added by archaeologs The period of prehistory when people began to use ground stone tools, cultivate plants, and domesticate livestock but before the use of metal for tools. It is the technical name for the New Stone Age in the Old World following the Mesolithic. In the Neolithic, villages were established, pottery and weaving appeared, and farming began. The Neolithic began about 8000-7000 BC in the Middle East and about 4000-3000 BC in Europe. It was followed by the Bronze Age, which began about 3500-3000 BC in the Middle East and about 2000-1500 BC in Europe. The criteria for defining the Neolithic has become progressively more difficult to apply as both food production and metalworking took a long time to develop. In Britain the Neolithic has other more specific characteristics: the use of pottery and of ground stone (beside the long-employed flaked stone) and the appearance of construction works like the long barrow causewayed camp and megalithic tomb. Elsewhere however some Mesolithic cultures made use of pottery in Japan for example; and certain so-called pre-pottery Neolithic groups had none as at Jericho. If the term Neolithic is to be retained at all it must be based on the appearance of food production (especially cereal grains) sometimes called the Neolithic revolution commencing in southwest Asia 9000-6000 BC. This might be considered the most important single advance ever made by man since it allowed him to settle permanently in one spot. This in turn encouraged the accumulation of material possessions stimulated trade and by giving a storable surplus of food allowed a larger population and craft specialization. All these were prerequisite to further human progress. The Neolithic was followed by the Mesolithic period the Chalcolithic or the Bronze Age depending on the terminology used in different areas and the nature of the archaeological sequence itself. The Neolithic followed the Paleolithic Period.
added by archaeologs The New Stone Age, following the Mesolithic period. Originally defined by the use of ground and polished stone tools (in contrast to the chipped stone artefacts of earlier periods), other criteria were added later: the use of pottery and, especially, the practice of a farming economy. It is now known that these traits did not all appear at the same time in every area and this has given rise to the use of such awkward terms as Acera-mic Neolithic and Pre-pottery Neolithic. The term Neolithic is widely used in Asian, European and African prehistory, but refers to different chronological periods in different areas. In Western Asia the earliest Neolithic societies appear before 8000 be, while the beginnings of farming occur only several thousand years later in other parts of Asia, in Africa and in Europe. The Neolithic is succeeded either by the Chalcolithic or the Bronze Age, depending on the terminology used in different areas and the nature of the archaeological sequence itself. See also Three Age System.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983