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It seems like neolithic is distinguishable by the fact that it involves the development of agriculture and all of the advancements that came with that. Paleolithic is a very long period that encompasses almost everything up until that time… so what is Mesolithic? Is it just sandwiched in between the two because we like things better when they come in threes?
(Sorry for my english) Mesolithic is just the name of the transition period between hunter-gatherism and farming. I don't know about Europe, but in the Levant, think that that change is not a thing of a few years, it's a process that last about 3 millenia (from ~12.5k cal b.C. to ~9.5k cal b.C., Natufian culture), because mesolithic started as soon as climate started to be warmer at the end of the last glacial period and it was easier to get food, making communities more sedentary-like. That process started about two millenia before the start of Holocene (Holocene starts at 9.7k cal b.C.), and, a couple of centuries later, started farming with pre-pottery neolithic A, ~9.5k cal b.C.).
Obviously, every thing happening in that period deserves its own name.
In the "English-tradition" is a bit more complicated because mesolithic is not just used for cultures which later became farmers, but for any changing culture due to the end of the last glacial period (and not the last ice age!! we are still in an ice age!!). However, in Europe we use "Epipaleolithic" for cultures which didn't become farmers (until they did it, but by acculturation), and reserve "Mesolithic" for transition cultures.
NOTE: About dating these periods, it's important to say that, when dating died organism using the radiocarbon method (the method used to date mesolithic and neolithic cultures), we need to know the C-14 environment concentration when that organism died, because we need to know how many C-14 molecules had lost that organism from dead to present.
But, some decades ago, scientist hadn't an accurate measure of C-14 concentrations in the past, and dating was made under the assumption the C-14 environment concentration is the same as present. Today, however, we have a best idea of C-14 concentrations in the past, and dating must be calibrated with that information, to adjust dating.
The thing is, when comparing uncalibrated and calibrated dates from the past, the older the date, the bigger the difference. From mesolithic dates, there's a difference of about two thousand years, and from neolithic dates, of about one thoursand years.
For these reason, if you compare dates from sources of about 10 years ago, you will see that neolithic is dated as started at ~7.000 or ~8.000 b.C., but today is dated as started at ~9.500 b.C.
What distinguishes the mesolithic period from neolithic and paleolithic? - History
1). Sculpture in theround:Free standing sculptural figures carved or modeled in three dimensions.
2). High vs. lowrelief: Highreliefis a sculpture in which the figures project substantially from the backgroundsurface. Low relief is a sculpture in which the figures and formsproject only slightly from the background plane.
3). Pigment andbinder:A powdered substance that is used to give color to paints, inks, and dyes.
4). Post and lintel: Anarchitectural system in which upright members or posts support horizontalmembers, or lintels.
5). Registers: Decorated bands on a manmade object thattell a story or have a subject (such as a God or festival).
6). Glyptic art: The art ofcarving or engraving, especially on small objects such as seals or preciousstones.
7). Cyclopaen: Masonry that was made with giant irregular blocks.
8). Provenience: The record of when and where something was made
9). Arches: A curvedarchitectural member, generally consisting of wedge-shaped blocks (voussoirs), which is used to span an opening ittransmits the downward pressure laterally.
10).Columns: A cylindricalsupport, usually with three parts- base, shaft, and capital.
11). Capitals: The decoratedtop of a column or pilaster, providing a transition from the shaft to theentablature.
Be familiar with where these locations are:Stonehenge, Willendorf, Carnac, Lascaux, and Chauvet
Stonehenge is in Salisbury plain England. Venusof Willendorf was found is Austria. “Chinese horse” was found in Lascaux Franceas well as the hall of running bulls. Carnac is a communebeside the Gulf of Morbihan on the south coast of Brittany in north-westernFrance. The Chauvet- Cave in southern France is a cave that contains theearliest known and best preserved figurative cave paintings in the world, as wellas other evidence of Upper Paleolithic life.
