Mesolithic

Mesolithic

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The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

 and the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

.
The term developed as a catch-all to refer to material that did not fit into the other categories of prehistory
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 and after the development of radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

 the arbitrary nature of its definition has become apparent.

The term is used to refer to different time spans in different parts of Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

. It was first used to refer to post-Holocene
Holocene
The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words and , meaning "entirely recent"...

 but pre-agricultural material in north-west Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 about 10,000 to 5000 BC but is also applied to material from the Levant (about 20,000 to 9500 BC); in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 the Jōmon period
Jomon period
The is the time in Japanese prehistory from about 14,000 BC to 300 BC.The term jōmon means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. This refers to the pottery style characteristic of the Jōmon culture, and which has markings made using sticks with cords wrapped around them...

 (about 14,000 to 400 BC) is sometimes called Mesolithic and it is also applied to some cultures from the Indian sub-continent. The term "Epipaleolithic
Epipaleolithic
The Epipaleolithic Age was a period in the development of human technology marked by more advanced stone blades and other tools than the earlier Paleolithic age, although still before the development of agriculture in the Neolithic age...

" is often used for areas outside northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 but was also the preferred synonym used by French archaeologists until the 1960s.

History of the concept


The three -lithics are subdivisions of the Stone Age
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...

 in the three-age system
Three-age system
The three-age system in archaeology and physical anthropology is the periodization of human prehistory into three consecutive time periods, named for their respective tool-making technologies:* The Stone Age* The Bronze Age* The Iron Age-Origin:...

 developed since classical times and given a modern archaeological meaning by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen
Christian Jürgensen Thomsen
Christian Jürgensen Thomsen was a Danish archaeologist.In 1816 he was appointed head of 'antiquarian' collections which later developed into the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. While organizing and classifying the antiquities for exhibition, he decided to present them chronologically...

, a Danish archaeologist, in the early 19th century. Subdivisions of "earlier" and "later" were added to the Stone Age by Thomsen and especially his junior colleague and employee Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae
Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae
Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae was a Danish archaeologist, historian and politician, who was the second director of the National Museum of Denmark . He played a key role in the foundation of scientific archaeology. Worsaae was the first to excavate and use stratigraphy to prove C.J...

. John Lubbock
John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury
John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury PC , FRS , known as Sir John Lubbock, 4th Baronet from 1865 until 1900, was a polymath and Liberal Member of Parliament....

 kept these divisions in his work Pre-historic Times in 1865 and introduced the terms Paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

 ("Old Stone Age") and Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 ("New Stone Age") for them. He never mentioned a middle.

When Hodder Westropp introduced the Mesolithic in 1866 as a technology intermediate between Paleolithic and Neolithic a storm of controversy immediately arose around it. A British school led by John Evans
John Evans
- Academics :*Sir John Evans , English archaeologist and geologist*John Davies Evans , English archaeologist specialising in the prehistory of the Mediterranean and Malta, former Director of the Institute of Archaeology, London...

 denied any need for an intermediate. The ages blended together like the colors of a rainbow, he said. A European school led by Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet
Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet
Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet , French anthropologist, was born at Meylan, Isère.-Biography:He was educated at the Jesuit college of Chambéry and at the Paris Conservatoire. Becoming in 1847 proprietor of La Revue indépendante, he was implicated in the Revolution of 1848 and sentenced to two...

 asserted that there was a gap between the earlier and later. Edouard Piette claimed to have filled the gap with his discovery of the Azilian
Azilian
The Azilian is a name given by archaeologists to an industry of the Epipaleolithic in northern Spain and southern France.It probably dates to the period of the Allerød Oscillation around 10,000 years ago and followed the Magdalenian culture...

 Culture. Knut Sterjna offered an alternative in the Epipaleolithic
Epipaleolithic
The Epipaleolithic Age was a period in the development of human technology marked by more advanced stone blades and other tools than the earlier Paleolithic age, although still before the development of agriculture in the Neolithic age...

, a continuation of the use of Paleolithic technology. By the time of Vere Gordon Childe
Vere Gordon Childe
Vere Gordon Childe , better known as V. Gordon Childe, was an Australian archaeologist and philologist who specialised in the study of European prehistory. A vocal socialist, Childe accepted the socio-economic theory of Marxism and was an early proponent of Marxist archaeology...

