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{{short description|Archaeological period, last part of the Stone Age}}

The Neolithic ({{IPAc-en|audio=En-us-Neolithic.ogg|ˌ|n|iː|əʊ|ˈ|l|ɪ|θ|ᵻ|k}},WEB, Neolithic: definition of Neolithic in Oxford dictionary (British & World English),weblink also known as the "New Stone Age"), the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world. The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago (4500 BC), marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world (including the New World) remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development until European contact.WEB,weblink old stone tools pre-date earliest human, Morelle, Rebecca, 21 June 2019, South African History Online, The Neolithic comprises a progression of behavioral and cultural characteristics and changes, including the use of wild and domestic crops and of domesticated animals.{{efn|Some archaeologists have long advocated replacing "Neolithic" with a more descriptive term, such as "Early Village Communities", but this has not gained wide acceptance.}}The term Neolithic derives from the Greek {{transl|grc|néos}}, "new" and {{transl|grc|líthos}}, "stone", literally meaning "New Stone Age". The term was coined by Sir John Lubbock in 1865 as a refinement of the three-age system.OED, Neolithic,


{{see|Center of origin}}File:Centres of origin and spread of agriculture.svg|thumb|right|upright=2.0|Approximate centers of origin of agriculture in the Neolithic revolution and its spread in prehistory: the Fertile Crescent (11,000 (Before Present|BP]]), the Yangtze and Yellow River basins (9,000 BP) and the New Guinea Highlands (9,000–6,000 BP), Central Mexico (5,000–4,000 BP), Northern South America (5,000–4,000 BP), sub-Saharan Africa (5,000–4,000 BP, exact location unknown), eastern North America (4,000–3,000 BP).JOURNAL, 10.1126/science.1078208, Diamond, J., Jared Diamond, Bellwood, P., Farmers and Their Languages: The First Expansions, Science, 300, 5619, 597–603, 2003, 12714734, 2003Sci...300..597D,, )Following the ASPRO chronology, the Neolithic started in around 10,200 BC in the Levant, arising from the Natufian culture, when pioneering use of wild cereals evolved into early farming. The Natufian period or "proto-Neolithic" lasted from 12,500 to 9,500 BC, and is taken to overlap with the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPNA) of 10,200–8800 BC. As the Natufians had become dependent on wild cereals in their diet, and a sedentary way of life had begun among them, the climatic changes associated with the Younger Dryas (about 10,000 BC) are thought to have forced people to develop farming.By 10,200–8800 BC farming communities had arisen in the Levant and spread to Asia Minor, North Africa and North Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC.Early Neolithic farming was limited to a narrow range of plants, both wild and domesticated, which included einkorn wheat, millet and spelt, and the keeping of dogs, sheep and goats. By about 6900–6400 BC, it included domesticated cattle and pigs, the establishment of permanently or seasonally inhabited settlements, and the use of pottery.{{efn|The potter's wheel was a later refinement that revolutionized pottery-making.}}Not all of these cultural elements characteristic of the Neolithic appeared everywhere in the same order: the earliest farming societies in the Near East did not use pottery. In other parts of the world, such as Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, independent domestication events led to their own regionally distinctive Neolithic cultures, which arose completely independently of those in Europe and Southwest Asia. Early Japanese societies and other East Asian cultures used pottery before developing agriculture.BOOK, Habu, Junko, Ancient Jomon of Japan, 2004, 978-0-521-77670-7, 3, WEB
, Early Pottery at 20,000 Years Ago in Xianrendong Cave, China
, Xiaohong Wu,
, 15 January 2015

Periods by pottery phase

(File:Néolithique 0001.jpg|thumb|upright=0.9|An array of Neolithic artifacts, including bracelets, axe heads, chisels, and polishing tools. Neolithic stone artifacts are by definition polished and, except for specialty items, not chipped.){{more citations needed section|date=August 2015}}In the Middle East, cultures identified as Neolithic began appearing in the 10th millennium BC.{{sfn|Bellwood|2004|p=384}} Early development occurred in the Levant (e.g. Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) and from there spread eastwards and westwards. Neolithic cultures are also attested in southeastern Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia by around 8000 BC.{{citation needed|date=August 2015}}The prehistoric Beifudi site near Yixian in Hebei Province, China, contains relics of a culture contemporaneous with the Cishan and Xinglongwa cultures of about 6000–5000 BC, neolithic cultures east of the Taihang Mountains, filling in an archaeological gap between the two Northern Chinese cultures. The total excavated area is more than {{convert|1200|yd2|m2 ha}}, and the collection of neolithic findings at the site encompasses two phases.JOURNAL,weblink New Archaeological Discoveries and Researches in 2004 — The Fourth Archaeology Forum of CASS, Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, April 28, 2005, September 18, 2007,

Neolithic 1 – Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA)

