Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic

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Hyperlinks go to articles. All links followed by a roman numeral enclosed in brackets [#] will go to the same article. kya =  thousands of years ago.

The first creation myth [i]
Some preliminary notes on early prehistory

Lower Paleolithic
3,300 thousand years ago (kya) – Lomekwi tools, oldest in world
3,200 kya  – “Lucy” – upright Australopithecus
2,600 kya – Oldowan tool culture
2,100 kya – Homo habilis
1,800 kya – Homo Erectus, human fossils outside of Africa
1,760 kya – Acheulean handaxes
1,500 kya – Turkana boy, H. erectus or H. ergaster
1,400-900 kya – “Super archaic ghost population”
1,200 kya – Bones in Sima del elefante, modern-day Spain
1,000 kya – Homo antecesor bones
700 kya – Homo florsiensis (Flores hobbits)
700  kya – Homo heidelbergensis
700-550  kya – Divergence between Neanderthals/Denisovans and Homo Sapiens
610 kya – Mauer I, type specimen of H. heidelbergensis
470-380 kya – Divergence between Neanderthals and Denisovans
434 kya – Sima de los huesos, “Excalibur” ax gives evidence of ritual goods
400 kya – Clactonian flint tools
400 kya – approximate start of Neanderthals
400-280 kya – Split between Altai Denisovans and Australo Denisovans
335-236 kya – Homo nalendi skeleton

Middle Paleolithic

330-300 kya – anatomically modern humans at Jebel Irhoud (hereafter “Sapien”)
320 kya – last common ancestor for all living humans
176 kya – Neanderthal stone circles in Bruniquel Cave
170 kya – clothing
160 kya – Mousterian tool culture
160 kya – Herto Man
160 kya – Mitochondrial Eve
130 kya – Krapina Eagle Talon Jewelry
130 kya – first Sapien expansion into Middle East (Skhul Cave)
115 kya – Neanderthal jewelry in Spain
110 kya – Sapien remains in Qafzeh Cave
100-70 kya – Blombos Cave
100-60 kya – extinction of Homo floriensis
75 kya – Toba Volcano supereruption
70 kya – Neanderthal expansion into Middle East and Altai, Sapiens flee
65 kya – First known cave paintings: Maltravieso, La Pasiega, Ardales [i]
60 kya – Sapiens return to Middle East
60-50 kya – colonization of Australia
54-49 kya – Sapiens and Neanderthals interbreed
59-44 kya – Sapiens and Denisovans interbreed

Upper Paleolithic or Late Stone Age (Great Leap Forward)
50 kya – Great Leap forward (?)
50 kya – earliest sewing needle
42 kya – Paleolithic flutes
42-39 kya – Tianyuan Man
41 kya – extinction of Denisovans
40.7 kya – El Castillo Cave’s red disk
40 kya – Shanidhar 1
41-39 kya – extinction of Neanderthals
40-35 kya – First humanoid figure, the Venus of Hohle Fels
37 kya – Chauvet Cave
35 kya – Löwenmensch figurine
30 kya – Bhimbetka Rock Shelters
17 kya – Lascaux cave paintings
16.5–13 kya – first colonization of North America
13 kya – Swimming Reindeer figure
12.5 kya – Neolithic Revolution, farming

Neolithic
11,000-7000 – Qadan Culture in Egypt
9500–9000 – Nanzhuangtou Culture. Domestication of the Dog (?)
9000 – Jericho
9,000 – 7,000 – Byblos
8,500 BC – Domestication of cattle
8040 BC – Pesse Canoe
8000 BC to 7000 BC – Cultivation of barley and wheat in mesopotamia
7000 – Mehrgarh
7000 BC – Jiahu culture in China.
7000 BC – Gobekli Tepe
6800 – Fortifications around Jericho
6550 – Dufuna Canoe
6000 – Domestication of Sheep and Goats in Egypt

Following the Kurgan Hypothesis
6500 BCE – Start of the Burned House Horizon (until around 2000 BCE)
6300–5500 BC – Bug-Dniester Culture
5700 to 4500 –  Vinča culture
5300 – Tărtăria tablets
5000 – 4500 – Khvalynsk Culture
4700 – 3800 – Samara Culture
4500 – Domestication of the horse


Further Reading: Books

Macrohistory and Reference
Patterns in Prehistory – Deborah I. Olszewski, Robert J. Wenke
After the Ice: A Global History 20,000-5,000 BC – Steven Mithen
Stone Tools in Human Evolution – John J. Shea
Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States – James C. Scott (h/t Michael Kleinman)

Paleogenetics
Who We Are and How We Got Here – David Reich
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived – Adam Rutherford

Culture, Warfare, Economics
The Origins of War – Jean Guilaine, Jean Zammit
War Before Civilization – Lawrence H. Keeley
Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years – Elizabeth Wayland Barber
Energy and Civilization: A History – Vaclav Smil

Neanderthals & Eurasia
Handbook to Life in Prehistoric Europe – Jane R. McIntosh
The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe – Barry Cunliffe (ed.)
The Neanderthals Rediscovered – Dimitra Papagianni, Michael A. Morse
Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes – Svante Pääbo
Ancestral Journeys: The Peopling of Europe – Jean Manco
The Horse, The Wheel, and Language – David W. Anthony

Australia
Archaeology of the Dreamtime: The Story of Prehistoric Australia and Its People – Josephine Flood

Anatolia
Ancient Turkey –  Antonio Sagona, Paul Zimansky

Americas
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus – Charles C. Mann

China
The Archaeology of China: Late Paleolithic to the Bronze Age – Li Liu, Xingcan Chen

India
India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma


Further Reading: Articles

Neanderthals
Neandertal roots: Cranial and chronological evidence from Sima de los Huesos –  L. Arsuaga, I. Martínez, et al
U-Th dating of carbonate crusts reveals Neanderthal origin of Iberian
cave art – D. L. Hoffmann, C. D. Standish, et al
Neanderthal artists made oldest-known cave paintings – Emma Marris
Early Neanderthal constructions deep in Bruniquel Cave in southwestern France, Jacques Jaubert, Sophie Verheyden & Dominique Genty

Tools
3.3-million-year-old stone tools from Lomekwi 3, West Turkana, Kenya – Sonia Harmand, Jason E. Lewis