Neolithic period


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.
Related to Neolithic period: Paleolithic period, Mesolithic period

Neolithic 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 dependent on domesticated plants and animals, and the presence of such crafts as pottery and weaving. The time period and cultural content indicated by the term varies with the geographic location of the culture considered and with the particular criteria used by the individual scientist. The domestication of plants and animals usually distinguishes Neolithic culture from earlier PaleolithicPaleolithic 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
..... Click the link for more information.
 or MesolithicMesolithic period
or Middle Stone Age,
period in human development between the end of the Paleolithic period and the beginning of the Neolithic period. It began with the end of the last glacial period over 10,000 years ago and evolved into the Neolithic period; this
..... Click the link for more information.
 hunting, fishing, and food-gathering cultures. The Mesolithic period in several areas shows a gradual transition from a food-collecting to a food-producing culture. The termination of the Neolithic period is marked by such innovations as the rise of urban civilization or the introduction of metal tools or writing. Again, the criteria vary with each case. The earliest known development of Neolithic culture was in SW Asia between 8000 B.C. and 6000 B.C. There the domestication of plants and animals was probably begun by the Mesolithic Natufian peoples, leading to the establishment of settled villages based on the cultivation of cereals, including wheat, barley, and millet, and the raising of cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs. In the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys, the Neolithic culture of the Middle East developed into the urban civilizations of the Bronze Age by 3500 B.C. Between 6000 B.C. and 2000 B.C. Neolithic culture spread through Europe, the Nile valley (Egypt), the Indus valley (India), and the Huang He valley (N China). The formation of Neolithic cultures throughout the Old World resulted from a combination of local cultural developments with innovations diffused from the Middle East. In SE Asia, a distinct type of Neolithic culture involving rice cultivation developed, perhaps independently, before 2000 B.C. In the New World, the domestication of plants and animals occurred independently of Old World developments. By 1500 B.C., Neolithic cultures based on the cultivation of corn, beans, squash, and other plants were present in Mexico and South America, leading to the rise of the Inca and Aztec civilizations and spreading to other parts of the Americas by the time of European contact. The term Neolithic has also been used in anthropology to designate cultures of more contemporary primitive, independent farming communities.

Bibliography

See V. G. Childe, New Light on the Most Ancient East (4th ed. 1953, repr. 1968); G. Clark and S. Piggott, Prehistoric Societies (1965); R. J. Braidwood, Prehistoric Men (7th ed. 1967); S. M. Cole, The Neolithic Revolution (4th ed. 1967); A. Whittle, Problems in Neolithic Archaeology (1989).

References in periodicals archive ?
Major prehistoric human population expansions in three continents may have begun before the Neolithic period -- around 15-11,000 years ago in Africa, from around 13,000 years ago in Europe and around 12-8,000 years ago in the Americas.
com) is a second generation business, with elegant galleries in New York City and Geneva, Switzerland that display pieces of exceptional beauty and rarity representing more than 7,000 years of human creativity, from the Neolithic period to the Middle Ages.
The Maqar Civilization is a very advanced civilization of the Neolithic period.
After deliberation of Al Ain file, UNESCO declared upon accepting the city on its list: "The Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafeet, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas, United Arab Emirates) constitute a serial property that testifies to sedentary human occupation of a desert region since the Neolithic period with vestiges of many prehistoric cultures.
She said agriculture probably arrived late in Egypt because the technology in use elsewhere in the Near East did not fit with the climate, at least until the short period of rainfall in the Neolithic period.
The exhibition also includes works from the Neolithic period and will remain open until March 31, 2011.
Near Capo di Ponte, at the Naquane National Park a UNESCO heritage site, images date back to 5,500 BC to 3,300 BC during the Neolithic period ( new stone age).
By using virtual technology, the archaeologists found a circular ditch less than one kilometre away from the iconic stone circle, which is thought to date back to the Neolithic period 2,000 to 4,000 years ago.
a display of ritual vessels from the neolithic period to the 18th century made with white and black clays and varying glazes.
Herxheim offers rare evidence of cannibalism during Europe's early Neolithic period, when farming first spread, the researchers report in the December Antiquity.
From as early as the Neolithic period, around 5000 BCE, the Chinese have been devising ways to amuse themselves.
When the Neolithic period turned into the early Bronze Age, about 2650-2500 BC, Stonehenge went through radical changes.