Mesolithic Times

The Era of the Ancients: Mesolithic Times

by Vern Crisler

Copyright, 2008, some revisions, 2010.

1.  Courville on the Predynastic Period

2.  The Problem of Time

3.  Outline of Mesolithic History

4.  Noah and the Proto-Mesolithic

5.  Life in the Mesolithic

6.  Mesolithic Europe

Special Note: I’ve now adopted the view that the Pleistocene, or at least some of the Cenozoic, is post-Flood.  Courville’s view that the start of the Mesolithic represents the beginning of the post-Flood era turns out to be too simplistic if one holds to the Morris-Whitcomb theory of the Flood (which Courville apparently did, and which I do).

1.  Courville on the Predynastic Period

Courville was concerned to shorten the period of time from the Flood to the First Dynasty of Egypt.[1]  In his discussion, he makes reference to the Flood as the dividing line between Paleolithic man and Mesolithic man:

“Paleolithic man was separated from the subsequent phases of his history by a world-wide catastrophe.  This is evidenced by the fact that not a single significant link has been found to tie Paleolithic man with Mesolithic man who is presumed to follow.”[2]

Courville goes on to say that the “closest ties are evidently to be found at Mount Carmel.  On the seaward side of the mountain are a number of caves showing human occupation over ‘tens of thousands of years during the Paleolithic period’ [quoting Kenyon].  The flint industry of Mesolithic man does not seem to be derived from any upper, known Paleolithic culture” [footnote to Kenyon’s Archaeology in the Holy Land, p. 36].

Courville then says, “A more detailed consideration of Paleolithic man must be left for a subsequent work.”  Fortunately, Marvin Lubenow has provided this subsequent work, as noted in our essay “Planetary Transgression.”  The only major difference is that Courville would not have accepted the idea that Paleolithic men were post-Flood, as Lubenow must do if he holds to Michael Oard’s post-Flood Ice Age theory.[3]

Courville’s intent was not to prove that the predynastic period was of short duration, only that there are no archaeological hindrances to such a short time for the immediate post-Flood era down to the beginnings of the Early Bronze Age:

“We are interested here in demonstrating that the evidences of man in Palestine from Mesolithic to the dynastic era are not at demonstrable odds with the thesis that this entire era may be encompassed within a relatively brief period of time, i.e., not in excess of two centuries.  This view is, of course, at gross odds with the popular concept which supposes that several millenniums must be allowed for the period in question.”[4]

The popular concept is uniformitarianism, which is philosophically very much at odds with catastrophism.  The catastrophism Courville has in mind was that produced by the biblical Flood — which catastrophe would have been over, according to Courville’s theory, by the time the Mesolithic culture was established.

“The view is here held,” says Courville, “that it was the Noachian Flood that separated the Paleolithic from the Mesolithic that followed.  While the initial phase of the Flood lasted only about one year, there must have been a significant period of time after this when the climatic conditions were totally different from those which preceded the catastrophe.”[5]

Unlike some Flood theorists, Courville did not interpret these changed climatic conditions after the Flood as bringing about an Ice Age.  Rather, he believed the evidence pointed to a monsoonal era, with much greater amounts of rainfall than would be the case in subsequent periods.  This is seen most clearly at Jericho, a major type site for the predynastic sequence:

“The currently accepted interpretation of the archaeology of Jericho, as at other sites, is based on the uniformitarian concept which does not recognize a climate any different than now and which would assign to each of the successive mud huts and numerous subsequent structures durations up to 50 or 100 years each.  By the alternate thesis here defended, the period is that immediately following the Noachian Flood, during which time the conditions must have been notably different from those in later times.”[6]

These conditions included severe earthquakes, gradual sinking of the ocean bottoms, rise of lands in mountain formation, and relic internal lakes and inland seas.  Courville says, “The existence of these numerous inland seas could be expected to serve as a source of a much heavier average rainfall than is common to these areas at the present time.”[7]

A warming phase gradually settled, which Courville says is “commonly associated with the disappearance of the Ice Age.”  This led to more severe rainfall than anything known in recorded history.  Various sources are cited to prove the phenomenon of heavier rainfall, but the main point is that torrential rainfall during Jericho’s rainy season led to more frequent building and repair.

According to Courville: “It was this sort of climate that man faced when he first descended from the mountainous region [of Ararat] after the Flood.”  In addition: “Under these conditions, the mud shelters revealed archaeologically at Jericho in the Neolithic period could be expected to have had an exceedingly short period of use, possibly requiring rebuilding more than once a year.”[8]

The conventional view is that each level of predynastic Jericho represents thirty to one hundred years, whereas for Courville the levels only represent short periods of time.  Because of differential climatic conditions during predynastic times, mounds or tells such as Jericho could be built up rapidly rather than over hundreds or thousands of years.  Various mud levels could then be interpreted as sub-annual time indicators rather than as yearly or generational indicators.

The most intriguing aspect of Courville’s theory with respect to the pre-dynastic period is the view that the immediate post-Flood period was represented by the Mesolithic culture.  Our subsequent discussion will focus on Mesolithic and Neolithic cultures, then up to the Uruk period in Mesopotamia.  We will attempt to relate these periods as best we may to the biblical narrative of post-Flood times, down to the beginnings of Babylon.

2.  The Problem of Time

Genealogical Fluidity — Some creationists and Flood theorists believe that more time is needed between the Flood and the Tower of Babel incident.  A popular way of allowing for more time is to question the completeness of certain biblical genealogies, i.e., the phenomena some have termed “open genealogies.”  This is the position taken by Henry Morris & John Whitcomb in their book, The Genesis Flood.[9]

They provided examples in the Bible where genealogies have been shortened or compressed; in these cases, the term “begot” does not always mean father-son descent, but can sometimes refer to ancestral descent.  Matthew 1:8 says:

“…and Joram begot Uzziah.”

According to 1 Chron. 3:10, Uzziah was actually in the fourth generation after Joram.

1.  Joram

2.  Ahaziah

3.  Joash

4.  Amaziah

5.  Uzziah (or Azariah)

Matthew thus shortens the genealogy between Joram and Uzziah, and his “begot” really means Joram was the ancestor, rather than the immediate father, of Uzziah.  Another example is 1 Chronicles 26:24, in which four hundred years were skipped in the genealogy:

“Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was overseer of the treasuries.”

Shebuel was a servant of David near the end of his reign, so could only be a descendant of Gershom, not an immediate son.  Gershom lived during the days of the Exodus (Ex. 2:22).  And of course, in the book of Matthew we have a similar expression of generation skipping:

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham…” (Mat. 1:1).

In another example, Morris & Whitcomb argued that Amram and his wife Jochebed had to have been ancestors of Moses rather than direct father and mother.  They cite Exodus 6:20:

“Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty and seven years.”

