4434 entries. 93 themes. Last updated August 28, 2014.

Timeline Outline ViewEra: 2,500,000 BCE - 8,000 BCE   |   Theme: Prehistory

Theme

Circa 2,500,000 BCE – 500,000 BCE
Olduvai Gorge
The First Industrial Complex
Circa 2,400,000 BCE – 1,400,000 BCE
Fragmented part of a lower mandible (which still holds thirteen teeth, as well as unerupted wisdom teeth). (Click on image to view larger.)
Homo habilis
Circa 1,950,000 BCE – 1,780,000 BCE
Skull of Malapa Hominin 1. MH1 also known as australopethicus sediba. (Click on image to view larger.)
A New Hominid Species is Discovered with the Help of Satellite Imagery
Circa 1,800,000 BCE
Fossil skull of D2700. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Oldest Hominin Fossils Found Outside of Africa
Circa 1,800,000 BCE – 141,000 BCE
Original fossil bones of Pithecanthropus erectus (now Homo erectus) found in Java in 1891. (Click on image to view larger.)
Pithecanthropus erectus, the First Known Specimen of Homo erectus
Circa 1,800,000 BCEThe Earliest Completely Preserved Adult Hominid Skull Circa 1,650,000 BCE – 100,000 BCE
A flint biface, discovered in Saint-Acheul, France. (View Larger)
Acheulean or Mode 2 Industries
Circa 1,530,000 BCE – 1,510,000 BCE
Ancient footprints at Koobi Fora. Photograph by Brian Richmond. (View Larger)
The Earliest Preserved Footprints of Our Ancestors
Circa 1,500,000 BCE
Five bone tools excavated in Swartkrans, South Africa, once used by Parantrhopus robustus for foraging purposes. Photography by Jim Di Loreto and Don Hurlbert, Smithsonian Institution. (View Larger)
Early Humans Make Bone Tools
Circa 1,500,000 BCE – 790,000 BCE
Scorched stone tools excavated in 2004 at Gesher Benot-Ya-aqov, in Israel, provide evidence for the existence of early hearths. Photograph by Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution. (View Larger)
The Earliest Hearths
Circa 1,500,000 BCE
Fossil skull and jawbone of Turkana Boy. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Most Complete Early Human Skeleton
Circa 1,400,000 BCE
Carved flint.
The Earliest Flint Tool Found in Europe
Circa 1,200,000 BCE
The petite jaw suggests the oldest-found European was probably female.
The Earliest Human Remains from Western Europe
Circa 950,000 BCE – 780,000 BCE
Ancient stone tools discovered at the Hapisburgh excavation site, East Anglia, England. Photocredit: Parfitt et al. Nature (View Larger)
Humans May Have Lived in Britain as Early as 950,000 Years Ago
Circa 900,000 BCEThe Oldest Human Footprints in Europe, Identified Using 3D Imaging Circa 500,000 BCE
Photocredit: James Di Loreto, & Donald H. Hurlbert, Smithsonian Institution. (View Larger)
Hunting Large Animals With Spears
Circa 500,000 BCE
Example of nearly 500,000 year-old hafted spear tips from Kathu Pan 1. Photo by Jayne Wilkins. (Click on image to view larger.)
People Began Hunting with Stone-Tipped Spears 500,000 Years Ago
Circa 400,000 BCE – 350,000 BCE
A sample of geothite, or brown ochre. (View Larger)
The Earliest Use of Pigments
Circa 400,000 BCE
One of three spears found at Schöningen, Germany in 1995. Photocredit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution. (View Larger)
The Oldest Wooden Spears
Circa 400,000 BCE
The
The Oldest Almost Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequence of a Hominin
Circa 195,000 BCE
Scull from the River Omo. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Oldest Fossil Remains of Anatomically Modern Humans
Circa 164,000 BCE – 70,000 BCE
A silcrete nodule exhibiting the signs of experimental heat-treatment. Photocredit: Science/AAAS. (View Larger)
Early Humans Use Heat-Treated Stone for Tools
Circa 150,000 BCE – 50,000 BCE
Map showing origin and spread of language from southern Africa.  Graphic from the journal Science and The New York Times. (Click on image to view larger.)
Evidence for the Origin of Language in Southwestern Africa
Circa 132,000 BCE – 98,000 BCE
Photocredit: James Di Loreto, & Donald H. Hurlbert, Smithsonian Institution. (View Larger)
The Earliest Known Forms of Human Adornment
Circa 130,000 BCE
Stone tools found on Crete dating back over 130,000 years suggest that prehistoric civilizations took to the sea much earlier than previously thought. (view larger)
The Earliest Evidence of Sea Voyages
Circa 104,000 BCE
A projectile point, estimated to be over 104,000 years old, uncovered in Omo Kibish, Ethipia. Photocredit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution. (View Larger)
Tools for Capturing Fast or Dangerous Prey
Circa 100,000 BCE
The largest European specimen of a Wooly Mammoth.
