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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 at different places.

Christian Jürgensen Thomsen’s[1] “three-age system of European antiquity” 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:

See also


  1. Thomsen was author of Guideline to Nordic Antiquity (1836), published in German in 1837 (Leitfaden zur nordischen Alterthumskunde) and in English in 1848.