's work, The Dawn of Europe (1947), which affirms the Mesolithic, sufficient data had been collected to determine that the Mesolithic was in fact necessary and was indeed a transition and intermediary between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic.
The start and end dates of the Mesolithic vary by geographical region. Childe's recycled view prevails that the term generally covers the period between the end of the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 and the start of the Neolithic. The times of these events vary greatly; moreover, the various Mesolithics within the span might be as short as roughly a thousand years or as long as roughly 15,000 years depending on the circumstances. If the Mesolithic is more similar to the Paleolithic it is called the Epiplaeolithic. The Paleolithic was an age of purely hunting and gathering while in the Neolithic domestication of plants and animals had occurred. Some Mesolithic people continued with intensive hunting. Others were practising the initial stages of domestication. Some Mesolithic settlements were villages of huts. Others were walled cities. The type of tool remains the diagnostic factor. The Mesolithic featured composite devices manufactured with Mode V chipped stone tool
Stone tool
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...

s. The Paleolithic had utilized Modes I-IV and the Neolithic mainly abandoned the modes in favor of polished, not chipped, stone tools.

Due to the innovation of a 3-stage system for African archaeology by John Hilary Goodman and Clarence van Riet Lowe of South Africa in the early 20th century, translations of "Old," "Middle," and "New Stone Age" can no longer be used for Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic. In African archaeology, which applies only from the Sahara southward, Lower Paleolithic is replaced by "Early Stone Age," Middle Paleolithic is replaced by "Middle Stone Age" and Upper Paleolithic by "Later Stone Age." The Mesolithic and Neolithic are not recognized.

Current terminology


The term "Mesolithic" is in competition with another term, "Epipaleolithic
Epipaleolithic
The Epipaleolithic Age was a period in the development of human technology marked by more advanced stone blades and other tools than the earlier Paleolithic age, although still before the development of agriculture in the Neolithic age...

", which means the "final Upper Palaeolithic industries occurring at the end of the final glaciation which appear to merge technologically into the Mesolithic".

In the archaeology of northern Europe — for example for archaeological sites in Great Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, Ukraine, and Russia — the term "Mesolithic" is almost always used. In the archaeology of other areas, the term "Epipaleolithic" may be preferred by most authors, or there may be divergences between authors over which term to use or what meaning to assign to each.
  • Some authors use the term "Epipaleolithic" for those cultures that are late developments of hunter-gatherer
    Hunter-gatherer
    A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

     traditions but not in transition toward agriculture
    Agriculture
    Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

    , reserving the term "Mesolithic" for those cultures, like the Natufian culture
    Natufian culture
    The Natufian culture was a Mesolithic culture that existed from 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture...

    , that are transitional between hunter-gatherer and agricultural practices.

  • Other authors use the term Mesolithic for a variety of Late Paleolithic cultures subsequent to the end of the last glacial period whether they are transitional towards agriculture or not.


A Spanish scholar, Alfonso Moure, says in this regard:
"In the terminology of prehistoric archeology, the most widespread trend is to use the term 'Epipaleolithic' for the industrial complexes of post-glacial hunter-gatherer groups. Conversely, those that are in course of transition toward artificial food production are assigned to the 'Mesolithic.'"

The Levant


There are two designated periods:

Mesolithic 1 (Kebara culture; 20–18,000 BC to 12,150 BC) followed the Aurignacian
Aurignacian
The Aurignacian culture is an archaeological culture of the Upper Palaeolithic, located in Europe and southwest Asia. It lasted broadly within the period from ca. 45,000 to 35,000 years ago in terms of conventional radiocarbon dating, or between ca. 47,000 and 41,000 years ago in terms of the most...

 or Levantine Upper Paleolithic throughout the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. By the end of the Aurignacian, gradual changes took place in stone industries. Small stone tools called Microlith
Microlith
A microlith is a small stone tool usually made of flint or chert and typically a centimetre or so in length and half a centimetre wide. It is produced from either a small blade or a larger blade-like piece of flint by abrupt or truncated retouching, which leaves a very typical piece of waste,...

s and retouched bladelets can be found for the first time. The microliths of this culture period differ greatly from the Aurignacian artifacts. This period is more properly called Epipaleolithic.

