Three-periodic system
Holozän historical time
Late Bronzezeit
Middle Bronzezeit
Early Bronzezeit
Copper stone time
Mittelsteinzeit / Epipal.
Pleistozän Jungpaläolithikum
Paleolithic age

Steinzeit one calls generally linguistic usage the time period of mankind history, before the technical usefrom metals admits was.

The Steinzeit is the oldest stage of the three-periodic system, which the Ur or prehistory into the Steinzeit, publicised by the Danish antiquity researcher Christian Jürgensen Thomsen and other one since 1830, which partitions Bronzezeit and the Eisenzeit. ThoseSteinzeit again three-divided into Paläolithikum (paleolithic age), Mesolithikum (Mittelsteinzeit) and Neolithikum (Jungsteinzeit).

The three-division after the used material is to a large extent limited to Europe and parts of west Asia and North Africa. For the prehistory of the southernAfrica gives it its own terminology (Early, Middle and Late Stone Age), which corresponds to the European organization chronologically and contentwise only partially, and in the study of American prehistory the idea of a Periodisierung has itself afterthe criterion of the material not at all depressed.

The partitioning of the long period takes place inevitably only after the tool finds and the few bone finds. That means naturally also that itself the stages not or at least not inevitably with different Entwicklungsstufen of humansparallelisieren leave. The change between different Entwicklungsstufen proceeded usually from individual areas, overlaps with previous or following temporal developments is to be likewise considered.

Table of contents

Paläolithikum or paleolithic age

the paleolithic age lasted for instance from before 2.500.000 to 8,000 v. Chr. and represents thereby the all-largest part of mankind history.


Faustkeil aus dem Acheuléen
Fist wedge from the Acheuléen

by definition begins the Steinzeit with the first use of tools from the material stone by humans. Tools can be defined in such a way that the base material in any form was changed for the purpose of the use. Thereforethose are rubble of the Oldowan, which received sharp edges by some few anticipated payments, the first tools which can be designated in such a way. Whether these changes were consciously caused at first could be probably never clarified or however by accident developed, completely. At leastbut early humans recognized the use and tradierte probably soon the tools and their manufacturing methods. The oldest finds of the Altpaläolithikums are in Africa (Ethiopia) and are about 2.5 million years old, the oldest European findsdate on approximately 1.5 million years and originate from Georgien. Probably early forms of the Homo (Homo erectus, Homo habilis) were possible the producers, in addition, Australopithecinen. For many thousands of years little changed in the inventory.

Forwardsabout 600,000 years developed itself further then the tool culture, which began Acheuléen with its fist wedge industries, again first in Africa. Also in this age changed for a very long time nothing, the Acheuléen can until before approximately 100,000 years be found.

For the first time becomesin the Altpaläolithikum the fire used - to settle an important condition around also colder regions and to make fleischliche food for digesting humans more bekömmlicher.


reconstruction of a Neandertalerin

the fist wedges of the Acheuléen changed forwardsabout 130,000 - 120,000 years, became asymmetrical (so-called fist wedge measurers). One speaks now of the Mittelpaläolithikum and its first stage, the Micoquien, at the same time developed a completely new form of the treatment of tools: Anticipated payments of the core stone were produced, smaller and more easilywere and to be handled more flexible could (Moustérien with Levalloistechnik). Generally the Mittelpaläolithikum is associated with the Neandertaler, however were since approximately 90,000 also anatomically modern humans (archaischer Homo Sapiens). Humans were further huntersand collecting tank, the ice-age large game was particularly hunted, compound weapons (wood and stone, connected by an adhesive from Birkenpech) and fires were well-known. First works of art (lion human being) and music instruments (flutes of the discovery site Geissenklösterle) developed, humanstheir dead ones buried and gave them probably already grave-added also to the graves, which implies a religious conception over a life after death. Wood, bone and antlers devices were used, kept probably intensive unfortunately from it nearly nothing.



