10 Important Inventions Of Paleolithic Age

Representational photo of people in Paleolithic age
Representational photo of people in Paleolithic age(image source: shorthistory.org)

In today’s evolving world where everything seems achievable; who thought that we’ll be going to different planets, using an artificial assistant, living in a space station, staying at home for a year due to a pandemic. Let’s discuss simpler times today: Paleolithic age. After all, today’s marvels are indeed a result of a million years of innovation and evolution from scratch. The invention of the first stone tools more than 2 million years ago was the moment when humankind started to distinguish itself from all other species on the planet. Our ancestors then learned other ingenious ways to use their natural resources. But having gained momentum, the ideas kept coming, and the inventions that followed resulted in full-blown civilizations. Our picks for some of the earliest important mankind inventions in chronological order :

1: Stone Tools (c. 2,600,000 B.C.E)

Above picture shows Acheulean Handaxe from Kokiselei, Kenya
Acheulean Handaxe from Kokiselei, Kenya (image source: guardian.com)

Stone Tools, arguably and widely recognised as the very first human invention, consisted of sharp flints, found and used in their natural state by primitive people. Stone tools found in 1969 in Kenya are estimated to be 2.6 million years old (Lower Paleolithic period). These tools were a general-purpose implementation used for hacking, pounding or cutting. Eventually, thinner and sharper core tools were developed, which were more useful – animals could be defleshed; clothing could be made from animal hides cleaned with rough stone scrapers; hunting became easier with spearheads equipped with stone flakes.

2: Controlled Fire (c. 1,420,000 B.C.E)

Primitive people finding shelter in caves in Paleolithic age
Primitive people starting fire in caves in Paleolithic age (image source: dailymail.com)

Controlled Fire was one of the most important discoveries of the paleolithic period – it helped to keep the body warm, cook food, and ward off predators. The control of fire helped the human race on its path to civilization. Fires were kept alive permanently because it was hard to reignite it at that time. Flintstones struck against pyrites or friction methods were the most common method of producing fires then. The controlled fire also enabled humans to survive in regions previously too cold for human habitation. Learning how to control fire also opened up the possibilities of smelting metals, enabling humans for further lifestyle changes

3: Built Shelter (c. 4,00,000 B.C.E.)

 representational image of built-shelter at Terra Amata
Representational image of built-shelter at Terra Amata (image source: researchgate.net)

Before Humans knew how to build shelters, they made use of the natural environment to shelter themselves– natural shelter included trees which offered minimal protection from harsh weather condition but a safe place from animals, whereas, Caves were another form of natural shelter which provided environmental protection but not much from the wild animals (That’s where the fire came in handy. Primitives usually used to light up the fire in the cave when they slept). The earliest evidence of built-shelter, Terra Amata, dates back around 4,00,000 years but it has been disputed by archaeologists who postulate that natural processes could have been responsible for its creation. Ability to build shelters enabled our ancestors to create shelter close to food, water, and other resources while providing protection from the wild. 

Mammath Bone shelter of Paleolithic age
Mammath Bone shelter of Paleolithic age (image source: ushistory.org)

4: Sewing (c. 25,000 B.C.E) 

image shows ivory sewing needle
Ivory sewing tool of Paleolithic period (image source: blankstyle.com)

Earliest sewing tools were made of ivory or bone, with an eyelet gouged out. The history of sewing is allied to the history of tools; Earliest needles were found in southwest France and near Moscow in Russia. Sewing gave our ancestors the means to make clothing more tailored to the human body, improving isolation and comfort – An earlier form of clothing consisted of animal hides, fur, or covering the body with leaves. But needles weren’t only used to sew clothing together; evidence suggests that it was used to sew textile which was used for display. Later on, metal needles were developed during the bronze age. Embroidery appeared in Bronze age Egypt and India. Embroidery allowed to decorate clothing, fashion-bags, shoes. clothes further to add an aesthetic appeal which could be considered the first foray into fashion design.

Metal needle
Metal Needle (image source: humanorigins.si.edu)

5: Bow And Arrow (c. 20,000 B.C.E)

Archery representation on the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III
A relief of archers from the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III(image source: allposters.com)

Evidence of the early use of bows has been found in cave paintings in Western Europe and North Africa. The oldest known evidence of arrows comes from the South African site of Sibudu Cave long before the Eurasian Upper Paleolithic. Bows and Arrows were historic since they enabled hunters to kill outside their throwing range with more precision and ease. The bow was the first inventory that stored energy; when the string of a bow and arrow is pulled, the elastic potential energy in the bow is converted to the kinetic energy of the arrow when the string is released. The bow and arrows used to be made from a thin flexible shaft of wood, whereas, arrowheads were made from flints or other stones.

Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint

Isaiah 5:28

6: Braided rope (c. 17,000 B.C.E.)

representational image of rope manufacturing in ancient Egypt
representational image of rope manufacturing in ancient Egypt (image source: wikiwand.com)

One of the tools which are still used extensively in many environments, rope’s origin dates back to 17,000 B.C.E; oldest evidence of man-made rope was found in the caves of Lascaux, southwest France. A rope is a group of fibres or strands that are braided together into a larger and stronger form. It seems unlikely that rope is going to be replaced any time soon. The Ancient Egyptians were probably the first civilization to develop special tools to make rope. The use of such ropes pulled by thousands of workers allowed the Egyptians to move the heavy stones required to build their monuments.

7: Lunar Calendar (c. 15,000 B.C.E)

Lunar Calendar found in the caves at Lascaux, southwest France
Lunar Calendar found in the caves at Lascaux, southwest France (image source: scribol.com)

A Lunar Calendar is a calendar based on the monthly cycles of the Moon’s phases, in contrast to solar calendars, whose annual cycles are based on the solar year – commonly used calendar today, the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar which evolved out of a lunar calendar system. Earliest known Lunar calendar was also found in the caves at Lascaux, southwest France. Many calendars referred to as “lunar” calendars today are lunisolar calendars, a calendar in which months are linear but years are solar.

Do You Know?

Time Travel in Netflix’s TV series ‘Dark’ occurs in increments of 33 years because the wormhole is only activated when the suns and moon align, a cycle of 33 years.

8: Alcoholic Drinks (c. 10,000 B.C.E)

Laussel Venus, Upper Paleolithic Bas-Relief, Aquitaine Museum, Bordeaux, France
Laussel Venus, Upper Paleolithic Bas-Relief, Aquitaine Museum, Bordeaux, France. (image source: Apic / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Probably the most popular discovery that is used widely even today. Accidental fermentation of a mixture of water and fruit in sunlight is thought to have led to the first discovery of an alcoholic drink by a prehistoric people. Alcoholic beverages have been used in various cultures, as a pleasurable beverage for celebrations, and also in religious ceremonies. Evidence of intentionally fermented beverages exists in the form of Stone Age Beer jugs. Beer was the first known alcoholic beverage which launched a craze that – to be honest – never really ended; Stanford archaeologists suggest that ancient thirst for beer may have inspired agriculture(It was never the hunger!)

Fu Yi Gong wine vessel from the Late Shang Dynasty
Fu Yi Gong wine vessel from the Late Shang Dynasty (13th–11th century BCE) at the Shanghai Museum, China

9: Oil Lamp (c. 10,000 B.C.E)

Stone Lamp of Paleolithic period
Stone Lamp of Paleolithic period (image source: donsmap.com)

The oil lamp was a significant achievement since it could be used for portable lighting, viewing things during the night, and decoration purposes. Early men made lamps from stone or seashell crucibles filled with animal fat, with a piece of vegetation as the wick. The first real oil lamp appeared alongside settled agriculture around 10,000 B.C.E (the Upper Paleolithic period). With the planting of the first crops came the potential for plant oils to be used in these lamps.

Different types of lamp of Paleolithic period
Different types of lamp of Paleolithic period (image source: donsmap.com)

10: Sling (c. 10,000 B.C.E)

Representational picture of sling as in Paleolithic age
Representational picture of sling as in Paleolithic age(image source: Pinterest)

Sling is a historic weapon probably dating back more than 10,000 years. The oldest known slings were found in Tutankhamen’s tomb, dating from 1325 B.C.E. And of course, sling features in the Bible, most famously in the story of David and Goliath.

“David defeated Goliath with a sling and a rock. He killed him without even using a sword”

Samuel 17:50

A sling is a projectile weapon typically used to throw a blunt projectile such as a stone, clay, or lead. It was a great success at that time because it was cheap to make, light to carry, and relying on readily available ammunition.

pic shows david and goliath in a combat
David & Goliath (image source: theswordbearer.org)

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