Mesolithic period

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Related to Middle Stone Age: Late stone age

Mesolithic period

(mĕz'əlĭth`ĭk) or

Middle Stone Age,

period in human development between the end of the Paleolithic periodPaleolithic period
or Old Stone Age,
the earliest period of human development and the longest phase of mankind's history. It is approximately coextensive with the Pleistocene geologic epoch, beginning about 2 million years ago and ending in various places between
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 and the beginning of the Neolithic periodNeolithic period
or New Stone Age.
The term neolithic is used, especially in archaeology and anthropology, to designate a stage of cultural evolution or technological development characterized by the use of stone tools, the existence of settled villages largely
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. It began with the end of the last glacial period over 10,000 years ago and evolved into the Neolithic period; this change involved the gradual domestication of plants and animals and the formation of settled communities at various times and places. While Mesolithic cultures lasted in Europe until almost 3000 B.C., Neolithic communities developed in the Middle East between 9000 and 6000 B.C. Mesolithic cultures represent a wide variety of hunting, fishing, and food gathering techniques. This variety may be the result of adaptations to changed ecological conditions associated with the retreat of glaciers, the growth of forests in Europe and deserts in N Africa, and the disappearance of the large game of the Ice Age. Characteristic of the period were hunting and fishing settlements along rivers and on lake shores, where fish and mollusks were abundant. Microliths, the typical stone implements of the Mesolithic period, are smaller and more delicate than those of the late Paleolithic period. Pottery and the use of the bow developed, although their presence in Mesolithic cultures may only indicate contact with early Neolithic peoples. The Azilian culture, which was centered in the Pyrenees region but spread to Switzerland, Belgium, and Scotland, was one of the earliest representatives of Mesolithic culture in Europe. The Azilian was followed by the Tardenoisian culture, which covered much of Europe; most of these settlements are found on dunes or sandy areas. The Maglemosian, named for a site in Denmark, is found in the Baltic region and N England. It occurs in the middle of the Mesolithic period. It is there that hafted axes, an improvement over the Paleolithic hand axe, and bone tools are found. The Ertebolle culture, also named for a site in Denmark, spans most of the late Mesolithic. It is also known as the kitchen-midden culture for the large deposits of mollusk shells found around the settlements. Other late Mesolithic cultures are the Campignian and Asturian, both of which may have had Neolithic contacts. The Mesolithic period in other areas is represented by the Natufian in the Middle East, the Badarian and Gerzean in Egypt, and the Capsian in N Africa. The Natufian culture provides the earliest evidence of an evolution from a Mesolithic to a Neolithic way of life.


See study by J. G. D. Clark (1953, repr. 1970).

References in periodicals archive ?
2002): "Emergence of modern human behaviour: Middle Stone Age engravings from South Africa", Science, 295, pp.
An early bone tool industry from the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa: implications for the origins of modern human behaviour, symbolism and language.
com/making-weapons-middle-stone-age-man-learned-make-serrated-edges-2532621) Middle Stone Age Man Learned To Make Serrated Edges
Archeologists believe Teessiders date back as far as the Mesolithic period - or middle stone age (8,600 - 3,700BC) - due to flint hunting tools, skeletal remains and environmental evidence found all over the region.
On examining Early Upper Paleolithic (France) and Middle Stone Age (South Africa) stone tools made of a wide range of rocks trough use-wear analysis, in the scope of multidisciplinary teams, this project intends to determine against distinct environmental backdrops and cultural niches, how ecological factors (e.
Samples from the site date from the earliest stages of the middle Stone Age to the Iron Age.
A trial dig has unearthed a stone hearth which has been dated to 4,000 to 4,500 years ago in the Middle Stone Age, and which would have been located on the shore of one of the lakes.
Experts in the field discuss likely family trees, the concept of a Middle Stone Age, and the origins of symbolic and other behavior.
Accurate carbon dating has put them at 10,400 years ago - during the Mesolithic or middle stone age.
Accurate carbon dating has put them at 10,400 years old - during the Mesolithic or middle stone age.
The flints brought to the museum were used by Mesolithic people in the Middle Stone Age and were found on the hills around Holme Moss.
Mesolithic people were hunter- gatherers in the Middle Stone Age - the era between the last Ice Age and the start of the agricultural revolution.

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