Prehistoric technology is technology that predates recorded history. History is the study of the past using written records. Anything prior to the first written accounts of history is prehistoric, including earlier technologies. About 2.5 million years before writing was developed, technology began with the earliest hominids who used stone tools, which they may have used to start fires and bury their dead. There are several factors that made the evolution of prehistoric technology necessary. One of the key factors is behavioral modernity of the developed brain of Homo sapiens capable of abstract reasoning, language and problem solving; the advent of agriculture resulted in lifestyle changes from nomadic lifestyles to ones lived in homes, with domesticated animals, land farmed using more varied and sophisticated tools. Art, architecture and religion evolved over the course of the prehistoric periods; the Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period during which stone was used in the manufacture of implements with a sharp edge, a point, or a percussion surface.
The period lasted 2.5 million years, from the time of early hominids to Homo sapiens in the Pleistocene era, ended between 6000 and 2000 BCE with the advent of metalworking. The Stone Age lifestyle was that of hunter-gatherers who traveled to hunt game and gather wild plants, with minimal changes in technology; as the last glacial period of the current ice age neared its end, large animals like the mammoth and bison antiquus became extinct and the climate changed. Humans adapted by maximizing the resources in local environments and eating a wider range of wild plants and hunting or catching smaller game. Domestication of plants and animals with early stages in the Old World Mesolithic and New World Archaic periods led to significant changes and reliance on agriculture in the Old World Neolithic and New World Formative stage; the agricultural life led to significant technological advancements. Although Paleolithic cultures left no written records, the shift from nomadic life to settlement and agriculture can be inferred from a range of archaeological evidence.
Such evidence includes ancient tools, cave paintings, other prehistoric art, such as the Venus of Willendorf. Human remains provide direct evidence, both through the examination of bones, the study of mummies. Though concrete evidence is limited and historians have been able to form significant inferences about the lifestyle and culture of various prehistoric peoples, the role technology played in their lives; the Lower Paleolithic period was the earliest subdivision of the Old Stone Age. It spans the time from around 2.5 million years ago when the first evidence of craft and use of stone tools by hominids appears in the current archaeological record, until around 300,000 years ago, spanning the Oldowan and Acheulean lithic technology. Early human used stone tool technology, such as a hand axe, similar to that used by primates, which are found to have intelligence levels of modern children aged 3 to 5 years. Intelligence and use of technology did not change much for millions of years; the first "Homo" species began with Homo habilis about 2.4 to 1.5 million years ago.
Homo habilis created. Homo ergaster lived in eastern and southern Africa about 2.5 to 1.7 million years ago and used more diverse and sophisticated stone tools than its predecessor, Homo habilis, including having refined the inherited Oldowan tools and developed the first Acheulean bifacial axes. Homo erectus lived about 1.8 to 1.3 million years ago in West Asia and Africa and is thought to be the first hominid to hunt in coordinated groups, use complex tools, care for infirm or weaker companions. Homo antecessor the earliest hominid in Northern Europe lived from 1.2 million to 800,000 years ago and used stone tools. Homo heidelbergensis lived between 600,000 and 400,000 years ago and used stone tool technology similar the Acheulean tools used by Homo erectus. European and Asian sites dating back 1.5 million years ago seem to indicate controlled use of fire by Homo erectus. A northern Israel site from about 690,000 to 790,000 years ago suggests. Homo heidelbergensis may have been the first species to bury their dead about 500,000 years ago.
The Middle Paleolithic period occurred in Europe and the Near East, during which the Neanderthals lived. The earliest evidence of settlement in Australia dates to around 40,000 years ago when modern humans crossed from Asia by island-hopping; the Bhimbetka rock shelters exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India, some of which are 30,000 years old. Homo neanderthalensis used Mousterian Stone tools that date back to around 300,000 years ago and include smaller, knife-like and scraper tools, they buried their dead in shallow graves along with stone tools and animal bones, although the reasons and significance of the burials are disputed. Homo sapiens, the only living species in the genus Homo, originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago; as compared to their predecessors, Homo sapiens had greater mental capability and ability to walk erect, which provided freed hands for manipulating objects and far greater use of tools. There was art created during this period. Intentional burial with grave goods, may be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice since it may signify a "concern for the dead that transcends daily life."
