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Information about Prehistory

Published on March 13, 2014

Author: chusteacher



Created by María Jesús Campos Fernández, teacher of Geography and History in a bilingual section in Madrid.

PREHISTORY María Jesús Campos

HISTORICAL PERIODS  Historians have divided the past in different periods or stages to help people understand past events:  Prehistory  Ancient Age  Middle Ages  Early Modern Age  Contemporary History

 Prehistory: is the historical period that began with the appearance of the first human beings on Earth and ended with the invention of writing (3500 B.C.)

STAGES:  Prehistory is divided in different stages or ages usually connected to the material of the tools used at the time:  The Stone Age: dividided into Palaeolithic and Neolithic.  The Metal Age: dividided into the Copper Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

THE PROCESS OF HOMINISATION  Hominids: upper primates who walked upright and all their descendants, including human beings.  The evolution of hominids does not follow a direct line.

 Hominisation had different stages starred by different species that developed several features that distinguish them from apes:  Bipedalism (upright walking)  Cranial changes: smaller jawbone and teeth, vertical forehead, increased brain size.  Changes in the hand: opposable thumb which made holding objects easier.

PRINCIPAL HOMINIDS  Australopithecus  Homo Habilis  Homo Erectus  Homo Antecessor  Homo Neanderthalensi s  Homo Sapiens

AUSTRALOPITHECUS  Chronology: 5-1 million years ago  Geographical location: Africa  Height: 1 m  Characteristics:  Brain not very developed  Bipedalism, walking erect  Used tools but did not make them (sticks and stones in their natural state)

HOMO HABILIS  Chronology: 2,5-1,6 million years ago.  Geographical location: Africa  Height: 1,55m  Characteristics:  Small brain but bigger than the Australopithecus  Legs better adapted to bipedism.  First hominid to make tools (by knocking one stone against another to sharpen it)

HOMO ERECTUS  Chronology: 1,5-0,3 million years ago  Geographical location: Africa and Asia  Height: 1,70 m  Characteristics:  Bigger brain  Made fire  Made tools: bifaces (two- sided stone tool for cutting)  Animal hides as clothes

HOMO ANTECESSOR  Chronology: 800 000 years ago  Geographical location: Europe (found in Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain)  Height: 1,60 m  Characteristics:  Mixed physical features: old ones as protruding eyebrows, new ones as fine jaw.  Made more evolved tools to cut, break…

HOMO NEANDERTHALENSIS  Chronology: 130 000-35 000  Geographical location: Africa, Europe and Asia  Height: 1,60 m  Characteristics:  Strong complexion  Big face, protruding eyebrows, sunken forehead and no chin.  Brain similar size to a human brain today.  Various stone tools.  Buried their dead (culture)

HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS  Chronology: 195 000-today  Geographical location: Europe, Asia, Afirca, America and Oceania  Height: 1,70 m  Characteristics:  Human beings of today: spherical skull, straight forehead, prominent chin  Developed inteligence: same size of brain as the neanderthalensis.  Varied tools made of stone, bone, animal horns…  Art (culture)

PREHISTORY IS DIVIDED IN DIFFERENT STAGES:  The Stone Age: dividided into Palaeolithic and Neolithic.  The Metal Age: dividided into the Copper Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

THE STONE AGE  Palaeolithic: 4.2 million years ago to 10,000 B.C.  Neolithic: 10.000 B.C. to 3.500 B.C

THE PALAEOLITHIC 4.2 million years ago to 10 000 B.C.

ECONOMY IN THE PALAEOLITHIC  Hunter-gatherers: they consumed nature’s products but did not produced anything by themselves.  Stone and bone tools.  Made fire for light, heat and cooking.  Used animal hides to make clothes, bags, vessels, etc.

