hence storing the surplus, if any for the winters always faced lots of problems. The tools and implements at the disposal of gatherers-hunters were so crude that the output in terms of quantity of food produced was usually too meager in proportion to the input involved. Gradually, man developed his technology; new tools and implements were developed. Thus the crude hand axes and choppers gave way to blade and flake tools and then microliths provided him an extra edge. But the digging stick always remained. Then he also evolved throwing weapons like throwing club, bow and arrow, spear, harpoons for fishing, noose and traps for hunting and so on. Gathering-hunting societies live in bands or small groups maintain consanguineous ties. Although they lead a nomadic existence but their range of mobility have territorial constraints.

The existing gathering-hunting societies of the world use throwing weapons for hunting. Besides these, they also use nets, traps and pets like dogs and hawks etc. in hunting expeditions. Pet panthers and hawks are used in Rajputana region of India while several central Asia societies use pet hawks in hunting and fowling. The Kurgiz and Tungu tribes of central Asia keep ferocious dogs who help them in hunting expeditions.

Nets of various types, nooses and traps are also used by different human groups. The nooses are laid on the ground and the target animals are forced to tread over them and thus the trodden animals were trapped. This technique is prevalent in East Africa and Egypt. The Dayak, tribes of Borneo use this technique while hunting for deer. The practice of catching birds has always been a part of many gathering-hunting economics of the world. One of the popular techniques of catching birds is to spread some adhesive material over a wooden sheet or other thing and broadcast food grains around it. Tempted by the food grains the birds come down and rest their feet over the adhesive and are trapped. The Santhals used this technique. Some other tribes and rural groups of Bengal use throny sticks to trap the birds. Among such traps, pit traps, noose traps, wheel traps, cage traps have been most popular. Among the Indian tribes the Naga, the Gond, the Santhal, the Oraon, the Baiga etc. are experts in these types of hunting. Fishing has also been an important aspects of gathering-hunting economy. Various types of harpoons and hook and rods bear testimony to this fact. Among the existing simple societies various techniques of fishing have been in vogue depending upon the local environmental conditions. Some of the prevalent fishing methods are:

  1. Fishing by hands,
  2. Fishing by poisoning,
  3. Fishing by hook and rod,
  4. Fishing by stopping the flow of water over a patch of land,
  5. Fishing by weapons,
  6. Fishing by nets, and
  7. Fishing by trained birds.

Among the Indian tribes, the Tharu, the Bhoksa, the Buna, the Garo, the Khasi, the Naga, the Oragon, the Munda, the Santhal, the Baiga, the Chenchu etc., and the fishing communities of Combodia, Indonesia and Thailand use one of the above mentioned fishing techniques.

Initially man used to consume all his food uncoocked, including raw flesh. When he become familiar with fire and learnt the art of fire making he developed the habit of consuming cooked food and later on making his food tastier by mixing vegetables and spices. Significantly, a number of tribes also know how to prolong the life of food for safe consumptions. Many of the coastal tribes keep eggs etc., in the sand pits and cover them for preservation. The use of fire is almost as old as humanity. Man learnt many things from the nature and fire is one of them. During Neolithic times, the following fire making techniques have been prevalently used by several primitive societies.

(1) Fire making by blow: This technique involves a blow of any hard material like rock over another similar material. (2) Fire making by friction: When pieces of rocks, wood, bamboo or any metals are ground against each other, till it generates heat. If this friction is further hastened and speeded up, it gives rise to sparks. Several tribes of Africa, Veddas of Sri Lanka and some American Indian tribes practise this technique of fire making.

