Prehistory is the historical period that began with the appearance of the first human beigs on Earth and ended with the invention of writting, around 3500 B. C.
It is divided into different stages or ages usually connected to the materials of the tools used at the time:
The Stone Age: divided into Palaeolithic and Neolithic.
The Metal Age: divided into the Cooper Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
The Process of Hominisation
Hominisation comprises the genetic changes and gradual evolution in the primates that resulted in the appearance of hominids that led to human species.
Biologists consider that human beings developed by continous changes from a presumed Primate from the Tertiary Era. Biologists recognize a close resemblace between human beings and the higher Primates but humans are a completely new type of organism as they present complex comunication, spiritual behaviour and the capacity to form a culture.
The Stone Age
Traditionally, Prehistory has been organized taking into account the technology and materials used to produce tools and weapons. Historians divided it into the Stone Age and the Metal Ages.
The Stone Age begins with the first production of stone tools around 2.5 million years ago in Africa and ends with the first use of bronze to produce tools around the 3300 BC in the Near East. Some historians speak of an earlier origin, around 3.4 million years ago, as bones in Ethiopian archaeological sites show signs of estriations that may have been made with stone tools. Nevertheless, this theory is under analysis and investigation.
The first hominids believed to have made tools are the Australopithecines.
Tools and weapons were made of stone but also of antler, bone, fibre, leather and wood.
The Stone Age is also subdivided in two periods:
Paleolithic or Old Stone Age: between 2.5 million years ago until about 9600 BC by the end of the last Ice Age. Tools were made out of knapped stone.
Neolithic or New Stone Age: between the 9.000 BC in the Near East, the 7.000 BC in Southeast Europe and 6000 BC in East Asia, with the introduce of farming (cereal cultivation and animal domestication). Tools were made out of polished stone.
The Metal Ages
In the 4 rd millenia BC there was a drastic change in Europe, metallurgy developed and metal was the main material used to produce tools and weapons. According to the main metal that was used, this era has been subdivided into:
The Copper Age (4000-2300 BC)
The Bronze Age (2300-700 BC)
The Iron Age (700-1BC)
Societies flourished as technology, settlement organization and ritual life increased their complexity. The interaction between different societies in Europe increased and migrations started.