Prehistory is any time that occurred before Human societies developed writing systems. Because different cultures across the world developed writing at other times, prehistory ends at varying historical points depending on location.

Prehistory is made up of every point since the universe’s beginning. However, for world history, it is typically used to refer to the period between the first humans’ evolution to the development of writing. For example, prehistory is thought to have ended around 3200 BC in Egypt.

Historians use a three-age system to divide the ages of Human progress in Eurasia. These are:

The Stone Age

The Stone Age lasted 3.4 million years and ended between 8,700 BC and 2,000 BC. During this age, Humans used stone tools such as axes. The Stone Age is divided into three periods:

The Palaeolithic or ‘Old Stone’ period – Five Essential Facts

  1. Humans originated in Africa
  2. Humans were nomadic and lived in temporary huts or caves.
  3. Small tribes of Humans would travel to look for food, typically berries, deer, or bison.
  4. Humans would paint depictions of hunts on cave walls; some of these cave paintings can still be seen today
  5. The fire was discovered in this era

The Mesolithic or ‘Middle Stone’ period – Five Essential Facts

  1. This period lasted from the end of the Ice Age until the discovery of farming
  2. Humans developed hunting techniques by carving small pointed stones for arrows and spears
  3. Humans began to domesticate animals in this period
  4. Though Humans were still hunter-gatherers, they started to settle in more permanent structures
  5. In some places, the invention of pottery happened in the Mesolithic era

The Neolithic or ‘New Stone’ period – Five Essential Facts

  1. In this period, Humans began to cultivate the land and grow crops; this is called agriculture
  2. The wheel was an invention that made it easier to transport things across long distances
  3. The sail was invented, allowing Humans to cross oceans and improving fishing techniques
  4. The plow was invented, which in turn led to increased food
  5. The increase in food led to a rise in the population

The Stone Age ended with the discovery of metalworking, which led to the Bronze Age.

The Bronze Age

The Bronze Age started around 3300 BC and ended between 1200 BC and 600 BC. During this age, Humans discovered how to work metals with low melting points, such as copper and tin, which led to the discovery of bronze.

Although humans could still not use iron due to its high melting point, working with bronze allowed them to refine their techniques and create more effective tools and weapons. In addition, it led to further improvements in hunting techniques and agriculture.

Human society further evolved with the rise of trade. Early trading systems involved Human settlements exchanging excess food or resources for things they needed in a bartering system. Trade routes appeared both on land and across seas.

The Iron Age

The Iron Age started in about 1200 BC and has different endpoints for other countries worldwide, with some moving out of the Iron Age as early as 700 BC.

When Humans discovered how to use iron to make tools, bronze was soon replaced as iron was cheaper and more plentiful, meaning many more people had access to the tools they needed.

Iron is a much stronger metal than bronze, and the ability to make tools and weapons from iron led to significant technological progress for humanity.

During the Iron Age, Humans began to build forts, establish large religions, wage wars and develop their society with advancements in language and medicine.

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