Middle and Upper Paleolithic

Middleand Upper Paleolithic


Middleand Upper Paleolithic

Ascompared to the earlier periods, the middle Paleolithic experienced aslight sophistication in technology (Banks, 2015). During the MP, thetechnology was founded on the principles of the Acheulean industry.In Europe the industry was associated with the Neanderthals and theearly Aromatically Modern Humans (AMH) also termed as the “Mousterianof Acheulean Tradition”.In order to enhance their activities, the MP people came forth withnew tools in addition to the existing hand axes used at the time(Bolus &amp Conard, 2001). Some of the new tools added to the listinclude borer, burin, and bifacial point. The figure below shows themain tools adopted by the MP people:

Figure1: MP Tools

Inthe development of tools during the MP period, there was a shift fromthe use of hand axes to the use of flake tools. Flake tools had acore shaped to produce flakes of different sizes and sharp edges(Roebroeks, 2008). The two main stone technologies during the MP werethe Levallois technique and the Disk Core Technique. The Levalloistechnique was the earliest technique and encompassed four distinctsteps trimming of the edges of the cobble, upper surface trimmed toget rid of cortex, removal of the flakes from the core and strikingthe core to in the preparation of the platform (Feder &amp Park,2001).

Figure2: Levallois Dart Point

Thedisk core technique relied on careful shaping of the core andpreparation in order to remove the ready to use flakes for tools(Feder &amp Park, 2001). More skills and refinement were majorlyrequired in the core preparation for most flakes to be removed fromone core.

Figure3: Disk Core Technique

Oncethe core is prepared a series of sharp blades were removed and it isthese blades that were used as tools by the people. The coretechnique was significant as opposed to other early techniquesbecause it guaranteed higher yields in terms of stone flakes andcutting edges (Jurmain, Kilgore, &amp Trevathan, 2008). Despite thefact that there was advanced technology in the MP, it was not thatdifferent from the lower Paleolithic. The technology used in themiddle Paleolithic was still relatively easy as compared to that usedin the upper Paleolithic. The AMH and the Neanderthals in Europelived alongside each other and shared a number of resources theyhunted the same animals and used the same tools for about 60,000years before the commencement of the upper Paleolithic (Roebroeks,2008). There was a dramatic change that led to the development of theUpper Paleolithic transition in the KYA 40. The AMH commenced makingnew tools using different materials and it was during this periodthat bone tools were crafted for the first time. An example of a bonetool is illustrated below:

Figure4: Harpoon Points

Further,new types of stone tools were developed and an example is the leafshaped point tools from stones. Figure 5 below shows wafer thinsintended as projectiles as opposed to thrusting spears used by theMousterian people. The upper Paleolithic denotes a period when theAMH began to take quality of stone into consideration (Bolus &ampConard, 2001). The AMH as opposed to the Neanderthals travelled longdistances to obtain quality materials for stone tools.

Figure5: Wafer Thins

Theupper Paleolithic period also experienced a change in the structureand shapes of new tools invented and an example is the atl-atl alsotermed as a spear thrower. The tool offered a better approach toattain speed, force, distance and accuracy in hunting activities(Jurmain, Kilgore, &amp Trevathan, 2008). The invention of the toolis a clear understanding that the principle of torque began muchearly in the UP. Moreover, there was evidence of bone needles andtailored clothing for the first time.

Figure6: Spear Thrower

Artisticexpression was also evidenced in the period. The UP transition led tothe establishment of great art work that included cave painting andthe venue figurines as depicted below:

Figure7: Cave Painting

Figure8: Venus Figurines

Figure9: UP Tattoo Kit

Duringthe UP people started decorating their bodies and the period marksthe beginning of a cultural variation experienced in the modernsociety. There was a total change in the human mindset as peoplestarted to focus on values. Values were projected on objects a spearduring the UP was not only a tool, but also an illustration ofcraftsmanship (Banks, 2015). Visual media was also used to signal thevalues and beliefs of the people. A comparison of the cranialcapacity trend and cultural evolution illustrate that increasedtechnology was not in any way linked to cranial capacity. Accordingto Bolus and Conard (2001), there might have been an arms race thatled to the immense development in the tools used between the twoperiods. Creativity was an integral factor in enhancing thelivelihood of the people at the time and this explains why they wentfurther to come forth with sophisticated tools during the MP(Roebroeks, 2008). Change was a factor that could not be forfeited asthe people struggled to attain efficiency, reliability and a sense ofsecurity during the UP.


Banks,W. (2015). Constructing chronologies for the late Middle Paleolithicand Upper Paleolithic: limitations and means to overcome them.&nbspWorldArchaeology,&nbsp47(4),585-600. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2015.1052544

Bolus,M. &amp Conard, N. (2001). The late Middle Paleolithic and earliestUpper Paleolithic in Central Europe and their relevance for the Outof Africa hypothesis.&nbspQuaternaryInternational,&nbsp75(1),29-40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1040-6182 (00)00075-6

Feder,K. &amp Park, M. (2001).&nbspHumanantiquity.Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield Pub. Co.

Jurmain,R., Kilgore, L., &amp Trevathan, W. (2008).&nbspIntroductionto physical anthropology.Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Roebroeks,W. (2008). Time for the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition inEurope.&nbspJournalof Human Evolution,&nbsp55(5),918-926. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.08.008