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British Prehistory

An explanation of British Prehistory
by

Dillon Emo

on 6 May 2011

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Transcript of British Prehistory

British Prehistory Paleolithic Age Mesolithic Age Neolithic Age Bronze Age Iron Age Presented by Dillon Emo 2,000,000 BC - 8,000 BC 8,000 BC - 4,000 BC 4,000 BC - 2,200 BC 2,200 BC - 800 BC 800 BC - 43 AD Humans arrived in Britain 700,000 years ago, and this time period represents 99% of the time humans were present The climate during this time period fluctuated with warmer and cooler periods Humans during this time period were the typical stone-age inhabitant Caves! Stone Tools! Animal Skins! Nomadic! What Changed? - The Climate Because of the changing climate, human presence was not continuous Time period humans were able to move freely to and from Great Britain because the cooler climate kept the surrounding oceans frozen, and the sea level was lower The climate warms, as a consequence Great Britain become an island This changed Britain's ecosystems Previous grassland areas became forests
This made it much harder for hunters to catch prey
Now, hunters became fishermen, moved to the coast and built their own homes Time period dwellings were tee-pee like, probably covered with peat The hunter-gatherer lifestyle persisted, as did mostly stone tools Examples of late Mesolithic tools
(6000 BC - 4500 BC) Examples of early Mesolithic tools
(8000 BC - 6000 BC) What Changed? - The Agricultural Revolution Immigrants from mainland Europe brought the Agricultural Revolution to Britain! The development of agriculture marks man's most important leap forward in society How so? Civilization began with agriculture.
Farming allows permanent settlements to develop, which allows a distinct society and culture to develop.
Arts, sciences, and religious beliefs are developed Mundane Civilization Homes The houses were generally isolated from others, and occupied by families
Instead of tee-pee like buildings, houses were built in rectangles.
Their walls were made by coating hazel rods with a mixture of clay, animal feces, and straw.
The roof was made of thatch Farming Even though British Neolithic inhabitants farmed, their diets were still mostly animal based
The grain they farmed was probably used for sacrifices, and in the later Neolithic, brewing Tools and Clothing Pottery also spread to the British Isles during this period, in "coil pot" and "pinch pot" forms
Stone tools were still used, although the quality of these tools was much improved.
Clothes were still generally made of animal skins, but the use of plant material to insulate and supplement the animal skins became more common Fun Stuff Burial Non-Burial The first burial structures developed
Long mounds of tunneled earth (reinforced with wood or stone) which ended in a burial chamber
An example of which is West Kennet long barrow at 104 meters long Long Barrows Passage Graves A larger, round mound of earth with a tunnel leading to a central burial chamber
A level of sophistication is developed as the passage is aligned with the sun during the solstice
Also, the main burial chamber was designed for gatherings, and was designed acoustically to facilitate ceremony 3000 BC on Beginning of Neolithic Causewayed Enclosures Soon after long barrows Not too exciting really...
Basically a series of enclosing ditches and mounds
Served as a place of gathering and ceremony for the surrounding region
Some sites have indicated that they did come under attack at some point (Monuments) Henge Monuments Stonehenge is one of the best preserved examples
Replaced causewayed enclosures as places of gathering, trade, and ceremony
Constructed aligned with the sun's pattern
Other examples include Avebury What Changed? Well what do you think? Back to Mundane Civ... Community! Working bronze requires skilled artisans.
Therefore, to live a more convenient lifestyle, people began to group together in communities, close to their tool-making bronze smiths Houses! Now, circuluar houses replaced the Neolithic ones as the new hip style.
A common saying from this time in reference to rectangular houses was "Thats soooo Neolithic..." MONEY!!! The introduction of bronze created wealth - haves and have nots
This evolved into chiefdoms, and the richest man in the village was the chieftan
Incredible metalworking developed during this time Warning!!! The crazy plot twist up ahead may stun you Henge Monuments
were abandoned!!! Why? Two Factors: Henge monuments provided a "sense of place"
Now, villages and bronze replaced this
So there's no reason for henges anymore! Burial Customs BackGround Information The climate once again shifted - warming
Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, began to become widely used within Great Britain
These two factors cause a plethora of changes to life, which I'll explain The new metal goods emphasized power and status of individuals rather than the community Water is Awesome! For whatever reason, the next new fad was water Round barrows The next innovation in burials were smaller mounds of hollowed out dirt
These barrows started as communal
They became smaller and the burial place of the wealthy Large deposits of costly metals and objects have been found in boggy or marshy places
These objects were found to be funeral offerings
A few skulls were also found in these areas Hill Forts Because of the eternal quest for wealth, warfare reached all time highs during the Bronze Age
Therefore, some settlements began to be built on hill tops, sometimes with very elaborate rampart structures
We'll see the expansion of hill forts in the iron age What Changed? Again, not at all obvious... Changes in living conditions Iron Replaced Bronze, But Why? Bronze actually a better product than iron: it doesnt rust and its production is less labor intensive than iron
Iron ore is much easier to obtain than copper and tin are, so the change took place Other Changes Agricultural practice improved because of trade from mainland Europe, which allowed the general quality of life to go up as well
Because of this, settlements could expand
Houses generally stayed the same, but were centered around easily accessible hillforts
Scottish Hillforts Crannogs Essentially a house which is built on an artificially constructed island on the edge of a lake Brochs just about the coolest thing before sliced bread... End of British Prehistory Romans had known about the British Isles for a long time, now at the height of their time, they expanded to Britain, and conquered it in 43 AD, ending Britain's era in prehistory Thank you for joining me for...
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