The stone age is a period in human history distinguished by the use of unpolished and hand-chipped stone tools. From the invention of the domestication of animals to the first artistic expressions we explore some of the most amazing facts about the stone age.
1. It is a period during which the stone was widely used to make tools
Prehistory is the time before written records existed. We divide it into 3 major time periods, the stone age, the bronze age, and the iron age, each named after its predominant tool-making techniques.
Humans in the stone age used stone to craft their tools. They used stones to chip other stones, and bones to break apart nuts, and seeds, and to grind clay into pigment.
2. Stone age lasted for roughly 3.3 million years
The stone age is the longest of the human time periods, it’s believed it started some 3.3 million years ago as this is (since 2015) the age of the oldest stone tools found to date (you can read more about the find here). As we expand our knowledge, this number may still change in the future.
3. Stone age ended between 4000-2000 BCE
This is one of the “ish” facts about stone age on our list, as it is only true for most of the world. You might think the stone age has a specific year at which it ended but this isn’t the case. The stone age ended with the transition to the bronze age when humans began working with metal and making tools and weapons from bronze.
This change didn’t happen at the same time across the globe, some societies reached the bronze age sooner than others.
Some isolated societies technically remained in the stone age well after what we consider the end of the stone age. The Sentinelese inhabitants of an isolated island in the Bay of Benegal, are believed to transition out of the stone age sometime in the second century AD.
4. We divide Stone age into 3 eras
We divide the stone age into 3 eras, and each of those eras into subdivisions.
The eras are Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic.
5. There were several species of humans present in the Stone age
During the stone age there were quite a few human species roaming the world, all but homo-sapiens now extinct.
Neanderthals, Denisovans and Homo Antecessor being some of them.
6. People in the stone age were hunter-gatherers
For the major part of prehistoric, the humans practiced hunting-gathering. Around 10,000-9,000 BC the use of agriculture was on the rise.
The hunter-gatherer societies rely on hunting and fishing for animals and gathering vegetation as well as other nutrients such as honey and eggs.
7. Types of human settlements evolved throughout the stone age
Early humans and humanoids lived in caves but as the stone age progressed, other types of shelter were developed, including huts and even stone settlements.
The settlements mostly weren’t permanent, like in the old stone age, people had to move around in order to gather enough food. Once agriculture evolved, the first permanent settlements started appearing as well.
8. Art was present in the stone age, there are many cave paintings that are preserved to this day
This is one of the more important facts about the stone age, as art and artistic expression isn’t something one should take for granted. The oldest known cave paintings are more than 100,000 years old. The oldest paintings are mostly hand stencils or simple geometric shapes.
Later paintings show more figurative paintings, such as animals and hunters.
9. People started wearing clothes in the Stone Age
It was in the Stone Age that clothes first appeared. It may have started with something as simple as fur coats but by around 40,000 BC, needles were made out of bones and were already in use and simple garments were put together. The birth of sewing!
10. Stonehenge was built in the Stone Age
One of the world’s most well-known monuments was built in the stone age.
There are many unknowns about Stonehenge. We don’t know how humans at that time built it. We are also clueless when it comes to the reasons they built it. What purpose it served? We have no idea either. There are some theories and speculations, but all is still open for debate. We may never get the answers.
11. People made and wore jewelry
While decorative items were made before, it was at the end of the stone age when they became more common and even traded.
During the last era of the Stone Age, the Neolithic, the stone working techniques evolved to a point where people were able to drill holes in and chisel materials such as boon, wood, and animal horns, which made it possible to create more complex jewelry. Humans liked to decorate themselves since forever.
13. Humans domesticated dogs, sheep, and goats in Stone age
The first animal that humans have domesticated are dogs. Humans also domesticated goats and sheep in the Stone age. Maybe even chicken at the end of the Stone age.
14. The popular Paleo diet is based on food that was eaten in Paleolithic
The Paleo diet is a very popular one today. It is based on what is believed to have been the diet of a human in the Paleolithic era. Yum!
15. Some interesting, now extinct, animals were present in this historic period
You can’t have a list of facts about the stone age and not mention some of the coolest animals that ever lived. While many animals that are still alive today were present in the stone age, there are quite a few that have since been extinct.
Some of the more notable animals are the Wooly mammoth, the Wooly Rhinoceros, the cave bear, dire wold, mastodon, and smilodon (saber-toothed cat). An interesting bunch.