- Category: FAQ
- Published: Friday, November 13 2015 03:02
The Old Stone Age (Paleolithic Era) -from the beginning of human existence until around 12,000 years ago
Why do we call this time in history the Stone Age?
During this time humans used stone to make tools and stone was used many times as part of the actual tool. Tools are objects that make our lives easier. A computer or smart phone are examples of modern-day tools. Paleolithic is a word that comes from the two Greek words palaios, meaning old, and lithos, meaning stone.
Using a hammer stone for flaking. Which stone do you think is harder, the object stone, or the hammer stone?
Flaking was one of the first uses of technology. Technologies are tools and also skills that make our lives easier. Flaking is an example of a Stone Age technology skill. Flaking involves using a hammer stone to form sharp edges on an object stone by striking it on its sides. By flaking early humans could sharpen spear and arrow tips to hunt prey.
Old Stone Age people hunt a sabre-toothed tiger; why are the spears considered composite tools?
As far as we know today, people have only been writing about their experiences for about 7,000 years. When people write about their existence, we call that history. But what about the time before writing, how can we tell the age of an object?
There are three ways to determine the date of an artifact:
- Extraction: digging down through layers of earth, the deeper the object, the older it is.
- Typology: studying the type of object. If the object is more complex, it is usually more recent, simple tools are usually older.
- Carbon-14 Dating: this is the measure of the amount of a substance called carbon-14 present in an object. This only works for living objects. When a living organism dies, it begins to lose carbon-14 in a predictable way we can measure and then determine the time the object was alive. Objects with less carbon-14 lived longer ago. Eventually a once-living object looses all of its carbon-14, so very old objects can not be dated using this method.
These three methods are not fool-proof and only offer a reasonable guess as to the date of very old artifacts. These are the tools of an archaeologist, one who studies objects from the past.
Woolly Mammoth herd
Old Stone Age people were always on the move. A person who moves from place to place is called a nomad. Because of their nomadic lifestyle, Old Stone Age people builttemporary homes, rather than permanent homes. People travelled in small groups, we think these groups could have been extended family groups. Old Stone Age people had two ways of obtaining food, by hunting and gathering. Gathering is finding wild berries and other plants to eat. We sometimes call these people hunter-gatherers.
Would you have liked to live in the Paleolithic Era? In the next chapter, we will look at four important sites that show evidence of Paleolithic people.
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