By 20,000 to 18,000 BC the climate and environment had changed, starting a period of transition. The Levant became more arid and the forest vegetation retreated, to be replaced by steppe. The cool and dry period ended at the beginning of Mesolithic 1. The hunter-gatherers of the Aurignacian would have had to modify their way of living and their pattern of settlement to adapt to the changing conditions.
The crystallization of these new patterns resulted in Mesolithic 1. New types of settlements and new stone industries developed.

The inhabitants of a small Mesolithic 1 site in the Levant left little more than their chipped stone tools behind. The industry was of small tools made of bladelets struck off single-platform cores. Besides bladelets, burin
Burin
Burin from the French burin meaning "cold chisel" has two specialised meanings for types of tools in English, one meaning a steel cutting tool which is the essential tool of engraving, and the other, in archaeology, meaning a special type of lithic flake with a chisel-like edge which was probably...

s and end-scrapers were found. A few bone tools and some ground stone have also been found.

These so-called Mesolithic sites of Asia are far less numerous than those of the Neolithic and the archeological remains are very poor.

The second period, Mesolithic 2, is also called the Natufian culture
Natufian culture
The Natufian culture was a Mesolithic culture that existed from 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture...

.
The change from Mesolithic 1 to Natufian culture
Natufian culture
The Natufian culture was a Mesolithic culture that existed from 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture...

 can be dated more closely. The latest date from a Mesolithic 1 site in the Levant is 12,150 BC. The earliest date from a Natufian site is 11,140 BC. This period is characterized by the early rise of agriculture that would later emerge into the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 period.

Natufian culture is commonly split into two subperiods: Early Natufian (12,500–10,800 BC) (Christopher Delage gives a. 13000 - 11500 BP
Before Present
Before Present years is a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use AD 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon...

 uncalibrated, equivalent to ca. 13,700 to 11,500 BC) and Late Natufian (10,800–9500 BC). The Late Natufian most likely occurred in tandem with the Younger Dryas
Younger Dryas
The Younger Dryas stadial, also referred to as the Big Freeze, was a geologically brief period of cold climatic conditions and drought between approximately 12.8 and 11.5 ka BP, or 12,800 and 11,500 years before present...

. Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

 places the Natufian culture between 12,500 and 9500 BC, just before the end of the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

. This period is characterised by the beginning of agriculture.

The earliest known battle occurred during the Mesolithic period at a site in Egypt known as Cemetery 117
Cemetery 117
Cemetery 117 is an ancient cemetery discovered in 1964 by a team led by Fred Wendorf near the northern border of Sudan. The remains discovered there were determined to be around 13,140 to 14,340 years old....

.

Europe


The Mesolithic began with the Holocene
Holocene
The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words and , meaning "entirely recent"...

 warm period around 11,660 BP
Before Present
Before Present years is a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use AD 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon...

 and ended with the introduction of farming
Neolithic Revolution
The Neolithic Revolution was the first agricultural revolution. It was the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement. Archaeological data indicates that various forms of plants and animal domestication evolved independently in 6 separate locations worldwide circa...

, the date of which varied in each geographical region. Regions that experienced greater environmental effects as the last glacial period ended have a much more apparent Mesolithic era, lasting millennia. In northern Europe, for example, societies were able to live well on rich food supplies from the marshlands created by the warmer climate. Such conditions produced distinctive human behaviors that are preserved in the material record, such as the Maglemosian and Azilian
Azilian
The Azilian is a name given by archaeologists to an industry of the Epipaleolithic in northern Spain and southern France.It probably dates to the period of the Allerød Oscillation around 10,000 years ago and followed the Magdalenian culture...

 cultures. Such conditions also delayed the coming of the Neolithic until as late as 5000-4000 BC in northern Europe.

As the "Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 package" (including farming, herding, polished stone axes, timber longhouses and pottery) spread into Europe, the Mesolithic way of life was marginalized and eventually disappeared. Mesolithic adaptations such as sedentism, population size and use of plant foods are cited as evidence of the transition to agriculture. However in north-Eastern Europe, the hunting and fishing lifestyle continued into the Medieval period in regions less suited to agriculture.

