Changes in Human Life in Mesolithic and Neolithic Age
The Palaeolithic age ended by around 8000 BC. After this, a new phase in man’s progress toward civilization started. This age is called Mesolithic (Middle Stone) or the Mesolithic period. Prior to this, the glacial ice retreated and the forests expanded to the north.
Invention of Microlith
During Mesolithic phase, some important inventions appeared. One such invention was the microlith, a small, pointed blade of stone used for knives, arrow points, and spearheads. The microlith was a crowning achievement in stone tools made by chipping because it was so light that hundreds of microliths could be made from a single pound of stone.
Other inventions of Mesolithic age
- Another notable Mesolithic advance was the first crude pottery. Made of sun-baked clay, pots were used to store food and water.
- The bow and arrow, invented either late in the Paleolithic period or in the Mesolithic period, served hunters and fighters until the firearm took its place in the 14th century AD.
- Probably during Mesolithic times, wild dogs, such as jackals, attached themselves to human settlements. They became valuable to men in hunting and in guarding property.
- Since many Mesolithic peoples lived along the shores of rivers, lakes, and seas, fish was their main food. They invented the fishhook, numerous types of nets, and learned how to hollow out logs to make boats.
Changes in life in New Stone Age
About 6000 BC the Middle Stone Age gradually gave way to the New Stone Age, or Neolithic period, which lasted until about 3000 BC
New Stone Age peoples learned to sharpen stone tools and weapons by grinding them against gritty stones instead of by chipping or flaking them. This skill gave the period its name, but it is only one of many which distinguish New Stone Age peoples from their Old Stone Age ancestors.
Start of agriculture
Of the important discoveries made in the Mesolithic and New Stone Age, the most far-reaching were new ways of getting food. In addition to hunting and gathering, man learned to tame animals so that they would be near when he needed meat. Man learned to tame such animals as sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle.
When herds and flocks of these domesticated, or tamed, animals ate most of the grass supply near a camping place, the herdsmen and their families moved on to fresh grazing lands. This way of life is called pastoral, or nomadic, and the people who wander from pasture to pasture are called nomads.
About this same time man made one of the greatest discoveries of all time when he found that seeds planted in the earth would grow into plants and furnish many seeds. Thus, man became a food grower— a farmer. With this new knowledge of herding animals and raising plants, man could produce his food supply, and he no longer needed to depend on luck in hunting animals or in finding edible fruits, roots, and seeds. He and his family became safer from starvation.
Other skills learnt by Man in New Stone Age
During the New Stone Age, man also learned to spin and weave. He was able to spin fleece from sheep, goats hair and the flax fibres to make thread and to weave threads into cloth. Man probably also learned to press and roll animal hairs together to make warm felt blankets.
Man kept on making important discoveries at an ever faster rate. The development of agriculture led to the invention of hoes and other stone tools for cultivating the soil and to the use of milling stones for grinding grain. He improved pottery making by heating the clay in a fire, so that the pots were more substantial. In time, potters learned to make a wide variety of cups, bowls, and plates and to decorate them with paint.
Man learned to live in communities.
During the Paleolithic and Mesolithic ages, men learned to help each other in hunting and fishing. Groups of families joined together for this purpose and formed a simple type of community.
During the stone age, man also started to draw on the walls of the caves geometrical designs.