The earliest undisputed human burial so far dates back 130,000 years. Human skeletal remains stained with red ochre w
A harpoon is a long spear-like instrument used in fishing, whaling and other marine hunting to catch large fish or marine mammals such as whales. It accomplishes this task by impaling the target animal and securing it with barb or toggling claws, allowing the fishermen to use a rope or chain attached to the butt of the projectile to catch the animal. A harpoon can be used as a weapon. In the 1990s, harpoon points, known as the Semliki harpoons or the Katanda harpoons, were found in the Katanda region in Zaire; as the earliest known harpoons, these weapons were made and used 90,000 years ago, most to spear catfishes. In Japan, spearfishing with poles was widespread in palaeolithic times during the Solutrean and Magdalenian periods. Cosquer Cave in Southern France contains cave art over 16,000 years old, including drawings of seals which appear to have been harpooned. There are references to harpoons in ancient literature, though, in most cases, the descriptions do not go into detail. An early example can be found in the Bible in Job 41:7: "Can you fill its hide with harpoons or its head with fishing spears?"
The Greek historian Polybius, in his Histories, describes hunting for swordfish by using a harpoon with a barbed and detachable head. Copper harpoons were known to the seafaring Harappans well into antiquity. Early hunters in India include the Mincopie people, aboriginal inhabitants of India's Andaman and Nicobar islands, who have used harpoons with long cords for fishing since early times; the two flue harpoon was the primary weapon used in whaling around the world, but it tended to penetrate no deeper than the soft outer layer of blubber. Thus it was possible for the whale to escape by struggling or swimming away forcefully enough to pull the shallowly embedded barbs out backwards; this flaw was corrected in the early nineteenth century with the creation of the one flue harpoon. In the Arctic, the indigenous people used the more advanced toggling harpoon design. In the mid-19th century, the toggling harpoon was adapted by Lewis Temple; the Temple toggle was used, came to dominate whaling. In his famous novel Moby-Dick, Herman Melville explained the reason for the harpoon's effectiveness: In most land animals there are certain valves or flood gates in many of their veins, whereby when wounded, the blood is in some degree at least shut off in certain directions.
Not so with the whale. Yet so vast is the quantity of blood in him, so distant and numerous its interior fountains, that he will keep thus bleeding and bleeding for a considerable period, he describes another device, at times a necessary addition to harpoons: All whale-boats carry certain curious contrivances invented by the Nantucket Indians, called druggs. Two thick squares of wood of equal size are stoutly clenched together, so that they cross each other's grain at right angles, it is chiefly among gallied whales. For more whales are close round you than you can chase at one time, but sperm whales are not every day encountered. And if you cannot kill them all at once, you must wing them, so that they can be afterwards killed at your leisure. Hence it is; the first use of explosives in the hunting of whales was made by the British South Sea Company in 1737, after some years of declining catches. A large fleet was armed with cannon-fired harpoons. Although the weaponry was successful in killing the whales, most of the catch sank before being retrieved.
However, the system was still used, underwent successive improvements at the hands of various inventors over the next century, including Abraham Stagholt in the 1770s and George Manby in the early 19th century. William Congreve, who invented some of the first rockets for British Army use, designed a rocket-propelled whaling harpoon in the 1820s; the shell was designed to impale the whale with the harpoon. The weapon was in turn attached by a line to the boat, the hope was that the explosion would generate enough gas within the whale to keep it afloat for retrieval. Expeditions were sent out to try this new technology; these early devices, called bomb lances, became used for the hunting of humpbacks and right whales. A notable user of these early explosive harpoons was the American Thomas Welcome Roys in 1865, who set up a shore station in Seydisfjördur, Iceland. A slump in oil prices after the American Civil War forced their endeavor into bankruptcy in 1867. An early version of the explosive harpoon was designed by Jacob Nicolai Walsøe, a Norwegian painter and inventor.