The Neolithic 1 (PPNA) period began roughly around 10,000 BC in the Levant.{{sfn|Bellwood|2004|p=384}} A temple area in southeastern Turkey at Göbekli Tepe, dated to around 9500 BC, may be regarded as the beginning of the period. This site was developed by nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes, as evidenced by the lack of permanent housing in the vicinity, and may be the oldest known human-made place of worship.JOURNAL, The World's First Temple,weblink Archaeology (magazine), Archaeology, November 2008, 23, Scham, Sandra, 61, 6, Archaeological Institute of America, At least seven stone circles, covering {{convert|25|acre}}, contain limestone pillars carved with animals, insects, and birds. Stone tools were used by perhaps as many as hundreds of people to create the pillars, which might have supported roofs. Other early PPNA sites dating to around 9500–9000 BC have been found in Tell es-Sultan (ancient Jericho), West Bank (notably Ain Mallaha, Nahal Oren, and Kfar HaHoresh), Gilgal in the Jordan Valley, and Byblos, Lebanon. The start of Neolithic 1 overlaps the Tahunian and Heavy Neolithic periods to some degree.{{citation needed|date=August 2015}}The major advance of Neolithic 1 was true farming. In the proto-Neolithic Natufian cultures, wild cereals were harvested, and perhaps early seed selection and re-seeding occurred. The grain was ground into flour. Emmer wheat was domesticated, and animals were herded and domesticated (animal husbandry and selective breeding).{{citation needed|date=August 2015}}In 2006, remains of figs were discovered in a house in Jericho dated to 9400 BC. The figs are of a mutant variety that cannot be pollinated by insects, and therefore the trees can only reproduce from cuttings. This evidence suggests that figs were the first cultivated crop and mark the invention of the technology of farming. This occurred centuries before the first cultivation of grains.JOURNAL, Early Domesticated Fig in the Jordan Valley, Science (journal), Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, June 2, 2006, 10.1126/science.1125910, 16741119, 312, 5778, 1372–1374, Kislev, Mordechai E., Hartmann, Anat, Bar-Yosef, Ofer, Ofer Bar-Yosef, 2006Sci...312.1372K, Settlements became more permanent, with circular houses, much like those of the Natufians, with single rooms. However, these houses were for the first time made of mudbrick. The settlement had a surrounding stone wall and perhaps a stone tower (as in Jericho). The wall served as protection from nearby groups, as protection from floods, or to keep animals penned. Some of the enclosures also suggest grain and meat storage.WEB,weblink Neolithic Age,

Neolithic 2 – Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB)

File:Neolitico B, fugurine maschile e femminile, da tell fakhariyah, alabastro, bitume e pietra, 9000-7000 ac ca.jpg|left|thumb|Female and male figurines; 9000-7000 BC; gypsum with bitumen and stone inlays; from Tell Fekheriye (Al-Hasakah Governorate of Syria); University of Chicago Oriental InstituteUniversity of Chicago Oriental InstituteThe Neolithic 2 (PPNB) began around 8800 BC according to the ASPRO chronology in the Levant (Jericho, West Bank).{{sfn|Bellwood|2004|p=384}} As with the PPNA dates, there are two versions from the same laboratories noted above. This system of terminology, however, is not convenient for southeast Anatolia and settlements of the middle Anatolia basin.{{citation needed|date=November 2016}} A settlement of 3,000 inhabitants was found in the outskirts of Amman, Jordan. Considered to be one of the largest prehistoric settlements in the Near East, called 'Ain Ghazal, it was continuously inhabited from approximately 7250 BC to approximately 5000 BC.JOURNAL,weblink Ain-Ghazal (Jordan) Pre-pottery Neolithic B Period pit of lime plaster human figures, Feldman, Keffie, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown University, March 9, 2018, Settlements have rectangular mud-brick houses where the family lived together in single or multiple rooms. Burial findings suggest an ancestor cult where people preserved skulls of the dead, which were plastered with mud to make facial features. The rest of the corpse could have been left outside the settlement to decay until only the bones were left, then the bones were buried inside the settlement underneath the floor or between houses.{{citation needed|date=August 2015}}

Neolithic 3 – Pottery Neolithic (PN)

The Neolithic 3 (PN) began around 6,400 BC in the Fertile Crescent.{{sfn|Bellwood|2004|p=384}} By then distinctive cultures emerged, with pottery like the Halafian (Turkey, Syria, Northern Mesopotamia) and Ubaid (Southern Mesopotamia). This period has been further divided into PNA (Pottery Neolithic A) and PNB (Pottery Neolithic B) at some sites.BOOK, The Southern Levant (Cisjordan) During the Neolithic Period, Killebrew, Ann E., Steiner, Margreet, Goring-Morris, A. Nigel, Belfer-Cohen, Anna, 2013-11-01, en, 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199212972.013.011, The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant, 9780199212972, The Chalcolithic (Stone-Bronze) period began about 4500 BC, then the Bronze Age began about 3500 BC, replacing the Neolithic cultures.{{citation needed|date=June 2019}}

Periods by region

Western Asia

Fertile Crescent

File:20100923 amman37.JPG|thumb|right|'Ain Ghazal Statues, found at 'Ain Ghazal in JordanJordanAround 10,000 BC the first fully developed Neolithic cultures belonging to the phase Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) appeared in the Fertile Crescent.{{sfn|Bellwood|2004|p=384}} Around 10,700–9400 BC a settlement was established in Tell Qaramel, {{convert|10|mi}} north of Aleppo. The settlement included two temples dating to 9650 BC.Yet another sensational discovery by polish archaeologists in Syria. 21 June 2006 Around 9000 BC during the PPNA, one of the world's first towns, Jericho, appeared in the Levant. It was surrounded by a stone wall and contained a population of 2,000–3,000 people and a massive stone tower."Jericho", Encyclopædia Britannica Around 6400 BC the Halaf culture appeared in Syria and Northern Mesopotamia.In 1981 a team of researchers from the Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, including Jacques Cauvin and Oliver Aurenche divided Near East neolithic chronology into ten periods (0 to 9) based on social, economic and cultural characteristics.Haïdar Boustani, M., The Neolithic of Lebanon in the context of the Near East: State of knowledge (in French), Annales d'Histoire et d'Archaeologie, Universite Saint-Joseph, Beyrouth, Vol. 12–13, 2001–2002. Retrieved on 2011-12-03. In 2002 Danielle Stordeur and Frédéric Abbès advanced this system with a division into five periods.
  1. Natufian between 12,000 and 10,200 BC,
  2. Khiamian between 10,200 and 8800 BC, PPNA: Sultanian (Jericho), Mureybetian,
  3. Early PPNB (PPNB ancien) between 8800 and 7600 BC, middle PPNB (PPNB moyen) between 7600 and 6900 BC,
  4. Late PPNB (PPNB récent) between 7500 and 7000 BC,
  5. A PPNB (sometimes called PPNC) transitional stage (PPNB final) in which Halaf and dark faced burnished ware begin to emerge between 6900 and 6400 BC.Stordeur, Danielle., Abbès Frédéric., Du PPNA au PPNB : mise en lumière d'une phase de transition à Jerf el Ahmar (Syrie), Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, Volume 99, Issue 3, pp. 563–595, 2002
They also advanced the idea of a transitional stage between the PPNA and PPNB between 8800 and 8600 BC at sites like Jerf el Ahmar and Tell Aswad.PPND – the Platform for Neolithic Radiocarbon Dates – Summary. exoriente. Retrieved on 2011-12-03.

