Paleolithic age as the human prehistory refers to a period between around 3.2 million and 18 thousand years ago; the time when the human discovered fire. Hunting, gathering plants, stone tools, and settlement in natural shelters are the main characteristics of this age. About 200 thousand years ago, Neanderthal appeared on the earth and sharpening tools were invented, simple shelters were formed and humans started using animal furs to create cloths.
The first traces of burial traditions belong to the Paleolithic age as well, the age when the intelligent human made impressive development in tools making. Also, the first traces of art on the walls of caves and rocks appeared in this age. At the end of the Paleolithic age, humans were able to sew clothes.
The oldest evidence of humankind in Iran Plateau has been unearthed in the Kashafrud River region in Khorasan province dating back to 800 thousand years ago. Mount Khajeh in Sistan, Bisotun Caves, Do-Ashkaft Cave, and Niasar are other places where the evidence of the human presence in the Paleolithic age has been discovered in Iran.
Mesolithic age is the period between 18 and 10 thousand years ago when humans intentionally started gathering and preserving food, cultivating plant seeds, and domesticating animals. The traces of humankind’s existence in this era can be seen in the caves of Kamarband, Hotu, and Gomishan, and Ganj Dareh in Hersin.
Mesolithic age is the period between 18 thousand years until 10 thousand years ago when human beings deliberately started to gather and preserve food, cultivate plant seeds, and domesticate animals. The traces of humankind’s existence in this era can be seen in the caves of Kamarband, Hotu, and Gomishan, Ganj Dareh in Hersin, and the banks of Zayanderud River.
The period from 10 to 6 thousand years ago is called the Neolithic age. The early human successfully began farming and domesticating animals in this era. The dishes made of clay and straw came into use to preserve and have their foods. The houses were also built with mud in a circular shape and evolved gradually.
The most important evolution in this era was the rise of faith and the creation of gods and goddesses that led to specific burial traditions and the formation of cemeteries. The art of this era was abstract and stylized. The most well-known sites of Neolithic age in Iran include Tall-i Bakun, Tall-I Jarri, Susa, Chogha Bonut, Chogamish and Sarab Teppe.
Following the formation of agriculture, people emigrated from mountainous areas to the plains, which led to a permanent settlement and creation of villages dating back to 6,000 to 3,500 years B.C. The evidence of the primary villages of Iran can be found in Jiroft, Sialk, Ganj Dareh, and Susa.
With the discovery of metals in general and copper in particular, the world began a new phase. Tools consisted of copper and stone were built in this age; that is the reason behind calling this age Chalcolithic which was roughly from 2500 to 3000 BC. The presence of metal, however, did not mean the disappearance of pottery and clay related works.
Clay became more important and the use of potter’s wheel became common in many regions. In this age, potteries were adorned with pictures of horned animals, birds, reptiles as well as humans in different patterns and styles. The various Chalcolithic sites in Iran include Tall-i Bakun, Godin Tepe, Teppe Gian, Tepe Sialk, Tepe Hissar, Chogamish, and Susa.
The beginning of urbanization in Iran dates back to 4000 B.C. The first cities of Iran are Susa, Shahr-e Sukhteh (Burnt City) in Zabol, Jiroft, Tepe Hissar, and Sialk. Following the formation of urbanization, different social classes and jobs were gradually created. In this era, the architecture of the places included houses with roof gutters for rainwater and special places for the flowing of water in the passageways.
At the beginning of the fourth millennium B.C., the human discovered an alloy called Bronze. This era starts from the beginning of the fourth millennium until the middle of the second millennium. The oldest bronze objects of Iran were found in Lorestan province. Grey pottery was produced on a large scale in Iran plateau. Before the Bronze Age, dead bodies were buried in the floors of houses in an embryonic style, but burial tradition in cemeteries appeared in this age.
From 1500 to 1000 B.C, the human achieved the technique of making metal tools. The most important accomplishment during the Iron Age was the ability to make more durable war equipment. Another important invention in this age was glass objects. In this era, the ethnics like the Medes and Persis emerged as the great ethnics of the region and Iran.