What is the Difference Between Paleolithic and Neolithic Age

The main difference between Paleolithic and Neolithic age is that Paleolithic age is marked by the hunter/gatherer lifestyle and the use of stone tools while Neolithic age is marked by the domestication of animals and development of agriculture.

Historians have divided the human prehistory into three ages: Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. The Stone age also has three main periods: Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic ages. We also call them Old Stone Age, Middle Stone Age, and New Stone Age, respectively.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Paleolithic Age
     – Definition, Characteristics 
2. What is Neolithic Age
     – Definition, Characteristics 
3. What is the Difference Between Paleolithic and Neolithic Age
    – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Paleolithic Age, Neolithic Age, Stone AgeDifference Between Paleolithic and Neolithic Age - Comparison Summary

What is Paleolithic Age

Paleolithic age is roughly between 2.5 million years ago – 10,000 B.C. Early humans were hunters and gathers. They lived in caves or simple huts. In this age, humans used basic tools made of stone and bones, and crude stone implements to hunt wild animals like deer, bison, and mammoths. They were able to cook their meat using fire. In addition, they also fished and foraged fruits and nuts from the forest.

Difference Between Paleolithic and Neolithic Age

Historians have discovered art and craft left behind by the ancient humans of the Paleolithic age. These early humans made cave paintings out of paint made of like minerals, blood, bones, charcoal, etc. These paintings show human and animal figures as well as various signs. Ancient humans were also capable of carving small figurines out of clay, bones and stone.

The end of the Paleolithic period is marked by the end of the last Ice Age, which caused many large mammals to go extinct, and drastic climatic change. The Paleolithic age preceded the Mesolithic Age.

What is Neolithic Age

Neolithic age is roughly between 8,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C. During this period, ancient humans shifted from hunter/gatherer lifestyle to agriculture and food production. Moreover, they cultivated cereal grains and domesticated animals.

Main Difference - Paleolithic vs Neolithic Age

Moreover, ancient humans in the Neolithic age were far more technologically complex than the ancient humans in Paleolithic age. They used hand axes and various tools to plough and till the land. There were also advancements in construction and art. Humans who lived during this period also had knowledge of skills like pottery, weaving and sewing.

Difference Between Paleolithic and Neolithic Age

Definition

Paleolithic age is the first phase of the Stone Age, marked by the hunter/gatherer lifestyle and the use of stone tools. In contrast, Neolithic age is the last phase of the Stone Age, characterized by the domestication of animals, the development of agriculture, and the manufacture of pottery and textiles.

Time Period

Paleolithic age is roughly between 2.5 million years ago – 10,000 B.C while Neolithic age is roughly between 8,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C.

Lifestyle

During Paleolithic period, ancient humans were hunters and gatherers and had a mostly nomadic lifestyle, but by Neolithic age, humans shifted from hunter/gatherer life to agriculture and food production and started a sedentary lifestyle.

Food

Paleolithic humans hunted wild animals, fished, and gathered fruits and berries while Neolithic humans obtained food through farming and domesticated animals.

Dwelling

In the Paleolithic age, humans lived in caves, but in the Neolithic age, humans lived in huts, in permeant villages.

Advancements

Paleolithic humans made simple tools out of stones, and they were capable of making fires. Neolithic humans, on the other hand, made complex tools out of various metals like copper and bronze, build mud and brick houses as well as places of worship.

Arts and Crafts

Furthermore, paleolithic humans made cave paintings, while Neolithic humans made complex carvings, pottery, tombs, etc.

Conclusion

Paleolithic age is the first phase of the Stone Age, marked by the hunter/gatherer lifestyle and the use of stone tools. In contrast, Neolithic age is the last phase of the Stone Age, characterized by the domestication of animals, the development of agriculture, and the manufacture of pottery and textiles. Hence, this is the main difference between paleolithic and Neolithic age.

Reference:

1. Kennedy, Lesley. “The Prehistoric Ages: How Humans Lived Before Written Records.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 27 Sept. 2019, Available here.
2. Violatti, Cristian. “Neolithic Period.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 10 Oct. 2020, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Glyptodon old drawing”By Heinrich Harder (1858-1935) – The Wonderful Paleo Art of Heinrich Harder (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Diorama showing trephination in Neolithic times, England, 19 Wellcome L0058021” By Welcome Images.org (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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