Through The Ages In 100 Words
Old Stone Age
Palaeolithic: palaeo = old; lithic = stone. 700,000 to 12,000 years ago. Homo species, but Anatomically Modern Humans (us!) only appeared about 150,000 years ago. They/we were smart enough to survive, but were slow learners living in family groups of 15-20. Migrated only as far as was necessary. Hunted, foraged, had fire, made tools, weapons, jewellery, and painted on cave walls. They lived in an age of megafauna - mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers, cave bears etc. They migrated as far as Britain (still attached to Europe) when the climate was pleasant enough, and there was food enough.
Meso = middle. 12,000 to 6,000 years ago. 13,000 years ago a comet caused a firestorm from California to Belgium that killed off most of the megafauna including mastodons, mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers and giant bears. The last Ice Age lasted from 120,000 to 16,000 years ago, so by 12,000 years ago Britain had been repopulated with trees, plants, animals, and was mostly good for the hunter-forager Mesolithics. They had domesticated dogs, some sheep and cattle, and harvested grains. Wore clothes, shoes and jewellery. Were religious, worshipping their ancestors and natural spirits. Generally, a successful, thriving way of life.
Neo = new. 6,000 to 4,500 years ago. 12,000 years ago farming started in Anatolia, Turkey taking 6,000 years to spread up to Britain, by then an island. Within 2 generations, these new arrivals had wiped out the hunter-foragers through disease probably. They grew crops, and had herds of domesticated sheep, goats, cattle. The built round houses with surrounding farmyards, but weren't successful farmers with our weather. They were highly religious, worshipping their ancestors, and, above all, were great monument builders. Stone equalled death to them, timber life. Theirs is the age of Avebury, Stonehenge and Garn Goch.
4,500 to 2,700 years ago. ‘Celts’ (a culture not a genomic race) originated in south-east Europe invading Britain from Holland. The chart shows the Neolithics disappeared almost immediately from the gene-pool. Those Celts are us in England as much as Wales. They brought advanced farming methods, bronze utensils and jewellery, and individual burial practices similar to ours. Britain was one of only 3 major sources of tin across Europe, so they traded that with their fellow Celts across Europe, all speaking the same language. Theirs was a comparatively sophisticated, wealth-creating society, but bronze had limited use for farming and weapons.
2,700 to 2,000 years ago. Same Celtic people, but new technology. Smelting iron requires higher temperatures, so technology drove this age as farming and fighting could become much more effective. That combination created wealth, and to defend that wealth they built over 4,000 large and small, stone and earthworks forts on easily defensible sites. That Wales had a disproportionately large number of them suggests there was much wealth to defend as well as sites to build forts on. They more or less thrived, generally peaceably, for a comparatively short time because their age ended when Roman armies and culture arrived.
Middle: Neolithic-Bronze Age genome chart. See copyrights.