What we understand when we talk about prehistory is the period of time elapsed during the evolution of early hominid ancestors of modern Homo Sapiens until the appearance of the first written records that humans wrote on Earth. So it is the period of time in which humanity was only able to pass on their knowledge from generation to generation orally. The historical sources that we can analyse to study Prehistory are only prehistoric archaeological sources as there are no written sources. In addition when we study the prehistory we find that the preserved archaeological remains are scarce and are actually only a small percentage of objects that existed.
The archaeological remains on which we can base to study prehistoric times are:
Typically, these remains are damaged and their reconstruction, interpretation and dating sometimes have a great difficulty.
To date the prehistoric archaeological remains there are various systems:
- You can relate to geological dates corresponding to the ground level where they have been located. This is the oldest and less accurate.
- They can be dated by carbon-14 analysis and other similar systems. This system is the most modern and reliable.
- Many other more advanced technologies within a wide range of scientific disciplines are used.
By definition not all geographic areas and cultures went into and out of Prehistory at the same time. Different nations and areas developed at different speeds, and therefore it is necessary to study each area according to its own characteristics. Mainly the division would be:
- Prehistory Middle East (Ancient Mesopotamia and vicinity)
- Prehistory in Africa (with special emphasis on the Nile Valley)
- Prehistory in Asia.
- Prehistory in Europe.
- Prehistory in America.
Please, do not make the mistake of just study the Middle East and Europe. You can not forget that in all Earth early man left his footprints and our obligation is to recover that information to enrich the heritage of the entire mankind.
Stages of Prehistory
Prehistory is usually divided into the following stages:
- The Paleolithic is the oldest and longest stage. Men were nomads and were engaged in gathering and hunting. They had to adapt to several important changes to the climate
- The Mesolithic is the transition between the Paleolithic and Neolithic between 10,000 BC and 7,000 BC Mankind still engaged in hunting and gathering but the last ice age has ended.
- In Neolithic agriculture and grazing appears and begins to form the first permanent settlements.
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