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Azilian points, microliths from Epipaleolithic northern Spain and southern France.

In archaeology, the Epipaleolithic is the final period of the Upper Palaeolithic, occurring at the end of the last glacial period, and leading without interruption into the Mesolithic.[1] The period is generally dated from c. 20,000 BP to c. 10,500 BP, having emerged from the Palaeolithic era.[2]

The Natufian culture in the Levant is considered to be a late epipaleolithic culture.

Term usage

The term is sometimes used synonymous with Mesolithic. When a distinction is made, Epipaleolithic stresses the continuity with the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic as it is understood today, whilst Protoneolithic stresses a subsequent transition to the Neolithic.[3] Alfonso Moure says in this respect:

In the language of Prehistorical Archaeology, the most extended trend is to use the term "Epipaleolithic" for the industrial complexes of the post-glacial hunter-gatherer groups. Inversely, those that are in transitional ways towards artificial production of food are inscribed in the "Mesolithic".[4]

Some authors[who?] reserve the term Mesolithic for the cultures of Europe, where the extinction of the megafauna had a great impact on the Paleolithic populations at the end of the Ice Age, from c. 8000 BCE until the advent of the Neolithic (Sauveterrian, Tardenoisian, Maglemosian, etc.).


Epipalaeolithic hunter-gatherers, generally nomadic, made relatively advanced tools from small flint or obsidian blades, known as microliths, that were hafted in wooden implements.

Animal food sources

The Epipaleolithic is best understood when discussing the southern Levant, as the period is well documented due to good preservation at the site. The most prevalent animal food sources in the Levant during this period were:

  • Gazelle
  • Wild equids
  • Wild boar
  • Deer
  • Wild cattle
  • Ibex
  • Wild goat
  • Wild sheep

These were most likely the main food sources throughout the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period. Of these animals, it is likely that only the equids were migrational.


  1. ^ Bahn, Paul, The Penguin Archaeology Guide, Penguin, London, pp. 141. ISBN 0-14-051448-1
  2. ^ Byrnes, Andie. "Epipalaeolithic." Epipalaeolithic. N.p., 2005. Web. December 2014.
  3. ^ "History of Europe". Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved 2013. The Scandinavian Ice Sheet itself started to retreat northward about 8300 bce, and the period between then and the origins of agriculture (at various times in the 7th to 4th millennia, depending on location) was one of great environmental and cultural change. It is termed the Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age) to emphasize its transitional importance, but the alternative term Epipaleolithic, used mostly in eastern Europe, stresses the continuity with processes begun earlier. 
  4. ^ A. Moure El Origen del Hombre, 1999. ISBN 84-7679-127-5

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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