Shelter or habitation has always been one of the primary needs of man. Obviously the types and nature of housing are related with the local environmental factors that include the availability of raw material for manmade shelters. Initially man used nature made shelters like rockshelter, caves, bushes and trees. Even today the people of Tundra and Alaska live in snow made houses protected by leather coverings. The Beduins/Bedouins of Arabia live in tents. The whole of the Palaeolithic time, man had to face the major climatic fluctuations in the form of the great Ice age. Rock shelters and caves were his natural choice during the time of glaciations. All human groups have been making houses according to the local requirements based on the locally available resources. Thus we found mainly four types of houses:

  1. Rock shelters / caves,
  2. Hilly slopes,
  3. Huts and
  4. Snow houses.

Few tribes of India made tree dwellings for protection against wild animals. The lake dwelling has also been a popular type along with the pile dwellings in which huts are made over the piles of wooden logs. Mobility has been an integral picture of human activities. Moving from place to place for exploring avenues for food and other means of survival may be regarded as the basic and most popular reason of mobility. Neolithic onwards men learnt the art of domestication of animals and they had been used many tamable animals in his various economic activities including transport. Man also used to ride such animals for the safety of the goods as well as to avoid the drudgery of walking over long distances in difficult geographical terrains. Use of dogs in pulling sledge over icy surface is still in vogue among the Eskimos. Harnessing the buffaloes, ponies, elephants etc., in plains, whereas camels in desert regions and mammals like reindeer and yaks in the mountainous areas have helped a lot. The floating logs of wood might have shown man the way to devise boats and canoes. Some of the most well-known vessels built by primitive man are canoes used by the Andamanese, (still found among the present day canoes of Anandamanies. Painting the body is considered as the oldest method of personal adornment and it is still practised by many primitive societies of the world.

During prehistoric times various shades of ochre and vegetables colours were used to paint and decorate human body. Sometimes painting the body with a lotion is more for protection against insect bite than for the purpose of adornment. Primitive tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands are good example of this ‘protecting painting’ that use a mixture of the local soil and extraction of some medicinal plants and use such a lotion as protection from mosquito/poisonous insects bite.

The Paliyan and Puliyan tribes of south India paint their face on certain religious occasions. Tribes of North America paint their back, hands, foreheads etc., with the picture of lions, peacocks, fishes etc. Besides, protection against insect bite and adornment for sexual attraction, painting is done, among many societies for frightening their enemies and also for signs of mourning. The practice of tattooing is most popular old painting. Interestingly this practice has been prevalent among the primitive as well as modern societies. Initially tattooing was done through pointed bones of birds, fishes and other animals, later iron needles also used. Some of the popular signs and designs of tattooing found among castes and the tribes of India are Lotus blossoms, Swastika, Scorpion and dots.

Ornaments are one of the most popular and oldest ways of personal adornment. The practice of wearing ornaments go back definitely to middle Palaeolithic times. In the earliest stages some vital parts of animals and birds were used along with sea shells, bones and hornes for making ornaments. Leaves and flowers were also used for personal decorations. The popular motives behind ornamentations are its use as a prophylactic against the evil spirits, to improve personal appearance and to attract opposite sex through the enhancement of sexual appeal. The Australian aborigines use the teeth of kangaroo, the Melanesians sea shells and beads, the tribes of Chotanagpur region in India pieces of coloured stones and different types of seeds as ornaments. From the prehistoric times material used by prehistoric and preliterate people for their many purpose of way of life.

Cultural Evolution

In the past prehistoric cultures have been divided in to four stages i.e. Paleolithic, Mesolithic, neo lithic and Metal ages. These terms for stages of prehistory are often thought inadequate today, because they are based on tool making sequence found in western Europe.

They have little to do with what was going on elsewhere in the world or in other aspects of cultural evolution. But since they are so familiar, we will use these terms as rough guide to measure cultural stages.

The Paleolithic, a term still used commonly by the archaeologists, initially referred to the stage in which humans made chipped stone tools. Now however it stands for the period of cultural development that began during the late Pliocene epoch. Since this covers such a long time span it is often divided into thirds: the Lower, Middle and upper Paleolithic.

This have no connection with the geological subdivisions lower middle and upper Pleistocene. Instead the long lower Paleolithic is defined as simply everything in cultural evolution that preceded the middle Paleolithic.