In our opinion, this Amram, husband of Jochebed, appears to be the same Amram named as the son of Kohath:  “And the sons of Kohath were Amram, [etc]…” (Ex. 6:18).  The names are only two verses apart and seem to cross-reference.  By the time of the Exodus, the family of the Amramites was 8,600 strong (Num. 3:27, 28).

Morris and Whitcomb believed this was too many for only one generation, thus indicating that Amram and Jochebed could not have been the actual father and mother of Moses and Aaron, but were ancestors about 300 years earlier (using a long sojourn theory).

In Numbers 3:17, the Amramites are described as descending from Kohath:  “These were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari….And the sons of Kohath by their families: Amram, Izehar, Hebron, and Uzziel….From Kohath came the family of the Amramites…[etc.].”

Thus an “Amram” was a son of Kohath, and the clan took its name from this Amram, grandson of Levi.  Now Kohath accompanied his father Levi to Egypt to live with Jacob and Joseph (Gen. 46:11).  It is not clear, however, how long Amram was born after the Descent.

On Morris & Whitcomb’s long chronology, the relation of Amram to Moses can only be ancestral, but what about a short chronology?  If Amram and Jochebed were born after the Descent into Egypt, their progeny of 8,600 Amramites by the time of the Exodus still seems reasonable on a short chronology (especially if many sons and daughters were born to concubines).

In addition, if Moses was 80 at the time of the Exodus, and the entire time from the Descent to the Exodus was 215 years, then Moses was born 135 years after the Descent.  If Amram and Jochebed were born a few years after the Descent, say 25 years, and were married 20 years after that, then Moses would have been born to them when they were in their 90’s — which is not entirely impossible given the blessings of God and the fecundity of the Israelites at this time (Gen. 18: 14; Ex. 1:7; note that Moses, at age 80, had a son, Ex. 4:25).

We are not trying to prove these ages or relationships, but only to show that on the short chronology, it is still possible for the Amram of the Descent to be both the ancestor of the Amramites, and the immediate father of Moses.  In fact, Courville has taken the immediate relation of Amram and Moses as evidence for the short chronology of the Egyptian sojourn.[10]  Others supporting the short chronology are David Rohl,[11] Josephus,[12] and none other than St. Paul.[13]

Nevertheless, Morris & Whitcomb’s point is at least reasonable, that Amram and Jochebed (even on a short chronology) may have only been ancestors rather than the immediate father and mother of Moses.  In any case, their main point is undeniable: the Bible does sometimes skip over generations, and over centuries, and this must be taken into account when assessing the Genesis genealogies.

With respect to Genesis 11, the inclusion of the father’s age at the time of the son’s birth does not allow any straightforward use of generation skipping.  In our opinion, the only other way to increase the amount of time available for the era of Noah to the Tower of Babel is to recognize transmission error, i.e., a loss of information.  This may have happened at Luke 3:36 and Genesis 11, where Cainan is included in Luke but not in Genesis.  Compare:

a)  ….“Arphaxad lived thirty-five years, and begot Salah.  After he begot Salah, Arphaxad lived four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters…” (Gen 11:10).

b)  ….“the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad…” (Lk 3:36; emphasis added).

The textual copy of Luke’s gospel was following the Septuagint, which may represent an older tradition than the traditional Hebrew version transmitted by way of the Massoretes.  If so, then we could theorize that a lacuna or loss of information affected both textual traditions.  Thus, our guess is that a “gap” may have occurred after Arphaxad, and several generations may have been skipped over until the time of Cainan.

On the other hand, Morris and Whitcomb located the “gap” at the Eber-Peleg transition, where Eber is seen as a distant ancestor of, rather than father of, Peleg, much like Amram is seen as a distant ancestor, but not father, of Moses.[14]

Their reasons for this are two: 1) the lifespan of Peleg represents a significant drop compared to the patriarchs before this time.  Peleg lived 239 years whereas his ancestors lived more than 400 years.  2) It is said that in the days of Peleg the “earth was divided.”  This is likely a reference to the Tower of Babel incident, where the people were scattered abroad by the Lord (Gen. 11:8).  On a strict chronology this would mean that the patriarchs Noah, Shem, all the way to Eber, were also living during this time.

While these are interesting views, they are not entirely convincing.  With respect to the first point, the mere drop in age can only be suggestive rather than dispositive, i.e., it really proves nothing regarding where the “gap” in the genealogy is to be placed.  For the second point, even if the ancient patriarchs were living at the time of the Tower, this does not mean that the judgment of God fell upon them, any more than it fell upon (say) Peleg.  Moreover, to argue that it is unusual for the ancient patriarchs to live during the time of the Tower of Babel, or of Abraham, is to place a subjective measure of possibility upon the text, and would be question-begging in any case.

A major problem with the Morris & Whitcomb view is that Peleg had a brother named Joktan:

“To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.  Joktan begat Almodad, [etc]…” (Gen. 10:25, 26).

If Peleg was a distant descendant of Eber, why would his brother’s name be given?  A straightforward reading of the text would seem to indicate that both Peleg and Joktan were the immediate sons of Eber.  The response of Morris & Whitcomb is to appeal to the case of Amram, noted above, but obviously this depends on whether their interpretation of Amram and Jochebed is the right one, that they were ancestors rather than parents of Moses.

Our own view, to repeat, is that the “gap” (if there is one) should be located after Arphaxad, and a natural reading of Gen. 10:25, 26 is that both Peleg and Joktan were immediate sons of Eber.

 

Population Bomb — One of the greatest problems with a strict chronology of the post-Flood era is that it does not allow enough time for a significant population to grow before the Tower of Babel incident.  [15]Henry Morris, in his book The Biblical Basis for Modern Science uses an equation for world population growth as follows:

Sn = 2 + 2c + 2c2 + 2c3 + … + 2cn

On the right of the equal sign, the number 2 represent the first two parents, the expression 2c represents the average number of children per family, with a doubling of the population; the expression 2c2 represent the number of individuals in the second generation; and 2c3 represents the individuals in the third generation, etc.

Taking into account the number of people who died since the first generation, Morris derives the equation for an actual population “n” generations from the first family, represented as Pn, followed by a complicated fraction.

