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by Archaeology Newsroom

Chronological Framework

The Palaeolithic commences around 2.6 million years in Africa, with the appearance of the first stone implements chipped by man, and concludes in 10,000 years, a period which is characterized by the melting of glaciers and the steady improvement of climate. It is divided in three stages, the Early, Middle and Late Palaeolithic which reflect the technologic development of tools, although often they coincide with the paleoanthro-pologic evolution and the climatologic changes. The Early Palaeolithic (2.6 million – 200,000 years) starts in Africa with the Oldowan cultural phase, which is characterized by implements of the chopping type, and is continued in Europe with the Acheulean phase, the typical tool of which is the biface, that is developing simultaneously with the Clactonian and Tayacian phase. The Middle Palaeolithic (200,000-35,000 years) is characterized by the Mousterian cultural phase which expands over the broader European area and the Middle East. The flake technique prevails and its most typical type of implements are the points and the scrapers, while at the same time the Levallois technique is developed. The metaphysic concern of man is expressed by the burials, which then appear. The Late Palaeolithic (35,000-10,000 years) exhibits many novelties, which are connected with the appearance of Homo sapiens. The stone implements come to perfection by the invention of the blade technique. Characteristic types of tools are the end-scraper and the burin. New materials of animal origin, such as bone, mammoth tusk and deer antler, are used now for the making of implements. The aesthetic criterion is evolved and is expressed in the development of ornaments and in the appearance of art which culminates during the same period. The cultural sequence of the Late Palaeolithic presents a great variety, depending on the geographic region. However, in the broader European area the Aurignacian, Gravettian, Solutrean, Magdalenian and Epigravettian phases prevail, which, to a certain extent, also occur in Greece.