Bogucki, Peter Department of Anthropology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Modern concepts
- Domestication of plants and animals
- Agricultural dispersals
- Late Neolithic developments
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The period of prehistoric culture whose basic defining attributes are the emergence of agriculture, animal domestication, and sedentary farmsteads or villages. This definition has evolved over the last century from the original characterization of this period based on the appearance of polished stone axes. By 1865, when John Lubbock published Prehistoric Times, two types of Stone Age had been recognized in Europe: période de la pierre taillée (period of chipped stone implements) and période de la pierre polie (period of polished stone implements). Lubbock termed the former Palaeolithic and the latter Neolithic. Subsequently, it was realized that the definition of this period based on a single artifact type was spurious, since Neolithic peoples also continued to make chipped stone tools. A more comprehensive view developed that saw the Neolithic as characterized by pottery manufacture, agriculture, livestock, and settled villages, but without the use of metals. Thus the Neolithic formed the final Stone Age precursor to the Bronze Age and the Iron Age in the classic northern European prehistoric sequence, which was soon extended throughout most of Eurasia. See also: Paleolithic
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