We shall not reproduce it since we do not want to try the reader’s patience more than is necessary.  Morris applies the equation to the post-Flood situation down to the time of Abraham’s entrance into Canaan, a total of about 400 years, with 10 generations, an average family size of 8, and an average life span of 200 years.  According to Morris:

“That is, in our population formula, assume c = 4, n = 10, and x = 5.  The world population at the time of Abraham (neglecting any possible gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 11) is then calculated as 2,800,000….”[16]

However, on a strict chronology, the time between the Flood and the Dispersion is much shorter, 101 years.  Using the same equation, Morris derives a population figure of only about 85 people by the time of Peleg’s birth.  Obviously, this is far too few for the Tower of Babel incident to make any sense.  Even increasing the number of children to 10 or 12 gives only about 1,250 people in 101 years.  Astoundingly, Morris thinks these relatively few  individuals “altogether seem to fit the situation described at Babel very adequately.”[17]

The bottom line for us is this: either we accept at least about five to eight hundred years or more between the Flood and the Tower of Babel, or we must conclude that something is wrong with Morris’s population calculations.  The latter seems unlikely, since Morris’s conditions are reasonable and the equation is standard for population growth.  Unfortunately, if we don’t allow a “gap” in the Genesis 11 genealogy, we don’t seem to have a population large enough to scatter at the Tower of Babel judgment.

 

Archaeological Jam — The last problem to be discussed is this: if Courville was right in seeing the post-Flood to Babel era as correlating with Mesolithic to Late Uruk, we would have to squeeze a lot of archaeological levels into a 101 year period.  I suppose this can be done, but it would be improbable.  Morris himself provided a more plausible solution when he mentioned the problem of textual transmission:

“If we assume that, in the course of transcribing the lists in the Old Testament, Cainan’s name somehow was omitted from the received text, but that his name was preserved in the Septuagint version from which Luke obtained his data, this would mean 1 more generation in the interim from the Flood to Babel.  On this basis, the population would be 340.”[18]

Our view is that Cainan was probably a descendant of Arphaxad, so that more generations may have arisen — perhaps about 10 for the whole period from the Flood to the Tower of Babel.  If so, then the population at the time of the Tower of Babel could have been over two million within a four-hundred year span of time (using the same conditions Morris used in calculating 400 years from the Flood to Abraham’s journey into Canaan).  And this number would undoubtedly have been large enough to effect the archaeological changes from the Mesolithic to Late Uruk.

Others, however, believe that a large population can develop within a shorter time.  For instance, James N. Hanson, a Computer Science Professor at Cleveland State University, discussed the Chapman-Kolmogorov model of an inhomogeneous birth-death process, the Kendall solution of the process, the Karlin Deterministic Model, the Monte Carlo simulation solution of the model, and provided a general overview of population mathematics.  His conclusion is that “a population on the order of millions could result shortly (e.g., 200 years) after the Flood.”[19]

Hanson’s views are based in part on Courville’s view of the post-Flood era.  Courville had argued that the total period between the Flood and the Tower of Babel was 200 years:

“The period allowable by a strict interpretation of the Biblical figures for the period between the Flood and the Dispersion can hardly exceed 200 years and may well require inclusion within a period of c. 155 years.”[20]

If each married couple had an average of 12 offspring over a period of 155 years, 6 generations would have elapsed.  “The population at the end of this period,” says Courville, “would then approach half a million, and this figure may be taken as minimal in view of the long ages of this early people and the longer period of virility.”  On the basis of this, Courville concluded:

“But even this figure is probably adequate to account for any archaeological evidence that comes down to us from the period prior to the beginning of Early Bronze.”[21]

We would point out, however, that 200 years for the entire period between the Flood and the Tower of Babel is a departure from a strict chronology of Genesis 11.  In addition, only by denying that the division of the earth at Peleg’s birth had anything to do with the Dispersion can the time be stretched beyond 101 years.

Hanson claims that an exact chronology was providentially preserved in the King James version of the Bible.[22]  He does not allow for any “gaps” in this chronology.  As noted, however, going beyond the 101 years is already a departure from an exact or strict chronology.  Moreover, while the Bible has been providentially preserved throughout history, this does not mean that any particular version of the Bible has been providentially preserved.[23]

Some defenders of a strict chronology deny that there has been any transmission error in Genesis 11.  They argue instead that Luke’s reference to Cainan was not part of the autograph of Luke’s gospel (i.e., the original manuscript).  Obviously, retaining Cainan in the chronology would undermine the idea of a strict KJV chronology for Genesis 11, so Luke’s reference is thought to be an insertion by a later copyist to make Luke’s gospel conform to the Septuagint.

Against this, one might note that Luke was Greek, so could very well have been using the Septuagint for his original text.  Moreover, it is a bit hypocritical to deny transmission error in Genesis 11, and then turn around and use transmission error as an explanation for Luke’s use of the Septuagint.

At this point, we do not take any hard and fast approach to the problem.  Courville points to the paucity of burials and the lack of archaeological indicia for large populations during the predynastic period.  In our day we tend to think of populations in the millions, but maybe we need to step back and picture the Babel population more in terms of a few hundred thousand.

Our preference is for about five to eight hundred years for the Paleolithic to the end of the Late Uruk period, but at this point it can only be a hypothesis.

3.  Outline of Mesolithic History

Discontinuity between Paleolithic and Mesolithic — For many years, archaeologists divided human history between the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) and the Neolithic (New Stone Age).  These terms were first introduced by John Lubbock in his famous Pre-Historic Times as Illustrated by Ancient Remains and the Manners and Customs of Modern Savages, 1865.

Paleolithic men were regarded as hunters and fishers, living during the time of the “Drift” when “man shared the possession of Europe with the Mammoth, the Cave bear, the Wooly-haired rhinoceros, and other extinct animals.”  Neolithic men lived in a time “characterized by beautiful weapons and instruments made of flint and other kinds of stone; in which, however, we find no trace of the knowledge of any metal, excepting gold, which seems to have been sometimes used for ornaments.”

Future research would reveal so many differences between Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures that some thought there was either a gap in our knowledge of ancient man, or else a gap in the physical record.

The pressures of evolutionary theory kept men searching for some way to close the “chasm” that separated the two cultures, and eventually, some archaeological material seemingly came to the rescue from a cave at Mas d’Azil.  The lower layers were Pleistocene deposits, while the Neolithic layer occupied a position farther up.  In between these was a level called Azilian (named by E. Piette after the cave location), and this represents the Mesolithic period.[24]

The following represents a partial chart of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic industries, based upon Boule, Mellaart, and G. Clark. [25]

Periods Industries Jericho Climate
Neolithic Sub-Boreal
Upper Mesolithic Ertebollian Mid. Tardenoisian Atlantic
Middle Mesolithic Maglemosian Mid. Tardenoisian Boreal
Lower Mesolithic Azilian Lower Tardenoisian Natufian Pre-Boreal
Paleolithic Magdalenian Zarzian, Kebaran Younger Dryas

An examination of “Mesolithic” entries by online encyclopedias will show that the terminology is in chaos.  Many archaeologists, struggling to interpret the facts of archaeology in light of Darwinian theory, attempt to merge the Mesolithic with the Paleolithic.  For instance, something called “Mesolithic 1” is now linked to the Paleolithic Kebaran culture, and “Mesolithic 2” is now linked to the Mesolithic Natufian culture.  Some refer to the Mesolithic as “Epipaleolithic,” suggesting that it is a peripheral Paleolithic culture.