Southern Mesopotamia

Alluvial plains (Sumer/Elam). Low rainfall makes irrigation systems necessary. Ubaid culture from 6,900 BC.{{citation needed|date=November 2016}}

North Africa

(File:African cave paintings.jpg|thumb|Algerian cave paintings depicting hunting scenes)Domestication of sheep and goats reached Egypt from the Near East possibly as early as 6000 BC.JOURNAL, Sites with Holocene dung deposits in the Eastern Desert of Egypt: Visited by herders?, July 2010, 818–828, 74, 7, 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.04.014,weblink Linseele, V., Journal of Arid Environments, etal, 2010JArEn..74..818L, WEB,weblink EARLY DOMESTICATED ANIMALS, March 2011, 5 September 2013, Facts and Details, Hays, Jeffrey, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 21 October 2013, BOOK, The Origins and Development of African Livestock, Blench, Roger, Routledge, 1999, 978-1-84142-018-9, MacDonald, Kevin C, Graeme Barker states "The first indisputable evidence for domestic plants and animals in the Nile valley is not until the early fifth millennium BC in northern Egypt and a thousand years later further south, in both cases as part of strategies that still relied heavily on fishing, hunting, and the gathering of wild plants" and suggests that these subsistence changes were not due to farmers migrating from the Near East but was an indigenous development, with cereals either indigenous or obtained through exchange.BOOK, Barker, Graeme, The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory: Why Did Foragers Become Farmers?,weblink 3 December 2011, 25 March 2009, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-955995-4, 292–293, Other scholars argue that the primary stimulus for agriculture and domesticated animals (as well as mud-brick architecture and other Neolithic cultural features) in Egypt was from the Middle East.BOOK, Alexandra Y. AÄ­khenvalʹd, Robert Malcolm Ward Dixon, Areal Diffussion and Genetic Inheritance: Problems in Comparative Linguistics, 2006, Oxford University Press, USA, 978-0-19-928308-8, 35, BOOK, Fekri A. Hassan, Droughts, food and culture: ecological change and food security in Africa's later prehistory,weblink 3 December 2011, 2002, Springer, 978-0-306-46755-4, 164–, BOOK, Shillington, Kevin, Encyclopedia of African history: A-G,weblink 3 December 2011, 2005, CRC Press, 978-1-57958-245-6, 521–,

Sub-Saharan Africa

{{See||Pastoral Neolithic|Savanna Pastoral Neolithic}}


File:Golemata Majka.jpg|thumb|left|upright=0.75|Female figure from Tumba Madžari, North MacedoniaNorth MacedoniaFile:European-late-neolithic-english.svg|thumb|Map showing distribution of some of the main culture complexes in Neolithic EuropeNeolithic EuropeFile:Skara Brae house 1 5.jpg|thumb|Skara BraeSkara BraeIn southeast Europe agrarian societies first appeared in the 7th millennium BC, attested by one of the earliest farming sites of Europe, discovered in Vashtëmi, southeastern Albania and dating back to 6500 BC.WEB, Dawn Fuller, April 16, 2012, UC research reveals one of the earliest farming sites in Europe,,weblink April 18, 2012, WEB, April 16, 2012, One of Earliest Farming Sites in Europe Discovered, ScienceDaily,weblink April 18, 2012, In Northwest Europe it is much later, typically lasting just under 3,000 years from c. 4500 BC–1700 BC.Anthropomorphic figurines have been found in the Balkans from 6000 BC,Female figurine, c. 6000 BC, Nea Nikomidia, Macedonia, Veroia, (Archaeological Museum), Greece. Retrieved on 2011-12-03. and in Central Europe by around 5800 BC (La Hoguette). Among the earliest cultural complexes of this area are the Sesklo culture in Thessaly, which later expanded in the Balkans giving rise to Starčevo-Körös (Cris), Linearbandkeramik, and Vinča. Through a combination of cultural diffusion and migration of peoples, the Neolithic traditions spread west and northwards to reach northwestern Europe by around 4500 BC. The Vinča culture may have created the earliest system of writing, the Vinča signs, though archaeologist Shan Winn believes they most likely represented pictograms and ideograms rather than a truly developed form of writing.BOOK, Pre-writing in Southeastern Europe: The Sign System of the Vinča Culture ca. 4000 BC, Winn, Shan, Western Publishers, 1981, Calgary, The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture built enormous settlements in Romania, Moldova and Ukraine from 5300 to 2300 BC. The megalithic temple complexes of Ä gantija on the Mediterranean island of Gozo (in the Maltese archipelago) and of Mnajdra (Malta) are notable for their gigantic Neolithic structures, the oldest of which date back to around 3600 BC. The Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni, Paola, Malta, is a subterranean structure excavated around 2500 BC; originally a sanctuary, it became a necropolis, the only prehistoric underground temple in the world, and shows a degree of artistry in stone sculpture unique in prehistory to the Maltese islands. After 2500 BC, these islands were depopulated for several decades until the arrival of a new influx of Bronze Age immigrants, a culture that cremated its dead and introduced smaller megalithic structures called dolmens to Malta.Daniel Cilia, "Malta Before Common Era", in The Megalithic Temples of Malta. Retrieved 28 January 2007. In most cases there are small chambers here, with the cover made of a large slab placed on upright stones. They are claimed to belong to a population different from that which built the previous megalithic temples. It is presumed the population arrived from Sicily because of the similarity of Maltese dolmens to some small constructions found there.Piccolo, Salvatore (2013) Ancient Stones: The Prehistoric Dolmens of Sicily, Abingdon-on-Thames, England: Brazen Head Publishing, pp. 33-34 {{ISBN|978-0-9565106-2-4}}

