Prehistory dates back to when people used stone tools and didn’t know how to write.
It is divided into two major periods called Paleolithic Age and Neolithic Age. The word “prehistory” means the time when people were unable to write their history down.
The first hominids appeared in eastern Africa about 2 million years ago. Scientists call them australopithecines.
They mark the beginning of Paleolithic Age. People were nomads and they used to hunt and forage for their own food.
They didn’t have permanent homes and lived in caves or under cliffs.
Early people wore clothes made from animal skin and didn’t know how to cook their food.
They had simple tools made of stone and animal bones. These tools were very primitive but helped them survive the harsh conditions of their everyday lives. Prehistoric people died young and had no effective medicine.
Gradually, people learned how to make more sophisticated tools and clothes. They also started building houses and living in communities.
Eventually, humans learned how to work the land, build villages and establish trade routes between settlements.
The prehistoric period (Paleolithic Age + Neolithic Age) came to an end with the invention of writing which happened at different times in different places.
For example, in South-west Asia writing came around 3000 BC.
Everything we know about this period we owe to archaeologists.
Prehistoric people didn’t leave written records so scientists have to dig carefully to look for artefacts.
When they happen to find a piece of broken pottery, a tool or foundations of settlements, archaeologists build an archaeological site and start studying the evidence.
Their job is to figure out the purpose of the artefact and work out the dates of the remains they find.