Distinguish between Paleolithic, Neolithic and Mesolithic societies by briefly describing each.
There are three Stone Age era’s, thePaleolithic, Neolithic, and Mesolithic. The Paleolithic was from 50,000 – 8,000B.C. The Neolithic was from 8,000 – 4,000 B.C. The Mesolithic was from 4,000 –2,000B.C. Paleolithic is split into three subsections lower, middle, andupper. People in the Mesolithic Stone Age started to settle down into villagesand farming became popular. During the Neolithic period, stone structures beganto emerge example, Stonehenge.
Explain the difference between Stonehenge andthe Menhirs and Dolmens from Brittany, France
Stonehenge is a concentric circle of largestones that are 13 feet high and weighting 50 tons each. People believe that Stonehengewas used for a sundial to determine the changing of seasons, a place of ritualfor druids or magic, sacrificial site, or possibly even a graveyard. Menhirsand dolmens are a rock structure like post and lintels that sometimes have land(grass) growing over them. In a sense it is like a man-made underground tunnelor cave where people sometimes draw or paint on the walls
Be familiar with these locations: Anatolia,Mesopotamia, Assyria, Akkad, Sumer, Persia and the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
Anatolia is located in present day Turkey. Assyriais located near ancient East Mesopotamia. Akkad is a city in Iraq. Sumeris located in present day modern Iraq. Persia is modern day Iran. EuphratesRivers is located in Western Asia. The Tigris river is between Turkey and Iraq.
Summarize the major myth of the Mesopotamianculture, The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Gilgamesh was a Greekmythology god of a city called Uruk. He was granted immortality by creating civilization.
Explain the significance of the stele, as isshown in the famous, The Code of Hammurabi.
The code of Hammurabiwas a set of rules and laws that the people of Mesopotamia. had to live by. It also included how someone wouldbe punished for a crime, most of the justifications were unreasonable likethrowing an adulteress in water and if she sank she was jilt, if she floatedshe was innocent of cheating. Stele was the tablet that the set of rules andlaws were on.
Compare the female goddesses of the prehistoricperiod using specific examples. Describe their imagery and what youthink they may have represented.
Venus of Willendorf: She is often called “nude woman”. Art historian believe she wasfrom 28,000 -25,000 and is approximately 4 3/8 inches in height. We don’t knowwho, why, or where she was made because records of where they found it aredestroyed. Venus is the Greek goddess of love. She was probably named thisbecause looks pregnant. The figurine has no feet, facial features, or hair, herthin arms rest on her breasts she has a reed hat on her head. Her bust, stomach,and butt are exaggerated which makes historians think it is picoting “exaggeratedfertility”. It is for these reasons that I believe that Venus of Willendorf cannotstand so one must carry her in their pocket. She could be used as a good luckcharm when one is going into labor. In addition I think she is the goddess offertility and love.
Venus of Laussell: This figurine also has exadurated fertility butI believe it has a different meaning. In her Right hand you can see she isholding some piece of produce. Often when a figurine in the ancient world washolding an object it meant that they were a god/goddess of the object that theyare holding. This means that she is the goddess of agriculture and love(because Venus is the goddess of love). This piece of artwork could have beencarried around in a pocket like a coin to guarantee someone that they had a ‘greenthumb’.
Record the evolution of writing from theearliest pictographs and cylinder seals to the cuneiform inscriptions ontablets and steles.
Uruk is known as the first city and civilization they also createdthe first record keeping for economic data. One of the earliest written textsfrom Uruk provides a list of 120 officials that were in the city. However, writingon clay and wood may have existed in Syria and Turkey as early as the fourthmillennium B.C.
Which stone relief from the Assyrian King Assurnasirpal IIdo you enjoy the most and why.
Assurnasirpal II Killing Lions is my favorite stone relief byAssurnasirpal II because it shows off the Assyrians culture and how lionswere significant to them. By having the king kill the lion, he was guaranteeingthat he was keeping the city safe for everyone.
