Prehistory is a term for the time period between the first use of stone tools (about 3.3 million years ago by Homo primates) and the invention or importation of writing. The end of prehistory came at very different dates in different places.
The three-age system of archaeology divides human technological prehistory into three periods: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. It is used in the chronology for Europe, the Mediterranean world, and the Near East, but is of less importance for other areas.
The Stone Age is divided into the Paleolithic (literally meaning "old stone") period, the Mesolithic/Epipaleolithic period, and the Neolithic (literally meaning "new stone") period. The Neolithic period is associated with agriculture.
Less politically correct aspects
Less politically aspects include associations between the spread of technologies and race-related aspects:
- regarding the first use of stone tools, the first appearance of Homo primates.
- regarding agriculture, one of many examples being the Bantu expansion.
- regarding Bronze Age technology, there is an argued association with the Indo-Europeans, argued for example in the 2010 book The Horse, the Wheel, and Language.
- regarding the Iron Age, see the Sea Peoples and Celts.