the beginning of the Jungpaläolithikum is set today about 40,000 years before our time. For the first time one can determine regional differences in the development - which possibly also before already gave it, which one however on the basis of theFind inventory not to separate can. Long, narrow blade and measurer emerge in the Aurignacien in central west and south Europe, whose carrier is now modern humans. Early rock painting is in France, funerals is received. Also devices from organic substance are now far more frequently delivers. In France and north Spain one finds at the same time the Châtelperronien (until before approximately 34,000 years), to its inventory beside the jungpaläolithischen elements as with the Aurignacien (until before approximately 28,000 years) also still another clear tradition of the Levalloistechnik outthe Mittelpaläolithikum exhibits. Some researchers see the difference between Neandertaler and Homo in the difference of these two cultures also sapiens (in the early form as Cro Magnon human being or Archai Homo Sapiens). In east and Central Europe one knows at the same time the cultures of the Bohunicien and the Szeletien differentiate. Starting from approximately 28,000 until before 21,000 years is the Gravettien, fertility symbols (or goddesses?) like the Venus of will village point on religious conceptions. In France, Spain and Portugal against it the Solutréen spreadsfrom approximately 22,000 to 16,500 before our time, which surface-retouched itself by lamellas and sheet and notching points distinguishes. Rock designs, engraved bones and figures are likewise. In the Magdalénien, the last ice age goes to the last section of the younger paleolithic age slowlyto end. Blade variants with first signs of the Mikrolithisierung wide-spread in the Mesolithikum are typical. The most well-known cave painting (cave of Lascaux) originates from the Magdalénien, likewise an increasing number at small, mobile works of art. Remnants of buildings of tents were just as lamps with Docht, hunting weapons and decoration, which were already far acted, improved. The best received find in Germany from this time are the 14,000 years of old skeletons and culture-added from the double grave of upper Kassel.

Work on []

Mesolithikum or Mittelsteinzeit

the Mittelsteinzeit is not clear and from itself out defined. One can let it begin with end of the paleolithic age (thus for instance starting from 8.000 v. Chr.) and as terminator point the beginning of the Jungsteinzeit set. This beginsbut in different world areas too much different times. Thus one finds into the Levante only a very short transition period to approximately 6,000 v. Chr. , those is called here also not Mesolithikum, but Epipaläolithikum. In after-ice-age Central Europe against it this lastedPhase to approximately 4,500 v. Chr. The time is coined/shaped of the Zurückweichen of the ice of the last ice age and the associated heating up of the climate and an appropriate change of the Flora and fauna. For this epoch Kleingeräte from flint are characteristic (Mikrolithen), as part of more complex tools (e.g. Saws were used). The permanence continued to increase. On the basis the changing different microlite types a number of individual cultures and groups can be defined, which take using differentiation in the younger paleolithic agefurther too. An early northEuropean culture was the Maglemose culture, another well-known culture e.g. was in the late phase. the Ertebölle - culture. In the transition period are first referring to a Neolithisierung: Intentioneller cultivation of plants, isolated animal husbandries andfirst ceramic(s).

Neolithikum or Jungsteinzeit

Bandkeramische Gefäße aus Mitteldeutschland im Bestand der ur- und frühgeschichtliche Sammlung der Universität Jena, die Friedrich Klopfleisch 1882 zur Definition der bandkeramischen Kultur benutzte.
volume-ceramic containers from Central Germany in the existence ur and earlyhistorical collection of the University of Jena, which used Friedrich Klopfleisch 1882 for the definition of the bind-ceramic culture.

The beginning of the Jungsteinzeit becomes today over thatTransition from the acquiring to the producing restaurant way (Neolithi revolution) defines, thus the beginning of aminal husbandry and agriculture. This transition took place too much different times, beginning in Mesopotamien around 11.000 v. Chr., in Central Europe around 5.500 v. Chr.. Some inhabitants of remote regions are this very day technologically in the Jungsteinzeit.

Regional and temporal culture areas which can be defined uniformly can be determined now far more frequently from the archaeological finds, than in the preceding epochs the case is.

InCentral Europe begins the Neolithikum with volume ceramic(s) between approximately 5,600 and 4,900 v. Chr. On German soil the Rössener culture, of far follows east pass volume ceramic(s). In South-east Europe and in the danubischen area form from the frühneolithischen new independentCultures (e.g. the Lengyel culture and the Badener culture up to the endneolithischen cultures of Vinča in the Serbian-Romanian area and Tisza in Hungary.