Explain the importance of the bull and lion inPersian iconography.
Lionsrepresented pride, power, rule, and the kill of nature. When a king killed alion it represented keeping the city safe and it gave the king the opportunity toshow off how powerful he was. A bull represents Fierceness, storms and a timeof harvest for the city. Both creatures are deeply feared but benefit the Persians,lions can protect them and the bulls bring harvest to the land.
Catal Huyuk is one of the most well developed Neolithic cultures for trade, agriculture, stone wear, and ceramics. The layout of the city suggests that it has no streets, front doors and tiny windows in the house so invaders cannot get in as easily. To get from building to building they would have to climb up on a ladder and walk on other persons roofs to get to their final destination. The houses were usually furnished with built in benches made from the clay (and bones of the dead) in the walls.
Venus of Willendorf: She is often called “nude woman”. Art historian believe she was from 28,000 -25,000 and is approximately 4 3/8 inches in height. We don’t know who, why, or where she was made because records of where they found it are destroyed. Venus is the Greek goddess of love. She was probably named this because looks pregnant. The figurine has no feet, facial features, or hair, her thin arms rest on her breasts, she has a reed hat on her head. Her bust, stomach, and butt are exaggerated which makes historians think it is picoting “exaggerated fertility”. It is for these reasons that I believe that Venus of Willendorf cannot stand so one must carry her in their pocket. She could be used as a good luck charm when one is going into labor.
Chapter 1 | Stone Age – Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic
This topic is not one of UPSC’s favorites and too much details and depth is not required. You need to make a note of 2 things. First, try to understand the evolution of tool technology, memorize which technology(flint, flakes, microliths) corresponds to which age. Second, refer the table at the end. Memorize what started in which age.
Paleolithic Age – It is the longest phase divided in to 3 phases.
1) Early (lower) – 500K -50K BC
3) Late (upper) – 40K – 10K BC
Followed by the Mesolithic Age(9K to 4K BC) which is regarded as a transitory phase and then Neolithic Age. Neolithic Age began at different times in different parts of the country. But generally Neolithic settlements found in India are no older than 2500 BC.
EVOLUTION OF TOOL TECHNOLOGY
Tools were made by keeping one stone fixed and striking it with another stone. If the tools were made out of the larger leftover ‘core’, they were called core tools. If made using the smaller piece of stone ‘flaked’ out, they were called flake tools.
EARLY PALEOLITHIC AGE – Made of core part.
1. Chopper: using a bowl shaped piece of stone, a heavy and bold tool was created. Only one side was worked on (unifascial).
2. Chopping tool: same as the chopper but with 2 edges worked on (bifascial). Chopper and chopping tool are characteristic of lower palaeolithic.
3. Hand axe: A tool requiring much greater control than the chopper, a narrower tool with vertical working edge.
4. Cleaver: cleavers are different from hand-axes in having a transverse or horizontal working edge.
MIDDLE PALEOLITHIC AGE – Flake tools. They are lighter, more precise.
1. Blades: Parallel working edges.
2. Scraper: parallel working edges on the sides, similar to blade, with the difference being blades are much longer than they are wide. This is also a flake tool.
3. Points: sharpened up to a tip: like a point. 2 sideways working edges meet up to the tip. These are sometimes grafted onto a wooden handle, for which a shoulder is present.
UPPER PALEOLITHIC – Flint Tools
1. Burins: unlike a point, the tip is flat like the end of a screwdriver.
2. Bone tools: Eg. harpoon: used for fishing as fishing hooks. May be one sided or two sided.
In this age, we get Microliths. These are very small tools (1cm to 8cm) often geometrical in shape, these were used for beautification (eg) tattooing, shaving etc.
Sometimes they were grafted onto wooden shafts: called composite tools.
Names were according to the shape of the tool: trapezoid, lunate, microlith points, microlith blades etc.
