Neolithic Age Lesson for Kids: Facts & Life

Instructor: Sunday Moulton

Sunday recently earned a PhD in Anthropology and has taught college courses in Anthropology, English, and high school ACT/SAT Prep.

Journey back in time with us to the Neolithic Age! Explore what made this part of the Stone Age so different from the times before. Imagine what kind of home you would have and how you could make a living.

Welcome to the Stone Age!

Look around you at all the objects, tools, and technology. What material are they? Are they plastic, wood, metal, or something else? Now imagine if most of those objects were made of rock. I bet the world would be a very different looking place.

Now if we go far, far back in time, we visit an age where stone was the number-one material for making tools. That's why we call it the Stone Age, but there are actually three different periods of time within the Stone Age? The first is the Paleolithic, meaning ''Early Stone Age.'' The second part of the word, ''lithic'', means rock or stone. The second period was a transitional time where tools became more complex but no significant developments occurred, hence they named it the Mesolithic meaning ''Middle Stone Age.'' Finally, we have the Neolithic, which means ''New Stone Age.'' While the Neolithic age began at different times around the world, the earliest archaeological evidence shows it began around 10,000 BCE in Mesopotamia.

The Birth of Farming

The Neolithic age's beginning is defined by one of the greatest developments in human history, farming! Farming, or agriculture, allowed people to control their food supplies by planting crops instead of searching out food in the wild. They could store surpluses for year-round use or to protect against famine. They also developed new tools for planting, harvesting, and processing grains like wheat and barley. Eventually, they cultivated the same variety of vegetables, fruits, and grains we eat today. Just imagine how it would feel to go from not knowing where your food was coming from to growing it yourself.

They also grew flax and cotton, weaving fabrics for clothing instead of wearing animal skins.

Neolithic farming tools
Neolithic Tools

Domesticated Animals

Another development during the Neolithic Age is the domestication of animals. Instead of following wild herds and hunting, humans began to trap animals, tame them, and raise them for food and other resources like wool and milk. The first animal to be domesticated was most likely the dog, bred from tamed wolves. However, the first food animal domesticated was either a sheep, a goat, or something that appeared to be kind of in-between. Remember, we bred a lot of different traits in our domesticated animals, making them look very different than they were in the beginning. With the success in raising these animals, Neolithic people eventually expanded to also raise pigs, cattle, and even camels. If you lived back then, would you rather raise animals or crops?

Cave painting showing domesticated animals
Cave painting

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