His 1851 application was rejected by the interior ministry on the grounds that he had received public funding for his experiments. In 1867, a Danish fi
Control of fire by early humans
The control of fire by early humans was a turning point in the cultural aspect of human evolution. Fire provided a source of warmth, improvement on hunting and a method for cooking food; these cultural advancements allowed for human geographic dispersal, cultural innovations, changes to diet and behavior. Additionally, creating fire allowed the expansion of human activity to proceed into the dark and colder hours of the evening. Claims for the earliest definitive evidence of control of fire by a member of Homo range from 1.7 to 0.2 million years ago. Evidence for the controlled use of fire by Homo erectus, beginning some 1,000,000 years ago, has wide scholarly support. Flint blades burned in fires 300,000 years ago were found near fossils of early but not modern Homo sapiens in Morocco. Evidence of widespread control of fire by anatomically modern humans dates to 125,000 years ago. Use and control of fire was a gradual process. One was a change in habitat, from dense forest, where wildfires were rare and catastrophic, to savanna where wildfires were rare and of lower intensity.
Such a change may have occurred about three million years ago, when the savanna expanded in East Africa due to cooler and drier climate. The next stage involved interaction with burned landscapes and foraging in the wake of wildfires, as observed in various wild animals. In the African savanna, animals that preferentially forage in burned areas include Savanna chimpanzees, Vervet monkeys and a variety of birds, some of which hunt insects and small vertebrates in the wake of grass fires; the next step would be to make some use of residual hot spots. For example, foods found in the wake of wildfires tend to be either undercooked; this might have provided incentives to place undercooked foods on a hotspot or to pull food out of the fire if it was in danger of getting burned. This would require familiarity with its behavior. An early step in the control of fire would have been transporting it from burned to unburned areas and lighting them on fire, providing advantages in food acquisition. Maintaining a fire over an extended period of time, as for a season may have led to the development of base campsites.
Building a hearth or other fire enclosure such as a circle of stones would have been a development. The ability to make fire with a friction device with hardwood rubbing against softwood was a late development; each of these stages could occur at different intensities, ranging from occasional or "opportunistic" to "habitual" to "obligate". Most of the evidence of controlled use of fire during the Lower Paleolithic is uncertain and has limited scholarly support; the inconclusiveness of some of the evidence lies behind the fact that there exist other plausible explanations, such as natural processes, that could explain the findings. Recent findings support that the earliest known controlled use of fire took place in Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa, 1.0 Mya. Over time, early humans figured out. Archaeological evidence suggests that this happened 120,000 years ago. Findings from the Wonderwerk Cave site, in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, provide the earliest evidence for controlled use of fire.
Intact sediments were analyzed using micromorphological analysis and Fourier Transform Infrared Microspectroscopy and yielded evidence, in the form of burned bones and ashed plant remains, that burning took place at the site 1.0 Mya. East African sites, such as Chesowanja near Lake Baringo, Koobi Fora, Olorgesailie in Kenya, show some possible evidence that fire was controlled by early humans. In Chesowanja archaeologists found red clay clasts dated to 1.4 Mya. These clasts must have been heated to 400 °C to harden. However, tree stumps burned in bush fires in East Africa produce clasts which, when broken by erosion, are like those described at Chesownja. Controlled use of fire at Chesowanja is unproven. In Koobi Fora, sites FxJjzoE and FxJj50 show evidence of control of fire by Homo erectus at 1.5 Mya with findings of reddened sediment that could come from heating at 200–400 °C. Evidence of possible human control of fire has been found at South Africa; the evidence includes several burned bones, including ones with hominin-inflicted cut marks, along with Acheulean and bone tools.
