Asia Prehistory

By | January 3, 2023

While in Africa one can follow the very first traces of man, it is in Asia that one finds the earliest highly developed societies. From here are known the first testimonies of agriculture and cattle breeding in the world, the first use of metal and the oldest writing. The development of culture went different ways in the individual parts of the continent, whose varied nature offers very different living conditions – from the Arctic Sea in the north to the monsoon belt in the south and from the deserts and steppe lands of Central Asia to the rainforests of Southeast Asia.

The oldest finds from Asia go approximately and million years back. Tools from the Oldowan culture and from the older acheulé are known from Ubaydiyya in Israel. The oldest representatives of the species Homo erectus found in China are the skull from Lantien, approximately 0.8 million years old and older than the Peking man from Zhoukoudian, whose age is estimated at between 0.5 and 0.25 million. year. Javanese man is considered as old as found from Lantien, ie. between 0.9 and 0.7 million. year. In the older Paleolithic, various tool cultures existed: the Acheulé with hand wedges in West Asia and parts of India and a culture, Soan, that was based on pebble tools in most of India and Southeast Asia.

From 200,000-90,000 years ago, finds from so-called archaic Homo sapiens types from e.g. Dali in China, as well as Zuttiyeh and Qafzeh in Israel, are known from both East and West Asia. Visit Countryaah for detailed information about East Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. They herald the transition to the Middle Paleolithic and thus to a more developed culture, the moustérien. In this era, approximately 200,000-40,000 BC, human physical development went in different directions. Neanderthals lived in Europe, West and Central Asia, where funerals are taking place for the first time. In the other parts of Asia, the evolution from Homo erectus went over early Homo sapiens-types up to modern man. By the end of the Middle Paleolithic, human settlement existed over large parts of Asia. The lowering of sea levels during the last ice age enabled immigration to Japan for approximately 90,000 years ago.

In the Late Paleolithic, approximately 40,000-9,300 BC, the whole of Asia was populated by the living human type. From for approximately 32,000 years ago, the steppes of Siberia were inhabited by a people who hunted mammoths, wild horses, reindeer and bison. At a settlement near Malta near the river Angara, for approximately 23,000 years ago made small female and animal figures of mammoth tooth. The oldest Siberian rock paintings with animal motifs are from the Late Paleolithic. The sinking of the sea during the last ice age enabled immigration from Siberia to North America across the Bering Strait. In the warmer parts of Asia, the population became more dependent on plant foods, and some of the features that characterize later agricultural societies came to fruition. In Japan, sharpened stone axes from approximately 25,000 and ceramics, the oldest in the world, from approximately 10,000 BC

At the end of the Late Paleolithic (epipalæolitum), approximately 12,000-10,000 BC, the Natuf culture was widespread in the Near East. People lived in villages, collecting wild grains and hunting wild sheep, goats and gazelles. After approximately 9000 BC there were in the Near East early Neolithic villages, whose residents cultivated wheat and barley and kept domestic animals, but not yet made pottery. Settlement mounds (teller) testifies to permanent settlement from 9500 to 9000 BC, such as Jericho in the Jordan Valley, Abu Hurayra in Syria and Tepe Guran in Iran. From 8500 BC. there were urban mounds in Asia Minor, such as Cayönü Tepesiand Can Hassan, and 7000-5500 BC. created the first urban communities that testify to developed social, economic and religious organization, such as Çatal Hüyük in southeastern Turkey. In the period 5500-3000 BC. developed complex social systems in West Asia. Temple cities characterize the Ubaid period, and in the subsequent periods Uruk and Jemdet Nasr the first states of Mesopotamia emerge. The oldest cuneiform is known from Uruk approximately 3500 BC

While cold-hammered copper was known in the Near East before 7000 BC, forged copper became common after approximately 5000 BC and bronze from approximately 3500 BC Natural deposits of copper and tin were exploited in other parts of Asia for the production of bronze 3000-2000 BC. The iron, first used by the Hittites in Asia Minor, spread to the rest of Asia around 1000 BC.

In India and Pakistan, agriculture and cattle breeding are known from 7000-5000 BC. A climax was reached with the Indus culture, approximately 2500-1700 BC, whose cities were centers for handicrafts and trade and for the cultivation of barley, wheat, rice, millet and cotton. First approximately 700 BC arose around the river Ganges a number of city-states, which like other centers on the Indian peninsula were engulfed by the Maurya dynasty 400-300 BC.

In Turkmenistan, agriculture began 7000-6000 BC. with the Djeitun culture. On the steppes of Central Asia lived from approximately 2500 BC a semi-nomadic people who tamed horses and camels, buried their dead in burial mounds and from the Andronovo culture approximately 1500 BC used bronze. From the steppes came the expansive nomadic peoples who from 800-600 BC. is known as skyther and sarmater. From Pazyryk in the Altai are known rich princely tombs from 500-300 BC.

In northern China, the oldest Neolithic village culture, Yangshao, which was based on millet cultivation and pig farming, can be traced back to approximately 7000 BC During the Longshan culture, 2500-1800 BC, there were larger fortified urban communities around the Huang He (Hwang Ho) River and signs of the emergence of an armed elite, pointing to the Shang Dynasty.

Rice cultivation began in southern China approximately 6000-5000 BC and in Southeast Asia approximately 2000 BC The use of metal was known in Thailand and Vietnam from 2000-1500 BC, but first developed markedly in the Dong Son culture with the use of iron. From this time fortified cities emerged and a centralization began. It continued AD when the first temple cities were founded in the Mekong Delta, from which trade with other kingdoms in West and East Asia was conducted.

Both before and after the introduction of rice cultivation on the river plains of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, hunters, gatherers and fishermen used simple stone tools, the so-called Hoabinh culture, known from kitchen manure along the coasts and from the highlands’ rock caves, where hunting was supplemented by collection of plant food. In northern Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, some peoples lived to the Stone Age level to the present day.

In Japan, thousands of kitchen manure are known to date from the Iomon period, whose population lived by fishing, gathering and hunting, until agriculture began cultivating wheat and beans approximately 4000 BC Millet was grown from approximately 1000 BC and rice from around 300 BC. Bronze and iron first became widespread in the Yayoi period, 300 BC-300 AD, as a result of influences from the Han dynasty in China.