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<< 25 Kyr | 2 Ma-10000 BCE | 18 Kyr >>

26,000 and 19,000 years ago when the ice sheets of Earth's last ice age reached their greatest extent and severely disrupted the living patterns of humans and animals alive during that time. The Earth was about 4 degrees C cooler than 1990 temperature averages.


§Democratic Republic of Congo

Ishango is a national park in the modern Democratic Republic of Congo and it is the site of discovery of the Ishango Bone.

The Ishango bone is quite simply a notched bone of a baboon, but it’s the significance of these notches which have captured scientists’ attention.

Some believe that this bone, which has been more recently dated to 20,000 years ago is notched in such a way that it indicates a mathematically calculating mind must have produced them. Due to the nature, number and organisation of the notches, some believe that whoever created them must have had an understanding of multiplication and division, and further to this a notion of what a prime number is.

Others believe the notches may simply be there for a basic reason, such as a means to grip the bone.


26000 BCE - 16000 BCE - Africa’s oldest known rock art dated to about this time at a site in Namibia.


Cave paintings from the Sahara, the oldest of which is Tadrart Acacus, date back 12,000 year. The painting continued for 10,000 years. The most recent painting is 2000 years old.



Clay pottery was first used for cooking based on fragments found in the Xianrendong cave.


Evidence of human settlement in Taiwan dates back thirty thousand years, although the first inhabitants of Taiwan may have been genetically distinct from any groups currently on the island.



The cave paintings at Lascaux date back from between 15,000 and 13,000 years.

The changes in the sea level led to the one of the most remarkable discoveries of signs of early man in Provence. In 1991, a diver named Henri Cosquer discovered the mouth of a submarine cave 37 meters below the surface of the Calanque de Morgiou near Marseille. Inside, the walls of the Cosquer Cave are decorated with drawings of bisons, seals, penguins, horses and outlines of human hands, dating to between 27,000 and 19,000 BCE.

La grotte du Placard is an archaeological cave site near the commune of Vilhonneur in the Charente department of France, which is the richest country of such archaeological cave art discoveries. Walls were unearthed which contained artwork of birds (aviform art) of which similar types have been discovered in other French caves, such as Cosquer, which point towards some form of cultural connection. Such artwork has been subsequently called Placard type. Other art includes other animals aside from birds. The site dates back to the Solutrean (22,000 – 17,000 years ago) and is believed to have still been used in the Magdalenian (17,000 – 11,000 years ago).


Palaeolithic human life is believed to have existed on the hill to the southeast of Lake Ioannina through discoveries of artefacts dating back around 20,000 years made at the site. The site is commonly referred to as Kastritsa which is the modern name for today’s village at the eastern base of the hill.


11000 BCE - A Paleolithic burial in San Teodoro Cave, Sicily, revealed an arrowhead embedded in the pelvis bone of an adult female. Another arrowhead is known from the vertebra of a child buried in the Grotte des Enfants on the Italian coast.


The stone age in India from approximately 70,000 BCE to 7000 BCE.

§Middle East


The earliest claimed dates for settlements in Iran appear during middle paleolithic and neolithic periods when it is believed that small groups of hunters lived in the mountains of Zagros and Alborz. The earliest sedentary cultures date from 18,000-14,000 years ago.


Kebaran Culture

Kebarans was an archaeological culture that lived in the eastern Mediterranean area (c. 18,000 or 75,000 to 10,000 BCE). They were a highly mobile nomadic people of hunters and gatherers in the Levant and Sinai areas who utilized microlithic tools.

The Kebaran were also characterized by small, geometric microliths, and were thought to lack the specialized grinders and pounders found in later Near Eastern cultures.

The Kebaran were thought to practice dispersal to upland environments in the summer, and aggregation in caves and rockshelters near lowland lakes in the winter. This diversity of environments may be the reason for the variety of tools found in the toolkits.

Being situated in the Terminal Pleistocene, the Kebaran is classified as an Epipalaeolithic society. They are generally thought to have been ancestral to the later Natufian culture that occupied much of the same range.

Natufian Culture

The Natufian culture lived in this region from 14,500 BCE to around 11,500 BCE. In 2008 a Natufian healer was found buried with 50 tortoise shells, a leopard pelvis, the bones of a human foot and several other small animals.

The Natufian culture existed in the Mediterranean region of the Levant. It was a Mesolithic culture, but unusual in that it built stone architecture before the introduction of agriculture. The Natufian communities are possibly the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. There is no evidence for the deliberate cultivation of cereals, but people at the time certainly made use of wild grasses. Animals hunted include the gazelles. The culture is a successor of Kebaran culture.

The habitations of the Natufian are semi-subterranean, often with a dry-stone foundation. The superstructure was probably made of brushwood. No traces of mudbricks have been found that became common in the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic A, abbreviated PPN A. The round houses have a diameter between 3 and 6 meters, they contain a central round or subrectangular fireplace. In Ain Mallaha traces of postholes have been identified. "Villages" can cover over 1,000 square meters. Smaller settlements have been interpreted by some researchers as camps. Traces of rebuilding in almost all excavated settlements seem to point to a frequent relocation, indicating a temporary abandonment of the settlement. Settlements have been estimated to house 100–150, but there are three categories: small, median, and large, ranging from 15 m sq. to 1,000 m sq. of people. There are no definite indications of storage facilities.


A semi-sedentary life may have been made possible by abundant resources due to a favorable climate at the time, with a culture living from hunting, fishing and gathering, including the use of wild cereals. Tools were available for making use of cereals: flint-bladed sickles for harvesting, and mortars, grinding stones, and storage pits.