The middle Paleolithic in turn refers to the state of human culture in western Europe during Neanderthal times. And the upper Paleolithic has additionally been defined as the time during which blades – long, thin stone tools with parallel sides and burins, tools used to cut and shape wood and bone, were used.

It is difficult to date this sequence because cultural evolution proceeded at different rate in different areas. Consequently, the dates presented will be area specific.

In this frame work, the Mesolithic (the middle stone age) refers to the gap between Paleolithic and Neolithic in Europe. It is less often used today. The period is transitional between the last upper Paleolithic culture and the first cultures having agriculture. In Europe and the Near East it is a very short period just before the emergence of agriculture.

With the exception of the archaic period in north America it is doubtful that a similar sequence appear elsewhere. Once again the dates for this period vary. In Europe and the New world, it began about 8000 to 10000 years ago while in the Near East it begun somewhat earlier.

During the Neolithic (New Stone age) humans began making tools by grinding and polishing rather than by chipping. A more recent definition of this cultural stages is – The period from the invention of agriculture to the invention of metal working. These stages, or ones like it, have been identified in Europe , Asia , Africa and the Americas.

The Neolithic was followed, at least in western Europe, by the bronze age and the iron age. Bronze and iron were the chief metals used in the art of metallurgy which developed at this time. Towards the end of the iron age, people began to keep written records, ending millions of periods of prehistory.

Various other frameworks have been suggested. One is based on the means of food procuring. This frame work divides prehistory in to two chunks: The food gathering stage and food producing stage. During the first, hominid societies were organized to efficiently gather plants and to hunt animals.

In the second major phase, humans began to assert more control over resources by domesticating plants and animals. The larger population that could be supported by this process eventually led to the development of complex political structure.

The question of which system is best to analyze cultural stages is subject to considerable debate. Many archeologists switch back and forth, depending on the time and the archeological culture they are discussing. Both systems break up a continues line of cultural evolution. Thus, as long as the types of cultures to which we refer are clear, it does not matter which system we use.

In this topic we use the traditional terms. The term Paleolithic will be used to mean that period during which Humans hunted and gathered. It was during this ling period that humans spread from their tropical origins to all parts of the world.

The term Neolithic will be used to mean that period during which agriculture emerged. And Mesolithic will stand for the transitional episode between the Paleolithic and Neolithic.

Paleolithic Culture:

The Paleolithic period is by far the longest of the major tool working stages, for it lasted from about 2.6 million to 10000 years before present in the near east. It persisted even later in Europe and the new world. Its history can be seen as a tale of cultural diversification. At the earliest and simplest level, stone tool assemblages were remarkably similar at sites throughout Africa Europe and the Near East.

In the next stage there were two major tool making traditions. By the late middle Paleolithic, traditions were still more diversified. And the by the upper Paleolithic there were a large number of specialized local cultural traditions.

The Oldowan Culture

The first signs that bring the hominids that began to shape their environment by learned patterns of behavior, rather than just adopting to it biologically, are the crude stone tools found at very ancient sites.

We can barely tell some of them apart from ordinary rocks. Perhaps the deliberate making of the stone tools was preceded by finding and using stones whose edges were sharp enough to be better than human has for certain chores.

Just what these chores were is hard to say for sure, but it is widely assumed that they mostly involved food getting. Perhaps sharp stones were used in cutting up carcasses or splitting bones to get at marrow: perhaps they used for making points on sticks so they could be used in diggings. Whatever their use, the discovery that sharp stones made certain task easier, was important for the survival of early hominids.

Stones were not the only material aspects of early cultures. Sticks and bones must have available too. But wood is rarely preserved, and crude bone tools are often hard to recognize as tools.

The wood and bone tools that have lasted show that until rather recent times they were cruder than stone tools. The earliest stones tools have been grouped together in the Oldowan tradition, so named because tools of this type were first uncovered in the lower beds at Olduvai gorge. These tools were made by striking one pebble against another rock to knock off enough flakes to form a single crude edge.

