Stone Age

broad prehistoric period during which stone was widely used to make implements

The Stone Age was a prehistoric time when people made tools from stone. Wood and bone were also used for tools. Those don't last as long, so more stone tools are found. Stone (especially a hard kind of stone called flint) was used to cut things, and for spearheads. The term "hand-axe" reminds us that the flint was usually shaped to be used in the hand.

A stone that has been sharpened to be used as a hand axe
A man in the Stone Age using a stone to cut down a tree

The period lasted for about 3.4 million years,[1] and ended between 4,000 BC and 2,000 BC. Then, many groups of people found copper, and learnt how to make bronze.

The period began with the first stone tools, about 2.7 million years ago. Some groups of people in Papua New Guinea were still in the stone age into the 20th century. They killed animals for food and clothing. They used animal skin for their shelters.

The time after the Stone Age is the Bronze Age, named after the metal bronze. The Stone Age ended when people discovered the art of smelting (making metals). The first metal used was copper, followed by bronze. People probably began using bronze instead of just stone in the Middle East sometime between 3000 and 2000 BC.

The Stone Age is divided by archaeologist into three sections: Paleolithic ("old stone"), Mesolithic ("middle stone"), and Neolithic ("new stone"). Pottery was invented during the Neolithic Stone Age.

The Palaeolithic [2] is a prehistoric era distinguished by the development of stone tools. It covers the greatest portion of humanity's time (roughly 99% of human history) on Earth, from about 2.7 million years ago to about 20,000 years ago. It was followed by the Mesolithic and Neolithic cultures.[3]


  1. "Oldest tool use and meat-eating revealed | Natural History Museum". 18 August 2010. Archived from the original on 18 August 2010.
  2. from Greek: παλαιός, palaios, "old"; and λίθος, lithos, "stone" lit. "old age of the stone"; was coined by archaeologist John Lubbock in 1865.
  3. Nicholas Toth and Kathy Schick (2007). Handbook of Paleoanthropology. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. ISBN 978-3-540-32474-4. Archived from the original on 2020-04-13. Retrieved 2010-05-14.