First attempts with metalworking took place in 8. Millenium v. Chr., at first limits to gediegene precious metalslike gold, silver and copper and on the elaboration of decoration. For tools or weapons these soft metals without alloys were not suitable.

Well-known finds of well received recently-in-temporal humans are among other things the Kennewick man and Ötzi.

Transition to the metal age

at the end of the Steinzeit began the transition for the use fundamentally of different material, the metal. In addition, new, better characteristics made unknown use possibilities possible, required a by far more complex handling and technology as well as a functioning remote trade overto come to the desired material, which was missing everywhere. This transitional phase is called copper time, also Chalcolithikum or Äneolithikum. It ends with the beginning of the Bronzezeit.

Many tools and weapons were manufactured still with the proven materialsbut first new forms emerged. Fundamental metalworking techniques like the metal casting were developed. By the casting for the first time a quantity production was looking homogeneous tools possible. Also became first techniques of the Prospektion and production of Kupfererzen in open pits (mining industry)developed. By the development of smelting of copper the fast developing bottleneck at gediegenem copper could be defused. This technology was used later also for the production by tin , zinc and lead and put the technological basis for the laterBronzezeit. A first provable Hierarchisierung took place, Oberschichten began itself to form, which controlled the dismantling and smelting of the metal and which were bestattet after their death with many valuable grave-added.

Settlements in Central Europe became tendentious smaller, but howevermore strongly fastens. They lay particularly on hills. In particular in the Mediterranean area the development of the copper technology led to an intensified remote trade.Ötzi had a copper hatchet beside otherwise recently-in-temporal luggage also already with itself.

temporal demarcations

the temporal demarcationthe individual epochs and stages of the Steinzeit becomes difficult. That is particularly because of the find situation, those dependently is from geological conditions, the later use or covering of the area and other more. The stage borders and transitions differalso in different regions. Some partitioning arises only in certain areas. A parallelism with certain kinds of people is often not possible. Despite all these difficulties here the attempt of an overview:

    • Altpaläolithikum
      • Africa: 2.500.000 - 1.000.000 forwards today
      • Europe: 1.200.000 - 600,000 before today
        • Protoacheuléen or Abbevillien 1.500.000 - 600,000 before today
        • Altacheuléen 600,000 - 350,000 before today
        • Jungacheuléen 350,000 - 150,000 forwards today
        • Spätacheuléen 150.000 -100.000 forwards today
    • Jungpaläolithikum 35,000 - 8,000 v. Chr.
      • Europe
        • Aurignacien
          • southeast and Central Europe 45,000 - 25,000 v. Chr.
          • France and Spain 30,000 - 25,000 v. Chr.
        • Châtelperronien / Perigordien35.000 - 30,000 v. Chr.
        • Gravettien 26,000 - 19,000 v. Chr.
        • Solutréen (Spain and France) 19,000 - 16,000 v. Chr.
        • Magdalénien
          • southwest France and north Spain 16,000 - 9,500 v. Chr.
          • Germany 13,000 - 9,500 v. Chr.
            • Germany
            • Hamburg culture 13.000 -12,000 v. Chr.
            • Group of feather/spring measurers of 10,000 - 8,700 v. Chr.
            • Bromine ME culture 9,700 - 9,000 v. Chr.
            • Ear citizen culture 9,500 - 8,500 v. Chr.
            • Denmark
            • Hamburg time 13,000 - 10,000 v. Chr.
            • Lyngby culture 10,700 - 10,000 v. Chr.
            • Bromine ME culture 11.700 -9,000 v. Chr.
            • Ear citizen culture 9,000 - 8,000 v. Chr.
  • Mittelsteinzeit (Mesolithikum) 8,000 - 4,000 v. Chr.
    • Germany
    • Denmark
      • Maglemose culture8.300 - 6,000 v. Chr.
      • Gudenå culture 8,000 - 4,000 v. Chr.
      • Klosterlund 8,000 - 5,000 v. Chr.
      • Kongemose 6,000 - 5,200 v. Chr.
      • Ertebölle (older) 5,200 - 3,000 v. Chr.
    • North Scandinavia
      • Fosna 9,000 - 2,000 v. Chr.
      • Komsa 8.000 -3,000 v. Chr.
      • Askola around 7.500 v. Chr.
    • France
      • Sauveterrien 8,000 - 4,000 v. Chr.
      • Tardenoisien 4,500 - 3,500 v. Chr.
      • Campignien around 4.000 v. Chr.
    • Spain
      • Azilien 8,500 - 5,000 v. Chr.
      • Asturien (culture) 8,500 - 5,000 v. Chr.
    • North Africa

