1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Palaeolithic

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PALAEOLITHIC (Gr. παλαιός, old, and λίθος, stone), in anthropology, the characteristic epithet of the Drift or early Stone Age when Man shared the possession of Europe with the mammoth, the cave-bear, the woolly-haired rhinoceros and other extinct animals. The epoch is characterized by flint implements of the rudest type and never polished. The fully authenticated remains of palaeolithic man are few, and discoveries are confined to certain areas, e.g. France and north Italy. The reason is that interment appears not to have been practised by the river-drift hunters, and the only bones likely to be found would be those accidentally preserved in caves or rock-shelters. The first actual find of a palaeolithic implement was that of a rudely fashioned flint in a sandbank at Menchecourt in 1841 by Boucher de Perthes. Further discoveries have resulted in the division of the Palaeolithic Age into various epochs or sequences according to the faunas associated with the implements or the localities where found. One classification makes three divisions for the epoch, characterized respectively by the existence of the cave-bear, the mammoth and reindeer; another, two, marked by the prevalence of the mammoth and reindeer respectively. These divisions are, however, unsatisfactory, as the fauna relied on as characteristic must have existed synchronously. The four epochs or culture-sequences of G. de Mortillet have met with the most general acceptance. They are called from the places in France where the most typical finds of palaeolithic remains have been made—Chellian from Chelles, a few miles east of Paris; Mousterian from the cave of Moustier on the river Vézère, Dordogne; Solutrian from the cave at Solutré near Macon; and Madelenian from the rocky shelter of La Madeleine, Dordogne.