SOCIETY IN THE PALEOLITHIC  Humans lived in small groups (20-30 members)  Nomadic hordes or tribes: caves and huts. When resources run out in a place, they moved to another one.  Hierarchy within each group: the strongest warrior, the wisest old man, the witch doctor or sorcerer…were the most

RELIGION IN THE PALAEOLITHIC  Worshipped the natural elements (rain, thunder, lightning) as they depended on them.  Practised magic rituals to promote fertility (food and members).  Buried and commemorated their dead

ART IN THE PALAEOLITHIC  Realistic style (tried to copy nature).  Magical purposes  Cave paintings  Mobile art

 Cave paintings:  Colours obtained from natural elements (blood, coal, minerals…) mixed with grease.  Isolated animal figures (bison, deer, horse…) and their own hands.  Used the parts of the rock and the cave ceilings to give an impression of relief  Purposes:  Magical  Personal expression of what they saw  Examples:  Altamira cave (Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain)  Lascaux cave (France)

 Mobile art:  Portable artistic objects. Animals, amulets, Venus.  Venus statues: female figurines made of stone, ivory or bone.  Large pregnant bellies and breasts symbolising fertility.  Purposes:  Magical  Ornamental  Examples:  Venus of Lespugue (France)  Venus of Willendorf (Austria)  Baston of deer/horse

THE NEOLITHIC 10.000 B.C. to 3.500 B.C. (invention of writing)

ECONOMY IN THE NEOLITHIC: THE NEOLITHIC REVOLUTION  It started in the Fertile Crescent (Middle East) located between River Tigris and River Euphrates (Mesopotamia) and around river Nile (Egypt).  Invention of farming: agriculture and livestock.  Humans became producers: cereals, goats, sheeps, pigs…  Animals provided: meat, milk, hides and dung (fertilise)  Bartering: exchange of products among groups

 Specialised tools: axes, sickles, mortars, hoes  Pottery, textiles, baskets to contain the food.

SOCIETY IN THE NEOLITHIC  Sedentary as they produced their own food.  Houses made of clay and wood. Later also of stone  Population increased:more food meant more safety.  Social division according to their activity (division of labour)

RELIGION IN THE NEOLITHIC  Worshipped the natural elements such as the stars and the sun as their crops depended on them.  Believed in spirits.  Cult of the dead: necropolises close to the villages. The dead were buried with their personal possesions (pots, jewels, tools, etc.)

ART IN THE NEOLITHIC  Realistic style and abstract style  Idols  Rock painting  Ceramic pots

THE METAL AGE 5000 B.C. to 1000 B.C

ECONOMY IN THE METAL AGE  It started in the Fertile Crescent (Middle East).  Metal tools:  Cooper Age (from 4000 B.C)  Bronze Age (from 2200 B.C.)  Iron Age (from 1000 B.C. to the Roman Empire)  Metallurgy (extraction an use of metals)  More durable and resistant tools  Weapons  Agriculture and livestock

 Specialised tools: axes, sickles, mortars, hoes  Pottery, textiles, baskets to contain the food.  Metalworking: the ore was extracted with stone picks. The ore was smelted in an oven and left to cool, then the slag was removed by hitting the metal with a hammer. Then it was smelted again and poured into a mould in the shape of the required object.

SOCIETY IN THE METAL AGE  Permanent settlements in high places (watch and defense)  Surrounded by palisades or walls.  Circular or rectangular dwellings with a stone base, wooden or adobe walls, and roofs made of thatch and branches.

 Greater specilisation of labour which brought greater social differences.  Metal became a symbol of wealth.  Conflict and war expanded. Possesing weapons made some settlements gain power over others.

RELIGION IN THE METAL AGE  Worshipped the forces of nature such as the stars and the sun as their crops depended on them.  Believed in spirits.  Ceremonies in caves and sacred places where they offered metal objects to their gods.  Cult of the dead: constructions with funerary function. The dead were buried with their personal possesions (pots, jewels, tools, weapons,etc.)

ART IN THE NEOLITHIC  Megalithic constructions  Schematic paintings on rocks and caves

 Megalithic constructions:  Mega =big; lithos=stone  Funerary function and sanctuaries  Types:  Menhir: a big stone standing vertically on the floor  Alignments: parallel rows of menhirs. Carnac (France)  Cromlech: stones ordered in a circle. Stonehenge (United Kingdom)  Dolmen: large standing stones supporting a larger horizontal stone.

 Schematic paintings:  On rocks and in caves  Often in red and black  Depicting simplified human and animal figures.  Signs and geometric figures (circles, spirals, dots, zigzag lines…)  Idols: depicted with big eyes and triangles with arms and legs.

Developed by María Jesús Campos Chusteacher wikiteacher

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