Nevertheless, while the Mesolithic culture undoubtedly occupied an intermediate position between Paleolithic and Neolithic, this does not mean it was a continuation of Paleolithic levels.  Even continuity theorist Graham Clark must admit:

“In fact, within five years of the definition of the hiatus [between Paleolithic and Neolithic] E[douard]. Piette…began to demonstrate the continuity [sic] of European settlement by excavating a distinctive assemblage of archaeological material stratified between Late Magdalenian [Paleolithic] and Neolithic levels in the cave of Mas d’Azil, Ariege, material that could hardly be classified as either Palaeolithic or Neolithic.”[26]

A distinctive assemblage that cannot be classified as either Paleolithic or Neolithic does not sound like continuity unless the term is used so broadly as to encompass just about any similarity in cultural material.  I think it was Chesterton who said that in every similarity there is difference and in every difference, similarity.  For instance, one does not concern oneself with trying to outrun an isosceles triangle, since such things cannot be compared.  (Philosophers would later call such comparisons “category mistakes.”)

But material things (such as cultures) can be compared, and one can always find similarities in differences, and vice versa.  When it comes to diverse stone-age cultures, one can usually find inter-cultural similarities, but it does not necessarily imply direct borrowing or influence, especially when the differences are notable.

Marcellin Boule, formerly director of the French Institute of Human Paleontology, said the following with respect to the transition between Paleolithic and Neolithic:

“To our mind the majority of archaeologists are mistaken in wishing to place this Azilian [Mesolithic] period in Palaeolithic times, and in calling it Epipalaeolithic.  As one of us pointed out, as long ago as 1889, the Azilian, though not yet Neolithic, is no longer Palaeolithic; it is a period apart, with a special facies, and the facies is that of transition initiating a state of affairs which is to lead, little by little, to the new world of the Neolithic and Metal Ages.”[27]

The following represents a chart of some of the differences between the two periods[28]:

Paleolithic Mesolithic
Younger Dryas, colder Neothermal, warmer
tundra birch, pine, willow, spread of forests
hunting hunting, fishing
reindeer, bison, horse red deer, aurochs, pigs
no wild herds forest hunting of individual animals
bow more widespread
blade industry typical Mesolithic microliths
domestication of dog
more variety of animals hunted
use of boats, wooden paddles, lake-dwellings
farming inventions
equipment for shaping timber
fishhooks, netting for fishing
lived in caves, rock shelters caves, huts, fixity of settlement
no monumental architecture Jericho sanctuary
extinct animals modern fauna
animals carved in ivory & wood anthropomorphic designs, rudimentary art
skull cults
kitchen middens, some pottery

According to Boule: “From the geological or stratigraphical point of view, this transition is obvious; from the palaeontological point of view it is no less clear, since the fauna of the [Mesolithic] Azilian layer, from which the Reindeer is absent, is identical with the wild fauna of the present day….”[29]

“Transition — ” continues Boule, “we do not say direct succession — is also evident from the archaeological point of view, for along with flint implements resembling those of the [Paleolithic] Magdalenian period, we find innumerable microlithic flints and the first products of stone-polishing.  Though harpoons or deer-antler still persist, their form and substance are different.  Products of artistic expression are no longer present, for the colouring of pebbles has nothing in common with Palaeolithic paintings.  It would be difficult to imagine a set of conditions more expressive of transition than those we just enumerated.”[30]

Boule’s evolutionary views must, of course, posit a resemblance between Paleolithic and Mesolithic, but his scientific view leads him to admit that there was no direct archaeological succession, and that there were many cultural changes.

J. Clark also allows his evolutionary views to color his understanding of the transition: “Certainly the Mesolithic population must have stemmed originally from their Upper Palaeolithic predecessors….”[31]

Note, however, that this is a logical deduction, not an empirical correlation (“must have” stemmed).  On the basis of the logical deduction, the Late-glacial Tjonger and Rissen are thought to have been the originators of the post-glacial Maglemosians (“may have originated”).

By a similar logical deduction, the Mesolithic “coast-dwellers,” who lived as far north as arctic Scandinavia, “may have stemmed” from the Late-glacial Bromme-Lyngby or Ahrensburg peoples.

And yet there is no direct archaeological correlation between these groups, as Clark admits: “The coincidence between the passing of Late-glacial and Late-pluvial climate and the emergence of Mesolithic societies is more than merely temporal: it must surely [sic] have been causal, even if the precise links are not always apparent.”[32]

On the other hand, some prehistorians did not want to recognize any continuity between Paleolithic and Neolithic. V. Gordon Childe and Hugo Obermaier rejected the term “Mesolithic,” preferring instead the term “epi-paleolithic” for the middle period.

Clark says, “[W]hen Childe (1947) finally brought himself to make even a sparing use of the term Mesolithic to denote intermediate assemblages he did so ‘because in time—but only in time—they occupy a place between the latest palaeolithic and the oldest neolithic culture.’”[33]

Why this unwillingness to see similarities?  Did Childe abandon his Darwinism, which must see evolutionary continuity no matter what?  Or was Childe interpreting the data from a different angle?

Continuity between Mesolithic and Neolithic — Childe rejected continuity between the Mesolithic and Neolithic.  His reason, that is, his paradigm or interpretive grid for rejecting continuity between Mesolithic and Neolithic, was due to his Marxism.

G. Clark says, “He viewed the change from Palaeolithic to Neolithic as revolutionary in the same way as Soviet prehistorians at that time regarded the jump from Primitive Community to Matriarchal Class Society.  No wonder that Childe should have found it hard to treat the transitional assemblages as anything more than the fag-end of the preceding era and why, even when ready to admit the Mesolithic as defining a space of time, he felt compelled to deny its status as marking a substantive phase in prehistory.”[34]

Since Marxists were prone to believe that history unfolds in terms of economic revolutions, it is understandable that Childe would advocate a “Neolithic Revolution” — one that was divorced from any preceding cultural development.  In Childe’s view, the people of the Mesolithic were likely survivors of the last Ice Age, low in culture, and not contributing much to later Neolithic enlightenment.