South and East Asia

Settled life, encompassing the transition from foraging to farming and pastoralism, began in South Asia in the region of Balochistan, Pakistan, around 7,000 BCE.{{Citation | last1 =Coningham | first1 =Robin |author1link=Robin Coningham | last2 =Young | first2 =Ruth | year =2015 | title =The Archaeology of South Asia: From the Indus to Asoka, c. 6500 BCE – 200 CE | publisher =Cambridge University Press}} Quote: ""Mehrgarh remains one of the key sites in South Asia because it has provided the earliest known undisputed evidence for farming and pastoral communities in the region, and its plant and animal material provide clear evidence for the ongoing manipulation, and domestication, of certain species. Perhaps most importantly in a South Asian context, the role played by zebu makes this a distinctive, localised development, with a character completely different to other parts of the world. Finally, the longevity of the site, and its articulation with the neighbouring site of Nausharo (c. 2800—2000 BCE), provides a very clear continuity from South Asia's first farming villages to the emergence of its first cities (Jarrige, 1984)."{{citation|last=Fisher|first=Michael H.|title=An Environmental History of India: From Earliest Times to the Twenty-First Century|url=|year=2018|publisher=Cambridge University Press|isbn=978-1-107-11162-2}} Quote: "page 33: "The earliest discovered instance in India of well-established, settled agricultural society is at Mehrgarh in the hills between the Bolan Pass and the Indus plain (today in Pakistan) (see Map 3.1). From as early as 7000 BCE, communities there started investing increased labor in preparing the land and selecting, planting, tending, and harvesting particular grain-producing plants. They also domesticated animals, including sheep, goats, pigs, and oxen (both humped zebu [Bos indicus] and unhumped [Bos taurus]). Castrating oxen, for instance, turned them from mainly meat sources into domesticated draft-animals as well."{{citation|last=Dyson|first=Tim|title=A Population History of India: From the First Modern People to the Present Day|url=|year=2018|publisher=Oxford University Press|isbn=978-0-19-882905-8}}, Quote: "(p 29) "The subcontinent's people were hunter-gatherers for many millennia. There were very few of them. Indeed, 10,000 years ago there may only have been a couple of hundred thousand people, living in small, often isolated groups, the descendants of various 'modern' human incomers. Then, perhaps linked to events in Mesopotamia, about 8,500 years ago agriculture emerged in Baluchistan." At the site of Mehrgarh, Balochistan, presence can be documented of the domestication of wheat and barley, rapidly followed by that of goats, sheep, and cattle.{{citation|last=Wright|first=Rita P.|authorlink=Rita P. Wright|title=The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society|url=|year=2009|publisher=Cambridge University Press|isbn=978-0-521-57652-9|pages=44, 51}} In April 2006, it was announced in the scientific journal Nature that the oldest (and first early Neolithic) evidence for the drilling of teeth in vivo (using bow drills and flint tips) was found in Mehrgarh.JOURNAL, Coppa, A., Bondioli, L., Cucina, A., Frayer, D. W., Jarrige, C., Jarrige, J. -F., Quivron, G., Rossi, M., Vidale, M., Macchiarelli, R., Early Neolithic tradition of dentistry, Nature, 440, 7085, 2006, 755–756, 0028-0836, 10.1038/440755a, 16598247, In South India, the Neolithic began by 6500 BC and lasted until around 1400 BC when the Megalithic transition period began. South Indian Neolithic is characterized by Ash mounds{{clarify|date=February 2019}} from 2500 BC in Karnataka region, expanded later to Tamil Nadu.BOOK, TREES AND WOODLANDS OF SOUTH INDIA: ARCHAEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES, Eleni Asouti and Dorian Q Fuller, 2007, In East Asia, the earliest sites include the Nanzhuangtou culture around 9500–9000 BC,JOURNAL,weblink Early millet use in northern China, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 10, 3726–3730, Xiaoyan Yang, 15 January 2015, 10.1073/pnas.1115430109, 22355109, 2012, 3309722, 2012PNAS..109.3726Y, Pengtoushan culture around 7500–6100 BC, and Peiligang culture around 7000–5000 BC.The 'Neolithic' (defined in this paragraph as using polished stone implements) remains a living tradition in small and extremely remote and inaccessible pockets of West Papua (Indonesian New Guinea). Polished stone adze and axes are used in the present day ({{As of|2008|lc=yes}}) in areas where the availability of metal implements is limited. This is likely to cease altogether in the next few years as the older generation die off and steel blades and chainsaws prevail.In 2012, news was released about a new farming site discovered in Munam-ri, Goseong, Gangwon Province, South Korea, which may be the earliest farmland known to date in east Asia.The Archaeology News Network. 2012. "Neolithic farm field found in South Korea". "No remains of an agricultural field from the Neolithic period have been found in any East Asian country before, the institute said, adding that the discovery reveals that the history of agricultural cultivation at least began during the period on the Korean Peninsula".The Korea Times (2012). "East Asia's oldest remains of agricultural field found in Korea". The farm was dated between 3600 and 3000 BC. Pottery, stone projectile points, and possible houses were also found. "In 2002, researchers discovered prehistoric earthenware, jade earrings, among other items in the area". The research team will perform accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating to retrieve a more precise date for the site.

