What is Prehistoric Archeology? – Part 1

What is Prehistoric Archeology?

Before we understand what is prehistoric archeology, it’s important to note this following premise: in Brazil, there’s a division between historical and prehistoric archeology. The first one encompasses the entire period before the Portuguese settlers arrived, and the second one, the period after. In other words, colonization is the dividing line of Brazilian archeology.

Specialists study prehistoric archeology in Brazil through lithics, which are rocks or stones. The rocks chosen for study show signs of use by people who lived in that archaeological site a long time ago: 2.000, 10.000 or even 20.000 years ago. Most of these artifacts found are arrowheads made of chipped stone. Only the ends are found, as the wooden handles haven’t survived time.

An archaeological site that has many chips is called a workshop, as we understand that several artifacts were produced there, mainly for hunting. In addition to arrowheads, it’s common to find stone scrapers, which hunters used to skin animals.

The old common sense that only prehistoric men participated in the hunt is being overturned. We cannot be conclusive or definitive about this, as there are possibilities that the women also hunted.

Some other pieces found in prehistoric sites are made of polished stones, much finer than chipped ones. They were polished in a long process with sand and water.


So, did you like to learn what is prehistoric archeology? Let’s keep in mind that this division of historical and prehistoric archeology isn’t widely accepted in the scientific world as it is a colonialist division.


Text by: Cris Amarante & Débora Blair

Translation: Débora Blair

Photo on the top: Archeological site Grotte de Sabart, France. Photographer: Tim Oun. Source: Unsplash.

What is Prehistoric Archeology?
7.000-year-old engravings on the rocks of the Tassili n'Ajjer National Park, Algerian Sahara, near Djanet. Photographer: Azzedine Rouichi. Source: Unsplash.

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