The Topic:
Prehistoric People

Easier - Prehistoric people lived in the time period before events were recorded or written down. Woolly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and bears were among the prehistoric beasts that also roamed the earth.
Harder - The development of writing enabled people to record and save information, thus marking the beginning of their history. That occurred about 5,500 years ago. People before that are labeled as prehistoric. Scientists speculate that the first humans on earth lived about 2 million years ago; however, they are probably linked to prehuman ancestors who lived at least 4 million years ago.
Evidence of prehistoric people was first discovered in mid-19th century when sharp-edged stone tools and fossilized human bones were found and identified. Since that time, infrequent discoveries of other fossils of prehistoric people have occurred. These usually fragmented remains have provided additional information about early humans and what they looked like.
Anthropologists whose interest is the study of human and cultural development join with archaeologists, zoologists, botanists, geologists, and other scientists to locate and analyze the physical evidence; artifacts such as pottery shards, stone tools, fragmented fossils, and other remains. From these findings, they must base their conjectures about early human life. In addition, new evidence continues to be occasionally discovered, sometimes leading to questioning or disproval of former theories and giving rise to controversial debates.
Welcome to the Stone Ages from Museum of Antiquities, University of Newcastle
This exhibition takes you into the lives of the inhabitants of Britain and north west Europe from the time when ice sheets still covered land and sea, until the time when settled farming peoples were cultivating the land.
Related Websites:
2) Ancient Big Game Hunting
3) Hunting and Gathering by R. Law from World Civilizations, Washington State
4) Hunter-gatherers (c. 7000 BC - 4000 BC) from Cruithni (Ulster History)
5) Hunter Gatherer Era (Unformatted article) from Free Term Papers
Life & Times of Early Man by L Donn & D. Donn
Why did Cro-Magnon man crawl on his belly through dangerous mazes in deep dark caves? How did the "Upright Man" travel from Africa to America without a boat? Who were the Neandertals? Did man live at the same time as dinosaurs? Find out here!
Related Websites:
2) First Humans by M. Dust from Early Histories
3) Last Neanderthal by P. Quinney from ScienceNet
4) Neanderthal from Discovery Channel
5) Neanderthal Heaven by C. Hawkins
6) Neanderthals
7) Neandertals: A Cyber Perspective by K.M. Ramanan
8) Neanderthals and Modern Humans
9) Neanderthals on Trial from PBS NOVA Online
10) Who Were the Neandertals? by S. Gonzaga from Earth & Sky
11) Walking with Beasts: Cro Magnon General Evidence from BBC
Prehistory Exhibits from EMuseum, Mankato State University
This website provides a comprehensive overview of prehistoric humans around the world.
Related Websites:
2) Early Humans from Oakland Unified School District
3) Prehistoric Australia and the Ascension of the Marsupials
4) Prehistoric Britain from BBC Online
5) Prehistoric Times from The Encyclopedia of World History
6) Prehistory by N.B. Mautz from Creative Impulse (Huge links-site)
Stone Age Habitats by W.J. Kowalski from The Maze II
Man's earliest ancestors sought protection from the elements and predators in natural shelters such as caves and rock overhangs. Gradually, they learned to improve their caves, but ultimately they began creating entirely new habitats in locations that had no natural shelter.
Other Related Sites from The Maze:
2) Cave Bears
3) Stone Age Hand-axes
Related Technology & Tool Websites:
4) Australian Stone Tools by S. Hawkins
5) Caveman's Armory
6) Fire in Prehistoric Times from Fundooz
7) First Stone Tools: The Great Advantage
8) First Technologies by M. Dust from Early Histories
9) From Ancient Flutes to Flame-based Music by A. Boyle from MSNBC
10) Old Stone Age from Prehistoric Experience Hall, Korea
11) Prehistoric Fire
12) Secrets of the Atlatl by by W.R. Knapp
13) Stone Age
14) Tools of the Stone Age from Don's Maps
After visiting several of the websites, select one or more of the following projects or activities.