The Americas

In Mesoamerica, a similar set of events (i.e., crop domestication and sedentary lifestyles) occurred by around 4500 BC, but possibly as early as 11,000–10,000 BC. These cultures are usually not referred to as belonging to the Neolithic; in America different terms are used such as Formative stage instead of mid-late Neolithic, Archaic Era instead of Early Neolithic and Paleo-Indian for the preceding period.BOOK, Gordon R., Willey, Philip, Phillips, Method and Theory in American Archaeology, 1957, University of Chicago Press, 978-0-226-89888-9, The Formative stage is equivalent to the Neolithic Revolution period in Europe, Asia, and Africa. In the southwestern United States it occurred from 500 to 1200 AD when there was a dramatic increase in population and development of large villages supported by agriculture based on dryland farming of maize, and later, beans, squash, and domesticated turkeys. During this period the bow and arrow and ceramic pottery were also introduced.JOURNAL, Kohler TA, M Glaude, JP Bocquet-Appel and Brian M Kemp, The Neolithic Demographic Transition in the North American Southwest, American Antiquity, 2008, 73, 4, 645–669, 10.1017/s000273160004734x, In later periods cities of considerable size developed, and some metallurgy by 700 BCE.A. Eichler, G. Gramlich, T. Kellerhals, L. Tobler, Th. Rehren & M. Schwikowski (2017). "Ice-core evidence of earliest extensive copper metallurgy in the Andes 2700 years ago"


Australia, in contrast to New Guinea, has generally been held not to have had a Neolithic period, with a hunter-gatherer lifestyle continuing until the arrival of Europeans. This view can be challenged in terms of the definition of agriculture, but "Neolithic" remains a rarely-used and not very useful concept in discussing Australian prehistory.White, Peter, "Revisiting the ‘Neolithic Problem’ in Australia" PDF, 2006

Cultural characteristics

Social organization

(File:Néolithique 0008.jpg|thumb|left|Anthropomorphic Neolithic figurine)(File:MotherGoddessFertility.JPG|thumb|left|Anthropomorphic Female Neolithic ceramic figurine)During most of the Neolithic age of Eurasia, people lived in small tribes composed of multiple bands or lineages.BOOK, Leonard D. Katz Rigby, S. Stephen Henry Rigby, Evolutionary Origins of Morality: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives,weblink 2000, Imprint Academic, United kingdom, 0-7190-5612-8, 158, There is little scientific evidence of developed social stratification in most Neolithic societies; social stratification is more associated with the later Bronze Age.BOOK, Langer, Jonas, Killen, Melanie, Piaget, evolution, and development,weblink 3 December 2011, 1998, Psychology Press, 978-0-8058-2210-6, 258–, Although some late Eurasian Neolithic societies formed complex stratified chiefdoms or even states, generally states evolved in Eurasia only with the rise of metallurgy, and most Neolithic societies on the whole were relatively simple and egalitarian. Beyond Eurasia, however, states were formed during the local Neolithic in three areas, namely in the Preceramic Andes with the Norte Chico Civilization,WEB, The Oldest Civilization in the Americas Revealed,weblink CharlesMann, Science, 9 October 2015, NEWS, First Andes Civilization Explored,weblink 9 October 2015, BBC News, 22 December 2004, Formative Mesoamerica and Ancient HawaiÊ»i.BOOK, Hommon, Robert J., The ancient Hawaiian state: origins of a political society, 2013, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19-991612-2, First, However, most Neolithic societies were noticeably more hierarchical than the Upper Paleolithic cultures that preceded them and hunter-gatherer cultures in general."Stone Age," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2007 © 1997–2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Contributed by Kathy Schick, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. and Nicholas Toth, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. weblink" title="">Archived 2009-11-01.BOOK, Russell Dale Guthrie, The nature of Paleolithic art,weblink 3 December 2011, 2005, University of Chicago Press, 978-0-226-31126-5, 420–, (File:Clay human figurine (Fertility goddess) Tappeh Sarab, Kermanshah ca. 7000-6100 BCE Neolithic period, National Museum of Iran.jpg|thumb|Clay human figurine (Fertility goddess) Tappeh Sarab, Kermanshah ca. 7000-6100 BC, Neolithic period, National Museum of Iran)The domestication of large animals (c. 8000 BC) resulted in a dramatic increase in social inequality in most of the areas where it occurred; New Guinea being a notable exception.WEB, Farming Pioneered in Ancient New Guinea,weblink New Scientist, New Scientist, 9 October 2015, Possession of livestock allowed competition between households and resulted in inherited inequalities of wealth. Neolithic pastoralists who controlled large herds gradually acquired more livestock, and this made economic inequalities more pronounced.Bahn, Paul (1996) "The atlas of world archeology" Copyright 2000 The brown Reference Group plc However, evidence of social inequality is still disputed, as settlements such as Catal Huyuk reveal a striking lack of difference in the size of homes and burial sites, suggesting a more egalitarian society with no evidence of the concept of capital, although some homes do appear slightly larger or more elaborately decorated than others.Families and households were still largely independent economically, and the household was probably the center of life.WEB,weblink Prehistoric Cultures, Museum of Ancient and Modern Art, 2010, 5 September 2013, WEB,weblink Çatalhöyük: Urban Life in Neolithic Anatolia,, Archaeology, Hirst, K. Kris, 5 September 2013, However, excavations in Central Europe have revealed that early Neolithic Linear Ceramic cultures ("Linearbandkeramik") were building large arrangements of circular ditches between 4800 and 4600 BC. These structures (and their later counterparts such as causewayed enclosures, burial mounds, and henge) required considerable time and labour to construct, which suggests that some influential individuals were able to organise and direct human labour — though non-hierarchical and voluntary work remain possibilities.There is a large body of evidence for fortified settlements at Linearbandkeramik sites along the Rhine, as at least some villages were fortified for some time with a palisade and an outer ditch.Idyllic Theory of Goddess Creates Storm {{webarchive|url= |date=2008-02-19 }}. Retrieved on 2011-12-03.Krause (1998) under External links, places. Settlements with palisades and weapon-traumatized bones, such as those found at the Talheim Death Pit, have been discovered and demonstrate that "...systematic violence between groups" and warfare was probably much more common during the Neolithic than in the preceding Paleolithic period. This supplanted an earlier view of the Linear Pottery Culture as living a "peaceful, unfortified lifestyle".Gimbutas (1991) page 143.Control of labour and inter-group conflict is characteristic of tribal groups with social rank that are headed by a charismatic individual — either a 'big man' or a proto-chief — functioning as a lineage-group head. Whether a non-hierarchical system of organization existed is debatable, and there is no evidence that explicitly suggests that Neolithic societies functioned under any dominating class or individual, as was the case in the chiefdoms of the European Early Bronze Age.BOOK, Kuijt, Ian, Life in Neolithic farming communities: social organization, identity, and differentiation,weblink 3 December 2011, 30 June 2000, Springer, 978-0-306-46122-4, 317–, Theories to explain the apparent implied egalitarianism of Neolithic (and Paleolithic) societies have arisen, notably the Marxist concept of primitive communism.

