Prehistoric art

Neolithic art

The way we live today, settled in homes, close to other people in towns and cities, protected by laws, eating food grown on farms, and with leisure time to learn, explore and invent is all a result of the Neolithic revolution—the development of the technology needed to plant and harvest crops and to domesticate animals.

c. 10,0000 B.C.E. - 2000 B.C.E.

The Neolithic revolution
The Neolithic revolution

In the most important development in human history, Neolithic people took the first step toward civilization.

The Jericho Skull
The Jericho Skull

Is the plaster face on this skull modeled after a real person? Is it one of the world’s oldest portraits?

Nuragic architecture at Su Nuraxi Barumini, Sardinia
Nuragic architecture at Su Nuraxi Barumini, Sardinia

The Nuragic civilization of the island of Sardinia presents a mystery—what were their huge stone towers?

Running Horned Woman, Tassili n’Ajjer, Algeria
Running Horned Woman, Tassili n’Ajjer, Algeria

In an ancient North African “rock city,” modern explorers wetted a wall with water—revealing this graceful image.

Working jade
Working jade

Jade is a stone that is too hard to carve—to work it, artisans slowly rub away stone with grit.

Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Libya)
Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Libya)

Images on rocks in the Sahara provide a glimpse into the development of humans in this now barren land.

Anthropomorphic stele
Anthropomorphic stele

This stone marker depicts an abstracted human. How should we interpret one of the Arabia’s earliest artifacts?

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

In the south of England, circles of huge stones rose from the plains.

Bushel with ibex motifs
Bushel with ibex motifs

This beautiful pot was created over 5,000 years ago, and its decoration echoes its shape.

Jade Cong
Jade Cong

Found in large numbers in burials, these Chinese carvings constitutes an enormous effort by skilled craftsman.

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Recognized worldwide, Stonehenge seems an impossible task: how, and why, did prehistoric people build it?

Çatalhöyük
Çatalhöyük

The city of Çatalhöyük points to one of man's most important transformations, from nomad to settled farmer.