The longest period of human history, the Stone Age, covered such an extensive time that it is often divided into stages. Researchers determines these stages according to the type of tools mankind created and used at certain times.
The first stage of the Stone Age is called the Palaeolithic period. By far the longest period of the Stone Age, this stage, also called the Old Stone Age, began about two million years ago. During this stage, humans crafted tools out of stone.
The second of the Stone Age stages, the Mesolithic period began around 10,000 B.C.E. During this time, which is also called the “Middle Stone Age,” people began to use more sophisticated tools including bows and arrows. Humans used these tools to hunt animals like deer and wild pigs. This new technology made humans much more successful hunters, therefore allowing their populations to grow and thrive.
The Neolithic period, or the “New Stone Age,” is the last stage of the Stone Age and began when humans started to farm. Beginning in Greece, and spreading throughout southeastern Europe around 6000 B.C.E., farmers started to herd cattle, raise sheep, and grow crops. This allowed people to create more permanent settlements.
Although the Neolithic period was the last period of the Stone Age, historians indicate that this era lasted for different periods of time in different parts of the world. The Stone Age ultimately ended when humans began working with and making tools out of metals on a large scale. Once modern humans began working with metal, our species developed progressively and continually created technologies that have enabled us to become who we are today.
Encyclopedia of the Ancient World