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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Stone Age People : Discovery of Haunting Tools , Fire and Creative Cave Paintings.

Early Hominids
Human-like animals that walked upright were known as hominids. It is believed that the earliest hominids lived around 4.4 million years ago in the humid forests of eastern and southern Africa. These animals, known as Australopithecus, are believed to have been around three to five feet tall, and probably fed on leaves, fruits, and the remains of dead animals. There is no evidence that Australopithecus made their own tools. There is, however, strong evidence that they used sticks and bones to help them dig and defend themselves.

Early Hominid

Early Modern Humans:
The earliest representatives of people anatomically similar to living humans evolved from more archaic humans approximately 100,000 years ago.Early modern humans were biologically the same as modern peoples and would blend in with living peoples. They differed from living people primarily in their tendency to have a rugged, athletic build. These populations were generally tall, males being 175–180 cm (5 ft 10 in.) and females 160–165 cm (5 ft 4 in.) on average. As a result of these tall bodies and muscularity, their brains were relatively large, averaging about 1500 cm3 (90 in.3) as opposed to averages of about 1350 cm3 (80 in.3) common for recent humans. Yet, when their brain sizes are scaled against estimated body weights, their brains were relatively the same size as those of living humans.

Imaginery recreation of early Human
Comparative Skull structure of Modern (Left) And Early Human (Right)

Early modern humans were successful hunters and gatherers, occupying most of the inhabitable regions of the Old World. 

Haunting of Mammoth by the stone  age Humans
  Haunting Bison By early Stone age Human

They lived by hunting small to medium-size animals,and Big animals especially antelopes, deer, goats, and occasional horses and cattle(Bison),Mammoth and by gathering wild plants, fish, and shellfish for food. Their effectiveness as hunters and gatherers was due in part to their technology. They developed elaborate stone tool technologies, producing long blades that became blanks for tools with replaceable cutting edges and points. They were also the 
Gathering the meats after Hauning by Early
stone age Human

first to fire clay into ceramics, and they wove carrying bags with a variety of techniques. Yet, their ability to live effectively as hunters and gatherers depended upon their extensive knowledge of the environment. This knowledge was communicated through the first elaborate symbolic systems known, which consisted of a variety of geometric notational systems and the first representational art. They were also the first humans to commonly wear jewelry, and hence to modify their personal social images, suggesting more complex social roles than were previously known. Although these behavioral advances are associated with early modern humans, most of them appear only after about 50,000 years ago and hence are associated with the dispersal of modern humans.

Tools and the Stone Age:

One of the most important advancements in human history was the development and use of tools. Tools allowed hominids to become the masters of their environments, to hunt, to build, and to perform important tasks that made life easier for them. The first tools were made out of stone. Thus, historians refer to the period of time before written history as the Stone Age.
Different Stone age Tools
Historians divide the Stone Age into three different periods based on the sophistication and methods of tool design. The first such period is referred to as the Paleolithic, or Old Stone Age. The Old Stone Age began about 2 million years ago with the development of the first tools by Homo habilis and lasted until around 12,000 years ago. The Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, began around 12,000 years ago and continued through about 8,000 years ago. The Neolithic, or New Stone Age, lasted from 8,000 years until around 5,000 years ago.

During the Paleolithic, which is subdivided into Lower, Middle, and Upper periods, humans learned how to make rough-shaped stones for several purposes, using a technique known as Oldowan, because of the Olduwai Gorge in Tanzania, the site where many hominid fossils and stone tools were found. These tools were made simply by hitting two cobblestones against each other, so that eventually smaller stones with sharp edges were obtained. This is called "flaking", and the best stones for doing it is the flint (silex). 

Very early stone tools and Bracelet
Humans used them to kill animals, break bones, slice meat, scrape hides, cut branches and sharpen wood sticks. Access to rich sources of fat and protein hidden in bone marrow, brain and muscles of dead or fresh-killed animals was very important for men's further evolution, because it provided them with enough energy to sustain a larger brain, as well to run for a long time after edible prey. Hominids and early humans lived probably on a mixed diet obtained by foraging, scavenging and hunting. 
Imaginative depiction of the Stone Age, by
Viktor Vasnetsov

These three activities are progressively more effective in terms of caloric return of investment of time and effort, and the "discovery" of tools for scavenging for the brain and bone marrow and for killing prey was the major amplifying factor that "exploded" human evolution within a few hundred thousand years.