The range of Oldowan Culture:

The earliest Oldowan tools known do not come from Olduvai. They were found in another part of the great rift valley system of east Africa. Here 10 to 12 million years of prehistory has been preserved in natural basins by sedimentary deposits. Shifts in the tectonic plates below have since exposed them. Anthropologists Glynn Isaac recently discovered stone tools that may be 2.6 million years old at the Koobi Fora formation, a peninsula that cuts into lake Turkana in the north east corner of Kenya.

Tools found at Koobi Fora are similar to those found in sediments at Olduvai gorge that date from 1.89 million to about 4 lac years B.P. early stone tool traditions probably spread from east Africa to southern and northern Africa, and then were carried to the tropical and subtropical zones of Asia as hominids moved out of Africa.

Later these tools were used by early inhabitants of temperate zones in Europe. By about seven lac years B.P, the same kind of crude tools appeared in vallonet cave on the shore Mediterranean in southern France.

Just who made these tools is not yet clear. There may have been several species of bipedal hominids from the African scene at the time the earliest tools appear. Most anthropologists think the stone carriers and sharpens were probably the east African gracile hominids, who may have been meat eaters. The unspecialized tooth pattern of the gracials is often cited in the support of the notion that tools took over some dental functions, such as the preparation of food before eating it. Tools may also have expended the number of different types of foods that could have been eaten.

Their less advanced neighbors, the Robustus, were probably highly specialized vegetarians and therefore less likely to have made tools. Their specialization suggest that the Robustus were part of a separate evolutionary lineage, that did not contribute to later hominid evolution.

The presence of dental specialization suggests that cultural adaptations to the environment either were not made or were used in only a limited way. Although graciles seems to have been stone tool makers, the controversy over the number of gracile species and their names continues.

It is therefore not possible to say for certain whether the tool makers were gracile australopithecines or early members of genus homo.

Technology of the Oldowan Culture:

We that early hominids carried stones suitable for making tools rather than gathering them on the spot. Many have been found in places where the naturally occurring stones are no larger than peas. The favorite stones of these early hominids seem to have been water worn pebbles about the size of a tennis ball. These were given a sharp cutting edge by knocking a few flakes of one part of the rock with another rock called a hammer stone.

Sometimes the stone been flaked was struck against another rock called a hammer stone. Sometimes the stone been flaked was struck against another rock called an Anvil. Both methods of using one stone being flaked to strike off flakes from one or both sides of another are called percussion flaking.

The small flakes themselves make effective cutting or scrapping tools if held between the thumb and fingers and were probably used this way. What is left of the pebble after the flakes have been removed is called a chopper. We are not sure what they were used for but modern researchers who have experimented with choppers find themselves effective in cutting up game animals.

As the period progressed, tools of quartzite, such as hide scrappers and burins increasingly appeared in the Oldowan assemblage as well.

The Eco niche of the Early Hominids:

The hominids of the Oldowan culture seem to have been a part of the savannah eco system. Although they did hunt animals that lived in savannah forest fringes and along water courses, there diet included a large number of grassland plants and animals. These hominids usually camped near bodies water lakes, rivers or streams. They may have preferred these sites for a number of reasons. For one thing, they offered a ready supply of water before anybody invented things to carry it in. Water would have drawn many animals that could be prayed upon when they came looking for water. And the trees around this area would have provided shade, fruits, and a means of escape from predators.

Isaac suggested that in using tree lines streams of camp sites early hominids kept their ancestors means of security in an arboreal environment even as they began exploiting the more varied resources of the open grass lands.

Food Resources:

Our earliest ancestors were mainly vegetarians. They lacked the large flash ripping canines of other carnivores animals. It was a cultural solution – tool -making rather than a biological change that allowed them to tear through the fur and skin of the animals to get at the meat inside. The gradual switch from a diet of vegetation to one that included a variety of animals probably added to their success in making use of the food resources of the tropical areas.