Shelter and sedentism

File:Neolithic house.JPG|thumb|Reconstruction of Neolithic house in Tuzla, Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and HerzegovinaThe shelter of the early people changed dramatically from the Upper Paleolithic to the Neolithic era. In the Paleolithic, people did not normally live in permanent constructions. In the Neolithic, mud brick houses started appearing that were coated with plaster.Shane, Orrin C. III, and Mine Küçuk. "The World's First City." {{webarchive|url= |date=2008-03-15 }} Archaeology 51.2 (1998): 43–47. The growth of agriculture made permanent houses possible. Doorways were made on the roof, with ladders positioned both on the inside and outside of the houses. The roof was supported by beams from the inside. The rough ground was covered by platforms, mats, and skins on which residents slept.BOOK, Prehistoric Textiles:The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean, Barber, E. J. W., Princeton University Press, 1991, 978-0-691-00224-8, Stilt-houses settlements were common in the Alpine and Pianura Padana (Terramare) region.BOOK, Alan W. Ertl, Toward an Understanding of Europe: A Political Economic Précis of Continental Integration,weblink 28 March 2011, 15 August 2008, Universal-Publishers, 978-1-59942-983-0, 308, Remains have been found at the Ljubljana Marshes in Slovenia and at the Mondsee and Attersee lakes in Upper Austria, for example.


File:CucuteniAgriculture.JPG|thumb|left|A Cucuteni-Trypillian culture deer antler plough ]]File:HMB Essen und Kochgerät Jungsteinzeit.jpg|thumb|left|Food and cooking items retrieved at a European Neolithic site: millstonemillstoneA significant and far-reaching shift in human subsistence and lifestyle was to be brought about in areas where crop farming and cultivation were first developed: the previous reliance on an essentially nomadic hunter-gatherer subsistence technique or pastoral transhumance was at first supplemented, and then increasingly replaced by, a reliance upon the foods produced from cultivated lands. These developments are also believed to have greatly encouraged the growth of settlements, since it may be supposed that the increased need to spend more time and labor in tending crop fields required more localized dwellings. This trend would continue into the Bronze Age, eventually giving rise to permanently settled farming towns, and later cities and states whose larger populations could be sustained by the increased productivity from cultivated lands.The profound differences in human interactions and subsistence methods associated with the onset of early agricultural practices in the Neolithic have been called the Neolithic Revolution, a term coined in the 1920s by the Australian archaeologist Vere Gordon Childe.One potential benefit of the development and increasing sophistication of farming technology was the possibility of producing surplus crop yields, in other words, food supplies in excess of the immediate needs of the community. Surpluses could be stored for later use, or possibly traded for other necessities or luxuries. Agricultural life afforded securities that nomadic life could not, and sedentary farming populations grew faster than nomadic.However, early farmers were also adversely affected in times of famine, such as may be caused by drought or pests. In instances where agriculture had become the predominant way of life, the sensitivity to these shortages could be particularly acute, affecting agrarian populations to an extent that otherwise may not have been routinely experienced by prior hunter-gatherer communities. Nevertheless, agrarian communities generally proved successful, and their growth and the expansion of territory under cultivation continued.Another significant change undergone by many of these newly agrarian communities was one of diet. Pre-agrarian diets varied by region, season, available local plant and animal resources and degree of pastoralism and hunting. Post-agrarian diet was restricted to a limited package of successfully cultivated cereal grains, plants and to a variable extent domesticated animals and animal products. Supplementation of diet by hunting and gathering was to variable degrees precluded by the increase in population above the carrying capacity of the land and a high sedentary local population concentration. In some cultures, there would have been a significant shift toward increased starch and plant protein. The relative nutritional benefits and drawbacks of these dietary changes and their overall impact on early societal development are still debated.In addition, increased population density, decreased population mobility, increased continuous proximity to domesticated animals, and continuous occupation of comparatively population-dense sites would have altered sanitation needs and patterns of disease.

