Mesolithic


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Related to Mesolithic: Mesolithic Age, Mesolithic era

Mesolithic

the period between the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic, in Europe from about 12 000 to 3000 bc, characterized by the appearance of microliths

Mesolithic

 

(Middle Stone Age), an epoch of the Stone Age; the transitional period between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic. The transition from the Paleolithic to the Mesolithic on the whole coincided with the replacement of the Pleistocene epoch by the Holocene (Recent) epoch, characterized by modern climate, flora, and fauna. Radiocarbon dating has set the Mesolithic period in Europe at 10,000–7,000 years ago; however, in northern Europe it continued until 6,000–5,000 years ago. The Mesolithic in the Middle East occurred 12,000–9,000 years ago.

Miniature stone implements called microliths are typical of Mesolithic cultures everywhere. Stone chipped chopping tools, such as axes, adzes, and picks, were used. Tools made of bone and horn were also used—spearheads, harpoons, fishhooks, points, and picks. Bows and arrows and various devices for fishing and hunting aquatic animals (dugout canoes, nets) were widespread. Clay vessels first appeared by the time of the transition from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic.

The dog, which was probably domesticated in the Upper Paleolithic, was extensively used in the Mesolithic. The domestication of some other animals was undertaken (for example, the pig). The principal occupations were hunting, fishing, and gathering, including the gathering of edible mollusks. Some Mesolithic tribes, for example, the tribes of the Natufian culture in Palestine (tenth to eight millennia B.C.), attempted to cultivate cereals. Thus, the preconditions arose for the transition (in the Neolithic stage) to productive forms of the economy—agriculture and stock raising.

A large number of the Mesolithic places of habitation, which consisted of only several temporary dwellings, were located on dunes or peat bogs. Many sites constitute accumulations of mollusk shells (kitchen middens); sites in caves are rare. Clan burial grounds have been discovered near some of the Mesolithic settlements.

The Mesolithic cultures are numerous and varied, including the Azilian and the Tardenoisian cultures in Western Europe, the Maglemosian and the Erteb^lle cultures in northern Europe, the Sebilian culture in the Nile valley, the Capsian culture in North Africa, the Wilton culture in South Africa, and the Hoa Binh culture in Southeast Asia. Some archaeologists do not use the term “Mesolithic” and date early Mesolithic remains to the Epipaleolithic period, and late Mesolithic remains to the Protoneolithic, or the Prepottery Neolithic, period.

REFERENCES

Uistokov drevnikh kuVtur (Epokha mezolita). Moscow-Leningrad, 1966. (Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR, no. 126.)
Bader, N. O. “Mezolit.” In Kamennyi vek na territorii SSSR. Moscow, 1970.
Clark, G. World Prehistory, 2nd ed. Cambridge, 1969.
LaPréhistoire. Paris, 1966. (Nouvelle Clio:L’histoireetsesproblemes, no. 1.)

P. I. BORISKOVSKII

References in periodicals archive ?
Here, the team of researchers examined microliths small stone arrowheads/barbs used in hunting, to see how their design and usage by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers shifted in conjunction with climatic and environmental changes.
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A pendant was discovered at Star Carr in 2015 and is the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain.
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He added that the Archaeological milieu of the world knows very well that the sites of Balochistan Plataea and high land of KPK, represents all cultural levels such as pastoral, early farming village communities and sedentary urbanized village life, which were the result of process of evolution from the Mesolithic period or stage lasting in this region from about at least 18,000 BC, known from Magdalenian painting and engraving and from some flint tools sites in region , transformed into Neolithic stage dated back to Mehergarh dated back to 9,000-6,000 than Chalecothic and finally to the Mature Bronze Age stage dated back to 3000 BC.
Mr Jaques said the find was "tremendously important" because it had previously been thought Mesolithic people were nomadic.
On the other hand, Mesolithic men and women wouldn't be missing any of the creature comforts - this lot are used to.
e excavation in the grounds of St John's house, Warwick, revealed structures and artefacts including pottery, glass, tile, clay pipes and animal bones - and a stone-age 'Mesolithic' int scraper believed to have been dropped at the site around 8,000 years ago.
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