It may also have made possible their later move to colder climates, where plant foods were only available in certain seasons.

Meat probably became the part of early hominid diet in a gradual way. When hominid first began to eat meat, they ate mostly small, easy to catch animals. The bones of creatures such as rodents, birds, bats, lizards turtles and fish are most common at their living sites. Judging from the diet of modern hunting and gathering tribes vegetation probably continued to provide about two third of what they ate. But occasionally they seemed to have fed on big games, such as hippopotamus. Some of the remains suggests that they chased large animals in to swamps and then clubbed or stoned them to death. They may also have taken meat from carcasses killed by animals, a practice still present in some primitive tribes.

Social Pattern:

Artifacts from the beginning of hominid culture revealed very little about social behaviors. To help reconstruct such behaviors, archeologist also draw on an awareness of the behaviors of modern primates and hunting and gathering groups. The evidence has convinced archeologist that late Pliocene and early Pleistocene hominids must already have been diverging from non-human primates in social and biological ways.

Like some modern primate’s early hominids probably lived in small bands. The members of the bands were probably fairly young for the probability of surviving until adulthood was low. Food sharing and the co-operative behavior in food getting may have been the forces most responsible for group cohesion. There are growing signs in the fossils records that systematic hunting was an important part of this behavior. Thus the hunting hypothesis put forth by S. Washburn and C. S. Lancaster seems more relevant than ever. According to this hypothesis hunting may have given rise to division of labour, a behavioral trait that is unique in the animal world; males left base camp to hunt in bands while females gathers plants and shellfish, eggs and the like. Care of the young while probably was still mainly a female activity, may also have been performed part time by males. This is the case among many non-human primates and human societies.

It is true that open country primates such as Baboons do have a highly evolved division of labour for defense and social control. But the cooperation involved in splitting up together different kinds of food and then bring them back to the base camp to share would be something new. Food sharing is almost unknown among the other primates, for they forage as individuals and eat as they go. Only chimpanzees share food and they do so rarely. When they have meat they allow scrounging by other members of the troop.

The hypothesis that hominid hunters and gatherers brought food back to camps and share with one another is supported by sites that have piles of the remains of many different animals. According to Isaac, it is unlikely that they were all killed and eaten at the same spot. Instead they were probably killed here and then carried to a butchering or camping site for group to eat. Some camps may have been built at near lakes and rivers during the dry season when water elsewhere was scarce. While their hunters killed large numbers of turtles and grazing animals, the same kind of animals hunted by modern bushmen during the dry season. During the rainy season Oldowan hominids moved on to other areas about which we know little.

Hominids may have evolved permanent pair bonds between males and females to reduce aggression between males and to allow their integration into a co bonding presumably would have lessened sexual jealousies by limiting promiscuity. Males would also help to protect and get food for mothers and their off springs.

Finally, to make all this cooperative behavior possible, hominids may have developed a communication system that was more advance than that of the other primates. Although we have no way of knowing that when language may have appeared, it seems logical that group planning called for some way of talking about objects, times and places.

By contrast primate communication is largely limited to responses to the object in the immediate environment. Nonhuman primates cannot express abstraction well enough to communicate about the future or make plans.

Forces for Change:

Although the cultural achievements these early hominids made were limited they represent a landmark in the evolutionary history. At these time hominids begin to assert conscious control over their environment. They could begin to change the environment with their behavior or if this was impossible change their behavior to suite the conditions.

Culture in effect created a new niche for hominids, in which natural selection begin to favor the best in culture users. Smart hunters and the tool users were the fit because of their better survival strategies. These strategies in turn probably began to select for a more complex brain. Hunting depends for its success on the ability to remember the nature and location of the environmental features, as well as the habits of the animals. Refinement in the co-ordination of hand and eye facilitated the making and use of the tool and perhaps simple language was necessary for teaching the young the basics of culture or to plan the hunt. All these ac5tivities required the culture bearer to process sensory data, to remember it, and to integrate new perception with those stored in the memory.