Scientists Sequence Woolly Mammoth Genome--the First of an Extinct Animal
Circa 100,000 BCE
Pieces of ochre excavated in Qafzeh, Israel, suggesting intentional burial. Photocredit: James Di Loreto, & Donald H. Hurlbert, Smithsonian Institution. (View Larger)
The Oldest Intentional Burial
Circa 100,000 BCE
Ablone shell containing red ochre rich mixture. Image by Grethe Moell Pedersen. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Earliest Paint Workshop
88,000 BCE – 78,000 BCE
The Katanda Bone Harpoon Point. Photocredit: Smithsonian Institution.
Katanda Bone Harpoon Point
Circa 80,000 BCE
Shells of Nassarius gibbosulus, estimated to be around 82,000 years old, found in Morocco. (View Larger)
Evidence of Early Trade Routes?
Circa 75,000 BCE – 73,000 BCE
Early Attempt to Record Information or Early Art?
Circa 75,000 BCE
A silcrete stone tool from Blombos Cave in South Africa, finished with pressure flaking. (View Larger)
Tool Making by Pressure Flaking Discovered in Africa
Circa 75,000 BCE
Sediments containing ancient mattresses at Sibudu Caves.  Photo by Lyn Wadley. (Click on image to view larger.)
At Sibudu Cave, the Oldest Known Early Bedding and Use of Medicinal Plants
Circa 68,000 BCE
Stone tools (segments) with adhesive from Sibudu Cave.  Segment with red ochre visible to the naked eye as well as microscopic views of red ochre and plant gum on the tool. (Click on image to view larger.)
From Sibudu Cave: the Earliest Known Creation and Use of Compound Adhesives, Suggesting Complex Cognition
Circa 60,000 BCEComputational Micro-Biomechanical Analysis of Neanderthal's Fossilized Hyoid Bone Suggests that Neanderthals Could Speak Circa 59,000 BCEThe Earliest Sewing Needle, Made of Bone Circa 49,000 BCE – 43,000 BCE
A bone tool known as a lissoir, possibly used to prepare animal skins. Image courtesy of the Abri Peyrony and Pech de l'Azé I Projects. (Click on image to view larger.)
Neanderthals Made the First Specialized Bone Tools in Europe
Circa 48,000 BCEProof that Neanderthals Ate Vegetables as Well as Meat, in the Earliest Dated Human Faeces Circa 41,000 BCE
Cro Magnon skull. (Click on image to view larger.)
Discovery of the Cro-Magnons, the First European Early Modern Humans
Circa 40,000 BCE
Fossilized scullcap of Neanderthal 1. (Click on image to view larger.
The First Specimen to be Recognized as an Early Human Fossil
Circa 39,000 BCE
Molar found in Denisova Cave of the Altay Mountains in Southern Siberia. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Denisova Hominin, a Third Kind of Human
Circa 38,000 BCE – 33,000 BCE
The Venus of Schelklingen.
The Earliest Known Examples of Figurative Art
38,000 BCE
The introduction of sturdy shoes led weaker toes.
The First Sturdy Shoes are Invented
Circa 37,000 BCE
Detail of the
The Oldest Cave Painting
Circa 36,000 BCE
Svante Pääbo
Neanderthal Genome Reveals Interbreeding with Humans
35,000 BCE
Lembobo bone or tally stick. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Oldest Known Mathematical Artifact
Circa 33,000 BCE
A flute, found in the hills west of Ulm Germany, that is believed to be 35,000 years old.
The Earliest Musical Instruments
Circa 33,000 BCE
37mm long, 7.5 gram figurine, made from mammoth ivory is some 35,000 years old. It is one of the oldest pieces of art ever found.  Photo: Universität Tübingen. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Earliest Known Carving of a Mammoth
Circa 32,000 BCE – 30,000 BCE
Fighting rhinos and horses. Detail from one of the most important panels of Chauvet.  It contains twenty animals including rhinoceroses and horses. (Click on image to view larger.)
Probably the Earliest Extensive Collection of Paintings
Circa 32,000 BCE – 28,000 BCE
Wild flax fibers discovered in Dzudzuana Cave. (View Larger)
Making Materials from Flax Fibers
Circa 31,000 BCE
Bones of the
The First Genuine Human Fossil Skeleton Discovered by a Scientist
Circa 30,000 BCE
The 'Lion Man,' preserved in the Ulmer Museum in Ulm, Germany. (View a full-scale image.)
