10 Facts About the Neolithic Age

By Geoffrey Migiro on August 22 2019 in World Facts

Rock art dating back to the Neolithic age.
Rock art dating back to the Neolithic age.

The Neolithic period describes an era in the history of human beings that featured the usage of stone tools, the appearance of settled villages, and the domestication of animals and farming. It was the last division of Stone Age which started around 12,000 years ago with the onset of agriculture in the Epipalaeolithic Near East. The new Stone Age ended when the Chalcolithic phase (marked by the inception of metallurgy) began, about 6,500 years ago.  

10. It is also called "New Stone Age"

The word ‘’Neolithic’’ is derived from the Greek words ‘’lithos’’ which means ‘’stone’’ and ‘’neo’’ meaning ‘’new’’. The word ‘’Neolithic’’ means the ‘’New Stone Age’’. Sir John Lubbock coined the phrase ‘’Neolithic’’ in 1865.

9. It was where farming began

Before 10,200 BC, human beings were hunters and gatherers, but the onset of the Neolithic age saw them evolve into farmers. The initial developments in farming began around 10,200 BC when the Natufian community developed from depending on wild cereals to planting cereals. Initially, the Natufian communities were gatherers, but their habit of staying in one place for a very long time and climatic changes forced them to develop farming. Farming was initially limited to some few types of domesticated and wild plants including millet, and einkorn wheat.

8. It began in the Levant

The Levant refers to a vast region in the Eastern Mediterranean together with its islands. The Levant is a historical term which refers to all the states situated along the eastern Mediterranean coast from Cyrenaica to Greece. The Neolithic era began with the Natufian culture in the Levant during the 10,200 BC. The Natufian culture supported the semi-sedimentary or sedimentary population long before the onset of agriculture. The Natufian communities are believed to be the ancestors of the people who built the first Neolithic settlement in the Levant. Various farming communities came up in the Levant from 10,200 BC to 8800 BC. These communities spread to North Mesopotamia, North Africa and Asia Minor.

7. It transformed human life in massive ways

Before the Neolithic era began, human beings survived by gathering wild plants and hunting animals for food. Human beings were nomads who migrated to greener pastures as soon as the wild plants dried up or the number of animals reduced. The onset of the Neolithic period was marked by the initial developments of farming. Once they learned how to plant food, humans stopped migrating and began establishing some small settlements. Domestication of animals meant that human beings did not have to hunt for meat. The Neolithic era transformed a gathering and hunting community to a sedentary society based in towns and villages.

6. Humans domesticated animals for the first time

The people in Mesopotamia started taming wild animals for hides, milk, and meat. The locals used the animal’s coat for building their tent shelters, storage and clothing during the Neolithic age. The first animals to be tamed in Mesopotamia were goats and then sheep. Chickens were tamed in southeastern Asia about 10,000 years ago. The Middle East was the source of most of the animals that were domesticated like pigs, goats and sheep. The first community to tame a dromedary was from the Middle East. Taming animals was hard work; therefore the people focused first on the herbivores since they were easy to feed.

5. Humans settled in permanent villages for the first time

The early people’s shelters changed from the upper Paleolithic phase to the New Stone Age. During the Paleolithic period, human beings did not live in permanent shelters. Domestication made it possible for people to plant their food and also rear livestock, therefore, making it possible for human beings to build permanent shelters. Their houses had doors on the roof with ladders positioned inside and outside. They supported their roofs using beams from the inside. People started living together in permanent villages and towns for the first time during the Neolithic era. In Eurasia, people were living in small tribes made up of multiple lineages. Some of the earliest settlements included Lahuradewa and Mehrgarh which were situated in the Indus River Valley. These settlements were characterized by farming of various cereals including millet, barley, and wheat.

4. Crafts first appeared

Various forms of craft like weaving and pottery appeared during the Neolithic era. Weaving dates back to the New Stone Age era, about 12,000 years ago. Prior to the discovery of the weaving process, the principle was used to interlace twigs and branches to build shelters, fences and even baskets. Pottery is believed to have started around 10,000 BC in the Levant. A temple region, which was discovered in Gobekli Tepe, Turkey dated around 9,500 BC, is believed to mark the beginning of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. The temple had about seven stone circles with limestone pillars that were carved with birds, insects, and animals. The pottery Neolithic era started in 6,400BC, in the Fertile Crescent and numerous cultures began doing pottery in Asia including the Ubaid (southern Mesopotamia) and Halafian (northern Mesopotamia, Syria, and Turkey).

3. Stone tools first appeared

During the Paleolithic era, people used various objects found within their vicinity like sharpened stones, club, and handaxe among others as tools. During the Mesolithic period, human beings used composite devices like arrow and bows and harpoons. Polished stone tools were first used in the Neolithic era. Ground stone tools appeared in Japan in the Japanese Paleolithic era which began from 40,000 BC to 14,000 BC. Ground stone works were very crucial during the New Stone Age period, and they were manufactured from bigger materials like jadeite, jade, greenstone, and basalt among others. Some of the ground stone tools included axes, celts, and adzes.

2. It started sometime between 8,000 BCE and 6,000 BCE

The Neolithic era (the last stage of the Stone Age) began about 12,000 years ago after the onset of the initial development in farming. The exact year when Neolithic age began varies with region. In South Asia, the Neolithic era began between 7,570 BC and 6200 BC while in India it started around 6500 BC. The agrarian society appeared in Europe during the seventh millennium BC with one of the earliest farms in the continent which was found in Vashtemi, Albania dates back to 6500 BC. The Neolithic age began in North Africa around 6000 BC.

1. People may have been religious

The Neolithic religion was made up of religious rituals, cults, and concepts of the initial farming culture which came from 8000 BC to 3000 BC. Even though there are no written documents from the Neolithic period, various features like their burial mounds suggested that they believed in the afterlife. A temple discovered in Turkey, dated around 9500 BC is the oldest known place of worship.

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