Hominids with the best brains were probably also the most adopt at using culture and therefore more likely to pass on their genes. Eventually these selective pressures produced extremely complexed brains of the members of the genus homo.

Early Migration from Africa:

As we noted earlier Oldowan tools have been found not only in Africa but in other tropical and subtropical areas of the old world as well. It is possible that they were invented separately at each location. But since the tools found that koobifor and Oldowan gorge are older than any found elsewhere, most archeologists believe that the earliest hominid tool makers originated in east Africa.

The earlier hominids to exploits the plants and animals of grasslands outside Africa were probably homo erectus. It is not yet clear that what kind of pressure lead to this expansion. One theory is that early hunters followed herds of savannah herbivores in their migrations to these new territories. Both in Africa and elsewhere this movement was accompanied by increase in technological sophistication. These in turn allowed hominids to move into colder regions. Probably during the Gunz and Mindel glaciation of the middle Pleistocene (from about six lacs to four lac year B.P.) Some lived in the temperate environments in Europe. And during the Riss glaciation (220000 to 150000 B.P.) Some population seem to have lived in perpetually cold areas of Europe.

During this time, the carriers of the Oldowan culture split into two different cultural and geographical groups. The two tradition were more or less separated by a mount barrier made up of the Himalayas in the east and the Caucasus and zagros mountains in the south west Asia and the Carpathians in south east Europe. To the east and the north of this mountain barrier as an elaboration of the Oldowan tradion called chopper tool culture. People to the west and the south of this string of mountain ranges evolved the life style and way of making tools, especially hand axes, known as acheulean culture.

The culture of late Middle Palaeolithic:

About 80000 years before present in many parts of World Population started making sophisticated and specialized tools. At this time hominid exploits the environment and managed to survive in extremely cold conditions and they also showed many features of modern human cultures.

Late middle Paleolithic was roughly contemporary with Neanderthal period. This period lasted from 80000 to about 40000 year before present.

Tool tradition of this time period is known as Mousterian. Assemblages of this tradition are found in Europe and western Russia south Asia and north Africa.

Technology used in late Middle Palaeolithic:

These assemblages are not identified by a single tool as Acheulean sites. In fact Mousterian tools were composite tools, which had several parts. Earlier tools were made in single part from a single piece of material. For example, spear of Mousterian period might have a wooden shaft, with a stone point and a bone handle. There was careful preparation of a core in order to struck flakes in a precise preshaped forms.

There was considerable local variety in Mousterian assemblages. Bored have described 5 types of general tool making tradition. According to Bored the differences among these assemblages shows a distinct cultural tradition but other archaeologist says that these were products of a single culture which occupied different environment and carried different activities.

Eco-Niche:

Europe was densely occupied during Mousterian time. T h o u g h these times were prevailed by cold environment but the remains of plants and animals suggests that the area could support abundant life. Archaeologist suggests that probably in midsummer the daylight was around for 16 hours a day. Apart from the areas which were covered with snow all the times Northern Europe was having a variety of plants that were adapted to the cold conditions. The environment was probably like tundra meadow.

Hominids of this time probably took full advantage of high Biomass of this period. Reindeer seems to be there favorite food. The used traditional hunting tools spears and bolas but bows and arrows, fish hooks you are still unknown to them.

Adaptation to the cold climates might have included Anatomical changes and is a part of cultural solutions continued use of Fire is also evident. Caves and rock Shelters was used for systematically dwellings for the first time, sometimes on a semi-permanent basis. Even in open areas some groups might have built weather tight centres which day covered with skins. Many scrappers which was found in the Assembly this suggests that the people of these times were also scrapping Animal hides. But we are not sure whether they were used as blankets for clothing.

Minutes of this time migrated with the Seasons in order to adapt according to the environment in summers they travelled North into open tundras and in winters they came south to stay in forest. But this kind of life serves a small group as camp sites were not large enough to suggest that any social organisation of a more Complex nature than a band was existed in those Times.

