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Ancient technological or cultural stage characterized by the use of rudimentary chipped stone tools. During the Lower Paleolithic (c. 2,500,000–200,000 years ago), simple pebble tools and crude stone choppers were made by the earliest humans. About 700,000 years ago, the first rough hand ax appeared; it was later refined and used with other tools in the Acheulean industry. A flake-tool tradition emerged in the Middle Paleolithic, as exemplified by implements of the Mousterian industry. The Upper Paleolithic (40,000–10,000 BC) saw the emergence of more complex, specialized, and diverse regional stone-tool industries, such as the Aurignacian, Solutrean, and Magdalenian. The two principal forms of Paleolithic art are small sculpturessuch as the so-called Venus figurines and various carved or shaped animal and other figuresand monumental paintings, incised designs, and reliefs on the walls of caves such as Altamira (in Spain) and Lascaux Grotto (in France). The end of the Paleolithic is marked by the emergence of the settled agricultural villages of the Neolithic Period.
Variants of PALEOLITHIC PERIOD
Paleolithic Period or Old Stone Age
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Paleolithic Period, visit Britannica.com.
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