Archaeological Timelines

By pjain      Published March 30, 2021, 11:51 p.m. in blog Humanities-History-Blog   

Evolution and Human Anthropology

Prehistorical Cavemen and Nomadic Hunter-gatherers : Fire and Animal Husbandry 20 KYA

Theopetra Cave, Thessaly, Greece - 135 kya

Theopetra Cave is a treasure trove of artifacts from several different periods, including the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic periods.

  • 135 kya - Discovered children’s footprints that pushed back Theopetra’s use to over 80,000 years earlier.

  • 50 kya Perhaps the oldest archaeological site in the world - originally thought that human occupation in the cave dated to at least 50,000 years ago.

  • 23 kya wall that was most likely built to protect the cave’s residents from cold winds – it is the oldest known man made structure in the world.

Year Discovered/Excavated: 1987 research team led by Ν. Kyparissi-Apostolika

Cave Paintings of El Castillo - 41 kya

A cave settlement containing oldest known cave paintings

El Castillo is famous for being home to the world’s oldest cave paintings, which are over 40,800 years old. The cave paintings were reanalyzed in 2012 and their dates were pushed back suggesting that the cave paintings may have been created by Neanderthals instead of early modern humans.

  • Location: Caves of Monte Castillo, Puento Viesgo, Cantabria, Spain Year Discovered/Excavated: 1903 by H. Alcalde del Río

  • El Castillo | Cuevas

Chauvet Cave, France - 36 kya

Perhaps the basis of our modern day fascination with cavemen stems from these French cave paintings.

A prehistorical cave settlement containing some of the best-preserved cave paintings in the world The cave paintings in Chauvet Cave are some of the most beautiful and well-preserved and clearly depict animals like rhinos, lions, and deer.

  • Location: Ardèche, France
  • Year Discovered/Excavated: 1994. To protect Chauvet Cave and the paintings, it was sealed off from the public not long after it was first discovered in 1994. A replica of Chauvet Cave so that visitors could safely admire the paintings, drawings, and engravings.

  • 36 kya human occupation of Chauvet started

  • 31 kya - 28 kya - A second period of use of the Chauvet Cave between 31,000 to 28,000 years ago that lasted for 2,000 to 3,000 years.

## Murujuga, Western Australia - 30 kya

These caves have been been in use by indigenous people for thousands of years as sacred indigenous land containing one of the largest collections of petroglyphs Murujuga or the Burrup Peninsula is a sacred place to the Aboriginal people of Australia. The site is also home to some of the oldest petroglyphs (engraved rock art) in the world – it is also one of the biggest collections of rock art, with at least a million individual works of art.

Location: Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia

The petroglyphs date back to about 30,000 years ago, although the Aboriginals may have been living in the region for over 50,000 years, and depict several now extinct species of animals in Australia. Researchers say that the rock art shows this part of Australia’s environment has changed over time. In recent years, the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation has been seeking UNESCO World Hertiage status for the site.

Cave of Altamira, Spain 27 kya

Very different cave paintings from those of famous caves discovered in France.

Location: Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain

Year Discovered/Excavated: 1868; not excavated until 1879 - but largely forgotten for many years before it was revisited in 1902 and finally taken seriously.

Preservation: Altamira had been open to the public for many years, but in 2002 it was closed to visitors when mold started to appear on some of the paintings. Researchers determined that tourists and the use of artificial light was damaging Altamira. In 2014, Altamira was partially reopened to the public. Each week, five visitors chosen at random through a lottery are allowed to view Altamira as long as they wear protective suits.

Neolithic - 10kya+

The Neolithic marks the beginnings of true civilization. Our nomadic hunter-gather ancestors began settling down around this time and developed agriculture.

Göbekli Tepe - world’s oldest temple

Tell Qaramel, Syria

  • Main Use(s): : Settlement containing the world’s oldest towers

  • Age: over 12,000 years (c.10,900 BCE). Archaeological excavations revealed that the Tell Qaramel settlement existed between 10,900 to 8800 BCE. There is more recent research that suggests that Tell Qaramel may be even older.

  • Location: Aleppo Governate, Syria

  • Year Discovered/Excavated: Late 1970s; excavation started in 1999

  • Known for its craftsmanship via artifacts including flint, bone, and stone objects such as limestone vessels and decorated cholorite.

  • Also famous for the world's oldest towers - several round towers at Tell Qaramel and the oldest dates to about 10,650 BCE. They are the oldest towers in the world and predate the famed Tower of Jericho by several centuries.

Jericho Settlement - West Bank of Jordan RIver

  • Oldest Location: Tell es-Sultan - often called the oldest town on earth.
  • <9000 BCE when early hunter-gatherers settled in Tell es-Sultan around 9000 BCE and continued to fortify and expand the site.
  • by 7000 BCE, Tell es-Sultan was a large fortified town – it was around this time that the Wall and Tower of Jericho were built to protect the settlement.

River Valley Civilizations and City States - 4 kya-300 BC


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