1 Overview: Prehistoric Culture

This chapter will introduce students to cultural expressions in both Paleolithic and Neolithic eras. Students will interpret cultural artifacts such as the Venus of Willendorf and Stonehenge to determine what these artifacts tell us about the daily lives of prehistoric men and women. Historians divide time in two eras. The era before year one is identified as BCE (Before the Common Era) or previously BC (Before Christ). The era after year is identified as CE (Common Era) or previously AD (Anno Domini–Latin for the ‘In the Year of Our Lord’). While the Christianized delineations of history sufficed in previous decades, scholars now prefer the more generic BCE and CE as they take into account that different religions have different starting points in history. Jewish tradition, for example, has seen the beginning of Creation as their first year. On the other hand, Muslims identify Muhammad’s flight from Mecca as their first year (622 CE in the common calendar). Thus BCE and CE allow historians to speak about events in the past through a secular rather than religious lens. Even so, the designations BCE/BC and CE/AD work the same. In the era of BCE/BC, time counts down backward. However, once you reach year one, time begins to march forward in the AD/CE era. Thus, Augustus comes to power in Rome in the year 27 BCE. He dies, however, in 14 CE. So, in essence, he ruled for 41 years. In terms of Jesus, many scholars now place his birth earlier than turn of the first millennia, sometime around 4 BCE.(1)

Chapter Learning Objectives

  1. Sort events in historical order from the Prehistoric era.
  2. Identify characteristics that distinguish the Paleolithic from the Neolithic eras.
  3. Identify possible motivations for the creation of cave art during the Paleolithic era.
  4. Identify possible explanations as to why prehistoric communities created Venus statuettes.
  5. Identify the reasons why the Neolithic era was a revolutionary era in human history.
  6. Identify possible explanations for the construction of prehistoric sites such as Gobekli Tepe, mound complexes, and Stonehenge, and recognize how they may have functioned.
  7. Identify elements that defined prehistoric settlements such as Skara Brae, Jericho, and Banpo Village.
  8. Identify features that mark the end of the prehistoric era in human history.
  9. Analyze the role that religion might have played in the formation of prehistoric art and architecture.(1)


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Humanities: Prehistory to the 15th Century Copyright © by Florida State College at Jacksonville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book