Other historians, however, did not accept the views of Childe, and believed that the Mesolithic culture was the stage leading to the Neolithic.  Clark says: “[T]he present new-found interest in the Mesolithic of the Old World stems precisely from the fact that it is now perceived to be of crucial significance for understanding the course of prehistory, and not least for explaining the rise and spread of the Neolithic societies that laid the foundations of the diverse civilisations of mankind.”[35]

So great was the change in attitude that in the 1970’s Soviet historian G. Mathyushin would say that Mesolithic culture was “the most important epoch in history.”  Commenting on this, Clark says: “This was a far cry indeed from ignoring this phase completely or treating it as a mere epilogue of the Palaeolithic as was customary before 1950.”

Clark himself accepts the view that the Mesolithic was not an epilogue but rather a prelude: “The time is now ripe to expound and justify the proposition that the Mesolithic, so far from being a dead end, was in fact an essential prelude to fundamental advances in the development of culture.”[36]

Mount Carmel and Jericho — Kathleen Kenyon’s work at caves on the slopes of Mount Carmel, and excavations at the site of Jericho, provided confirmation that the Neolithic was directly influenced by the Mesolithic.  She notes first that the Mesolithic is not derived from the Paleolithic:

”Above the layers containing Palaeolithic implements is the evidence of the appearance of a new group.  The flint industry does not seem to be derived directly from any Upper Palaeolithic culture, and its ancestry has not yet been traced.”[37]

This new group was a Mesolithic culture called “Natufian” (after the Wadi en Natuf).  Far from being mere hunters or gatherers, they also appear to have been farmers.  “The presence of sickles,” says Kenyon, “is not a proof that agriculture was practised, for the sickles might be used for gathering wild grains.  Many authorities do, however, accept the view that the Natufians of Mount Carmel had begun to cultivate grain….A case can therefore be made out for some first experiments in agriculture in Palestine in the transitional stage following the end of the Ice Age.”[38]

Jericho began during the Natufian Mesolithic period:  “[T]he first structure at Jericho was built by people allied to the first Mesolithic group in the Mount Carmel caves.”[39]  In fact the structure appears to have been a sanctuary.  Of the connection between Mesolithic and Neolithic, Kenyon says:

“The great interest of this development [of solid architecture] is that it derived directly from the first visits of the Natufian, Mesolithic hunters, which may be inferred from the Mesolithic structure.  The same flint and bone industry,…allied to the Lower Natufian of Mount Carmel, runs right through the transitional Proto-Neolithic stage to the large-scale settlement to which the designation Pre-Pottery Neolithic A has been given….”[40]

Kenyon concludes that the site of Jericho provides evidence of the process of Mesolithic to Neolithic development, of the transition from “man as a hunter” to the emergence of man as a “member of a settled community.”

In summary then, there is no archaeological connection between the Paleolithic and the Mesolithic, but there is an archaeological connection between the Mesolithic and the Neolithic.

In Courville’s view, the Paleolithic was pre-Flood and the Mesolithic was post-Flood, and on his theory this would provide a good explanation as to why there is no archaeological connection between the Paleolithic and any successor culture, though there is between the Mesolithic and later Neolithic.

Nevertheless, it is unnecessary to go all the way with Childe in rejecting any connection of any sort between the Paleolithic and Mesolithic.  While there is no obvious archaeological connection between them, there is still a broad similarity in culture.  For instance, neither culture appears to have built cities, or used pottery, or made use of wide-scale farming.  Hunting and fishing were still the chief modes of food gathering, and neither culture developed writing.

On Courville’s model, it is possible that Paleolithic men were living on the outskirts of antediluvian civilization, existing primarily as hunters.  The same might be true for the Mesolithic peoples (if they were in a post-Flood environment).  With the exception of Jericho, the Mesolithic people lived far from the centers of later urban development.

Since Noah and his family lived in the last stage of the antediluvian world, and were the first family of the post-diluvian world, it would not be surprising that some “Paleolithic” cultural attributes were passed on to the “Mesolithic” peoples, who were, on Courville’s theory at least, the descendants of Noah, the last Paleolithic man, and the first Mesolithic man.

4.  Noah and the Proto-Mesolithic

It is highly unlikely that historians could ever trace the movements of one individual or one family in the archaeological record, at least before the invention of writing.  Obviously, this is disappointing, but we essentially run up against the problem of technology, or lack thereof.

Without writing there was no recording technology available that could keep track of individuals, or bear witness to their accomplishments or failures.  If individuals do not pass their histories down through generations, either orally or in writing, such individuals are lost to historical investigation forever.

Nevertheless, larger groups of people may have left a record of themselves without intending to, namely in the archaeological record.

In our quest to locate the correct archaeological background for Noah and his family, we are temporarily accepting Courville’s view that the Mesolithic (or a proto-Mesolithic) level would be the most likely background.  This means that the transition from the Flood to a post-Flood environment occurred at the transition from Paleolithic to Mesolithic (or Pleistocene to Holocene).

Even though we are for the moment following Courville’s view, it is important to point out that this is only a temporary working hypothesis.  It does not merit the honorific term “theory” — much less the term “fact.”  We are almost flying blind in making these correlations, so there is no basis for dogmatism here.  While we have expressed reservations about the view that after the Flood Noah stepped out into a Pleistocene world, we cannot rule it out as a viable alternative to Courville’s Mesolithic idea.  In fact, it may end up as the correct hypothesis.[41]

We note parenthetically that Morris & Whitcomb have admitted the difficulty of finding the Flood/post-Flood boundary.[42]  In addition, George Price went so far as to disassociate “antediluvian animals” (Pleistocene mammoth, great bear, etc.) from the human bones and relics found with them, being regarded by Price as post-Flood.[43]  It would be difficult to find any modern anthropologist — creationist or otherwise — who would agree with Price on this point.  The disassociation doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, but it at least illustrates the difficulty alluded to by Morris & Whitcomb.

In contrast to Courville, most Flood theorists regard the Pleistocene, or at least some of it, as post-Flood.  Prominent representatives of this view are:

Henry Morris & John Whitcomb, The Genesis Flood (1961), pp. 287, 295, 312, 328, 432;

H. W. Clark, Fossils, Flood, and Fire (1968), pp. 42, 144, 160, 178, 201;

Harold Coffin, Origin By Design (1983), p. 74;

Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention, (1992, 2004), pp. 87, 119, 208, 260ff.

Michael Oard, Frozen in Time (2004), pp. 127ff.

An extended discussion of the Flood/post-Flood boundary, along with the meaning of the geological column, can be found in J. K. Reed & Michael J. Oard, eds., The Geological Column: Perspectives within Diluvial Geology, 2006, summarized in table, p. 151.  Other insightful books on Flood theory are H. W. Clark, The New Diluvialism, 1946, Terry Mortenson, The Great Turning Point, 2004, and Carl Froede, Geology By Design, 2007.

We have much respect for these Flood theorists.  One criticism we have of their view is not so much regarding the Flood, post-Flood transition point, or regarding when or whether an “Ice Age” happened or not.  Rather, it is the attempt to bring the “Ice Age” down into the days of the patriarchs that we find objectionable.