This site shows some of the earliest evidence of carnivorous behavior in H. erectus. A "hearth-like depression" that could have been used to burn bones was found at a site in Olorgesailie, Kenya. However, it did not contain any charcoal and no signs of fire have been observed; some microscopic charcoal was found. In Gadeb, fragments of welded tuff that appeared to have been burned were found in Locality 8E but re-firing of the rocks might have occurred due to local volcanic activity. In the Middle Awash River Valley, cone-shaped depressions of reddish clay were found that could have been formed by temperatures of 200 °C; these features, thought to have been created by burning tree stumps, were hypothesized to have been produced by early hominids lighting tree stumps so they could have fire away from their habitation site. However, this view is not accepted. Burned stones are found in Awash Valley, but volcanic welded tuff is found in the area which could explain the burned stones. Burned flints discovered near Jebel Irhoud, dated by thermoluminescence to 300,000 years, were discovered in the sa
Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that second group. Charles Darwin recognized the small number of traits that made domestic species different from their wild ancestors, he was the first to recognize the difference between conscious selective breeding in which humans directly select for desirable traits, unconscious selection where traits evolve as a by-product of natural selection or from selection on other traits. There is a genetic difference between wild populations. There is such a difference between the domestication traits that researchers believe to have been essential at the early stages of domestication, the improvement traits that have appeared since the split between wild and domestic populations. Domestication traits are fixed within all domesticates, were selected during the initial episode of domestication of that animal or plant, whereas improvement traits are present only in a proportion of domesticates, though they may be fixed in individual breeds or regional populations.
The dog was the first domesticated vertebrate, was established across Eurasia before the end of the Late Pleistocene era, well before cultivation and before the domestication of other animals. The archaeological and genetic data suggest that long-term bidirectional gene flow between wild and domestic stocks – including donkeys, horses and Old World camelids, goats and pigs – was common. Given its importance to humans and its value as a model of evolutionary and demographic change, domestication has attracted scientists from archaeology, anthropology, zoology and the environmental sciences. Among birds, the major domestic species today is the chicken, important for meat and eggs, though economically valuable poultry include the turkey and numerous other species. Birds are widely kept as cagebirds, from songbirds to parrots; the longest established invertebrate domesticates are the silkworm. Terrestrial snails are raised for food, while species from several phyla are kept for research, others are bred for biological control.
The domestication of plants began at least 12,000 years ago with cereals in the Middle East, the bottle gourd in Asia. Agriculture developed in at least 11 different centres around the world, domesticating different crops and animals. Domestication, from the Latin domesticus,'belonging to the house', is "a sustained multi-generational, mutualistic relationship in which one organism assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another organism in order to secure a more predictable supply of a resource of interest, through which the partner organism gains advantage over individuals that remain outside this relationship, thereby benefitting and increasing the fitness of both the domesticator and the target domesticate." This definition recognizes both the biological and the cultural components of the domestication process and the impacts on both humans and the domesticated animals and plants. All past definitions of domestication have included a relationship between humans with plants and animals, but their differences lay in, considered as the lead partner in the relationship.
This new definition recognizes a mutualistic relationship. Domestication has vastly enhanced the reproductive output of crop plants and pets far beyond that of their wild progenitors. Domesticates have provided humans with resources that they could more predictably and securely control and redistribute, the advantage that had fueled a population explosion of the agro-pastoralists and their spread to all corners of the planet. Houseplants and ornamentals are plants domesticated for aesthetic enjoyment in and around the home, while those domesticated for large-scale food production are called crops. Domesticated plants deliberately altered or selected for special desirable characteristics are cultigens. Animals domesticated for home companionship are called pets, while those domesticated for food or work are known as livestock; this biological mutualism is not restricted to humans with domestic crops and livestock but is well-documented in nonhuman species among a number of social insect domesticators and their plant and animal domesticates, for example the ant–fungus mutualism that exists between leafcutter ants and certain fungi.
Domestication syndrome is the suite of phenotypic traits arising during domestication that distinguish crops from their wild ancestors. The term is applied to vertebrate animals, includes increased docility and tameness, coat color changes, reductions in tooth size, changes in craniofacial morphology, alterations in ear and tail form, more frequent and nonseasonal estrus cycles, alterations in adrenocorticotropic hormone levels, changed concentrations of several neurotransmitters, prolongations in juvenile behavior, reductions in both total brain size and of particular brain regions; the domestication of animals and plants began with the wolf at least 15,000 years before present, which led to a rapid shift in the evolution and demography of both humans and numerous species of animals and plants. The sudden appearance of the domestic dog in the archaeological record was followed by livestock and crop domestication, the transition of humans from foraging to farming in different places and times across the planet.