Read A Book About Prehistoric Life. A few books that you might check out are (1) Maroo of the Winter Caves by Ann Turnbull, (2) Dar and the Spear Thrower by Marjorie Cowley, and (3) Boy of the Painted Cave by Justin Denzel. Boy of the Painted Cave is set in the Cro-Magnon era. Tao longs to be a cave artist, but his talent is viewed as a curse, making it impossible to be one of the Chosen Ones. The story of Maroo, a girl of the late Ice Age, involves her family group's struggle for survival. After the death of her father, she and her brother lead their mother and aged grandmother to winter camp before the first blizzards strike. The other book centers on a boy, Dar, and his coming of age in a Cro-Magnon clan. Dar leaves his family in search of the stranger to exchange his sun stones (fire starters) for a spear-thrower. After selecting and reading one of the books, write an analysis that includes its setting, identifies the main characters and their roles and relationships, summarizes the main activities and the big ideas, tells the changes that occur for the main character, and gives your judgment of its historical correctness, and provides your opinion of the story. An alternative activity would be to create a map that places or follows the main character through the story. Locate, illustrate, and label sites where significant events occur - - remember these can be actual events or changes in thinking or significant learning.
Complete A Prehistoric WebQuest. Adapt or follow the procedures found at one of the following webQuest sites:
1) Early Man by (Grade 6) B. Swigart
2) History of Early Man (Grade 6) by E.O. Buckley
3) International Institute of Archaeology Anthropology (Grade 6) by M. Edwards
4) Investigating Prehistoric and Modern Art WebQuest (Grades 6-8) by K. Ballein
Could You Survive? The hunter-gatherers of the Stone Age did not plant their own crops, but lived off the plants which grew around them, taking fungi, leaves and flowers, and nuts and berries. Some are good to eat, but some are poisonous. To survive as a hunter-gatherer you have to know which you can eat and which to avoid. See how you do with the online quiz at Could You Survive Today as a Hunter Gatherer? If you are interested in more information on the use of plants by people, you might check on these websites:
1) Aboriginal Plant Use in South-Eastern Australia from Australian National Botanic
2) Ethnobotany of Wild Plant Foods by S. Mason
3) Native American Ethnobotany Database by D. Moerman, University of Michigan -
4) Plants for the Future
5) Traditional Herbal &Plant Knowledge, Identifications (Links-site)
Identify edible plants and fungi that are found where you live. Put together a survival guide for your region.
Create A Model of A Prehistoric Home. Consider the different types of shelters where prehistoric people lived. Is it a cave, canyon overhang or alcove, or a rudely constructed tent or hut? What types of terrain did they frequent? Is it a woodland, a valley, hill country? Now create a model or diorama of an imagined prehistoric dwelling. Find or adapt the ideas you find at (1) Dioromas, (2) How To Make a Diorama, and (3) Dinosaur Dioramas.
Compare And Contrast Neanderthal And Cro-Magnon People. How were these people alike and how did they differ. Present your findings in a graphical way by creating a poster that identifies your findings. Identify those features and traits that you believe are upheld by evidence and those which are more theoretical. Make your poster as attractive as possible.
What Would A Cave Kid's School Be Like? Imagine that you are the "educational leader" for your prehistoric cave dweller school. What would be the curriculum; what material would need to be covered? What types of instruction would be used? Would classes be co-ed; both genders studying the same subjects? Where would they be taught? Who would be teaching? How long would classes be held and for how many years. Be creative, be specific as possible, give your school a name, and present your educational plan. Have some fun imagining!
Create Your Own Rock Art. Visit several of the rock art sites. Then create your own art that imitates or is related to the prehistoric styles. Use a large sheet of art paper to create a mural panel of your rock art. An alternative approach would be to create art on actual rock material. They do not have to be monolith; they can be rocks small enough to carry in your hand. See some ideas found at the eduScapes NatureScapes project on Rock Art.
Websites By Kids For Kids
Cave Art from Urbana Middle School, IL
Using charcoal and colored chalk and shading with fingers, students created cave art drawings. Later they made their own tools. Their projects are shown in two galleries at this site.
Cro Magnon Caves (Grade 6)
This project site contains students models or dioramas of a Cro Magnon homes. The cave models contain decorations and artifacts.