It must be insisted that the archaeological ages follow an undeniable empirical progression.  Even if, contrary to Courville, the Pleistocene “Ice Age” is post-Flood, it is still not possible to run the Pleistocene into the Bronze ages.  The stratification of these levels does not allow overlapping.

Nor is it likely that a post-Flood “Ice Age” lasted to the time of Abraham, or to the time of the Tower of Babel (especially if the Tower-event took place at the end of the Uruk period, as we believe).  Moreover, if the Pleistocene is post-Flood, a strict chronology of Genesis 11 becomes more difficult, as many years must pass between a Pleistocene disembarkation from the Ark and the time of Abraham.

Interestingly, Morris & Whitcomb held to a long expanse of time between the Flood and Abraham: “It seems Biblically possible,” they said, “or even probable, that the Flood occurred several millennia before Abraham.”[44]  This may be too much of a temporal stretch to work well within biblical chronology, but it would at least allow enough time for a post-Flood Pleistocene era to run its course before the dawn of the Mesolithic and later eras.

We hope to discuss it at a later point, but given what the Bible says about the world being one language at the time of the Tower of Babel incident, and given that language changes over time, the period from the end of the Flood to Babel could not have been much more than about eight hundred years.  Beyond that, speakers of the formerly understandable language would not be able to understand one another, and the world would be divided into several languages.

Confer how the different Romance languages, French, Spanish, Italian, descended from Latin, or how much Old English differs from modern English — and both Latin and English came from an even earlier Indo-European language.

If Noah lived in a Pleistocene world [as we believe now], the Mesolithic would be regarded as a migratory movement of Noah’s descendants that eventually led to the development of urbanization, i.e., Mesolithic to Neolithic to Copper Age to Bronze Age and to Iron Age.

On this migratory model, the Pleistocene human fossils would then involve some of the earliest descendants of Noah, who did not really have much, if any, archaeological or cultural connection to Noah’s later descendants.  Contemporary with the Pleistocene, most of Noah’s descendants remained in the Fertile Crescent region and lived 400 years on average until the time of Peleg.

Unlike their Paleolithic counterparts (living in other sections of the world), they would have faced a less stressful environment.  They would have retained the standard human type of skull and body size, which we now call “modern.”  I call humans of this type, ortho-sapiens.

Their cousins (mainly H. erectus, Neanderthal, and Cro-Magnon) lived in harsher environments and the superior genetic potential of these early descendants of Noah led to non-standard skull and body structure as a way of adapting to these novel environments.  I refer to these humans as hetero-sapiens.

Unfortunately, the Fertile Crescent is not the best environment for the preservation of bones.  There are no known fossils of ortho-sapiens in a Paleolithic context.  Their 400 year life-span meant they lived through much of the archaeological periods up until the rise of cities.  It means burials (and therefore fossilization) were infrequent in the Fertile Crescent during the five or eight hundred years between the Flood and the Tower of Babel incident (Late Uruk period on our view).

If we accept the Pleistocene as post-Flood, we would also need to accept the view that Cenozoic levels can represent either Flood or post-Flood strata.[45]  For now, however, we shall continue to explore Courville’s model, i.e., that Noah’s new life began in the post-Pleistocene period.  It should not be taken as an endorsement, however, and our observations about the Mesolithic work on a migratory model as well.

Because the Mesolithic stage involves a scatter of families throughout Europe and the Near East, and even on the assumption that early Mesolithic is immediately post-Flood, the main period of the Mesolithic was probably too late for Noah and his immediate family.  Courville’s hypothesis can be formulated more precisely as the view that a proto-Mesolithic level must have existed, which takes us back at least to the family of Noah, if not to Noah himself.

Core Regions — The following is a chart of the basic industries of the different archaeological levels.[46]

Archaeological Age Production Stage Economy / Assemblage
Neolithic Food Producing, 2nd era farming
(Late) Mesolithic Food Producing, 1st era cultivation & domestication
(Early) Mesolithic Food Collecting, late Forest Folk, Maglemosian
Paleolithic Food Collecting, early

In terms of the above chart, the question arises as to what change led to the transition from food collecting to food producing, and the subsequent Neolithic stage of farming?  Braidwood attempts to answer this by looking at what he calls “nuclear areas.”  Basically, an environment containing a large variety of plants and animals ready for cultivation or domestication is called a “core” or “nuclear” era.  It is a central region whose culture fans out to surrounding areas.  Braidwood says,

“The nuclear area which was the scene of the earliest experiment in effective food-production was in southwestern Asia.”[47]

In other words, the earliest core region was the “fertile crescent” (a term coined by James Breasted) and runs along the hilly flanks of the mountains of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, including the Zagros range and the upper Tigris-Euphrates basin.

Mesolithic men could only domesticate those animals or plants that were part of the core region.  Outside this region, some of these plants or animals could not exist, so the natural environment was a necessary condition for the development of civilization.

According to Braidwood: “[E]ras of incipient cultivation tend to develop only within nuclear areas.”[48]  The term “incipient” refers to a beginning or to a “proto” (first) stage of any new culture, and is why we speak of a “proto-Mesolithic,” i.e., a time of incipient cultivation that led to the Mesolithic proper.

Braidwood also believes (contra economic determinism) that it was more than the environment or climate that brought about the era of incipient cultivation and domestication.  Climate was an important factor, and earlier theories even held that the melting of ice sheets at the end of the “Ice Age” caused the rain cycle to move farther north, leaving southern areas dry and with little food or vegetation.

Man supposedly had to live near rivers or oases, close to animals or plants seeking sustenance.  This gave man the opportunity to cultivate and domesticate, to make trial and error as to his food needs.

Nevertheless, despite the importance of climate, Braidwood says that the facts do not fit such a theory.  The first traces of food production are not near rivers or oases, but in the hill flanks of the western Asian mountains (Zagros, etc.).

What was needed, in Braidwood’s view, is the “cultural factor” — the birth of new ideas, and of experimentation.  This goes counter to Marxist or quasi-Marxists theories that see history unfolding in terms of economic conditions rather than ideas.