Around 10,000 YBP, a new way of life emerged for humans through the management and exploitation of plant and an
Prehistoric storage pits
Storage pits were underground cists used by many people in the past to protect the seeds for the following year's crops and surplus food from being eaten by insects and rodents. The underground pits were sometimes lined and covered, for example with slabs of stone and bark and sealed with adobe. Sannai-Maruyama site in Aomori, Aomori Prefecture, contains storage pits that were used when hunter-gatherers transitioned from a nomadic lifestyle to settled villages about 3900 BC to 2900 BC. Large storage pits were built underground to conceal their presence, a preferred method used by mobile populations in many parts of the world. Worlebury Camp storage pits are 93 storage pits found at the Iron Age hill fort that stood north of the town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England; the pits were cut into bedrock for "keeps", one is a ditch for protection), 74 are outside the "keep" but still enclosed within the exterior walls. The inhabitants used them to store grain, as is evidenced by the kernels of barley and wheat and the shards of pots that were found in the pits.
Found were remains of burned woven baskets and, dated to the 2nd or 1st century BC, sling stones and spindle whorls. and close to the village of Worle. Remains of human skeletons were found in 18 of the pits, 10 of which show evidence of a violent death. Māori storage pit sites remain visible in many place in New Zealand. Pits were dug into soft rock faces as well as into earth in Maori Pa. Maori storage pits can be confused with fighting pits and pits which were excavated to extract drainage material on old river terraces where pumice had been deposited; the pumice was mixed with heavier soil to promote drainage for growing kumara, the principal vegetable crop of the Maori after about 1500. The Maori name for a storage pit is rua. An excavation found such storage pits on the sloping banks of the Waikato River below the Waikato Museum in early 2012
Baton fragment (Palart 310)
Dating to the last Ice Age, this decorated fragment of a perforated antler baton was discovered in 1863 by Edouard Lartet and Henry Christy at the Abri de la Madeleine, an overhanging cliff situated near Tursac, in the Dordogne département and the Aquitaine Région of South-Western France. This is the type-site for the Magdalenian culture, it was bequeathed to the British Museum by Christy, is now catalogued as Palart.310, but not on display. The baton is 5.5 cm wide and 3 cm thick. The fragment is broken at both ends and is distinguished by a near-cylindrical section, interrupted on one side by a horse motif, on the other side by three cut grooves; the baton has one perforated hole in the near centre, with a deep groove above it, which runs long ways just below the upper edge. Directly to the left of the perforated hole is an image of a horse; the figure has a large eye, a high angular shaped mane, small forelegs that seem to sweep backwards. There are two incised V shapes on its flank – that might suggest injury – or more movement.
The occurrence of a large eye is a feature found on other baton examples excavated at La Madeleine. This decorated antler baton was used in the throwing of spears; the hole is a gauge to shape the shaft of the spear. It can be used to straighten both the tips and the shafts. By looping a strip of raw hide through the hole the tool becomes a weapon. Looping the thong around the end of the spear, turns the baton into a spear thrower; the object represents both a decorated weapon. April to June 2010 –'Ice Age Sculpture' at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds. May to July 2006 –'Undercover Surrealism' at Hayward Gallery, London. February to May 2013 – exhibition at the British Museum Ice Age Art: Arrival of the Modern Mind Art of the Upper Paleolithic List of Stone Age art "British Museum", on the British Museum online database Ades, D. and Baker, S. 2006. Undercover surrealism: Georges Bataille and DOCUMENTS. London: Hayward Gallery. Sieveking, A. 1987. A catalogue of Palaeolithic art. London: The British Museum Press.
Underwood, L. 1965. Le baton de commandement. MAN 65, 140–4. Zervos, C. 1959. L'art de l'epoque du renne en France. Paris: Cahiers d'art
Bow and arrow
The bow and arrow is a ranged weapon system consisting of an elastic launching device and long-shafted projectiles. Archery is the practice, or skill of using bows to shoot arrows. A person who shoots arrows with a bow is called an archer. Someone who makes bows is known as a bowyer, one who makes arrows is a fletcher, one who manufactures metal arrowheads is an arrowsmith; the use of bows and arrows by humans for hunting predates recorded history and was common to many prehistoric cultures. They were important weapons of war from ancient history until the early modern period, where they were rendered obsolete by the development of the more powerful and accurate firearms, were dropped from warfare. Today and arrows are used for hunting and sports. A bow consists of a semi-rigid but elastic arc with a high-tensile bowstring joining the ends of the two limbs of the bow. An arrow is a projectile with a pointed tip and a long shaft with stabilizer fins towards the back, with a narrow notch at the end to contact the bowstring.
