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Stone Age

Making sewing holes and sewingThe Palaeolithic Period, or Old Stone Age, describes the time between the first use of simple tools by early humans (about 3.4 million years ago) to the start of the Neolithic Period, or New Stone Age, when people began to farm the land (12,000 years ago). During the Old Stone Age, human beings travelled from place to place, eating wild plants and hunting wild animals. Then, around 12,000 years ago, the start of farming brought a continuous supply of food, which meant that people could live in the same place all year round. The New Stone Age lasted until people started to make their tools from bronze rather than stone. The Bronze Age began around 3300 BC in the Middle East, and much later in Europe and other parts of the world. 


A group of stone age hunters ward off some hungry cave lions from their woolly mammoth kill.

The spread of Homo sapiens

Modern humans arrived in North America between 35,000 and 15,000 years ago. They crossed from Asia at a time when the Bering Sea,...Read More >>Modern humans arrived in North America between 35,000 and 15,000 years ago. They crossed from Asia at a time when the Bering Sea, which divides the two continents, was dry land. During the Ice Ages, the ice “locked up” a great deal of the world’s water, resulting in lower sea levels globally and creating "land bridges" like this one.Homo sapiens—modern humans—probably first emerged in Africa around 200,000 years ago. About 70,000 years ago, they began to spread around the globe. They reached Australia between 60,000 and 50,000 years ago, and Europe about 40,000 years ago. Humans arrived in North America between 35,000 and 15,000 years ago. They crossed from Asia at a time when the Bering Sea, which divides the two continents, was dry land. They then spread through the Americas, reaching the southern tip of South America 11,000 years ago.
A map showing the spread of modern humans around the world

Some scientists say that modern humans are a subspecies of Homo sapiens, with the scientific name Homo sapiens sapiens. Their direct ancestor, an older form of human, was another subspecies called Homo sapiens idaltu, which lived in Africa 160,000 years ago and is now extinct.

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