The Palaeolithic - fachsprachlich Palaeolithic, from Greek παλαιός ( palaios ) " old " and λίθος ( lithos ) "stone" - was the first and longest period of prehistory and identified in Europe and Asia, respectively the oldest section of the Stone Age. The term refers to the dominant tradition of stone tools, while tools made ​​of bone and wood are comparatively rarely found. In Africa, the term Early Stone Age will be used. In the Americas and Australia, this structure is not common.

The systematic production of flint tools was a crucial step in the humanization. Both the early members of the genus Homo, as well as their descendants, the Neanderthal and Cro -Magnon people lived as hunters and gatherers.


The British anthropologist Sir John Lubbock said in his 1865 published work Prehistoric Times to the Stone Age in the "Period of the beaten stone " ( Old Stone Age, Paleolithic ') as well as the " period of polished stone ," which he New Stone Age, Neolithic ' called.


The beginning of the term Paleolithic is linked to the production of the first stone tools. With the basal human history began in Africa about 2.5 million years ago there before the Early Stone Age ( the culture of the Oldowan ), which began far earlier than all other continents there. Even older stone tools ( about 2.6 million years old ) are presumably attributable to a not yet known ancestor of Homo ergaster.

This is also the Early Stone Age attributable Acheulean bifaces and is characterized by the first archaeological culture that is areally also detected in Asia and Europe and thus the out- of-Africa theory is. Support of these tools were Homo ergaster and Homo erectus. The African Middle Stone Age and Later Stone Age are temporally different from other continents.

The European Paleolithic is divided into three periods Lower Palaeolithic, Middle Palaeolithic and Upper Palaeolithic, within which there are archaeological cultures that are accrued over characteristic stone tools. Carrier of the oldest occupational level were the so far defined only in Northern Spain Homo antecessor Homo heidelbergensis and the rest of Europe ( as the European counterpart of Homo erectus ). The archaeological cultures are named in geoscientific tradition usually after the first localities of any such period, the so-called Type localities. Today only historically relevant research - - Techno complex of Clactonian for hand ax free inventories of the Lower Palaeolithic used addition to the Acheulian was in Europe.

  • The Middle Palaeolithic or the time of the Neanderthals is frequently associated with the onset of Levallois. Important crops are: Mousterian, about 200,000 BC to 40,000 BC, which is characterized by very finely crafted pieces in numerous, designed to function out forms. Typical are finely trained bifaces.
  • Micoquian (or " wedge knife - groups " ), about 130,000 BC to 70,000 BC, occurrence of the wedge knife
  • Châtelperronian until about 34,000 BC ( restricted regionally, France and Northern Spain)
  • Upper Paleolithic, the time horizon of anatomically modern humans ( European Cro-Magnon man ). Important crops are the following, dominated by blades of flint cultures: Aurignacian 40,000 to 28,000 BC: Beginning of the Upper Paleolithic cabaret in Europe, first petroglyphs
  • Gravettian of about 28,000 BC to 21,000 BC time horizon of Venusfigurinen.
  • Solutrean of about 22,000 BC to 18,000 BC
  • Magdalenian of about 18,000 BC to 12,000 BC

The Paleolithic ends in the Middle East ( " Fertile Crescent " ), and in China about 20,000 to 12,000 years ago with a gradual replacement of the wild exploitative lifestyle through agriculture and animal husbandry ( Epipalaeolithic ). The producing life originated elsewhere in the world much later. In Europe, the transition to agriculture occurred later, here followed the first Paleolithic Middle Stone Age (Mesolithic ).