The Natufian had a microlithic industry, made on short blades and bladelets. The microburin-technique was used. Geometric microliths include lunates, trapezes and triangles. There are backed blades as well. A special type of retouch (Helwan) is characteristic for the early Natufian. In the late Natufian, the Harif-point, a typical arrowhead made from a regular blade, became common in the Negev. Some scholars use it to define a separate culture, the Harifian.

Sickle blades made on blades appear for the first time. The characteristic sickle-gloss shows that they have been used to cut the silica-rich stems of cereals and form an indirect proof for incipient agriculture. Shaft straighteners made of ground stone indicate the practice of archery. There are heavy ground-stone bowl mortars as well.

Other finds

There was a rich bone industry, including harpoons and fish-hooks. Stone and bone was worked into pendants and other ornaments. There are a few human figurines made of limestone (El-Wad, Ain Mallaha, Ain Sakhri), but the favorite subject of representative art seems to have been animals. Ostrich-shell containers that have been found in the Negev.


The Natufian people lived by hunting and gathering. The preservation of plant remains is poor because of the soil conditions, but wild cereals, legumes, almonds, acorns and pistachios may have been collected. Animal bones show that gazelle (Gazella gazella and Gazella subgutturosa) were the main prey. Additionally deer, wild cattle and wild boar were hunted in the steppe zone onagers and caprids (Ibex) as well. Water fowl and freshwater fish formed part of the diet in the Jordan River valley. Animal bones from Salibiya I (12,300–10,800 BP) have been interpreted as evidence for communal hunts with nets.

Development of agriculture

According to one theory, it was a sudden change in climate, the Younger Dryas event, that inspired the development of agriculture. The Younger Dryas was a 1,000-year-long interruption in the higher temperatures prevailing since the last ice age, which produced a sudden drought in the Levant. This would have endangered the wild cereals, which could no longer compete with dryland scrub, but upon which the population had become dependent to sustain a relatively large sedentary population. By artificially clearing scrub and planting seeds obtained from elsewhere, they began to practice agriculture.

Domesticated dog

It is at Natufian sites that the earliest archaeological evidence for the domestication of the dog is found. At the Natufian site of Ein Mallaha in Israel, dated to 12 000 BP, the remains of an elderly human and a four-to-five-month-old puppy were found buried together. At another Natufian site at the cave of Hayonim, humans were found buried with two canids.


Burials are located in the settlements, commonly in pits in abandoned houses but also in caves in Mount Carmel and the Judean Hills. The pits were backfilled with settlement refuse, which sometimes makes the identification of grave-goods difficult. Sometimes the graves were covered with limestone slabs. The inhumations are stretched on their backs or flexed, there is no predominant orientation. There are both single and multiple burials, especially in the early Natufian, and scattered human remains in the settlements that point to disturbed earlier graves.


Evidence of human occupation near the Azraq Oasis in Jordan at a site named Karaneh IV is believed to date between 20,000 and 16,000 years ago.

Evidence of stone tools and animal remains as well as plants of the age have been discovered in the ongoing excavations. A favourite animal of these hunter-gatherers seems to be the gazelle of which and abundance of remains have been found.

§North America

Anthropological evidence places the earliest human migration into North America at 24,000 years ago. The area, Beringia, is around the Bering Strait, stretching from Canada’s Northwest Territories across Alaska and all the way to Lena River in Russia. Genetic studies have shown a few thousand individuals lived in the area, isolated physically and genetically from the rest of the world, between 15,000 and 24,000 years ago.

§Oregon Region

Evidence of Pre-Clovis culture in 12292 BCE found in caves. The DNA tests show that the humans living in that period had genetic markers shared with Native Americans which are believed to have originated in Eastern Asia and migrated across a land bridge near the Bering Strait.

§Southwest Pennsylvania

The Meadowcroft Rockshelter is evidence of a Pre-Clovis inhabitation dating to around 14,000 BCE. This rock shelter is currently at the Meadowcroft Historical Village in Southwest Pennsylvania.


There is evidence of human habitation from about 11,000 years BCE. The people there grew into what was later known as the Pueblo civilization.

§South America


Scientists have found evidence that humans migrated to Brazil about this time. The stone tools found in a cave previously known for its cave art have had people questioning the previous Clovis theory of migration. Some opponents have said the stones were either chipped naturally or by monkeys.

§South Pacific


Homo floresiensis ("Flores Man"; nicknamed Hobbit) is a possible species in the genus Homo, remarkable for its small body and brain and for its survival until relatively recent times. It was named after the Indonesian island of Flores on which the remains were found. One largely complete subfossil skeleton (named LB1, because it was the first specimen found in the Liang Bua cave) and a complete jawbone from a second individual (LB2), dated at 18,000 years old, were discovered in deposits in Liang Bua Cave on Flores in 2003. Parts of seven other individuals (LB3LB9; the most complete is LB6), all diminutive, have been recovered as well as similarly small stone tools from horizons ranging from 94,000 to 13,000 years ago. Descriptions of the remains were first published in October 2004. To date, the only complete cranium is that of LB1.

In 2016 new research has shown that Homo Floriensis dates back 700000 years and may have been a parallel evolution of Homo erectus. New fossils show that the teeth of H. floriensis have 5 cusps, similar to H. erectus, but that the wrist bones were less developed. This species has become known as the Hobbit species due to its short stature.


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