Unfortunately, an era of ideas is not easy to trace in the archeological record, and only a few sites are known which fit Braidwood’s concept of a core area of incipient cultivation and animal domestication.  His primary example is the Natufian culture, known from caves in Turkey, Mount Carmel, the Karim Shair assemblage in northeastern Iraq, and several other sites along the Zagros, including Zawi Chemi Shanidar, Ganj-i-Dareh, and Ali Kosh.[49]

Natufians were hunters and food collectors, but also showed signs of early food production.  “But on the other hand,” says Braidwood, “we have the sickles, the milling stones, the Zawi Chemi sheep, and the general animal situation at Karim Shahir to hint at an incipient approach to food-production.  In the Karim Shahir type sites, there was the tendency to settle down out in the open; this is echoed by the new open-air Natufian sites.  The number of stone foundations certainly indicates that it was worth the peoples’ while to have some kind of structure, even if the site as a whole was short-lived.”[50]

Braidwood believed, however, that Natufian food production was incipient rather than full-scale as in later Neolithic times, and he does not think more positive answers are forthcoming until more excavation can be done.

As noted, an incipient culture prior to the Mesolithic would be a proto-Mesolithic culture on Courville’s model, and would reflect the existence not only of a core region, but also of a core family.  In terms of Courville’s correlation of the post-Flood environment with the archaeological stratum, Noah’s family would have served as the core family that later fanned out along the Fertile Crescent, and even to Europe, China, and the Americas.

They would have lived sometime just before the Lower Mesolithic era, where we find the Azilian and Natufian peoples.  These latter might then be clans that had developed from the original family, and may have been distantly related to Noah by way of Japheth the elder.  If the migratory model is preferred, the idea of an incipient core group still makes sense.  A single migrating clan or even a tribe would account for the uniformity of early Mesolithic culture as it spread to diverse geological locations.[51]

5.  Life in the Mesolithic

Marjorie & C.H.B. Quennell wrote some excellent little books on various epochs of history.  In their first 1921 edition of Every Day Life in the Old Stone Age, the Mesolithic period was not discussed.  All the old cultures from Chellean to Magdalenian were discussed, including the fraudulent Piltdown man, but no Mesolithic era.  However, in a 1950 Preface to a new edition of the book, they write:

“Readers will notice, from a perusal of the chart, that since the first edition of this book a whole new archaeological period has been recognized: the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age.”[52]

Nevertheless, even with this notification only about five pages are devoted to explaining the Mesolithic culture, and only three illustrations are used to convey a sense of what the Mesolithic people were like.  The authors do not hesitate make up, on occasion, Rudyard Kipling style “Just So Stories” to give an idea of how things came to be.  This is certainly understandable since their books were meant for a younger audience.  But in recent years, such fictional portrayals have become something of a criticism of evolutionary thinking, viz. the invocation of “just so stories” when real proof is needed for the theory.

Nevertheless, given the paucity of data regarding the Mesolithic period, reasonable reconstructions are unavoidable.  The authors make the mistake of saying the Mas d’Azil people, the Azilian culture, were the “last people of the Old Stone Age.”  In fact, they are now regarded as virtually the first people of the Middle Stone Age, or Mesolithic.

One thing the authors do find interesting is the use of painted stones by Mesolithic peoples.  These stones were painted with signs, and are “surprisingly like early forms of letters.”  It is speculated that these stones were used as tallies or accounts, but the concept that the “letters” were part of an alphabet is rightly dismissed:

“We feel that the Roman letter had to wait for thousands of years yet before it arrived at the character we know now.”[53]

From an archaeological perspective, the discovery of signs as representing sounds waited until near the end of the Uruk period.  Nevertheless, the notion that the signs could represent ideas at this early juncture in history is certainly possible, though difficult to prove.

Fortunately, much more has been written about the Mesolithic period in the last few years, so that a better idea of life in Mesolithic times can be ascertained.  Mesolithic people lived in the Neothermal phase, which followed the Younger Dryas.  Archaeologists speak of the “new forested environment” of this phase.[54]

We would certainly expect this condition to come about (at least eventually) in a post-diluvian world.  How soon it came about might be more difficult to determine.

In places such as Star Carr in Yorkshire, evidence was found that the Mesolithic people used axes and adzes that could fell and shape timber, thus allowing the building of boats and docks near shores.  They also used bows and arrows for hunting such animals as aurochs, elk, red deer and roe deer.

Birds were on the menu, too, and evidence of fishing with hooks and nets has also been found.  We are reminded of the biblical injunction to Noah: “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea.  They are given into your hand.  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.  I have given you all things, even as the green herbs” (Gen. 9:2-3).

In addition to hunting, there was also small-scale farming, or at least gardening.  This would not be surprising on Courville’s theory since Noah himself was a farmer of sorts: “And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard” (Gen. 9:20).  This planting of a vineyard was likely more in the nature of gardening than full-scale farming.  In any case, most of the “farming” in Mesolithic times was for the gathering of wild wheat and other wild plants, but not of domesticated crops.

Mesolithic sites were small, “no larger than would be necessary for groups of three or four biological families—and apparently re-occupied seasonally.”[55]  Mesolithic peoples could move about on inland waters because they had paddles and dug-out boats.

Flint industries were made up of axes, adzes, microliths, scrapers and graving tools for working antler and bone.  Also in evidence was ornamentation such as perforated animal teeth, amber, pebbles as beads, bird bone as spacers.  Common motifs on artifacts were geometric designs, animal designs, and anthropomorphic designs.[56]

Evolutionists formerly believed that Mesolithic culture developed out of the richer Paleolithic culture, and for this reason they held that the Mesolithic period was a time of decline.  In Courville’s view, Mesolithic culture was the first recognizable culture in a post-diluvian context, and for that reason would not be at a very high cultural level starting out.  Culture and complexity would come later, with the Neolithic and later Uruk phases.

Today, scholars tend to reject the earlier view of the Mesolithic as primitive, culturally low, passive, or determined by environment and subsistence resources.  Instead, Mesolithic society is now seen as more complex than once thought, especially in coastal regions.

On a migratory model, the Pleistocene is closer to the immediate post-Flood era, and the earliest descendants of Noah would likely evidence a high culture (inherited party from the ante-diluvian world).  However, preservation of their tools and industry in the Fertile Crescent region would be unlikely.  The Mesolithic would represent a separate and later cultural migration of some of Noah’s descendants.

6.  Mesolithic Europe

In a recent book, Mesolithic Europe, several scholars discuss the Mesolithic stage in European prehistory.[57]  In this section, a summary of their work will be given, with some thoughts of our own along the way.

A) Environment & Settlement:

The Baltic is a region of rivers and lakes, a product of deglaciation, and subject to sea level rises, which led to changing shorelines.  Climate change also brought about changes from birch & pine forests to mixed oak & elm, and to broadleaved-conifer forests in the later Mesolithic and Neolithic.

