Stone Age Inventions

The old saying, “necessity is the mother of all invention,” certainly applies to inventions in the Stone Ages. After all, Stone Age people were preoccupied with simply trying to find food, water, shelter, and survive the many dangers they faced from day-to-day. So, all of their inventions were tied to survival. How can we become more efficient hunters? How can we gather wild foods more effectively? How can we stay warm? These questions led to inventions.

Stone tools were the invention that gave the Stone Age its name. Stone Age people used rocks to smash, cut, and break things. Breaking the bones of hunted animals would have been an important task because the bones, particularly long leg bones, contained calorie rich marrow that would have been very satisfying to Stone Age people. As time went on, people found stone types such as flint and obsidian that could be knapped by knocking a harder rock against it. This is when they began to make tools with sharp edges like knives, spear points, scrapers, and other blades.

One invention that really helped with hunting large game animals was the atlatl or spear thrower. It allowed a person who was skilled at using it to throw a spear with much more distance, accuracy and velocity.
Atlatl - A spear or dart fits onto the end (left) and can be launched with a throwing motion.
 (public domain)

Another important invention of the Stone Age was the use of fire. Fire allowed Stone Age people to cook food, stay warm, and protect themselves from aggressive animals. Clothes were an important development that, along with fire, allowed Stone Age people to survive in colder, harsher climates.

Pottery and baskets were helpful inventions that enabled Stone Age people to store gathered seeds, and later on, to store harvested crops. A storage vessel to protect things from moisture, rodents, and light made the food supply a little more stable. The invention of calendars was an extremely important development that helped with hunting, gathering, and farming. By learning when the seasons began based on the angle of the sun in the sky, Stone Age people could plan hunts, predict animal migrations, plan planting of crops, and, if they lived on a river bank, they would know when to expect the yearly flood.

The invention of farming was huge. It allowed humans to progress beyond the Stone Age. It also led to the inventions of job specialization, villages, governments, writing, irrigation, and countless others.

These are just a few of the many Stone Age inventions that helped early humans step slowly toward the modern technologies that we enjoy today.