Related Student Projects:
2) Cro-Magnon Man
Early Humans
Here are a few online student articles on evidence of early humans.
Human Origins (1997 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
This site is about the evolution of mankind.
TimeKeeper: Cultures of the Southwest (1997 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
Divided into historical eras, this web site present information about the cultures of the American Southwest.
More on Prehistoric Humans
Ancient Architects of the Mississippi from the National Park Service
Eight hundred years ago, the lower Mississippi Delta was home to some of the most highly organized civilizations in the world, the moundbuilders.
Related Websites:
2) Adena Mounds
3) Cahokia Site Map
4) Mound and Rings from National Park Service
5) Moundbuilders from National Park Service
6) Woodland Period (ca. 2000 B.C.- A.D. 1000) from National Park Service
Arctic by R. McGhee from Canadian Museum of Civilization
From the northwestern Canadian Arctic, archaeologists have convincing evidence of the earliest human presence in the New World. At least 20,000 years ago, this area was inhabited by Palaeolithic hunters of mammoth and other large game.
Related Sites on Prehistoric Humans from the Canadian Museum of Civilization:
2) British Columbia by K.R. Fladmark
3) Kichi Sibi
4) Maritimes by D. Keenlyside
5) Newfoundland and Labrador by J.A. Tuck
6) Ontario by J.V. Wright
7) Québec by J.V. Wright
8) Tsimshian Prehistory
Cave of the Warrior from American Museum of Natural History
Discovered in 1993, the Cave of the Warrior, in Wadi el-Makkukh, near Jericho, held a unique burial assemblage that included unusual textiles, sandals, and the oldest bow known to be preserved in the Near East. The exhibition also presents objects found in other regional burial sites of the time.
Related Website:
2) Paintings, Engravings and Sculptures from Don's Maps
Cave Art from McDougal Littell Publishers
The site contains information and images on ancient cave paintings.
Related Websites:
2) Cave of Chauvet-Pond-d'Arc
3) Cave at Lascaux
4) Cave at Pech Merle, France
5) Chauvet Prehistoric Cave
6) Vallon-Pont d'Arc from Harcourt School Publishers
Contemporary Approaches to World Rock Art by M. Morwood & C.E. Smith
This website provides an overview of current rock art studies; distribution and chronology of major rock art bodies throughout the world, major techniques for dating and analysing rock art, and current approaches to rock art conservation and management.
Other Rock Art Websites:
2) Bob's Rock Art Photo Gallery
3) Links to Rock Art Sites
4) Painted Rocks of Africa from The Kennedy Center
5) Pictograph Cave State Park
6) Prehistoric Art (Links-site)
7) Prehistoric Rock Paintings of Bhimabetaka (India) by K.L. Kamat
8) Rock Art Links
9) Trust for African Rock Art
Early Man by L.D. Larsen
This extensive interactive chapter of an online World History tutorial focuses on the arrival and development of early humans on earth.
Related Websites:
2) Becoming Human from Institute of Human Origins
3) Creation Science
4) Early Modern Man from Hunterian Museum
5) First True Humans
6) Human Evolution: The Fossil Evidence in 3D from University of California, Santa
7) Human Origins from Smithsonian Institution
8) Hominid Species from Talk Origins
9) Hominid Species Timeline by R. Law from World Civilizations, Washington State
10) Human Evolution from PBS You Try It
11) Human Prehistory: An Exhibition by D.I. Loizos
12) In Search of Human Origins Part Three (Transcript) from PBS NOVA
13) Origins of Humankind
14) Overview of Human Origins by R. Law from World Civilizations, Washington State
Mothers of Time: Seven Palaeolithic Figurines from Canadian Museum of Civilization
Approximately 25,000 years on from their birth date and almost 4,000 kilometres distant from their place of origin, these seven Balzi Rossi figurines shed new light on the origins and meaning of an art.