But outside of Europe archaic Homo sapiens were expanding into new ecosystems that are from Tropical rainforest to sub-arctic regions. Technologies were also develop more specifically aimed at making use of the local food resources and building various materials, for example in African rainforest they put more emphasis on tools for working wood as this material was abundantly available in this area.

Glimmers of modern culture:

Archive populations refining their tools and they were living in new two systems at the same time some groups seemed to developed modern capacity for self-awareness and symbolic thought. Their brains were large almost as large as ours, though this trait cannot be directly linked with the intelligence. On the account of their cultural tradition it may be right to say that they must have been using some form of speech. But we cannot tell that whether they had a localized speech Centre in their brains. Some researchers have noted that these hominids had plenty of room in which to move their tongues if they had tried to speak as the bony shalves had disappeared from the insides of their lower jaws. Larynix and brain of these hominids were better equipped for speech than those of other primates.

in some areas they had begin to practice human social customs such as ritual burials. For example 60000 years ago in a cave located in modern day Iraq the child was buried on a bed of flowers, and at La Chapelle Aux Saints an individual was laid to rest in small grave carved out of Rocky floor of the cave. This body was surrounded by Quarttz, Jasper and red ocher. Perhaps these were his personal possessions. Or perhaps they were linked with Belief in after life. But for sure it carried some kind of symbolic meaning.

The upper Paleolithic:

Up to 40000 years this culture has evolved rather slowly. But the pace of change increased somewhat during the Mousterian. In the upper Paleolithic Era the people had the technology and the background of accumulated knowledge which rapidly improved and specialized there tool making techniques. Now the populations were living in the larger group and they were expecting many different environment they also cross the geographical barriers to enter the different habitable world that is the Americas and Australia.

Technology used in in the upper Paleolithic era:

Tool making tradition in this era was Complex and confusing; the best known sequence of the upper Paleolithic Era exists in Europe but even there they are poorly worked out except in France. Later on these traditions spread to other regions, whereas other archaeologist suggests that technical logical changes were taking place independently at many different places which thereby increased the cultural diversity throughout the world.

There is a gradual transition from Mousterian to Perigordian in France, at the same time however another culture appeared in France that did not seem to originate there. This was the Aurignacian tradition which is having time period from above 33000 to 25000 years before present.

Though its origin and spread is still a mystery but some archaeologist suspect that it may have been introduced from Middle East. After 18000 years before presents the late Perigordian tradition was replaced in France by solutrean, origin of Solutrean is not known and it lasted only for 2000 years but this time period saw flint working technique at its peak. Roughly 16000 years ago Solutrean vanished as mysteriously as it has appeared. This position was replaced by the very different tools of Megadalenian which lasted until about 10000 years ago and Megadalenian was intern replaced by so called Mesolithic period or stone age.

Upper Paleolithic assemblages were rich in blades which were long thin flakes with parallel sides. These blades could have been formed by one:

1. Hammering the chisel like instrument against a stone;

2. Punching vertical slices out of a rock with a long pointed tool which steadied against the tool maker's chest.

3. Traditional stone against stone percussion flaking.

These blades were of standardized shapes and with a little retouching or modification they could easily be made into other specialized tools. For example borers, its share Point were probably used to drill holes in wood, shell, bone or skins. These assemblages also contained backed blades, who is one edge was purposely dulled and the sharpened one was useful in general cutting and scrapping. For the first time bows and arrows appears in this period. They fixed shouldered points to arrows and spears for fighting and hunting purposes.

Apart from these blade tools, about paleolithic assemblages contained tools made of bones and antlers such as barbed fish hooks, harpoon heads and needles. This tools was not only a efficient tools but also throws light on the artistic talent of their makers.

Econiche of European upper Palaeolithic populations:

Due to somewhat advanced tool Technology, upper Paleolithic people were able to use food resources more efficiently. The occupied the same regions of Tundra and forest ecosystem in which Mousterian people had lived. The more number of upper Palaeolithic sites suggest that upper Paleolithic people successfully adapted to extreme cold conditions which in turn increased their population density. They had more settled existence and large groups this suggests that day people may had some form of political authority, this theory is borne out buy evidences that some people were buried with greater ceremony than others.