humans of the Steinzeit

reconstruction of a Austrolopithecus africanus
as first humans, the tools used become Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis, possibly in addition, already the Australopithecinen outstandingly. Erectus surely already tools and fire used following Homo to them. The latter lived until before approximately 300,000 years (however the only recently discovered kleinwüchsige kind of the Homo becomes floresiensis, still forwards approx. Lived, likewise the Homo erectus added to 12,000 years on the Indonesian island Flores). All these kinds of people are to be added to the Altpaläolithikum and its rubble and fist wedge cultures. Computer forecasts assume at this time on thatTo earth only few ten thousands humans existed. As people type of the Mittelpaläolithikums absolutely of many researchers of the Neandertaler one regards, besides parallel probably also the transitions of the Homo existed erectus to more modern humans (like Homo heidelbergensis, Homo antecessor, Homo rhodesiensis) and first modern humans of the type Cro Magnon. At the beginning of the Jungpaläolithikum Neandertaler lived and modern humans still next to each other, some researchers see in the cultures of the Aurignacien (Homo Sapiens) and the contemporaneous Châtelperronien (Neandertaler)a possible distinction also in the material inheritance, which is however disputed. Before approximately 30,000 years the Neandertaler became extinct and left the earth alone to modern humans, who became carrier of the further cultures.

the material culturethe Steinzeit


source of food of the hunters and collecting tanks was long time of everything that could be found in the natural direct surrounding field of humans: Plants, fruits, seed, roots, mushrooms exactly the same as honey, eggs, meat (at the beginning of probably main the remaindersfrom ended or by Raubtiere Kadavern hunted), fish and soft animals. Milk and milk products were just as little available before the Domestizierung of pasture animals like the breed forms of fruit, vegetables and grain, which became later main sources of food. Humans lived in small kinships,with their booty in the seasonal change pulled. Modern investigations resulted in that stone-temporal humans referred about 2/3 of their energy from animal food and only 1/3 from vegetable source. At the end of the last ice age the Faunenbild changed itself completely:Those so far as booty preferred large, coolingloving animals (like giant, Wollnashorn) became extinct and smaller, speedy mammals immigrated from warmer zones. Already in the Mesolithikum first of these animal species were held with the now more stationarily becoming dwellings. Vegetable one Food took gradually a ever larger value, since due to the improved climate more such food could be found. One of the largest inventions of humans and an enormous break represented the Neolithi revolution - the conscious andsteered cultivation of food (agriculture) and the cattle breeding. This made possible only the really durable established becoming, the cultivation of additional food, the provision with stocks of the surplus or the purposeful and extensive trade with it and not least a population explosion,because more humans could become full. A further consequence was the propagation of humans also into areas unbesiedelte up to then.


in areas, in which due to the geological conditions caves and Abris are to be found, these becamesince earliest time as Unterschlupf used. Otherwise for the Altpaläolithikum so far only artificial stone circles were found, which can be interpreted as remainders of dwellings. Two million years ago of branches or small trunks by stones were probably already fastened andformed a briefly inhabited accommodation. The oldest hut of Europe is about 600,000 years old and in Przletice (with Prague) was found, those in Terra Amata with Nice in France to have an age of approximately 500,000 years and in Bilzingslebenof approximately 370,000 years.

