Archaeological Industries and Stages

Archaeological Industries

Archaeologically we refer to three stone ages – the old (palaeo), middle (meso), and new (neo). Lithic literally means stone. The Palaeolithic is subdivided into the lower, middle and upper. This, the longest archaeological period, spans from around 1 million years ago to 10kya. If the whole of British human history and prehistory had occurred in a working day (for the sake of demonstration imagine a working day to be 8 hours, from 9 am – 5 pm) the Palaeolithic would begin at 9am and we would remain there in the old stone age until around 4.56 pm. 8,500 years of human prehistory and 2,000 years of history – everything from the Mesolithic to the present day including the invention of agriculture, metals, boats, writing, the construction of Stonehenge and Avebury, the Roman invasion, the Viking invasion, the Anglo-Saxon invasion, both world wars, the sinking of the Mary Rose and man walking on the moon…would all occur in just 4 minutes.


British stages
These are the names given to British glacial periods.  
North-west European stages
The north-west European glacial periods differ slightly in name to the British periods. Both are shown here.
KA – This denotes 1000 years and in this context refers to 1000 years before present (also transcribed kya – thousand years ago, or KA BP – thousand years before present). The scale on this timeline extends back to 1 million years ago (1000 kya) with the earliest evidence of human occupation in Britain appearing around 900,000 years ago (900 kya). This date has moved back significantly in the last two decades because of discoveries from the east coast made at Pakefield and Happisburgh.