NEOLITHIC AGE – Polished Tools
We see remarkable Polished tools. Rounded heavy tools discovered, which could have been possibly used to level the ground. May have the provision for a handle as well.
Paleolithic age, Mesolithic Age, Neolithic Age, Chalcolithic Age
Evolution of its crust shows four stages, 4th stage being Quaternary, which comprises of:
- Roughly dressed stone tools
- Crude chipping
- No knowledge of Cultivation
- Solely living on hunting
- Lived in rock-shelters
“Also known as Paleolithic age or Ice age or Old Stone Age & divided into 3 ages”
- 5 Lakh – 50000 BC
- Tools &rarr Cleavers, Choppers, Axes
- 50000 – 40000 BC
- Flakes Tools &rarr Blades, Pointers, Borers & Scrapers
- 40000 – 10000 BC
- Climate became comparatively warm
- Marked the appearance of new flint industries
- Men of modern types ( Homo-sapiens)
Bhimbetka Rock Shelters
- Bhimbetka rock shelters are located in Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh, 45 km south of Bhopal at the southern edge of the Vindhyachal hills.
- These served as shelters for Paleolithic age man for more than 1 lakh years.
- This is the most exclusive Paleolithic site in India which contains the rock carvings and paintings.
- These paintings belong to the Paleolithic, Mesolithic ages, Chalcolithic, earlyhistoric and even medieval times.
Bhimbetka is a World heritage Site. Please note that it was earlier considered to be a Buddhist site and was later recognized as Paleolithic site by Vishnu Shridhar Wakankar who is now also called “father of rock art in India “. Bhimbetka Rock shelters were included in the world heritage list in 1970
What are the similarities between Paleolithic and Neolithic?
One similarity between the Neolithic and Paleolithic Era was the clothing humans wore. The clothing they wore was animal skins. The tools in both Eras used were similar, but different at the same time. During both Neolithic Era and Paleolithic Era the humans used stone.
Furthermore, what are the differences between Paleolithic Mesolithic and Neolithic societies? The Mesolithic Era The Paleolithic was an age of purely hunting and gathering, but toward the Mesolithic period the development of agriculture contributed to the rise of permanent settlements. The later Neolithic period is distinguished by the domestication of plants and animals.
Also asked, whats the difference between Paleolithic and Neolithic?
Difference Between Paleolithic and Neolithic. The Paleolithic age was the period from about 2 million BC to 10,000 BC. This era is also known as the Old Stone Age. The Neolithic age, also called the New Stone Age, covers a period from about 9000 BC to 3500 BC.
How were the Neolithic tools different from the Palaeolithic tools?
There were some differences between the tools of the Neolithic and Palaeolithic Ages. Neolithic Age: Tools were polished and gave a fine cutting edge. Mortars and pestles were also used for grinding grain and other plant produce. Palaeolithic Age: Tools were made of bones, wood and stones.
Stone Age Podcasts - Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic
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Our History Storytime podcast has three new Stone Age episodes. As with all our episodes they star Sophie (age 7) and Ellie (age 5).
Our first episode tells the story of the Paleolithic Stone Age. The girls explain how first Neanderthals and later Homo Sapiens came out of Africa and spread across the globe. They discuss different theories about the end of Neanderthals. As the ice age comes the different types of humans have to learn to hunt and survive. We learn about how animals such as the Woolly Mammoth were hunted and eaten. We also explore how humans lives as hunter gatherers and look at the sort of tools they made. Finally, we get an insight into their lives from the cave paintings they left behind.
Our second episode tells the story of the Mesolithic period. As the Ice Age is now over the world is warming up. There is much more to eat. Humans are still hunter gatherers but they are staying in one place for a little longer. We learn about the settlement at Star Carr and some of astonishing things discovered there like the Antler headcaps. We also learn about Mesolithic man, the dark skinned blue eye man of Cheddar Gorge. Tools have got more complex and we explore new ways of making things.
