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period Word or Phrase:Palaeolithic  
Definition:About 500,000 BC to 10,001 BC

Palaeolithic means 'Old Stone Age'.
It covers a very long period from the first appearance in Britain of tool-using humans (about 500,000 years ago) to the retreat of the glacial ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere (about 12,000 years ago).

Archaeologists divide the period up into the Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic, the Lower Palaeolithic being the oldest phase. This period began many, many years after the dinosaurs became extinct (about 65 million years ago). It was during the Palaeolithic period that modern humans replaced Neanderthals, and megafauna, such as woolly mammoths roamed through the landscape.[more]

People had not yet discovered how to farm during this period. Instead, they lived as ‘hunter-gatherers’, hunting animals and gathering plants to eat. They only stayed in one place for a short time and then moved on to find new sources of food. As such, there were no permanent settlements during the Palaeolithic period.

The Palaeolithic peoples’ belongings were made from organic materials, such as wood, bone and animal skins. Because of this, it is often difficult for archaeologists to find evidence for human activity during this period. Much of the evidence comes from the Stone tools, such as handaxes and chopping tools, which people made and used.

The oldest man-made object found in Warwickshire is a Palaeolithic hand-axe. It was probably made about 500,000 years ago. The hand-axe was found in a quarry near Bubbenhall but the Stone it is made of comes from Wales.

All information © 2013 Warwickshire County Council.