Paleolithic and Neolithic
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The term 'neolithic', or literally, 'new stone age', refers to a time of remarkable change in human history. Paleolithic people were considered by some to be little more than "upright animals". This fascinating world of paleolithic and neolithic research is part of custom world history research paper services that are Paper Masters specialty.
Paleolithic and Neolitic People
Several similarities and differences are associated with the Paleolithic and the Neolithic periods. The Paleolithic period, also called the Old Stone Age (approximately 2,500,000-11,000 years ago), is divided into three subdivisions:
- Lower (first stone tools made by hominid species)
- Middle (Neanderthals and modern H. sapiens and the use of prepared-core technique to produce flake tools)
- Upper (associated with Cro-Magnon and developing human language).
With the introduction of the first tools and lasting until the introduction of agriculture, this period marks the advent of human technology. Their simple tools and weapons served their hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
The Neolithic period, also referred to as The New Stone Age, began around 8500 BCE with the rise of farming and ending with the Iron Age and metal tools. Paleolithic people were forced to work exhaustively in order to stave off chronic malnutrition. As a result of this unremitting work schedule, Paleolithic people were precluded from developing any significant culture or leisure activities. This state of affairs rendered Paleolithic people, in the words of one anthropologist Sahlins quotes, as little more than upright animals.
The unquestioning characterization of the Paleolithic economy as inherently inferior to its Neolithic predecessor bespeaks a significant bias towards the trappings of the evolving post-Neolithic lifestyle. Sahlins holds that this suggests the tacit endorsement of an array of capitalistic values, and that much of the theorizing about Paleolithic economics in the twentieth century is of dubious credibility as a result.
While many anthropologists and scholars from various disciplines have made studies of the economic systems of prehistoric peoples, most of these studies have been predicated upon assumptions that reveal the biases of the researcher. Specifically, most scholarly examinations of the economic systems of prehistoric peoples are deeply rooted in the assumption that the introduction of agricultural and horticultural technologies was a revolutionary change, and as such, what preceded this revolution was outmoded and needed changing, and what followed it represented an improvement in the lifeways of human beings.
Marshall Sahlins was one of the first researchers to critically examine these underlying assumptions. In his 1972 book-length study of the problem, Stone Age Economics, Sahlins ushered in a new way of thinking about the economic characteristics of prehistoric peoples, as well as developing a critical lens for the study of prehistoric economics that was less sullied by unexamined biases. In doing so, Sahlins significantly altered the course of economic anthropology, as well as providing keen insights into the role of labor and scarcity in our modern-day notion of economics.
The "Neolithic Revolution" is a theory that enjoyed prominence within archaeological circles for much of the last several decades. The term refers to what many scientists conceive was a series of dramatic and rather fast-moving transformations that occurred after humans become specialized at plant cultivation and animal husbandry. Archaeologists long agreed that the rise of farming--estimated to have occurred at about 10,000 BP, after the end of the last Ice Age--led to the emergence of the first permanent human settlements, located across a narrow geographic arc across the Near East that scientists dubbed the Fertile Crescent.The theory held that the discovery of agriculture served as a dramatic catalyst that triggered rapid advances in humans' abilities to produce their own food. The food surpluses that the agricultural revolution generated allowed humans to successfully raise more children to adulthood, in turn feeding the rapid emergence of of complex human settlements.
Many scientists still believe that these radical breakthroughs swiftly spread across the Old World and led to the birth of civilizations. However, new studies at archaeological sites in Turkey and research into the origins of agriculture around the ancient world are seriously challenging the old notion that the development of relatively permanent human communities emerged soon after the discovery of agriculture--the fundamental basis of the Neolithic Revolution theory. Paradoxically, much of the new research that is calling into question the old assumptions is based on the ruins of Catalhoyuk, a large settlement believed to be some 9,000 years old and located in present-day Turkey. Following its discovery in the late 1950s, Catalhoyuk was proclaimed to be humanity's oldest known city, with possibly some 10,000 inhabitants, a relatively complex division of labor, and public institutions. Many scientists assumed that a settlement of this size must have been dependent on agricultural production.
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