Thursday, January 13, 2011

Timeline: Paleolithic to Neolithic

(If you wish, skip ahead to the Bronze Age or to the Iron Age.)

The world Paleolithic means old stone age in Greek.  It is the name we give to a period in human development between about 2 million years ago and ending — depending on which anthropologists you're arguing with — between 40,000 to 10,000 years ago.  Because the word is an archaeological term relative to human development, and not to the geological state of the Earth at that time, it is not to be used interchangeably with Pleistocene, which is a word used by geologists and paleontologists to describe fossil layers in the rock associated with global cooling.  In other words, the Pleistocene is an absolute measurement, and the Paleolithic is a human-relative one.  For instance, although most of the world has moved on well beyond the Iron Age into the modern era, there are still isolated pockets of Stone Age hunter-gatherer communities still on Planet Earth.

The end of both the Paleolithic and the Pleistocene roughly correspond to the final retreat of continental glaciation and a period of global warming we call the Holocene.  Both these events together made way for the birth of widespread farming, often called the Agricultural Revolution, about 10,000-12,000 years ago.  That period, scientists call the Mesolithic, meaning middle stone age.

At the dawn of the Agricultural Revolution we see the beginning of the period scientists call the Neolithic, or the new stone age.  Technology changed greatly then, enabling the construction of such primitive houses as Skara Brae in Scotland, creating a period of tremendous ingenuity in pottery, ploughing, toolmaking, clothing, figurines, and even crude furniture.

This timeline will cover the salient events for the Paleolithic through the Neolithic.  We will see a hundred thousand years pass, and we will watch the ebb and flow of glaciers.  Beyond the Stone Age is the next age in human development:  the Copper Age and the Bronze Age (timeline here).

For the sake of convenience, even though not all civilizations entered the Neolithic or entered the Bronze Age simultaneously, I am dividing up these timelines by the most advanced society in the world.  Not all societies are of equal technological development.

0An earthquake interrupts the Earth Gathering. The leader Dar is slain. The Uman tribe returns to the mountains with their six-fingered child. The Pagh enter the mountain passes on a quest to see why the Earth moves. The Kufu return to their ancestral lands in the southeast. The Brun return to the north.
15,000About this time, the Brun tribes have reached the northern coast of the continent.
25,000The Dar and Kufu tribes have expanded as far south as the Big River.
30,000Temu the healer is born around this time to a Drim clan. The Pagh tribe enters the Great Valley.
35,000The Mannut tribe discovers copper in the high mountain passes. The Oparron tribe begins its trek across the island chain in the North Ocean.
40,000The Kufu choose a new toolmaker. Evidence is seen that the Pagh tribes are beginning to differentiate into different biomorphic profiles.
45,000Elements of the Dar tribe have spread nearly as far as the entrance to the Green Valley.
50,000Interglacial period begins. Glaciers retreat; sea levels rise. The Big River floods into a strait. This change in climate forces the Thrian clan of Blue Water into war with the Thrians of the Big River. The island of the Kufu tribe is cut off from the mainland. A Drim tribe reaches the Green Valley and settles there.
55,000Fires devastate large portions of the Great Valley due to the decreased humidity and rainfall, and the Hybesh Tribes scramble to maintain their hunting grounds. Moon tigers on the Southeast Island begin to predate more regularly upon the Teyo Nami.
60,000The Bellaron tribe has reached the far end of the island chain. Chamandra is sacrificed to save the tribes from the rising oceans. Abda founds the first early mermaid colony. A race of half-human, half-aguens is being pushed north, mistaken for prey and chased out of their range.
65,000About this time, a group of Evanu miners is banished to the caves beneath the Copper Mountains.
70,000A tectonic plate shift near Rift Lake exposes a searing pool of magma, causing a supervolcanic eruption. Ash clouds darken the sky for thousands of miles to the east, blanketing the northern plains with ash. The planet cools; the seas fall. Fog and volcanic ash in the Great Valley turns to cement on tree limbs. The descendants of the Eagle Clan argue over whose fault the volcano had been. Straggling tribes of Vanuset flee the devastation of the volcano, while the Sivon tribesmen they exiled to the caves are safe underground. The Vanuset encounter the Anza tribes of displaced guentars. Panicked tribesmen of Dar try to muscle their way into the shelter of the Green Valley of the Na Ren, seeking food.
75,000The Bandar and the Yonai meet again in the Great River Valley and unite their tribes with the mystical ceremony of Union. The Dzren take advantage of the low sea level and migrate to the southern island, while the Eyandu continue westward. The Misako tribe, crossing the island chain in South Ocean, encounters the developed mermaid schools of Eytho.
85,000The Eyandu colonize the southwest island, using catamarans to cross the channel.
90,000The Adonnan and Alar tribes part ways. The Alar tribes practice ceremonial magic, but their slow spells are no match for the fast, random tornado winds of the plains. The Adonnan remain behind to combat the winds with their unpredictable sorcery.
95,000The stone-shaping Sawan tribes have returned to the surface and begun a city the Nutah River.

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