Categories Uncategorized

I.1.8.(b) Cultural Evolution- Broad Outlines of Paleolithic culture

I. Lower Paleolithic

5,40,000-1,20,000 years ago

  • Occurs in Pliestocene epoch.
  • Rugged tools which were heavy and unsophisticated.
  • First tools found in oluvian region of East Africa.

Tool Culture:

1. Chellean, Abbevellian and Acheulianculture

  1. Hand axes:

Pear shaped tools with cutting edge narrower than the butt. The evidences of Chou-kou-tian show that the tools must have been used for hunting big animals. Chellean, Abbevellian and Acheulian are the three kinds of hand axes found. Abbevellian and Acheulian were later in time to chellean hand  axes.

  1. Cleavers:

They have a broader cutting edge and are generally found along with Acheulian culture region

  1. Pebble tools:

Chopper and chopping tools which were used for cleaning the hides and scrapping the barks for covering bodies.

Chopper tools have unifacial cutting edge whereas chopping tools are bifacial.

Found in Burma, east Africa and India.

2. Oluvian culture: Coexistence of pebble tools and hand axes.

Materials used:

Hand axes were made with pressure flaking of quartzitein India, china and Java.Further, Metamorphic rocks in India, sedimentary rocks in Europe.


Biological evolution during this period was Homo erectus.  Emergence of perfect bipedalism aided the manufacturing of tools and big game hunting.

Social aspects:  Glynn Issac opined that enculturation process continued as in Great apes with more details.

“Man and Hunter model” proposed by Issac and Leaky propounded that factors like physical strength and requirement of long duration of time for hunting made man involved in big game hunting. The female was involved in child care and thus institution of family evolved.

Jane Goodall rejected the man the hunter model and gave examples of chimpanzees, Gllanas of Kalahari where female were involved in food collecting.

II. Middle Paleolithic

70,000-30,000 years ago

Tool culture: Moustrian culture

Flake tools

  1. Burin: used for engraving
  2. scrapper: scrapping barks of tree and dressing the hides
  3. Points: Manufactured by levallosian method or simple pressure flaking. are or various shapes and sizes. Large sized points were used as arrow head and small ones for fishing.
  4. Borer: to drill holes.


  • Biological evolution was Neanderthal man who lived in rock shelters and caves for the access of stone.
  • Belief in supernatural powers evident from burial practices.
  • Belief in after life as skulls were places in particular directions along with tools
  • In shanidar fossils were found along with flowers indicating intentional burial.

III. Upper Paleolithic

30,000-20,000 years ago

occurs in Holocene

Tool culture

  1. Aurignatian or Blade-Burin culture:
  • Discovered at La Aurignae.
  • found knife blades, engraved blades, burin
  • Sub species associated with this culture was Cromagnon.
  1. Solutrian or Needle culture:
  • discovered at Solutre
  • flakes and needles both eyed and uneyed
  • Cromagnon
  1. Magdalanian culure or Art form culture:
  • La Magnalene
  • flake tools made of bones with art forms engraved which indicate their beliefs and lifestyle
  • Ivory and horn were used extensively
  • many of the evidences were in colder climate and there was dependence on reindeer.


Blade tools and use of non-lithic material. Tool material was bone and ivory along with stone.


  • emergence of hunting and fishing societies
  • use of animal hides to cover bodies
  • building of shelters using bones and horn
  • It is believed that language in a rudimentary form emerged
  • social political life resembled band organisations.

Leave a Reply