Our final episode tells the story of the Neolithic period. People have now transitioned from being hunter-gatherers to being farmers. We explore the Skara Brae settlement and see how Neolithic families lived. We tell the story of Stonehenge and learn how it was built and what its purpose may have been.
The episodes work as standalone episodes or as a series. They are fun with lots of the story told directly by the girls with music and sound effects to bring the stories to life. We worked with primary school teachers to make sure that we were using and explaining the meaning of key words and concepts such as hunter-gatherer, homo sapiens, Paleolithic, Ice Age, Stone Age and more.
The podcasts are free and are available on all the podcast stores, such as Apple and Spotify, with no advertising.
Early Modern Period
The modern era covers the three centuries between the end of the Middle Ages and the French Revolution. In France, it can be subdivided into three periods that are marked by important political and artistic transformations : the Renaissance (from the end of the 15 th century to the first decades of the 17 th century), the advent of the nation-state during the reign of Louis XIV (17 th and early 18 th century), and the Enlightenment (the eighteenth century until the Revolution).
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Mesolithic, also called Middle Stone Age, ancient cultural stage that existed between the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age), with its chipped stone tools, and the Neolithic (New Stone Age), with its polished stone tools. Most often used to describe archaeological assemblages from the Eastern Hemisphere, the Mesolithic is broadly analogous to the Archaic culture of the Western Hemisphere. Mesolithic material culture is characterized by greater innovation and diversity than is found in the Paleolithic. Among the new forms of chipped stone tools were microliths, very small stone tools intended for mounting together on a shaft to produce a serrated edge. Polished stone was another innovation that occurred in some Mesolithic assemblages.
Although culturally and technologically continuous with Paleolithic peoples, Mesolithic cultures developed diverse local adaptations to special environments. The Mesolithic hunter achieved a greater efficiency than did the Paleolithic and was able to exploit a wider range of animal and vegetable food sources. Immigrant Neolithic farmers probably absorbed many indigenous Mesolithic hunters and fishers, and some Neolithic communities seem to have been composed entirely of Mesolithic peoples who adopted Neolithic equipment (these are sometimes called Secondary Neolithic).
Because the Mesolithic is characterized by a suite of material culture, its timing varies depending upon location. In northwestern Europe, for instance, the Mesolithic began about 8000 bce , after the end of the Pleistocene Epoch (i.e., about 2,600,000 to 11,700 years ago), and lasted until about 2700 bce . Elsewhere the dates of the Mesolithic are somewhat different.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.
The Neolithic EraFigure 1-7: An array of Neolithic artifacts by Michael Greenhalgh is under licensed CC BY-SA 2.5
The term Neolithic or New Stone Age is most frequently used in connection with agriculture, which is the time when cereal cultivation and animal domestication was introduced. Because agriculture developed at different times in different regions of the world, there is no single date for the beginning of the Neolithic. In the Near East, agriculture was developed around 9,000 BCE, in Southeast Europe around 7,000 BCE, and later in other regions. Even within a specific region, agriculture developed during different times. For example, agriculture first developed in Southeast Europe about 7,000 BCE, in Central Europe about 5,500 BCE, and Northern Europe about 4,000 BCE. In East Asia, the Neolithic goes from 6000 to 2000 BCE.
Pottery is another element that makes the dating of the Neolithic problematic. In some regions, the appearance of pottery is considered a symbol of the Neolithic, but this notion makes the term Neolithic even more ambiguous, since the use of pottery does not always occur after agriculture: in Japan, pottery appears before agriculture, while in the Near East agriculture pre-dates pottery production.
