Prehistory is a fascinating area. Through these two resources teachers can explore Prehistory and Stone Age to Iron Age using the museum’s collection.
The first resource, Prehistory explores Deep history to Paleolithic. The second resource looks at changes from Stone Age to Iron Age.
Most of our knowledge comes from known sites but new discoveries and excavations mean that we are constantly learning about this period of history.
Professor Colin Renfrew provides an overview to prehistory in his book Prehistory the Making of the Human Mind. He explains that in 1816, Christian Jurgensen Thomsen, the first curator of the Danish Museum of Antiquities, had the task of organising the museum’s collection. Looking at the collection of items made of stone, bronze and iron, he realised that stone objects must be older than the bronze objects and that bronze objects must have predated the iron objects. From this observation, he created the Three Age system of Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. Jurgensen’s guidebook to the National Museum was translated into English in 1848 and his theory adopted widely.
The Stone Age itself covers a large timespan and divides into three periods:
Paleolithic; meaning Old (paleo) Stone (lithic) Age (about 2.5 million years ago)
Mesolithic; Middle (meso) Stone Age (10,000 years ago to around 6,000 years ago)
Neolithic; New (neo) Stone Age (4,000 to 2000 years ago).