To load an arrow for shooting, the archer places an arrow across the middle of the bow with the bowstring in the arrow's nock. To shoot, the archer pulls back the arrow and the bowstring, which in turn flexes the bow limbs, storing elastic energy. While maintaining the draw, the archer sights along the arrow to aim it; the archer releases the arrow, allowing the limbs' stored potential energy to convert into kinetic energy, transmitted via the bowstring to the arrow, propelling it to fly forward with high velocity. A container or bag for additional arrows for quick reloading is called a quiver; when not in use, bows are kept unstrung, meaning one or both ends of the bowstring are detached from the bow. This removes all residual tension on the bow, can help prevent it from losing strength or elasticity over time. For many bow designs, this lets it straighten out more reducing the space needed to store the bow. Returning the bowstring to its ready-to-use position is called stringing the bow; the bow and arrow appears around the transition from the Upper Paleolithic to the Mesolithic.
After the end of the last glacial period, use of the bow seems to have spread to every inhabited region, except for Australasia and most of Oceania. The earliest definite remains of bow and arrow are from Europe. Possible fragments from Germany were found at Mannheim-Vogelstang dated 17,500-18,000 years ago, at Stellmoor dated 11,000 years ago. Azilian points found in Grotte du Bichon, alongside the remains of both a bear and a hunter, with flint fragments found in the bear's third vertebra, suggest the use of arrows at 13,500 years ago. At the site of Nataruk in Turkana County, obsidian bladelets found embedded in a skull and within the thoracic cavity of another skeleton, suggest the use of stone-tipped arrows as weapons about 10,000 years ago. Microliths discovered on the south coast of Africa suggest that projectile weapons of some sort may be at least 71,000 years old; the oldest extant bows in one piece are the elm Holmegaard bows from Denmark which were dated to 9,000 BCE. Several bows from Holmegaard, date 8,000 years ago.
High-performance wooden bows are made following the Holmegaard design. The Stellmoor bow fragments from northern Germany were dated to about 8,000 BCE, but they were destroyed in Hamburg during the Second World War, before carbon 14 dating was available; the bow was an important weapon for both hunting and warfare from prehistoric times until the widespread use of gunpowder in the 16th century. Organised warfare with bows ended in the mid 17th century in Europe, but it persisted into the early 19th century in Eastern cultures and in hunting and tribal warfare in the New World. In the Canadian Arctic bows were made until the end of the 20th century for hunting caribou, for instance at Igloolik; the bow has more been used as a weapon of tribal warfare in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. The British upper class led a revival of archery from the late 18th century. Sir Ashton Lever, an antiquarian and collector, formed the Toxophilite Society in London in 1781, under the patronage of George Prince of Wales.
The basic elements of a bow are a pair of curved elastic limbs, traditionally made from wood, joined by a riser. Both ends of the limbs are connected by a string known as the bow string. By pulling the string backwards the archer exerts compressive force on the string-facing section, or belly, of the limbs as well as placing the outer section, or back, under tension. While the string is held, this stores the energy released in putting the arrow to flight; the force required to hold the string stationary at full draw is used to express the power of a bow, is known as its draw weight, or weight. Other things being equal, a higher draw weight means a more powerful bow, able to project heavier arrows at the same velocity or the same arrow at a greater velocity; the various parts of the bow can be subdivided into further sections. The topmost limb is known as the upper limb. At the tip of each limb is a nock, used to attach the bowstring to the limbs; the riser is divided into the grip, held by the archer, as well as the arrow rest and the bow window.
The arrow rest is a small ledge or extension above the grip which the arrow rests upon while being aimed. The bow window is that part of the