Prehistory 30,000 BC to 0 AD

  • © ATOUT FRANCE/Philippe Maille

Prehistory 30,000 BC to 0 AD Eyzies-de-Tayac fr

You don't have to be a "homo sapiens", a wise man, to know about our remote ancestors.

Prehistory is a vast period which runs from the emergence of Early Man, after the Secondary Era, to the appearance of writing.

The Paleolithic period covers the period from 30,000 to 10,000 BC, followed by the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age from 4,000 to 750 BC, then by the Protohistoric period and the Iron Age, finally becoming History and the start of our own era.

Prehistoric science studies the geological subdivisions of the tertiary era and the Pliocene period, the quaternary era with the Pleistocene and Holocene periods, together with Man and the tools he used.

Who were these people? From Australopithecus, the oldest of our ancestors, hominids held their heads increasingly upright and walked increasingly erect. Australopethicus gave way to "homo erectus", Neanderthal man, "homo sapiens" and then to "homo sapiens sapiens".

Prehistoric industries are found in the caves of France, which have been actively excavated since the 19th century. Simple pebbles were followed by a succession of different prehistoric industries of which the best known are the Acheulian, the Mousterian and the Azilian. The age of shaped stone - the Stone Age - was succeeded by the Iron Age and then the Bronze Age.

The area covered by the commune of Eyzies-de-Tayac has the greatest number of prehistoric caves in Aquitaine. One of these, the Laugerie-Haute site, reveals the full extent of Late Paleolithic art through engravings from the Solutrean and Magdalenian periods. The extraordinary paintings in the Font-de-Gaume cavern date from the Magdalenian period. Further north, the Pair-non-Pair cave is decorated with engravings from the Mousterian period (30,000 BC).

The art of prehistoric Man is still a model for the artists of today.