The 8 prehistoric stages (and what happened in each one) - medical - 2023



As we well know, the evolution of humanity is divided into two stages: Prehistory and History. The first of them begins with the emergence of the first hominids 2.5 million years ago until the invention of writing, evidently passing through the appearance of Homo sapiens, 350,000 years ago. And the second extends from the first written testimonies to the present day.

We generally think that what we are is the result of different ancient civilizations, from Mesopotamia to Greece, but the truth is that our identity as individuals and as members of a species can only be understood by looking further back, to our origin as human beings.

Therefore, it is important to analyze Prehistory in order to know where we come from.The prefix is ​​quite unfair, since prehistory is an essential part of our history, worth the redundancy. And in today's article we will embark on a journey through it.

Prehistory begins 2,500,000 years ago with the first bipedal primates and ends in 3,300 BC., date in which there is evidence of written documents in the Middle East, specifically in Mesopotamia. Next we will see the stages into which it is divided and which events were the most important in each of them.

  • We recommend you read: "The 19 stages of Earth's history"

In what stages is Prehistory divided?

As we have been commenting, the term Prehistory is not very accurate, since humans have been writing our History since our birth as a species. What's more, its limits are very diffuse, because the invention of writing happened in different places at different times.

Be that as it may, we can understand this Prehistory as the time in which humans appeared from their primate descendants and in which the cultural and social foundations were established so that, later on, our species was capable of the technological advances that have been made. marked our most recent history.

Traditionally, Prehistory has been divided into two ages: that of Stone and that of Metals. Each of them, in turn, is divided into other stages. Let's start our journey.

1. Stone Age (2,500,000 BC - 6,000 BC)

The Stone Age represents practically all of Prehistory, since it is the age in which, in addition to the appearance of the Homo sapiens, the human being shared the world with other hominins (bipedal advanced hominids) that are currently extinct, such as the Homo neanderthalensis.

In this sense, the Stone Age spans from the appearance of the first hominins, a sub-tribe of hominid primates capable of moving on two legs (bipedal locomotion) and maintaining an upright posture, which happened about 2.5 million years ago, coming from a common ancestor with chimpanzees dating back 6 million years back to the handling of metals.

1.1. Paleolithic (2,500,000 BC - 15,000 BC)

The Paleolithic is the longest Stone Age period. In fact, covers 95% of the "story". At some point in evolutionary history, chimpanzees (with whom we share 99% of genes), a family of hominins, gave rise to a sub-tribe known as hominins.

This, which happened about 2,500,000 years ago (although there is controversy over whether the first appeared 6 million years ago), led to the appearance of more evolved hominids capable of moving on two legs and standing upright, with an upright skull and with opposable thumbs on the hands, a characteristic that, although it may not seem like it, would determine the future of humanity.

These anatomical variations made these primates capable of manipulating objects in a very precise way, which, together with having a more developed brain, allowed this sub-tribe of primates to start making stone tools that, although very primitive, are the first indication of an animal modifying its environment to adapt to it .

There were still no human beings in the strict sense of the word, since the species had not appeared Homo sapiens. However, this did not prevent the Homo erectus discovered fire 1.6 million years ago, being one of the most important events in history.

In a context of abundant climatic changes (there were 4 important glaciations), appeared, 350,000 years ago, the Homo sapiens, that is, the first humans, who established nomadic communities, because, due to the climate, they were forced to constantly migrate.

As hunters and gatherers, these early humans, who lived in caves, had to develop tools to hunt, mainly using stone as an element. Hence the name of this stage.

During the Paleolithic, in addition to developing communities, primitive forms of communication and mastering fire, humans developed the first artistic manifestations and the first religious beliefs about death and the meaning of life, merging both concerns in the famous cave paintings in inside the caves.

Already at the end of the Paleolithic, the extinction of the Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, leaving the Homo sapiens sapiens (modern humans) as the only representatives of hominins. At the same time, in addition to domesticating the dog, they were developing better tools, marking the beginning of the supremacy of the human species on Earth.

The Paleolithic ends with the end of the last Ice Age, which caused the extinction of many species of mammals and a climate change that forced the human species to migrate and establishing the beginning of a new age.

1.2. Mesolithic (15,000 BC - 10,000 BC)

The Mesolithic is a stage of 5,000 years within the Stone Age in which, in addition to improvements in the mastery of fire and the creation of increasingly advanced tools (they made arrows with bones and sharpened wood to hunt), the human species developed agriculture, something that would allow them to stop being nomads and to establish sedentary communities. The human being, at this time, begins to be able to control nature to survive.

In any case, they continued to live in caves in winter, where they could subsist on fire, and in camps in summer. These constructions were also the first that allowed humans to find shelter outside the caverns.

As a very important fact, due to the migration at the end of the Paleolithic and the separation of the human species into communities that would be totally isolated after the thaw, differentiation into races occurred that we currently see. The human being begins its expansion throughout the world and even the first cemeteries are created, since religious beliefs were present in our lives from the beginning.

1.3. Neolithic (10,000 BC - 6,000 BC)

The Neolithic is the last stage within the Stone Age. It was at this stage that a radical change in human nature took place: we stopped being nomads to become sedentary, establishing communities that settled in one place and did not need to change homes, as they could control agriculture, fishing and hunting.

At the same time, the first social organizations began (with divisions of labor), tools were further perfected, advanced textile garments were created and, above all, it seems that the concept of private property appeared, which opened the doors to the trade and, obviously, inequalities based on wealth.

2. Age of Metals (6,000 BC - 600 BC)

It may seem incorrect that the Metal Age, and therefore Prehistory, ends in 600 BC. if we have said that the first writings in Mesopotamia date back to 3,300 BC. But, as we have already commented, the passage from prehistory to history is a frontier that we have invented.

Each civilization progressed at different speeds, so it is difficult to determine exactly when it ends. Therefore, although it is true that the year 3,300 BC is considered. As the end of Prehistory, there were civilizations in which writing did not arrive and they continued in this age.

2.1. Copper Age (6,000 BC - 3,600 BC)

The Metal Age begins with the use of different metallic materials to make tools, which involved the development of many special techniques. In this sense, this age refers to the moment in which the true technological progress began, which, later, would allow all the advances that humanity has made. With the handling of metal, we are almost entering history.

The first epoch within it is the Copper Age, the first metal used by mankind. Discovered in rocks, they had to learn to extract metals, transform them and mold them with rudimentary techniques.

2.2. Bronze Age (3,600 BC - 1,200 BC)

The Bronze Age begins when humans are able to make copper and tin alloys to make this metal that allowed enormous technological progress.

At the same time in the Bronze Age the invention of the wheel took place. It is not necessary to emphasize the influence this had on transport and on the technological development of mankind. It was during this time that the first notable civilizations developed, such as Ancient Egypt.

Towns and even politically organized cities were formed where religion began to gain a prominence that it would never lose. The Egyptians built the pyramids during that time.

2.3. Iron Age (1,200 BC - 600 BC)

Human societies are going through a huge cultural, technological, religious and social boom. At the same time, the handling of iron and the elaboration of tools with this metal mark the beginning of the last period of Prehistory, which, as we have been seeing for some stages, has little prehistoric.

Parallel to this technological development thanks to the use of iron, architecture advances a lot, creating palaces, temples and even cities with sewage systems. It was only a matter of time before writing reached all human societies (In Mesopotamia and Egypt it had already been hundreds of years old), thus marking the beginning of History.