All these factors make the starting point of the Neolithic somewhat fuzzy. It should be remembered that the origin of the term lies in a late th century CE classification system and we must keep in mind its limitations. (6)
In order to reflect the deep impact that agriculture had over the human population, an Australian archaeologist named Gordon Childe popularized the term “Neolithic Revolution” in the 1940s CE. However, today, it is believed that the impact of agricultural innovation was exaggerated in the past: the development of Neolithic culture appears to have been a gradual rather than a sudden change. Moreover, before agriculture was established, archaeological evidence has shown that there is usually a period of semi-nomadic life, where pre-agricultural societies might have a network of campsites and live in different locations according to how the resources respond to seasonal variations. Sometimes, one of these campsites might be adopted as a basecamp the group might spend the majority of time there during the year exploiting local resources, including wild plants: this is a step closer to agriculture. Agriculture and foraging are not totally incompatible ways of life. This means that a group could perform hunter-gatherer activities for part of the year and some farming during the rest, perhaps on a small scale. Rather than a revolution, the archaeological record suggests that the adoption of agriculture is the result of small and gradual changes.
Agriculture was developed independently in several regions. Since its origin, the dominant pattern in these separate regions is the spread of agricultural economies and the reduction of hunting and gathering activities, to the point that today hunting economies only persist in marginal areas where farming is not possible, such as frozen arctic regions, densely forested areas, or arid deserts.
Major changes were introduced by agriculture, affecting the way human society was organized and how it used the earth, including forest clearance, root crops, and cereal cultivation that can be stored for long periods of time, along with the development of new technologies for farming and herding such as plows, irrigation systems, etc. More intensive agriculture implies more food available for more people, more villages, and a movement towards a more complex social and political organization. As the population density of the villages increase, they gradually evolve into towns and finally into cities. (7)
Changes During the Neolithic Era
By adopting a sedentary way of life, the Neolithic groups increased their awareness of territoriality. During the 9600–6900 BCE period in the Near East, there were also innovations in arrowheads, yet no important changes in the animals hunted was detected. However, human skeletons were found with arrowheads embedded in them and also some settlements such as Jericho were surrounded with a massive wall and ditch around this time. It seems that the evidence of this period is a testimony of inter-communal conflicts, not far from organized warfare. There were also additional innovations in stone tool production that became widespread and adopted by many groups in distant locations, which is evidence for the existence of important networks of exchange and cultural interaction.
Living in permanent settlements brought new ways of social organization. As the subsistence strategies of Neolithic communities became more efficient, the population of the different settlements increased. We know from anthropological works that the larger the group, the less egalitarian and more hierarchical a society becomes. Those in the community who were involved in the management and allocation of food resources increased their social importance. Archaeological evidence has shown that during the early Neolithic, houses did not have individual storage facilities: storage and those activities linked to food preparation for storage were managed at village level. At the site of Jarf el Ahmar, in north Syria, there is a large subterranean structure which was used as a communal storage facility. This construction is in a central location among the households and there is also evidence that several rituals were performed in it.
Another site in northern Syria named Tell Abu Hureyra, displays evidence for the transition from foraging to farming: it was a gradual process, which took several centuries. The first inhabitants of the site hunted gazelles, wild asses and wild cattle. Then, we see evidence of change: gazelle consumption dropped and the amount of sheep consumption rose (wild in the beginning and domesticated in the end). Sheep herding turned into the main source of meat and gazelle hunting became a minor activity. Human remains show an increase of tooth wear of all adults, which reflects the importance of ground cereal in the diet. It is interesting that once pottery was introduced, tooth wear rates decreased, but the frequency of bad teeth increased, which suggests that baked food made from stone-ground flour was largely replaced by dishes such as porridge and gruel, which were boiled in pots. (7)
One of the best known prehistoric sites in the United Kingdom, Avebury contains the largest stone circle in Europe. Located in the same county as Stonehenge, Avebury lies north of the better-known site. Constructed over several hundred years in the third millennium BCE, the monument comprises a large henge with a large outer stone circle and two separate smaller stone circles situated inside the center of the monument. Its original purpose is unknown, although archaeologists believe that it was likely used for ritual or ceremony . The Avebury monument was part of a larger prehistoric landscape containing several older monuments.
