Paleolithic Age Technology & Inventions

Instructor: Tommi Waters

TK Waters has a bachelor's degree in literature and religious studies and a master's degree in religious studies and teaches Hebrew Bible at Western Kentucky University.

The earliest part of the Stone Age, one of the periods of the Paleolithic, was the beginning of human history and saw the invention, and discovery, of many new necessities and commodities that we enjoy today - read on to learn more about the development of these new technologies and inventions.

Inventions of the Paleolithic Age

''Stone Age'' is sometimes used by people to mean something that is old, primitive, or boring, like a friend saying, ''You don't have a smartphone? It's like you live in the Stone Age.'' Though this meaning is thrown around a lot in the 21st-century, the Stone Age was not a boring time with no technological advancements; it was the first period of human existence and it was actually a time of invention and discovery. The Paleolithic Age, in particular, was the first subset of the Stone Age and ranged from the beginning of humanity to about 12,000 BCE (depending on the area) when the Ice Age ended.

Necessities

When you are out in the snow for a long amount of time, what do you want more than anything? If you are thinking of a fire, or warmth of any sort, imagine living in snow all year around with no place to warm up. At some point, in the beginning of this period, the Paleolithic people discovered fire - which was definitely a necessity for living in this environment. They learned how to keep fires going in their homes, usually caves or huts, by building hearths, which were simplified fireplaces. Paleolithic people also invented containers like pottery and baskets, which they used for gathering and storing various liquid and dry goods, to keep them from spoiling.

Besides fire, perhaps the most important thing for living in a cold environment is warm clothing. While some areas of the world did not have to worry as much about cold weather during the Paleolithic Age, many did, so the invention of clothing was essential. Paleolithic clothing was usually made from linen in warmer climates and leather in colder climates. But how do you make linen and leather into clothes to wear? The Paleolithic people are credited with inventing the needle for sewing - their needles even had eyes to put the ''thread'' through! Some needles were large, and probably used animal tendons or leather to stitch clothes with, but some were much smaller and probably used horsehair thread.

Illustration of a paleolithic needle and hook, used to bore holes in thicker material
Illustration of a paleolithic needle and hook

Tools and Technology

Having clothes, fire, and containers for storage are pretty essential for living, but food is also necessary. Paleolithic people could not just go to their local grocery store to get food, but had to find it for themselves, which would be quite difficult in the Ice Age, when plants died. Because of this, the Paleolithic people had to hunt for food. At the beginning of the period, they probably got their meat by finding and killing animals with simple tools, like hand axes. Towards the end, however, Paleolithic people seem to have developed a system for hunting. This is evidenced by the creation and use of bows and arrows, which were often tipped with barbs to catch in the animals' skin better.

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