- Paleolithic Period or Old Stone Age (30,000 BCE–10,000 BCE)
- Mesolithic Period or Middle Stone Age (10,000 BCE–8,000 BCE)
- Neolithic Period or New Stone Age (8,000 BCE–3,000 BCE)
The art of the prehistoric Stone Age represents the first accomplishments in human creativity, preceding the invention of writing. While numerous artifacts still exist today, the lack of writing systems from this era greatly limits our understanding of prehistoric art and culture.
The Paleolithic era is characterized by the emergence of basic stone tools and stone art in the archaeological record. For the first time, humans began to create durable products of self-expression that served no function for survival. The art of this period appears in two main forms: small sculptures and large paintings and engravings on cave walls. There are also various examples of carved bone and ivory flutes in the Paleolithic era, indicating another creative form utilized by prehistoric humans.
Paleolithic small sculptures are made of clay, bone, ivory, or stone and consist of simple figurines depicting animals and humans. In particular, Venus figurines are the most indicative of this era. They are highly stylized depictions of women with exaggerated female parts representing fertility and sexuality. They typically date to the Gravettian period (26,000–21,000 years ago), but the earliest known Venus figurine (Venus of Hohle Fels) dates to at least 35,000 years ago, and the most recent (Venus of Monruz) dates to roughly 11,000 years ago. They are most common in the Mediterranean region, but there are examples from as far as Siberia. Archaeologists can only speculate on their meaning, but their ubiquitous nature indicates a universal human attraction to art and possibly religion.
- The prehistoric Stone Age lasted from 30,000 BCE to about 3,000 BCE and is named after the main technological tool developed at that time: stone. It ended with the advent of the Bronze Age and Iron Age.
- The Stone Age is divided into three distinct periods: the Paleolithic Period or Old Stone Age (30,000 BCE–10,000 BCE), the Mesolithic Period or Middle Stone Age (10,000 BCE–8,000 BCE), and the Neolithic Period or New Stone Age (8,000 BCE–3,000 BCE).
- The art of the Stone Age represents the first accomplishments in human creativity, preceding the invention of writing.
Adapted from “Boundless Art History” https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-arthistory/
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