Global prehistory: 30,000-500 B.C.E.

Human expression existed across the globe before the written record. While prehistoric art of Europe has been the focus of many introductions to the history of art, very early art is found worldwide and shares certain features, particularly concern with the natural world and humans’ place within it. By permission, © 2013 The College Board

Periods of time before the written record are often defined in terms of geological eras or major shifts in climate and environment. The periods of global prehistory, known as lithic or stone ages, are Paleolithic (“old stone age”), Mesolithic (“middle stone age”), and Neolithic (“new stone age”). A glacial period produced European ice ages; Saharan agricultural grassland became desert; and tectonic shifts in southeast Asia created land bridges between the continent and the now-islands of the Pacific south of the equator. Human behavior and expression was influenced by the changing environments in which they lived. By permission, © 2013 The College Board