Ceramic Mesolithic


In North-Eastern Europe, Siberia and certain southern European and North African sites, a "ceramic Mesolithic" can be distinguished between 7000-3850 cal BC. Russian archaeologists prefer to describe such pottery-making cultures as Neolithic, even though farming is absent. This pottery-making Mesolithic culture can be found peripheral to the sedentary Neolithic cultures. It created a distinctive type of pottery, with point or knob base and flared rims, manufactured by methods not used by the Neolithic farmers. Though each area developed an individual style, common features suggest a single point of origin. The earliest manifestation of this type of pottery may be in the region around Lake Baikal in Siberia. It appears in the Elshan or Yelshanka or Samara culture
Samara culture
The Samara culture was an eneolithic culture of the early 5th millennium BC at the Samara bend region of the middle Volga, discovered during archaeological excavations in 1973 near the village of Syezzheye in Russia...

 on the Volga in Russia c. 7000 BC, and from there spread via the Dnieper-Donets culture
Dnieper-Donets culture
Dnieper-Donets culture, ca. 5th—4th millennium BC. A neolithic culture in the area north of the Black Sea/Sea of Azov between the Dnieper and Donets River.There are parallels with the contemporaneous Samara culture...

 to the Narva culture
Narva culture
Narva culture or eastern Baltic was a European Neolithic archaeological culture found in present-day Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kaliningrad Oblast , and adjacent portions of Poland and Russia. A successor of the Mesolithic Kunda culture, Narva culture continued up to the start of the Bronze Age....

 of the Eastern Baltic. Spreading westward along the coastline it is found in the Ertebølle culture
Ertebølle culture
The Ertebølle culture is the name of a hunter-gatherer and fisher, pottery-making culture dating to the end of the Mesolithic period. The culture was concentrated in Southern Scandinavia, but genetically linked to strongly related cultures in Northern Germany and the Northern Netherlands...

 of Denmark and Ellerbek of Northern Germany, and the related Swifterbant culture
Swifterbant culture
Swifterbant culture was a mesolithic archaeological culture in the Netherlands, dated between 5300 BC and 3400 BC. Like the Ertebølle culture, the settlements were concentrated near water, in this case creeks, riverdunes and bogs along post-glacial banks of rivers like the Overijsselse Vecht.In the...

 of the Low Countries.

Mesolithic cultures


Periodization: The Levant: 20,000 to 9500 BC; Europe: 9660 to 5000 BC; Elsewhere
Jomon period
The is the time in Japanese prehistory from about 14,000 BC to 300 BC.The term jōmon means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. This refers to the pottery style characteristic of the Jōmon culture, and which has markings made using sticks with cords wrapped around them...

: 14,000 to 400 BC
  • Azilian culture
    Azilian
    The Azilian is a name given by archaeologists to an industry of the Epipaleolithic in northern Spain and southern France.It probably dates to the period of the Allerød Oscillation around 10,000 years ago and followed the Magdalenian culture...

  • Balkan mesolithic cultures
    Prehistory of Southeastern Europe
    The prehistory of Southeastern Europe , defined roughly as the territory of the wider Balkans peninsula covers the period from the Upper Paleolithic, beginning with the presence of Homo sapiens in the area some 44,000 years ago, until the...

  • Capsian culture
    Capsian culture
    The Capsian culture was a Mesolithic culture of the Maghreb, which lasted from about 10,000 to 6,000 BCE.It was concentrated mainly in modern Tunisia, and Algeria, with some sites attested in southern Spain to Sicily....

  • Fosna-Hensbacka culture
    Fosna-Hensbacka culture
    The Fosna/Hensbacka ,or , were two very similar Late Palaeolithic/early Mesolithic cultures in Scandinavia, and are often subsumed under the name Fosna-Hensbacka culture. This complex includes the Komsa culture that, notwithstanding different types of tools, is also considered to be a part of the...

  • Harifian culture
    Harifian
    The Harifian is a specialized regional cultural development of the Epipalaeolithic of the Negev Desert. It corresponds to the latest stages of the Natufian culture. Like the Natufian, it is characterized by semi-subterranean houses. These are often more elaborate than those found at Natufian sites...

  • Kebaran culture
    Kebaran
    The Kebaran or Kebarian culture was an archaeological culture in the eastern Mediterranean area , named after its type site, Kebara Cave south of Haifa...

