By Maina Kiarie
Sometimes referred to as the Epipalaeolithic Age, the Mesolithic (Greek: mesos “middle”, lithos “stone”) is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic. The term developed as a catch-all to refer to material that did not fit into the other categories of prehistory and after the development of radiocarbon dating the arbitrary nature of its definition has become apparent.
The term is used to refer to different time spans in different parts of Eurasia. It was first used to refer to post-Holocene but pre-agricultural material in north-west Europe about 10,000 to 5000 BC but is also applied to material from the Levant (about 20,000 to 9500 BC); in Japan the Jōmon period (about 14,000 to 400 BC) is sometimes called Mesolithic and it is also applied to some cultures from the Indian sub-continent. The term “Epipaleolithic” is often used for areas outside northern Europe but was also the preferred synonym used by French archaeologists until the 1960s.
You might also like