In the Mittelpaläolithikum one finds huts of giant hunters from bones and stosszähnen, probably in connection with bars and skins, with fire places on the inside. In the Grotte you Lazaret in France is a hut sketch of about 35 square meterslargely, possesses two fire places and was enough as accommodation already for approximately ten persons.

In the Jungpaläolithikum hut pits (living pits) emerge. They extend from deeply pits entrenched into the ground up to nearly ebenerdigen huts. They contain usually stove placesand regularly arranged post holes, which refer to a firm upper's building. It is accepted that the huts exhibited tent-like or tent-hut-like forms.

In the course of the Neolithikums, with the first farmer cultures around 10.500 v. Chr., gave it then also firm, durablysettled houses. Depending upon region they consist of loam, stone or wood. Loam constructions are wattlework loam-smeared by the Orient until Hungary well-known, buildings of stones for over 10,000 years in the Orient, timber constructions with walls from boards or in the wooded areas. InMitteueuropa is the building of posts the usual building method.

No dwellings separate graves and or cult places particularly are in Western Europe to finding Megalithbauten and Dolmen.

art and culture

Petroglyphen, rock designs, rock painting and cave painting

Der Newspaper Rock in Utah
that New PAPERs skirt in Utah

Petroglyphen are on the substrate stone cut figurative or diagrams. An important and deep cultural and religious meaning is taken for the societies. To find they are on all continents. The meaning of the symbols is still to a large extent inexplicably. Well-known places of discovery e.g. are. in the Death Valley national park, the Canyon land national park, Uluru (Ayers skirt) etc. An exact dating is often with difficulty, generally assigns one the Petroglyphen however the Jungsteinzeit and the metal times.

Differently constituted, notscratched, but with color up-painted, is rock painting or cave painting. The artistic arrangements kept weather-related mostly only in caves and reflect above all the religious conceptions of their producers again. As colors became above all ochers, charcoal as well as variousRocks and ores uses, as bonding agent water, plant resin and - juices. Many painting surprisingly shows already perspective designs, which became rock document included into the structure of the representation also, wiping and spraying techniques already found use. Well-known discovery sites are also here world-wide,so for instance nearly 15,000 rock pictures in the high plateau of Tassili more n'Ajjer in Algeria, the Ayers skirt in Australia, the well-known cave of Lascaux in France, or the cave of Altamira in Spain. Over the C-14-Methode the oldest such leave themselvesWorks of art (over the analysis of the used colors and bonding agents) in the Aurignacien retrace, thus several ten thousand years before today.


first three-dimensional sculptures showed mostly female figures with strongly emphasized sex characteristics like large chestsand broad basin or however hunt animals. They were made of stone and clay/tone, probably in addition, more easily passing material such as wood or bone. Some details were implemented with the female Statuetten not or nearly, so for instance faces, armsand legs. The research does not interpret the representations as a fertility goddess (earth nut/mother), possibly also as reference to a prevailing Matriarchat, surely however is it material Portraits. One can assume that, which did not have the average normal stone time woman a chance,to assume such expenditure-maturing forms.

The found animal figures against it exhibit often an amazing naturalism, them for instance in escape attitude or at the moment the deadly hit were often represented. Here the researchers interpret the figures as objects for swearing to hunt success.

Onethe most well-known jungpaläolithischen sculptures is the Venus of will village, high in today's Austria found and about 11 cm. Besides are bones also engraved, whose interpretation does not succeed however usually. Representations of men are by far more rarely, what probablynot only to the preservation conditions to attribute is. These figures exhibit also no sex specific developments like the female, Phallussymbole as sculptures arise only in later ages, very probably were however recently-in-temporal rock painting to this range of topics.

