Compare and Contrast the Way in Which the Mesolithic and Neolithic Periods Are Discussed in the

The Mesolithic and Neolithic periods are generally regarded as the most important phases in the human development primarily within both a social and technological perspective. The periods also define the majority of the landscapes and sea shores we see today, with the end of the last Ice Age dating back to 10,000BC and the transition from Paleolithic into Mesolithic. However, what are the key aspects of Mesolithic & Neolithic that maintain these periods as distinct events in time? This short paper will compare and contrast Stephen J. Mithen’s “The Mesolithic Age” with that of Alasdair Whittle’s “The first Farmers” with primary focus on what topics are discussed for each period. Both of these papers are published in The Oxford Illustrated Prehistory of Europe.
Mithen’s opens the discussion of the Mesolithic period as a time of great environmental change as a result of the end of the last Ice Age. As temperatures increased and the ice a glaciers retreated, Europe experienced changes in its land and sea boundaries as a result of rising seas and land rebound. In parallel with the changing physical landscape, there were also changes to the distribution of vegetation and of animals. Trees became a dominating aspect of the landscape with massive thick forests forming across most of Europe. Cold tolerant species like birch, aspen and willow were soon replaced with pine, hazel and lime as temperatures increased. Wildlife impacts were also dramatic with large animals like wooly rhino, mammoth and giant deer disappearing and replaced with a rich diverse of animals such as red deer, wild pig and elk.
In terms of technology and artifacts that exist in the archaeological record, stone tools take centre stage as the dominant footprint of early Mesolithic people. As with earlier periods, Flint is a primary resource that enabled the early people to hunt and prepare food. Mithen also suggests that the Mesolithic period brought us the introduction of the microlith as a major...