The Pleistocene Epoch or “ice ages” persisted until about 12 TYA, when glaciers most recently retreated to the polar zones. We now live in the present interglacial, aka the Holocene Epoch, and that brings us to the end of the geological time scale.
Archaeological time scales are not standardized by years. They differ by region, because people adopted tools and practices at different times throughout the world. The middle (Mesolithic) and most recent (Neolithic) periods of the Stone Age were both on the scale of 10,000 years ago. The Neolithic is characterized by agriculture. In the Old World, many cultures then proceeded through a bronze age about 3 – 6 TYA and entered an iron age about 3 TYA.
This chapter is organized around the two goal posts of agriculture and civilization. Section II concludes humanity’s pre-agricultural highlights. Section III describes the Neolithic period during which people were agricultural but not yet “civilized”. Finally, the beginnings of civilization are the subject of section IV.
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- Most other chapters have a timeline; do you think I should draw one here? My thinking was that these geological ages are so simple that a timeline wouldn’t be necessary, and the archaeological ages are not standardized well enough for timeline presentation. More broadly, I’ve been having second thoughts about using the technical terms for geological / archaeological ages. Do you find it important to be educated about these official Latin names? Or would you just as soon have the discussion without them? ↩
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