Humans of the Mittelpaläolithikum obviously their dead ones already buried religion. Remarkable accumulations of Pollen can as if ochers added as valuable raw material were added of flowers or general plants to be interpreted, also used or new tools were. Over the conceptionsover a life after death or the religious feelings white one nevertheless as well as nothing, the finds occupies however nevertheless such conceptions. Modern writers prepared these rituals and religious conceptions with the appropriate artistic liberty. Rituals andreligious ceremonies - fertility cults, rain and hunt charm, funeral rites, healings etc. despite the naturally difficult find situation however of the research as safe are accepted. Also music instruments, traces were already point on dances and singing are likewise accepted.

exchange and trade

the exchange of food, material, tool in the direct surrounding field can for the first cultures of the Steinzeit be accepted. Important goods were acted already early also over far distances. Finds of shells far in the interioras part of Schmuckstücken , flint and other materials than most important raw materials of the Steinzeit, suitable for the tool and weapon production, are interpreted at all are acted even over correct commercial routes. With the developing of hierarchies one can proceed from a commercial aristocracy, alsothe profits from the trade into an elevated social position ascended. Trade meant also - even in many later ages still - the trade with message, the spreading of innovations and fashions.

Web on the left of

work on []


  • Baur, Manfred, Ziegler, Gudrun: The odyssey of humans. Ullstein, 2001, ISBN 355007168X
  • Benz, Marion, Maise, Christian: Archaeology. Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3806219664
  • mountain man, Johannes: Orientation archaeology. Rowohlt Tb., 2000, ISBN 349955612X
  • Bernbeck, pure hard: Theories in thatArchaeology. UTB, Stuttgart, 1997, ISBN 382521964X
  • Eggert, Manfred K.H.: Prähistori archaeology. Concepts and methods, UTB, Stuttgart, 2005, ISBN 3825220923
  • of Freeden, Uta, of cord leg, Siegmar: Traces of thousands of years. Theiss, Stuttgart, 2002, ISBN 3806213372
  • Gersbach, Egon: Excavation today. Theiss, Stuttgart, 1998, ISBN 3806213798
  • Gorys, Andrea, Gorys, Christel: Dictionary archaeology. Marixverlag, 2004, ISBN 3937715290
  • Henke, Winfried, Rothe, Hartmut: People becoming. Fischer (Tb.), Frankfurt, 2003, ISBN 3596155541
  • Henke, Winfried, Rothe, Hartmut: Master history of humans. Springer,Berlin, 1998, ISBN 3540648313
  • Johanson, Donald C, Edgar, Blake, Brill, David: Lucy and their children. Spectrum publishing house, 2000, ISBN 3827410495
  • Leakey, smelling pool of broadcasting corporations E.: The first traces. Goldmann, 1999, ISBN 3442150310
  • grinding EDT, Ina: The religious world of the Jungsteinzeit.Theiss, Stuttgart, 2004, ISBN 3806218390
  • Meller, Harald: The forged sky. Theiss, Stuttgart, 2004, ISBN 3806219079
  • garbage-hereditaryhit a corner, Hansjürgen: The Steinzeit. Beck knowledge, 2004, ISBN 3406477194
  • Nawroth, Manfred, of cord leg, Ruediger, Weiss, Rainer Maria: Humans, times, areas - archaeology in Germany. Theiss, Stuttgart, 2002, ISBN 3806217521
  • Olson, Steve: Origin and history of humans. Berlin publishing house, 2003, ISBN 3827005000
  • rehearses, Ernst: Germany in the Steinzeit. C. Bertelsmann, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-570-02669-8
  • Renfrew, Colin, course, Paul: Archaeology - Theories,Methods and Practice. 5. Edition, London 2005
  • Schmitz, Ralf W., Thissen, Jürgen: Neandertal. Spectrum academic publishing house, 2002, ISBN 3827413451
  • Schrenk, peace man: The early period of humans. Beck knowledge, 2003, ISBN 3406480306
  • Schrenk, peace man, Brommage, Timothy G.: Adam's parents.Expeditions into the world of the early people. Beck knowledge, 2002, ISBN 3406486150
  • Versch.: The evolution of humans. Spektrum der Wissenschaft, 2004, ISBN 3936278652
  • Wells, Spencer: The ways of mankind. Fischer (S.), Frankfurt, 2003, ISBN 3100894308
  • few, Gerd Christian: Project people becoming. To spectrum academic publishing house, 2003, ISBN 3827414253

see also

portal: Pre and early history, Urgesellschaft, Hominisation

This article was taken up to the list of the articles worth reading.

  > German to English > (Machine translated into English)