Other Sites on Prehistoric Art:
2) Gather Around This Pot . . . from Canadian Museum of Civilization
3) Lost Visions, Forgotten Dreams from Canadian Museum of Civilization
4) Prehistoric Art and Artifacts from Tigertail Virtual Museum
Origins of War: Mesolithic Conflict in Europe by N. Thorpe from British Archaeology
The Mesolithic era is often characterised as a kind of golden age of harmony with nature and peaceful co-existence between people. Not so, writes this author.
Prehistoric Grampian by A. Burl
The Grampian region of Scotland has a large concentration of recumbent stone circles, a type of prehistoric construction that is almost unique to Britain and Ireland.
Other Prehistoric Megalith Websites:
2) America's Stonehenge
3) Beginnings of Stonehinge from Britannia
4) Megalithic Temples of Malta
5) Stonehenge from Mysterious Places
Prehistoric Peoples of the Desert Southwest from DesertUSA
During the past century, investigators have been solving one of the great mysteries of the North American continent: Who built the spectacular, prehistoric cliff dwellings and other ancient structures scattered throughout the American Southwest?
Related Websites:
2) Anasazi from DesertUSA
3) Ancient Peoples (Southwest US)
4) Freemont Culture from National Park Service
5) Introduction to Aztalan from Madison Schools (Follow links at bottom of page)
6) Paleoamerican Origins from Encyclopedia Smithsonian
7) Prehistory of Alaska from National Park Service
8) Sipapu - Anasazi Emergence into the Cyber World by J. Kantner
Walking with Prehistoric Beasts from Discovery Channel
Meet the bizarre-looking mammals that rose after dinosaurs died out millions of years ago.
Related Websites:
2) Land of the Mammoth from Discovery Channel
3) Mammoth Saga by U. Carlberg, Swedish Museum of Natural History
4) Midwestern U.S. 16,000 Years Ago from the Illinois State Museum (Plants & animals)
5) Prehistoric Life from Museum Victoria
6) Saber-toothed Tiger
Websites for Teachers
Analyzing Artifacts (Grades 5-7) by S. Manes from AskERIC
Generally children do not have knowledge of or understand the methods of collecting information about pre-historic peoples. A question most often asked is, "If there was no writing, how do you know what they were like?"
Cave Art Lesson
Here is a lesson on cave art of early man. The lesson includes follow-up questions and has a few links forstudy and illustrations.
Early Man in North America: The Known to the Unknown (Grade 8) by V.A. Polino from Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
This unit deals with the science called New Archaeology, which sees culture as a link between behavioral patterns and material items. The culture that a society develops therefore, is the direct result of the way humans learn to cope with their environment.
If Rocks Could Talk by S. Gibson from The Kennedy Center's Imagination Celebration
This lesson will introduce students to southwestern rock art, the difference between a petroglyph and pictograph, and use of negative space. Students will create a simple monoprint and make and use a stencils.
Oorg Goob Glurg (Grade 6) by R. Cress
Most people have very definite ideas of what a "cave man" is. In this exploration, students will be writing extensively, viewing websites, doing online assessments, participating in class discussions, reading summaries by experts, and creating a cave art project to gain a beginning understanding of early man.
Rock Art Workshop Curriculum (Grades 4-8) from American Museum of Natural History
This unit plan leads students to explore a variety of rock art sites and compare their similarities and differences, create a journal/sketch book to document their studies, create a petroglyph and a pictograph, make a folding book and illustrate it with a rock art panel, and assemble a classroom museum exhibit.
Teacher Resource Guide: Boy of the Painted Cave by J. Denzel, San Francisco Unified School District
This unit is designed for intermediate English Language Development students. Teacher, N. Bartel, has written an easy to read version of Boy of the Painted Cave for ESL students which can be downloaded. Advanced readers can follow along with the original version. This site provides student and teacher worksheets for each chapter.
Related Websites:
2) Dar and the Spear Thrower by Marjorie Cowley (Student worksheet) from Houghton
Mifflin's Eduplace
homo habilis
Palaeolithic Age
stone tool
creation / evolution
homo erectus
rock art
saber-toothed tiger
animal skins
Ice Age
ancient Africa
Stone Age
Native American
ancient China
Neolithic Age
hunter gatherer
rock varnish
homo sapiens
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 11/02.