These alone have withstood the ravages of time, and, together with the remains of contemporary animals hunted by our prehistoric forerunners, they are all that scholars have to guide them in attempting to reconstruct human activity throughout this vast interval—approximately 98 percent of the time span since the appearance of the first true hominin stock.
The general level of culture probably shifted directly from that of the Upper Paleolithic to that of incipient cultivation and domestication.
Three major subdivisions—Lower, Middle, and Upper Paleolithic—are recognized in Europe.
Although the dividing line between the Lower and Middle stages is not so clearly defined as that separating the Middle and Upper subdivisions, this system is still used by most workers.
Indeed, though a certain tradition might be superseded in a given region by a more advanced method of producing tools, the older technique persisted as long as it was needed for a given purpose.
In general, however, there is an overall trend in the order as given above, starting with simple pebble tools that have a single edge sharpened for cutting or chopping.