Tool Making Process of Stone Age:
A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with prehistoric, particularly Stone Age cultures that have become extinct. Archaeologists often study such prehistoric societies, and refer to the study of stone tools as lithic analysis. Stone has been used to make a wide variety of different tools throughout history, including arrow heads, spearpoints and querns. Stone tools may be made of either ground stone or chipped stone, and a person who creates tools out of the latter is known as a flintknapper.
Chipped stone tools

Chipped stone tools are made from cryptocrystalline materials such as chert or flint, radiolarite, chalcedony, basalt, quartzite and obsidian via a process known as lithic reduction. One simple form of reduction is to strike stone flakes from a nucleus (core) of material using a hammerstone or similar hard hammer fabricator. If the goal of the reduction strategy is to produce flakes, the remnant lithic core may be discarded once it has become too small to use. 
An array of Neolithic artifacts, including bracelets, axe heads, chisels, and polishing tools
In some strategies, however, a flintknapper reduces the core to a rough unifacial or bifacial preform, which is further reduced using soft hammer flaking techniques or by pressure flaking the edges. More complex forms of reduction include the production of highly standardized blades, which can then be fashioned into a variety of tools such as scrapers, knives, sickles and microliths. In general terms, chipped stone tools are nearly ubiquitous in all pre-metal-using 

Axe heads found at a 2700 BC Neolithic manufacture site in Switzerland,
arranged in the various stages of production from left to right
societies because they are easily manufactured, the tool stone is usually plentiful, and they are easy to transport and sharpen.

Discvery of Fire:

Prehistoric men knew about fire. They must have discovered it by chance, perhaps when lightening caused a fire or when the sun, shining on dry leaves, caused them to ignite. To our ancestors, the discovery of fire was a important as the discovery of electricity or atomic energy has been to us. It was so important that to the primitive mind of early man it seemed holy, a gift from the gods, and become the subject of many myths. In ancient mythology fire worship reappears often.

Fire use by stone age Prehistoric People

One of the ways in which prehistoric men made fire was by rubbing two pieces of wood together. It could also be done by rubbing two flint stones together.

Once man has discovered fire, he could warm himself in front of the flames and cook the flesh of animals (previously he had eaten meat raw). Fire bought light into the dark caves. As time went by and men lived in houses, a fire in the hearth helped to create a homely atmosphere.

Rock paintings:
maginery Scene where Early stone age Human
painting on Cave

In paleolithic times, mostly animals were painted, in theory ones that were used as food or represented strength, such as the rhinoceros or large cats (as in the Chauvet Cave). Signs such as dots were sometimes drawn. Rare human representations include handprints and half-human/half-animal figures. The Cave of Chauvet in the Ardèche département, France, contains the most important cave paintings of the paleolithic era, dating from about 31,000 BCE. The Altamira cave paintings in Spain were done 14,000 to 12,000 BCE and show, among others, bisons. The hall of bulls in Lascaux, Dordogne, France, dates from about 15,000 to 10,000 BCE.

A modern interpretation of the bison from the Altamira cave ceiling,
one of the most famous paintings in the cave
The meaning of many of these paintings remains unknown. They may have been used for seasonal rituals. The animals are accompanied by signs that suggest a possible magic use. Arrow-like symbols in Lascaux are sometimes interpreted as calendar or almanac use, but the evidence remains interpretative.

Bhimbetka_rock_paintng in India M.P

Some scenes of the Mesolithic, however, can be typed and therefore, judging from their various modifications, are fairly clear. One of these is the battle scene between organized bands of archers. For example, "the marching Warriors," a rock painting at Cingle de la Mola, Castellón in Spain, dated to about 7,000–4,000 BCE, depicts about 50 bowmen in two groups marching or running in step toward each other, each man carrying a bow in one hand and a fistful of arrows in the 
Cave Painting in France 15 000 to 10 000 B.C

other. A file of five men leads one band, one of whom is a figure with a "high crowned hat." In other scenes elsewhere, the men wear head-dresses and knee ornaments but otherwise fight nude. Some scenes depict the dead and wounded, bristling with arrows. One is reminded of Ötzi the Iceman, a Copper Age mummy revealed by an Alpine melting glacier, who collapsed from loss of blood due to an arrow wound in the back.

Prehistoric cave paintings. Santo Domingo

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