Lithic technology

The identifying characteristic of Neolithic technology is the use of polished or ground stone tools, in contrast to the flaked stone tools used during the Paleolithic era.Neolithic people were skilled farmers, manufacturing a range of tools necessary for the tending, harvesting and processing of crops (such as sickle blades and grinding stones) and food production (e.g. pottery, bone implements). They were also skilled manufacturers of a range of other types of stone tools and ornaments, including projectile points, beads, and statuettes. But what allowed forest clearance on a large scale was the polished stone axe above all other tools. Together with the adze, fashioning wood for shelter, structures and canoes for example, this enabled them to exploit their newly won farmland.Neolithic peoples in the Levant, Anatolia, Syria, northern Mesopotamia and Central Asia were also accomplished builders, utilizing mud-brick to construct houses and villages. At Çatalhöyük, houses were plastered and painted with elaborate scenes of humans and animals. In Europe, long houses built from wattle and daub were constructed. Elaborate tombs were built for the dead. These tombs are particularly numerous in Ireland, where there are many thousand still in existence. Neolithic people in the British Isles built long barrows and chamber tombs for their dead and causewayed camps, henges, flint mines and cursus monuments. It was also important to figure out ways of preserving food for future months, such as fashioning relatively airtight containers, and using substances like salt as preservatives.The peoples of the Americas and the Pacific mostly retained the Neolithic level of tool technology until the time of European contact. Exceptions include copper hatchets and spearheads in the Great Lakes region.


Most clothing appears to have been made of animal skins, as indicated by finds of large numbers of bone and antler pins that are ideal for fastening leather. Wool cloth and linen might have become available during the later Neolithic,WEB,weblink Smooth and Cool, or Warm and Soft: Investigating the Properties of Cloth in Prehistory, Harris, Susanna, 2009, North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles X, 5 September 2013,, WEB,weblink Aspects of Life During the Neolithic Period, 5 September 2013, Teachers' Curriculum Institute, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 5 May 2016, as suggested by finds of perforated stones that (depending on size) may have served as spindle whorls or loom weights.WEB,weblink Pierced clay disks and Late Neolithic textile production,, Gibbs, Kevin T., 5 September 2013, 2006, Proceedings of the 5th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, JOURNAL, Unraveling the Enigma of the Bi: The Spindle Whorl as the Model of the Ritual Disk, 1993, Green, Jean M, Asian Perspectives, University of Hawai'i Press, 1, 32, 105–24, 10125/17022, JOURNAL, The clay loom weight, in: Early Neolithic ritual activity, Bronze Age occupation and medieval activity at Pitlethie Road, Leuchars, Fife, 2007, Tayside and Fife Archaeological Journal, Cook, M, 13, 1–23, The clothing worn in the Neolithic Age might be similar to that worn by Ötzi the Iceman, although he was not Neolithic (since he belonged to the later Copper age).

