Week 6 Blog Post

This week, we are talking about the differences between the Middle Paleolithic and the Upper Paleolithic periods in our history. The Middle Paleolithic had two main tool tradition periods, the Mousterian and the Aterian. The Mousterian period happened first, lasting from 300,000 to 30,000 years ago. These tools produced in this period were related to Neanderthals in Europe, North Africa, and the Near East. Most tools made here were sophisticated and were also bifacial. The Mousterian point and the Mousterian biface are two well known tools from this period. Then, the Aterian period is associated with the modern human and lasted from 80,000 to 40,000 years ago. These individuals were located in north Africa, stretching from the east to west coast. This period is well known for their tanged tools, which look very much like an arrowhead, and have a piece on the bottom of the carved stone that attaches to another object for it to become a projectile. The Upper Paleolithic, on the other hand, had four main tool periods. First, there was the Aurignacian period, which lasted 10,000 years- from 45,000 to 35,000 years ago. This culture was located in Europe and Southwest Asia. These tools at this time were mostly blade based. Then, there is the Gravettian period, which was a archaeological culture that lasted from 28,000 to 22,000 years ago. People in this time were complex enough to hunt big game, such as bison, horse, reindeer, and mammoth. Here, the modified blades were used for carving and are associated with the first known Venus statues that were later discovered in caves. Next, we have the Solutrean period. This culture period dates from 22,000 to 17,000 and is associated with the Southwestern areas of Europe. Here, new flintknapping techniques were developed and that lead to the development of leaf blades and points. Leaf blades were bifacial blades that were made to be light projectiles and were created by pressure flaking. They also had the double end scraper, which they used to process the hides they had from hunting. Finally, the last cultural tool tradition period in the Upper Paleolithic is the Magdalenian period. This period dated from 18,000 to 10,000 years ago and was found mainly through Europe. Here, instead of using stones as their main tools, bones were used as the primary source. These bones were worked into tools, such as harpoons for hunting instead of normal stones. From all 6 distinct tool periods in the Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods, it shows how tools, and therefor the people, had grown. I think more growth was shown in the Upper Paleolithic period, just because of the transition from using primarily rocks as their tools to shaping and using bones instead. As both Paleolithic periods created complex tools to use in their daily lives, the overall progress made through this whole time is very interesting. From the Aterian period in the Middle Paleolithic where they started to make tanged tools that they used in projectiles, to the Solutrean period where they were able to make a whole new type of blade- the leaf blade. The progress made over thousands of years doesn’t seem like too much when you originally look at it, but all the small changes over the years really add up to progressing the species and our overall success. I’m still so surprised on how advanced these people seem to be so long ago, and how complex they can make their tools with the limited resources they do have available to them.

One thought on “Week 6 Blog Post

  1. It is interesting that you think that using bones as tools is a good indication of progress. I would not have thought of that as particularly significant especially since it seems bones were used to some degree in the lower and middl e paleolithic. It would be quite interesting to hear you explain why you think that significant. Not that I don’t think it significant but it seems to me that the cultural aspects were much more crucial to demonstrating progress. Living in larger communities and large scale trading seems like a very important step on the road to progress. The other thing that seemed to indicate progress is the huge variety of tools in the upper paleolithic. Greater human populations meant more opportunity for variation and different groups of humans using different types of tools and each having individual cultures certainly seems to me to be a huge amount of advancement. I also though am surprised at how advanced these cultures seemed. I’m glad you mentioned venus statues because I too thought those to be incredibly impressive. So much artistic expression among relatively early cultures. It’s very interesting to see how culture began to express itself in this time.

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