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The prehistoric period when people made stone tools exclusively by chipping or flaking; frequently defined by the time range from about 2,500,000 years ago to around the final retreat of the ice sheets about 10,300 years ago.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(or Old Stone Age), the first of two main periods of the Stone Age. The Paleolithic was a period in which fossil man and fossil, now extinct, animal species existed. It coincides with the first great stage of the Quaternary geological period— the Pleistocene. The climate, vegetation, and animal life of the earth in the Paleolithic period differed significantly from what they are today. Paleolithic man used only chipped stone tools, not yet knowing how to polish them or fashion clay vessels. He was a hunter and gatherer, only beginning to learn to fish. Land cultivation and stock raising were unknown.

The beginning of the Paleolithic period over two million years ago coincides with the appearance on earth of the first apelike men, the Archanthropinae of the Oldowayan type, Homo habilis. The end is dated to approximately 12,000 to 10,000 years ago, at the time of transition to the Mesolithic—the period between the Paleolithic and Neolithic. The Paleolithic is divided into the Lower and Upper Paleolithic. The former is further subdivided into the Oldowayan (pre-Chellean, or pebble, culture), which marks the beginning of human history; the early Acheulean (Abbevillian, or Chellean, culture); the middle and late Acheulean; and the Mousterian periods. Subdivisions of the Upper Paleolithic are confined to specific locales; there are no subdivisions that would be found everywhere.

This periodization of the Paleolithic is not universal and is only partially applicable to South Africa, southern and Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Americas. Many researchers accept a three-stage rather than a two-stage division of the Paleolithic, distinguishing the Mousterian culture as Middle Paleolithic. Homo habilis existed during the Oldowayan period; Archanthropinae, including Pithecanthropus and Sinanthropus, existed in the early, middle, and late Acheulean; and Neanderthal man (Palaeoanthropus) existed in the Mousterian period. Modern man, Homo sapiens (Neoanthropinae), appeared and spread during the transition to the Upper Paleolithic.


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Boriskovskii, P. I. Drevneishee proshloe chelovechestva. Moscow-Leningrad, 1957.
Bordes, F. Le Paléolithique dans le monde. Paris, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Paleolithic period was also known as the Stone Age that ranged from 2 million to 10,000 years ago, while the Upper Paleolithic period began about 40,000 years ago.
"We believe that the stop-and-go, punctuated, uneven mechanism we propose must have been the rule in human evolution, which helps explain why Paleolithic material culture tends to form patterns of geographically extensive similarity, while Paleolithic genomes tend to show complex ancestry patchworks," added ZilhAaAaAeAeAaAa
The features and arrangement of the images along with the prehistoric remains of human colonies that lived here, show that the societies in the Upper Paleolithic period formed organized sanctuaries underground and originated in the Franco-Cantabrian region.
The Paleolithic (paleo) diet emphasizes a high intake of vegetables, fruit, nuts, eggs, fish and lean meat, whilst excluding refined sugar, salt, legumes, dairy products, and grains.
Iran's artifacts from the Middle Paleolithic period, 200,000-40,000 BC, have been found mainly in the Zagros region, at sites such as Warwasi and Yafteh Cave
Our current food, health and environmental contexts, however, bear little resemblance to the Paleolithic era and therefore modern attempts at imitation appear fraught with problems and potential unintended outcomes.
"The Earliest Instrument: Ritual Power and Fertility Magic of the Flute in Upper Paleolithic Culture" is an extraordinary study and a critically essential addition to academic library Paleolithic Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists..
The majority of literature on Paleolithic nutrition is anecdotal and reflects two opposite view points.
Meals contain foods that were available in Paleolithic times-unprocessed, unmodified, and hearty-and her collection comes from her background as a registered dietician and personal chef.
THE PALEO DIET MILEY CYRUS, below, and Matthew McConaughey, right, have reportedly tried the paleo plan, also known as the Paleolithic, Caveman and Stone Age Diet.
Winner of France's esteemed Prix Goncourt, Jean Echenoz's I'm Gone follows a struggling art gallery owner who deserts his marriage and career in hopes of making a fortune selling valuable "Paleolithic art." Bursting with comical prose and insistent on subverting cliched literary conventions, this fast-moving and unpredictable novel offers a satiric contemplation of contemporary art, lust, and adventure.
To better understand the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition and the dispersal of anatomically modern humans from Africa into Eurasia, Tostevin (anthropology, U.