The chronology of Avebury’s construction is unclear. It was not designed as a single monument but was the result of various projects undertaken at different times during late prehistory . Experts date the construction of the central cove to 3,000 BCE, the inner stone circle to 2,900 BCE, the outer circle and henge to 2,600 BCE, and the avenues to 2,400 BCE. The construction of Avebury and Stonehenge indicate that a stable agrarian economy had developed in this region of England by 4000 to 3500 BCE. (8)
Neolithic societies produced female and animal statues, engravings , and elaborate pottery decoration. In Western Europe, though, this period is best represented by the megalithic (large stone) monuments and passage tomb structures found from Malta to Portugal, through France and Germany, and across southern England to most of Wales and Ireland. (8)
StonehengeFigure 1-8: Above ground layout of Stonehenge Drawn by en:User:Adamsan is under licensed CC BY-SA 3.0
Perhaps the best known megalithic henge is Stonehenge, located on Salisbury Plain in the county of Wiltshire in south central England. Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BCE to 2000 BCE. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BCE. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first bluestones in the innermost ring of Stonehenge were raised between 2400 and 2200 BCE, although they may have been at the site as early as 3000 BCE.
Although human remains have been found at the site, archaeologists are uncertain whether the site served funerarypurposes, ritual purposes, or both. Its alignments with the sunrise of the summer solstice and sunset of the winter solstice present the possibility that the site served as a rudimentary astronomical calendar to help early agrarian societies acclimate to the approaching growing season and harvest.
Figure 1-9: Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England by Diego Delso is under licensed CC BY-SA 4.0
Even the smallest bluestones weigh several tons each. These stones, so-called because they appear blue when wet, were quarried approximately 150 miles away in the Prescelli Mountains in southwest Wales. Even more impressive, the quarrying and transport of the stones took place without the aid of the wheel, requiring a sophisticated method of transport and construction involving felled trees and earthen mounds. The larger Sarcen stones that form the post–and–lintel ring and he free-standing trilithons were quarried approximately 25 miles to the north of Salisbury Plain, requiring the same transport system of felled trees and earthen mounds. (8)
AveburyFigure 1-10: Avebury Hinges by Diliff is under licensed CC BY-SA 3.0
Passage tombs or graves consist of narrow passages made of large stones and one or multiple burial chambers covered in earth or stone. Megaliths were commonly used in the construction of passage tombs and typically date to the Neolithic. A common layout is the cruciform passage grave, characterized by a cross-shaped structure.
Figure 1-11: Newgrange Monument, Ireland by Popsracer is under licensed CC BY-SA 3.0
The Newgrange monument is comprised of a large mound built of alternating layers of earth and stones, covered with growing grass and with flat white quartz stones studded around the circumference. The mound covers 4500 square meters of ground. Within, a passage stretches through the structure ending at three small chambers.
Newgrange contains various examples of abstract Neolithic art carved onto its rocks. These are separated into 10 categories consisting of curvilinear forms like circles, spirals, arcs, serpentiforms, and dot-in-circles, as well as rectilinear examples such as chevrons, lozenges, radials, parallel lines, and offsets.
There is no agreement as to what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had some form of religious significance due to its alignment with the rising sun which floods the stone room with light on the winter solstice. (8)
The general picture
Though there are vast gaps in our knowledge of the Holocene Period in many parts of the Old World, enough is known to see the general cultural level of this range of time. Outside of the regions where food production was establishing itself, the period was one of a gradual settling-in and of an increasingly intensive utilization of all the resources of restricted regional niches. At first, the level seems nowhere to have achieved a climax of artistic expression, such as that for example, of Upper Périgordian–Magdalenian times. But, as time went on, certain climaxes within the matrix of an intensified level of food collection did occur. An often-cited example might be the complex art and social organization of the cultures of the northwest coast of British Columbia.
More often, however, as the culture history of the Holocene Period proceeded, cultures at the level of intensified food collecting were “captured” by being absorbed within an expanding matrix of the new elements, procedures, and traditions of food production or—subsequent to its appearance—by the expansion of civilized societies.