Mesolithic Period


Mesolithic Period

Ancient technological and cultural stage (с 8000–2700 BC) between the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods in northwestern Europe.

Mesolithic hunters, using a tool kit of chipped and polished stone together with bone, antler, and wooden tools, achieved a greater efficiency than their predecessors and were able to exploit a wider range of animal and vegetable food sources. Immigrant Neolithic farmers probably absorbed many indigenous Mesolithic hunters and fishers. There is no direct counterpart to the Mesolithic outside Europe, and the term is no longer used to reflect a hypothetical worldwide sequence of sociocultural evolution.

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▪ prehistoric period
also called  Middle Stone Age  

      ancient cultural stage that existed between the Paleolithic Period, with its chipped stone tools, and the Neolithic Period, with its polished stone tools. Mesolithic material culture is characterized by greater innovation and diversity than is found in the Paleolithic. Among the new forms of chipped stone tools were microliths, very small stone tools intended for mounting together on a shaft to produce a serrated edge. Polished stone was another innovation that occurred in some Mesolithic assemblages. Most often used to describe archaeological assemblages from the Eastern Hemisphere, the Mesolithic Period is broadly analogous to the Archaic culture of the Western Hemisphere.

      Although culturally and technologically continuous with Paleolithic (Paleolithic Period) peoples, Mesolithic cultures developed diverse local adaptations to special environments. The Mesolithic hunter achieved a greater efficiency than did the Paleolithic and was able to exploit a wider range of animal and vegetable food sources.

      Immigrant Neolithic farmers probably absorbed many indigenous Mesolithic hunters and fishers, and some Neolithic communities seem to have been composed entirely of Mesolithic peoples who adopted Neolithic equipment (these are sometimes called Secondary Neolithic).

      Because the Mesolithic Period is characterized by a suite of material culture, its timing varies depending upon location. In northwestern Europe, for instance, the Mesolithic began about 8000 BCE, after the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, and lasted until about 2700 BCE. Elsewhere, the dates of the Mesolithic are somewhat different. See also stone-tool industry.

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Universalium. 2010.

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