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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
Besides these, during their anthropological research in Tibet, they discovered several archeological sites, which probably belong to the Paleolithic Age. In 1973, Zhing An and others found a ground stone axe in Manibum (Ma ni 'bum) in Metog (Me tog) district of Nyingtri (Nying khri).
In the Paleolithic Age the depictions of moose were very few.
Moreover, this period is memorable for what John Pfeiffer, the noted anthropologist, called the "creative explosion"--the profusion of works of art that marks what is known as the Upper Paleolithic Age. When the human creature entered this stage of history, he and she did so with a bang.
Even as I write, I am listening to a CD of Music from the Paleolithic Age, played on original rocks, accompanied by the Titular Bishops' Curial Choir.
From the viewpoint of the archaeologist seeking data about textile producers, a major transition occurred in the Upper Paleolithic age when humans began to craft string, a necessary prerequisite to weaving textiles.
While historical aspects of the crafts may be traced back to the Paleolithic age, the Arts and Grafts Movement that took place from the late nineteenth century till the beginning of World War I continues to influence today's crafts.
As the third volume of this trilogy, it covers the widest scope, from the Paleolithic age to the present, and has the wide ranging theme of why and how human-kind civilized wilderness with disastrous effects.
The exhibition includes the Paleolithic age to the period of antiquity, the civilizations of Arab kingdoms, through the Islamic period until the emergence of the Saudi state with its three phases, to the era of King Abdul Aziz, founder of the modern Saudi state.
25 ( ANI ): Researchers studied genomic regions and mitochondrial DNA of individuals from 66 African and Eurasian populations to determine that the first significant expansion of human population happened in Paleolithic age (60,000-80,000 years ago).
He starts off by arguing that music has always been a crucial part of human existence, and examines the archaeological evidence that shows that even in the Upper Paleolithic Age, beats were an important part of life.
"Each team is digging up on areas of their specific interests, in areas that cover the Paleolithic Age, as well as the Bronze and Iron Age," said Dr Sabah Jasem, Director of Archaeological Excavations at Directorate of Antiquities in Sharjah.