The Paleolithic

Written by Alfonso Elizondo


This is the period in prehistory when stone was the main raw material used to make tools for humans at that time. The Paleolithic Age, together with the Mesolithic and the Neolithic, make up the Stone Age.


The Paleolithic is considered the longest period in history, extending from the appearance of humankind more than 2.5 million years ago. It can be divided into three stages.

1.- Lower Paleolithic (from 2,500,000 to 200,000 years ago)

2.- Middle Paleolithic (from 200,000 to 40,000 years ago)

3.- Upper Palaeolithic (from 40,000 to 10,000 years ago)

The Paleolithic is the oldest period known to humankind and humans of that period had the following characteristics:

1.- Nomadism, as they traveled through different territories looking for shelter and food.

2.- Food: they hunted, fished and collected grains, roots and fruits.

3.- The Use of Fire was the most significant discovery, although it was found naturally and then they discovered another method through the friction between tools and pieces of wood. Thus, humans protected themselves from the cold and from dangerous animals.

4.- Tools.- Stone was the main raw material, so their tools were made of stones, wood and bones to collect fruits, build shelters and kill any dangerous animal using tools such as knives, bows, arrows, etc.

5.- Housing.- They lived in caves to protect themselves from the elements and wild animals.

6.- Hominid species: Australopithecines, Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Homo Sapiens, Neanderthal Man and Cro-Magnon Man.

Paleolithic Art includes paintings made on the rocks inside the caves that are called ‘rock art’ and ‘parietal art’. A religious, naturalistic quality can be seen in the paintings that depicted the human figure, as well as the animals they hunted and certain myths about their cultural world.

The Neolithic period, the age of the new polished stone, starts between 7000 BC and 2000 BC with the appearance of agriculture, livestock and the rearing of edible animals. In comparison to the Paleolithic, Neolithic man was ‘sedentary’. He had a fixed place and built his home with stone, wood and branches.

Pottery and megalithic monuments were found in Neolithic Art. They created symbols and stick figures that adhered to more realistic forms.

Addendum: I have returned to the Paleolithic because recently they have been discovering new traces of monuments and statues confirming the existence of a world of human beings whose remains were not discovered up to ten years ago.

On the other hand, during the Paleolithic, major climate changes took place when thick layers of ice were formed in both poles, there were several ice ages and the coastlines of all the continents were formed. This is something that the current world is just beginning to discover and that nevertheless it cannot yet accept.