Prehistoric Archaeology
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History is the study of the past using written records. Archaeology can also be used to study the past alongside history. Prehistoric archaeology is the study of the past before historical records began.

With regards to the Western Europe , prehistoric period generally ends with Roman colonization ; although other places notably Egypt and China finished it early followed by Australia. A transitional phase of protohistory or protohistoric archaeology may exist where written records provide a limited picture of the society in question.

The earliest record of the word prehistoric comes from the French archaeologist and scientist Paul Tournal who used it in 1831 to describe the finds he made in ancient caves he had investigated in the south of France. It did not enter English until 1851 when it was used by the Scots-Canadian archaeologist Sir Daniel Wilson. The three-age system, which just predates the coining of the term, was created in an attempt to make sense of the chronology of prehistoric Europe.



Without history to provide evidence for names, places and motivations, prehistoric archaeologists speak in terms of cultures which can only be given arbitrary modern names relating to the locations of known occupation sites or the artifacts used. It is naturally much easier to discuss societies rather than individuals as these past people are completely anonymous in the archaeological record.

Such a lack of concrete information means that prehistoric archaeology is a contentious field and the arguments that rage over it have done much to inform archaeological theory. The variety of theories regarding the purpose of objects or sites for example obliges archaeologists to adopt a critical approach to all evidence and to examine their own constructs of the past. Functionalism and Processualism are two schools of archaeological thought which have made a great contribution to prehistoric archaeology.

Prehistoric archaeology

Prehistoric archaeology is one of those chewy definitions that not everybody agrees on. Mostly, as compared to historical archaeology, prehistoric archaeology refers to the archaeological remains of cultures that are primarily pre-urban and so, by definition don't have contemporary economic and social records that can be consulted. The time depth varies across the planet; and some archaeologists consider any culture untouched by European colonization as prehistoric--but in a good way.

Thus, although there might be disagreements about the latter part of human history, scholars would agree that prehistory includes the Stone Age (also known as the Paleolithic period), hunter-gatherers, and the first farming communities.


Prehistoric archaeology
Prehistoric archaeology Contains Following Chapter:




The Stone Age in human prehistory is the name given to the period between about 2.5 million and 20,000 years ago. It begins with the earliest human-like behaviors of crude stone tool manufacture, and ends with fully modern human hunting and gathering societies. The Paleolithic is the earliest archaeology; anything older is paleontology.

The Lower Paleolithic lasted between 2.5 million-200,000 years ago (or at least according to one permutation), and it was when the Hominin ancestors of human beings, including Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Homo ergaster, roamed most of the earth and began making the first stone tools.



Middle Paleolithic

Middle Paleolithic:

The Middle Paleolithic (ca 200,000 to 45,000 years ago) witnessed the evolution of Neanderthals and the first anatomically modern Homo sapiens sapiens, and some of the first glimmers of modern behaviors: sophisticated stone tools, caring for the elderly, hunting and gathering and some amount of symbolic or ritual behavior.



Upper Paleolithic :

By the Upper Paleolithic (45,000-10,000 years ago), the Neanderthals were in decline, and by 30,000 BP, they were gone. Modern humans spread all over the planet. The LSA is characterized by fully modern behaviors such as cave art, hunting, and making a wide range of tools in stone, bone, ivory and antler.

hunter-gatherers hunt game and collect plant foods (called foraging) rather than grow or tend crops. Hunter gatherers is the term used by anthropologists to describe a specific kind of lifestyle, that of all human beings until the invention of agriculture about 8000 years ago.

Recent studies have identified the importance of fish and maritime resources as a component of some coastal-based hunter-gatherers. Hunter-gatherers who rely on marine resources (such as the Mesolithic Erteblle-Ellerbeck culture are known as hunter-gatherer-fishers.

Tools of the Hunter-Gatherer

Tools of the Hunter-Gatherer

Hunter-gatherers are traditionally identified by their tools: bow and arrow, atlatl, harpoon and projectile points. Even after agriculture became a major source of food, hunting and gathering of wild plants remained a large component of people's diets. People who tend stands of natural plants are called horticulturalists; those who farm are agriculturalists. Up until about fifty years ago, there were a few modern hunter-gatherer societies in the world today, such as the Ainu; however, they have pretty much all been made part of the modern market economy by way of the intrusion of plastics or clothing or metal which can only be retrieved from outside sources.



Books on the Prehistoric Archaeology :
Evolution and Prehistory
Evolution and Prehistory - An Archaeology of Scandinavia AD 400-1000

Explore evolution and prehistory through photos, examples, and anthropologists' studies with Haviland et al's EVOLUTION AND PREHISTORY. The authors' goal in writing this book is to provide you with a vivid, accessible text that shows how the field is relevant to understanding the complex world around you.


History of Prehistoric Europe
The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe

Ranging from the earliest settlements through the emergence of Minoan civilization to the barbarian world at the end of the Roman Empire, this extraordinary volume provides a fascinating look at how successive cultures adapted to the landscape of Europe.


The Dawn of Human Culture
The Dawn of Human Culture

The cave's sediments record important cultural changes during the past few thousand years, including the first local experiments with agriculture and with sheep and goat domestication. Buried more than three meters deep in the sand, silt, and loam at Enkapune Ya Muto, however, lie the traces of an earlier and even more significant event in human prehistory.

Rich Resources over the web on Prehistoric Archaeology
  • Prehistoric archaeology in Wiki : History is the study of the past using written records. Archaeology can also be used to study the past alongside history. Prehistoric archaeology is the study of the past before historical records began.

  • About Prehistoric Archaeology : Prehistoric archaeology is one of those chewy definitions that not everybody agrees on. Mostly, as compared to historical archaeology, prehistoric archaeology refers to the archaeological remains of cultures that are primarily pre-urban and so, by definition don't have contemporary economic and social records that can be consulted.

Diciplines by Regional study
  • African Archaeology

    African Archaeology Africa has the longest record of human activity of any part of the world and along with its geographical extent; it contains an enormous archaeological resource. Scholars have studied Egyptology for centuries but archaeologists have only paid serious attention to the rest of the continent in more recent times.
  • American Archaeology

    American Archaeology Archaeology of the Americas is the learning of the archaeology of North America, Central America (or Mesoamerica), South America and the Caribbean, which is to say, the pre-history and Pre-Columbian history of Native American peoples.
  • European archaeology

    European Archaeology In terms of area, Europe is the world's second smallest continent, with an area of 10,400,000 kmē (4,000,000 square miles), making it slightly larger than Australia.
  • Medival archaeology

    Medival archaeology The period covers the commotion caused by the fall of the Medival archaeology Roman Empire and cultures such as the Vikings, Saxons and Franks.
  • Near Eastern Archaeology

    Near Eastern Archaeology Near Eastern Archaeology is a wide generalised application, and is divided into further regional sub-branches, the archaeology of modern states in the region or along broad thematic lines.
  • Post Medieval Archaeology

    Post Medieval Archaeology The Post Medieval Archaeology is considered as a bi-annual journal study of the material evidence of European society. This period saw the conversion of medieval to industrial society.
  • Modern Archaeology

    Modern Archaeology In contrast to the antiquarianism of classical archaeology, anthropological archaeology today is concerned with culture history (i.e., the chronology of events and cultural traditions) and the explanation of cultural processes.