  • Jōmon cultures
    Jomon period
    The is the time in Japanese prehistory from about 14,000 BC to 300 BC.The term jōmon means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. This refers to the pottery style characteristic of the Jōmon culture, and which has markings made using sticks with cords wrapped around them...

  • Jeulmun culture
    Jeulmun pottery period
    The Jeulmun Pottery Period is an archaeological era in Korean prehistory that dates to approximately 8000-1500 BC.. It is named after the decorated pottery vessels that form a large part of the pottery assemblage consistently over the above period, especially 4000-2000 BC. Jeulmun means...

  • Komsa culture
  • Kongemose culture
    Kongemose culture
    The Kongemose culture was a mesolithic hunter-gatherer culture in southern Scandinavia ca. 6000 BC–5200 BC and the origin of the Ertebølle culture. It was preceded by the Maglemosian culture...

  • Kunda culture
    Kunda culture
    Kunda Culture, with its roots in Swiderian culture is a mesolithic hunter-gatherer communities of the Baltic forest zone extending eastwards through Latvia into northern Russia dating to the period 8000–5000 BC by calibrated radiocarbon dating...

  • Lepenski Vir culture
    Lepenski Vir
    Lepenski Vir is an important Mesolithic archaeological site located in Serbia in the central Balkan peninsula. It consists of one large settlement with around ten satellite villages. The evidence suggests the first human presence in the locality around 7000 BC with the culture reaching its peak...

  • Maglemosian culture
    Maglemosian culture
    Maglemosian is the name given to a culture of the early Mesolithic period in Northern Europe. In Scandinavia, the culture is succeeded by the Kongemose culture....

  • Natufian culture
    Natufian culture
    The Natufian culture was a Mesolithic culture that existed from 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture...

  • Neman culture
    Neman culture
    The Neman culture is the name of two archaeological cultures that existed in Mesolithic and continued into middle Neolithic. It was a continuation of the Swiderian culture and was replaced by the Corded Ware culture. It was located in the upper basin of the Neman River: northern Poland, southern...

  • Nøstvet and Lihult cultures
    Nøstvet and Lihult cultures
    The Nøstvet culture and the Lihult culture are two very similar Mesolithic cultures in Scandinavian prehistory derived from the earlier Fosna-Hensbacka cultures...

  • Sauveterrian culture
    Sauveterrian
    The Sauveterrian is the name for an archaeological culture of the European Epipaleolithic which flourished around 7000-8000 years BC. The name is derived from the type site of Sauveterre-la-Lémance in the French of Lot-et-Garonne....

  • Tardenoisian culture
    Tardenoisian
    The Tardenoisian is an archaeological culture of the Epipaleolithic period from north-western France and Belgium. Similar cultures are known further east in central Europe and west across Spain....

  • Zarzian culture
    Zarzian culture
    Zarzian culture is an archaeological culture of late Paleolithic and Mesolithic in Iraq, Iran, Central Asia.The period of the culture is estimated about 18,000-8,000 years BC...


Mesolithic sites


Some notable Mesolithic sites:
  • Lepenski Vir
    Lepenski Vir
    Lepenski Vir is an important Mesolithic archaeological site located in Serbia in the central Balkan peninsula. It consists of one large settlement with around ten satellite villages. The evidence suggests the first human presence in the locality around 7000 BC with the culture reaching its peak...

    , Serbia — 7000 BC
  • Star Carr
    Star Carr
    Star Carr is a Mesolithic archaeological site in North Yorkshire, England. It is around five miles south of Scarborough.It is generally regarded as the most important and informative Mesolithic site in Great Britain...

    , England — 8700 BC
  • Pulli settlement
    Pulli settlement
    Pulli settlement, located on the right bank of the Pärnu River, is the oldest known human settlement in Estonia. It is located two kilometers from the town of Sindi, which is 14 kilometers from Pärnu...

    , Estonia — 9000 BC
  • Franchthi cave
    Franchthi Cave
    Franchthi cave in the Peloponnese, in the southeastern Argolid, is a cave overlooking the Argolic Gulf opposite the Greek village of Koilada....

    , Greece — 20,000–3000 BC
  • Cramond
    Cramond
    Cramond is a seaside village now part of suburban Edinburgh, Scotland, located in the north-west corner of the city at the mouth of the River Almond where it enters the Firth of Forth....