List of early settlements

(File:tripolye hut.jpg|thumb|right|Reconstruction of a Cucuteni-Trypillian hut, in the Tripillian Museum, Ukraine|200px)File:CatalHoyukSouthArea.JPG|thumb|right|archaeological site of Çatalhöyük in the Konya Plain in 200pxNeolithic human settlements include:{| class="wikitable sortable"! name! location! early date (BC)! late date (BC)! comments| Göbekli Tepe| Turkey AUTHOR3 = JENS NOTROFF TITLE = ESTABLISHING A RADIOCARBON SEQUENCE FOR GöBEKLI TEPE. STATE OF RESEARCH AND NEW DATA DATE = 2016,weblink | 8000|| Guilá Naquitz Cave| Oaxaca, Mexico| 11,000||| Tell Qaramel| Syria EDITOR2-LAST=KANJOU LOCATION=WARSAW, POLAND TITLE=TELL QARAMEL 1999-2007. PROTONEOLITHIC AND EARLY PRE-POTTERY NEOLITHIC SETTLEMENT IN NORTHERN SYRIA. PUBLISHER = POLISH CENTER OF MEDITERRANEAN ARCHAEOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF WARSAW URL=HTTPS://JOURNALS.UAIR.ARIZONA.EDU/INDEX.PHP/RADIOCARBON/ARTICLE/VIEWFILE/3532/3047, | 9400|| Franchthi Cave| Greece| 10,000| | reoccupied between 7500 and 6000 BC| Nanzhuangtou| Hebei, China| 9500| 9000|| Byblos| Lebanon| 8800AUTHOR3 = COUNCIL FOR BRITISH RESEARCH IN THE LEVANTURL = HTTPS://BOOKS.GOOGLE.COM/BOOKS?ID=6MKBAAAAMAAJYEAR=2004ISBN=978-1-84217-132-5, | Jericho (Tell es-Sultan)| West Bank| 9500|| arising from the earlier Epipaleolithic Natufian culture| Aşıklı Höyük| Central Anatolia, Turkey, an Aceramic Neolithic period settlement| 8200| 7400| correlating with the E/MPPNB in the Levant| Nevali Cori| Turkey| 8000||| Pengtoushan culture| China| 7500| 6100| rice residues were carbon-14 dated to 8200–7800 BC| Çatalhöyük| Turkey| 7500||| Mentesh Tepe and Kamiltepe| Azerbaijan| 7000TITLE=CONTRIBUTION OF FTIR TO THE CHARACTERIZATION OF THE RAW MATERIAL FOR "FLINT" CHIPPED STONE AND FOR BEADS FROM MENTESH TEPE AND KAMILTEPE (AZERBAIJAN). PRELIMINARY RESULTSLANGUAGE=EN, || 'Ain Ghazal| Jordan| 7250| 5000|| Chogha Bonut| Iran| 7200||| Jhusi| India| 7100|||Motza|Israel|7000||| Ganj Dareh| Iran| 7000||| Lahuradewa| IndiaURL = HTTPS://BOOKS.GOOGLE.COM/?ID=P9BLBH7XQNKC&PG=PA31DATE = 12 JANUARY 2011ISBN = 978-1-58909-817-6, 31–, ||| Jiahu| China| 7000| 5800|| Knossos| Crete| 7000||| Khirokitia| Cyprus| 7000| 4000|| Sesklo| Greece| 6850|| with a 660-year margin of error| Mehrgarh| Pakistan| 6500| 5500|| Porodin| North Macedonia| 6500Developed Neolithic period, 5500 BC. Retrieved on 2011-12-03.||| Padah-Lin CavesMyanmar>Burma| 6000||| Petnica| Serbia| 6000||| Stara Zagora| Bulgaria| 5500||| Cucuteni-Trypillian culture| Ukraine, Moldova and Romania| 5500| 2750|| Tell Zeidan| northern Syria| 5500| 4000|| Tabon Cave Complex| Quezon, Palawan, Philippines| 5000ACCESSDATE = 5 SEPTEMBER 2013YEAR = 2011PUBLISHER = NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES, || Hemudu culture, large-scale rice plantation| China| 5000| 4500|| The Megalithic Temples of Malta| Malta| 3600||| Knap of Howar and Skara BraeOrkney, Prehistoric Scotland>Scotland| 3500| 3100|| Brú na Bóinne| Ireland| 3500||| Lough Gur| Ireland | 3000|||Shengavit Settlement|Armenia|3000|2200|| Norte Chico civilization, 30 aceramic Neolithic period settlements| northern coastal Peru| 3000 | 1700|| Tichit Neolithic village on the Tagant Plateau| central southern Mauritania| 2000| 500|| Oaxaca, state| Southwestern Mexico| 2000|| by 2000 BC Neolithic sedentary villages had been established in the Central Valleys region of this state.| Lajia| China| 2000||| Mumun pottery period| Korean Peninsula| 1800| 1500| | Neolithic revolution| Japan | 500| 300The world's oldest known engineered roadway, the Sweet Track in England, dates from 3800 BC and the world's oldest freestanding structure is the neolithic temple of Ä gantija in Gozo, Malta.

List of cultures and sites

{{Neolithic|257}}Note: Dates are very approximate, and are only given for a rough estimate; consult each culture for specific time periods.Early Neolithic {{anchor|Early Neolithic}}Periodization: The Levant: 9500–8000 BC; Europe: 5000–4000 BC; Elsewhere: varies greatly, depending on region. Middle Neolithic{{anchor|Middle Neolithic}}Periodization: The Levant: 8000–6000 BC; Europe: 4000–3500 BC; Elsewhere: varies greatly, depending on region.{{columns-list|colwidth=25em| }}Later Neolithic {{anchor|Late Neolithic}}Periodization: 6500–4500 BC; Europe: 3500–3000 BC; Elsewhere: varies greatly, depending on region.

Periodization: Near East: 4500–3300 BC; Europe: 3000–1700 BC; Elsewhere: varies greatly, depending on region. In the Americas, the Eneolithic ended as late as the 19th century AD for some peoples.

See also

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{{Stone Age}}{{Notelist}}



{{Reflist |colwidth = 30em}}


  • BOOK, Bellwood, Peter, Peter Bellwood, First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies,weblink November 30, 2004, Wiley-Blackwell, 384, 978-0-631-20566-1, {{harvid, Bellwood, 2004, }}
  • BOOK, Pedersen, Hilthart, Die Jüngere Steinzeit Auf Bornholm, 2008, GRIN Verlag, 978-3-638-94559-2, {{harvid, Pedersen, 2008, }}

External links

{{Commons category multi|Neolithic|Neolithic artefacts}}
  • Romeo, Nick (Feb. 2015). Embracing Stone Age Couple Found in Greek Cave. "Rare double burials discovered at one of the largest Neolithic burial sites in Europe." National Geographic Society
  • WEB, McNamara, John, Neolithic Period, World Museum of Man, 2005,weblink 2008-04-14, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2008-04-30,
  • JOURNAL, 10.11141/ia.9.4, Pre-Pottery Neolithic Clay Figurines from Nevali Çori, Internet Archaeology, 9, 2000, Affonso, T., Pernicka, E.,
  • NEWS, Rincon, Paul, Brutal lives of Stone Age Britons, BBC News, 11 May 2006,weblink 2008-04-14,
  • weblink" title="">Current Directions in West African Prehistory – McIntosh & McIntosh (1983)
  • EB1911, Neolithic, x,
{{Prehistoric Asia}}{{Prehistoric technology |state = expanded}}{{Authority control}}

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