Upper Paleolithic peoples of Europe continue to rely on tundra and forest games. There are no evidences of domesticating of Herds. Capturing game in this period was more effective done the earlier periods. They had Spears throwers; bow and arrow will increased accuracy. Various types of traps, pitfalls and enclosures are depicted in cave drawings along with fishing improved by the invention of harpoon and primitive fishhooks.

For the first time humans seems to have a significant effect on the environment, increasing use of large-game animals like mammoths may have contributed to their extinction although climate change must have payed a part in their extinction. There are evidences of intentional forest fires by the human as they must have made it easier to sight and trap the game.

Art By upper Paleolithic people:

Extra ordinary quality artwork was created by these people as the improved hunting and gathering techniques must have provided them with enough free time to execute these artworks. During Magdalenian period especially in France and Spain engraved bone, low relief clay sculptures, cave drawings reached a peak of sophistication. Some of the realistic representation of game animals might have been used repeatedly in rituals designed to encourage the success of The Hunt, cure sickness, or to celebrate the onset of spring. Many pregnant women are shown maybe as a symbol of fertility. Many others signs such as dots, rectangles barbed lines might have symbolized males. Moreover some marks maybe attempted to keep track of time, distance, or quantity. Consistencies in the location of various animals in the cave paintings suggests that whatever the explanation, it was intentional and orderly rather than random.

Migration to the new world:

In the late Paleolithic time humans apparently has existed too cold by using warm clothing and shoes and by living in heated dwellings in Siberia. Due to their successful adaptation to this environment they may have increasing population beyond ability of the area to support them so they must have begun to migrate in to previously untapped ecosystems of Beringia, the landmass that connected Eastern Siberia and western Alaska.

Alaska and Yukon were probably even richer in plant and animal life then Siberia. This area was dotted with streams, lakes and a variety of forest grassland and tundra ecosystem.

The Mesolithic culture:

Between Paleolithic age and beginning of Neolithic age there was a transitional period which is named by archaeologists Mesolithic age. Mesolithic age is not clearly defined in all areas of the world. There are evidences of mesolithic age in Europe, near east and North America. Mesolithic age coincided with time period that followed the Retreat of last glaciation almost 10000 years ago.

As post Pleistocene warming came so came the trend of attention of animals that had lived in tundras in most of the Europe. These tundras were gradually replaced with modern temperate forests, which in turn supported a larger number of different species but the density of each species was lesser than the Pleistocene period.

These smaller and less abundant game animals caused people to live and hunt in small groups along with use of new weapons and tools. The resources of food were exploited more efficiently. Mesolithic adaptations ultimately lead to domestication of plants and animals in near east Mexico and probably China. As end of mesolithic age is marked traditionally by beginning of food production so its length varies in different part of world. Europe provides the best suited material to study mesolithic age, in fact the mesolithic was originally used to describe the European remains from the end of Magdalenian or "reindeer period" about 10000 years ago and until the adaptation of agriculture about 6000 years ago.

European mesolithic people hunted elk, wild pig, small mammals like cat etc. They also relied on fish and shellfish from fresh and saltwater. Their tools what different from tools of paleolithic age. They used small blades less than an inch long called as microliths, for using them as tips and barbs for arrows. They were well suited to hunt small game of this time. Flint and polished stone adzes used for breaking earth and chopping trees, bone headed spears and harpoons were amongst other tools. Mesolithic people lived in very specific econiches as suggested by various artifacts left by these people.

North America the mesolithic age has been divided into two parts:

  1. The desert tradition, it evolved 9000 years ago in western arid regions of North America and lasted until European contact.
  2. The Archaiac tradition of the Eastern Woodlands started about 9000 years ago and lasted until about 4000 to 3000 years ago.