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before Homo (Pliocene)




The Mesolithic (Greek: mesos "middle", lithos stone) or "Middle Stone Age"[1] was a period in the development of human technology in between the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age and the Neolithic or New Stone Age, in which farming appeared. The term was introduced by John Lubbock in his work Pre-historic Times, published in 1865. The term was, however, not much used until V. Gordon Childe popularized it in his book The Dawn of Europe (1947).[2] The start and end dates of the Mesolithic vary by geographical region. In some areas, such as the Near East, farming was already in use by the end of the Pleistocene.



The term "Mesolithic" is in competition with another term, "Epipaleolithic", which means the "final Upper Palaeolithic industries occurring at the end of the final glaciation which appear to merge technologically into the Mesolithic".[3]

In the archaeology of northern Europe — for example for archaeological sites in Great Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, Ukraine, and Russia — the term "Mesolithic" is almost always used. In the archaeology of other areas, the term "Epipaleolithic" may be preferred by most authors, or there may be divergences between authors over which term to use or what meaning to assign to each.

  • Some authors use the term "Epipaleolithic" for those cultures that are late developments of hunter-gatherer traditions but not in transition toward agriculture, reserving the term "Mesolithic" for those cultures, like the Natufian culture, that are transitional between hunter-gatherer and agricultural practices.
  • Other authors use the term Mesolithic for a variety of Late Paleolithic cultures subsequent to the end of the last glacial period whether they are transitional towards agriculture or not.

A Spanish scholar, Alfonso Moure, says in this regard:

The Levant

There are two designated periods:

Mesolithic 1 (Kebara culture; 20–18,000 BC to 12,150 BC) followed the Aurignacian or Levantine Upper Paleolithic throughout the Levant. By the end of the Aurignacian, gradual changes took place in stone industries. Small stone tools called Microliths and retouched bladelets can be found for the first time. The microliths of this culture period differ greatly from the Aurignacian artifacts. This period is more properly called Epipaleolithic.

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