The Earliest Zoomorphic / Anthropomorphic Sculpture
Circa 30,000 BCE – 29,000 BCE
The
The Earliest Sculpture of a Horse
29,000 BCE – 25,000 BCE
The Venus of Dolní VÄ›stonice. (View Larger)
The Oldest Known Ceramic Figurine
Circa 28,000 BCE – 21,000 BCE
Photocredit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution. (View Larger)
Some of the Earliest Tools for Sewing Garments
25,000 BCE – 20,000 BCEThe Ishango Bone, Possibly One of the Oldest Calendars Circa 25,000 BCE
A modern replica of the Venus of Lespugue. (View Larger)
The Earliest Representation of Spun Thread
Circa 24,000 BCE – 22,000 BCE
The Venus of Willendorf. (View Larger)
The Venus of Willendorf
24,000 BCE
The oldest known portrait of a woman, sculpted from mammoth ivory during the last ice age around 26,000 years ago.  Photograph: Graeme Robertson for The Guardian. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Earliest Portrait
Circa 23,000 BCE
The Venus of Brassempouy. (View Larger)
One of the Earliest Known Realistic Representations of a Human Face
Circa 23,000 BCE – 12,000 BCE
Artist rendition of dwelling in Mezhirich, Poland, made of mammoth bones.  Source: Dolní VÄ›stonice Museum. (Click on image to view larger.)
Perhaps the Oldest Surviving Architecture
Circa 20,000 BCEDiscoveries in Brazil Could Predate the Arrival of the Clovis People in the Americas Circa 18,000 BCE
Cylcons
Circa 16,000 BCE
Photocredit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution. (View Larger)
The Earliest Surviving Pottery From Japan
Circa 15,300 BCE
Painting of a dun horse from Lascaux Cave. (Click on image to view larger.)
The "Sistine Chapel" of the Upper Paleolithic
Circa 14,000 BCEThe Venus Impudique: the First Discovery of a Venus Figurine Circa 13,500 BCE – 11,200Hunter-Gathers Were Living At Buttermilk Creek, Texas, as Early as 15,000 Years Ago Circa 12,800 BCE – 8,500 BCE
Winnemucca Lake petroglyphs. (Click on image to view larger.)
North America's Earliest Rock Art
Circa 12,000 BCE
'The Sorcerer' is one name for this cryptic painting found in the Trois Frères in France by Henri Breuil. Photocredit: Encyclopaedia Britannica(View Larger)
"The Sorcerer"
Circa 12,000 BCEMore than 5000 Flint Tools Are Found in Biggar, Scotland Circa 11,000 BCE
Flutings at Rouffignac.  Both children and adults created cave art known as finger flutings in the French caverns of Rouffignac roughly 13,000 years ago. Credit: Jessica Cooney / Leslie van Gelder. (Click on image to view larger.)
Pre-Historic Art Created by Children at the Cave of a Hundred Mammoths, Rouffignac
Circa 11,000 BCE
Ice age carving of two reindeer swimming.  It is carved from the tip of a mammoth tusk and shows a female reindeer swimming ahead of a male reindeer. (Click in image to view larger.)
The Swimming Reindeer
Circa 10,500 BCE
Spear thrower carved as a mammoth.  Source: The British Museum. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Mammoth Spear Thrower
Circa 10,000 BCEThe Holocene Interglacial Period Begins Circa 9,500 BCE
The Göbekli Tepe, Turkist for 'Potbelly Hill,' is the oldest discovered structure for religious worship. (View Larger)
The Earliest Surviving Human-Made Place of Worship
Circa 9,300 BCE – 9,175 BCEFood Storage Preceded Plant Domestication in the Jordan Valley Circa 9,000 BCE – 8,000 BCE
Emmer wheat, one of the first domesticated crops. (View Larger)
The Eight Founding Crops of Domesticated Agriculture
Circa 9,000 BCE
Oldest known representation of two people engaged in sexual intercourse. (Click on image to view larger.)
The Ain Sakhri Lovers Figurine
Circa 9,000 BCE – 8,700 BCEGenome of Child from Clovis Culture Confirms Asian Origin of North American Native Peoples Circa 8,500 BCE – 7,200 BCEFort Rock Sandals: The Oldest Surviving Shoes Circa 8,000 BCE
In Mesopotamia Neolithic Tokens are Developed for "Concrete" Counting