    , Scotland — 8500 BC
  • Mount Sandel
    Mount Sandel Mesolithic site
    Mount Sandel Mesolithic site is situated in Coleraine, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, just to the east of the iron age Mount Sandel Fort. It is the oldest archaeological site in Ireland. Mount Sandel Mesolithic site is a Scheduled Historic Monument in the townland of Mount Sandel, in...

    , Ireland — 7010 BC
  • Howick house
    Howick house
    The Howick house Mesolithic site was found when an amateur archaeologist noticed flint tools eroding out of a sandy cliff face near the village of Howick in Northumberland, England...

    , England — 7000 BC
  • Newbury
    Newbury, Berkshire
    Newbury is a civil parish and the principal town in the west of the county of Berkshire in England. It is situated on the River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal, and has a town centre containing many 17th century buildings. Newbury is best known for its racecourse and the adjoining former USAF...

    , England
  • Swifterbant culture
    Swifterbant culture
    Swifterbant culture was a mesolithic archaeological culture in the Netherlands, dated between 5300 BC and 3400 BC. Like the Ertebølle culture, the settlements were concentrated near water, in this case creeks, riverdunes and bogs along post-glacial banks of rivers like the Overijsselse Vecht.In the...

    , The Netherlands
  • Aveline's Hole
    Aveline's Hole
    Aveline's Hole is a cave at Burrington Combe in the limestone of the Mendip Hills, in Somerset, England.The earliest scientifically dated cemetery in Britain was found at Aveline's Hole...

    , Somerset, England — 8000 BC
  • Ngwenya Mine
    Ngwenya Mine
    The Ngwenya Mine is located on Bomvu Ridge, northwest of Mbabane and near the north-western border of Swaziland. This mine is considered to be the world's oldest...

    , Swaziland - 42,000 BC
  • Nanzhuangtou
    Nanzhuangtou
    Nanzhuangtou 12600-11300 BCE was a Neolithic Yellow River site near Lake Baiyangdian in Xushui County, Hebei, China. The site was discovered under a peat bog. Over forty-seven pieces of pottery were discovered at the site, making Nanzhuangtou the site of the oldest pottery yet discovered in...

     bog, China - 8500-7700 BC
  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, India - 100,000-30,000 BC
  • Shigir Idol
    Shigir Idol
    The Shigir Idol , is the most ancient wooden sculpture in the world, made during the Mesolithic period, around 7,500 BCE.It is displayed in the "Historic Exhibition" Museum in Yekaterinburg, Russia.- Discovery :...

    , Russia - 7500 BC

See also

  • Jōmon period
    Jomon period
    The is the time in Japanese prehistory from about 14,000 BC to 300 BC.The term jōmon means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. This refers to the pottery style characteristic of the Jōmon culture, and which has markings made using sticks with cords wrapped around them...

  • 10th millennium BC
    10th millennium BC
    The 10th millennium BC marks the beginning of the Mesolithic and Epipaleolithic period, which is the first part of the Holocene epoch. Agriculture, based on the cultivation of primitive forms of millet and rice, occurred in Southwest Asia...

  • 9th millennium BC
    9th millennium BC
    The 9th millennium BC marks the beginning of the Neolithic period.Agriculture spread throughout the Fertile Crescent and use of pottery became more widespread. Larger settlements like Jericho arose along salt and flint trade routes. Northern Eurasia was resettled as the glaciers of the last glacial...

  • 8th millennium BC
    8th millennium BC
    In the 8th millennium BC, agriculture became widely practised in the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia.Pottery became widespread and animal husbandry spread to Africa and Eurasia. World population was approximately 5 million.-Events:*c. 8000 BC—The last glacial period ends.*c...

  • 7th millennium BC
    7th millennium BC
    During the 7th millennium BC, agriculture spreads from Anatolia to the Balkans.World population was essentially stable at around 5 million people, living mostly scattered across the globe in small hunting-gathering tribes...

  • Holocene
    Holocene
    The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words and , meaning "entirely recent"...


Further reading

  • Dragoslav Srejovic Europe's First Monumental Sculpture: New Discoveries at Lepenski Vir. (1972) ISBN 0-500-390-096

External links