This further led to a shift in game fauna, from reindeer landscapes to boreal, consisting of elk, beaver, bear, and other furry mammals.  These new woodlands also brought wild horse, pig, and cattle.[58]

The Norwegian landscape is characterized by fjords and elevated shorelines, a product of glaciation.  During the post-glacial phase, there was a rise in temperature, resulting in sub-arctic forest fauna (pine and hazel), but the animal life was similar to present-day fauna in Norway.  Unfortunately, deglaciation has resulted in rising sea levels that have buried many early Mesolithic beach sites.[59]

In southern Scandinavia, the post-glacial period saw a rise in temperature, resulting in forests of birch and pine, then pine and hazel, and then elm, lime, and oak.  Animals ranged from bison & wild horse, to deer and boar, then much later to domestic pig, sheep, & goat.  This region also saw a rise in sea levels, with four transgressions during the later Mesolithic.[60]

In the Low Countries (Netherland, Belgium), a similar post-glacial warming phase led to sea level rise, higher groundwater levels, and the formation of large peat bogs.  In addition, herds of reindeer and horse were replaced by elk, wild boar, beaver, and otter.[61]

In the region of France, the post-glacial environment saw forests of birch and juniper, then hazel and oak.  Eventually, pine and hazel became dominant and the forests became more dense and widespread.[62]

In the Upper Danube & Rhine (southern Germany, eastern France, northern Switzerland) the landscape followed much the same course of development of vegetation and animal fauna.  In the post-glacial phase, a number of lakes, marshes, and bogs were formed south of the Danube, while a rise in temperatures also brought reforestation, including pine and birch, and later many other species.[63]

The region of the Middle Danube & Upper Elbe Rivers (Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic) was somewhat peripheral during the Mesolithic period, but the same type of incremental faunal changes due to warmer temperatures took place.[64]

In the Iron Gates region (lower Danube between Romania & Serbia), the Holocene period saw smaller discharges of the Danube.  This allowed settlement closer to the river.  Unfortunately, the early Mesolithic is poorly documented in this region.[65]

The area of Russia, Belarus & Ukraine also experienced an increase in temperature in the post-glacial phase, including rising and falling sea levels.  The warming trend led to the growth of mixed forests, the introduction of new game and of a variety of edible plants.[66]

In Atlantic Iberia (Spain, Portugal), a similar reforestation occurred in the post-glacial phase, including pine, then mixed oak woodland.  Rising sea levels brought estuaries that would provide a home for abundant aquatic species, while the new forest environments provided a home to red and roe deer, aurochs, boar, and smaller animals.[67]

In the coastal regions of the European Mediterranean (Italy, Greece, Turkey), many Mesolithic sites have been buried by rising water, leaving scholars with a fragmented understanding of this area.[68]

This means that pollen sequences are not preserved nearly as well as in northern Europe, and they are the main data for determining the types of trees and vegetation that existed in Mesolithic times.  In general, however, the Mediterranean environment was characterized by the same warming trend as elsewhere in Europe.  The pine forests were replaced by oaks, and the mountainous regions saw the development of ecologically distinct zones.[69]

In terms of Courville’s theory, where the Mesolithic is the first recognizable post-Flood culture, the above changes in Europe could be seen as a result of the warming phase that followed the Flood.  The whole world had to be reborn, as it were, and the previous antediluvian fauna was replaced at first with plants and animals that could adapt to the cold northern climate of Europe in the immediate post-Flood period.

These would eventually be replaced with trees and plants that were warm-loving, with the inevitable arrival of animal species with the same characteristic.  This progression would no doubt have the blessing of God since the command had been given that the animals should fill the earth after the Flood:

“Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you . . . so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth” (Gen. 8:17).  The Mesolithic warming trend could therefore have provided the means for the fulfillment of the divine command.

For the migratory model (which sees the Pleistocene as post-Flood), the warming trend during the Holocene period allowed the Mesolithic clans to succeed in places where the Paleolithic clans had failed.  Global warming trends are not always a sign of impending doom!

B)  Material Culture:

1.  During the Mesolithic, the Baltic region had a diversity of food resources, including fish, waterfowl, seal, and larger mammals such as reindeer.  Migratory patterns led to specialization, with seasonal animals being exploited at single species camps, including on the coasts:

“Recent analyses of dietary patterns…show that in many coastal areas people tended to specialise in marine resources from the early Mesolithic onwards. . . .”[70]

Even inland people included large amounts of fish in their diets, along with non-aquatic resources.  Over time, however, the diets of coastal and inland regions began to differentiate.

A diversity of tools was in use in order to exploit limited resources.  These consisted of bone or antler shafts along with easily replaced microliths used in abundance at kill sites.  Specialized tools were also developed as time-saving devices (delayed capture facilities) — fish hooks, fish nets, dams, traps, harpoons of antler or bone.  This also included the use of boats with paddles.  These tools were used mostly in lowland areas and around aquatic resource sites.[71]

Common wild plants in use included hazelnuts, water chestnuts, and berries, and there is evidence of soil management from such items as hoes and antler mattocks (used in digging roots), along with burning and clearance of forests.[72]  Evidence from pig bones indicates that wild pigs may have been at least partially domesticated (or at least restricted in movement).

Around lakes and at coastal sites, settlement organization consisted of the main village and satellite camps.[73]  The Tagerup site in the Baltic region was a representative village with remains of wooden stakes and poles for boat tethering, along with a number of fish baskets, and a fish trap.  In the Kierikki area, along the Li River, remains of three hundred plus houses were found, suggesting a dense settlement (though these were dated as late as the Neolithic period).[74]

2.  In the Norwegian area, the basic technology involved flint, or flint-like materials, though individual regions varied.  Blades were used for projectiles, knives, or scrapers, and developed from thicker to narrower types.  Composite tools also developed during later stages of the Mesolithic.[75]

The environmental diversity of Scandinavia resulted in a wide variation in subsistence patterns.  Settlements were small and open air, with few rock shelters, and most were also located in coastal areas, although recent work has found sites in both forest and high-mountain areas.  The development of sea-worthy vessels allowed people to settle on small islands and to make greater use of marine resources.[76]

One problem in the archaeology of this area is that non-detailed excavation can lead to the view that a site had a large population.  Nevertheless, more detailed excavations, such as at Nyhamna, may indicate repeated use over time rather than large concentrations of people at one time:

“The site [of Nyhamna] probably represents repeated visits from small social units in E[arly] M[esolithic] C[hronozone], families or task groups. . . .”[77]  Moreover, “Regional homogeneity in material culture, generally small sites, and the lack of permanent dwelling structures support the idea of a population based on small, mobile social groups, organized in family-based residential units.”[78]

As the Mesolithic progressed, there was a trend away from high mobility and specialized hunting to more structure and stability in residential patterns.  The increasing presence of hazelnuts in diets also points to an emphasis on more stable agricultural practices since hazelnuts can be gathered and stored for long periods.[79]

3.  In southern Scandinavia Mesolithic material culture was used for both practical purposes and for status.  It begins with the Maglemose, then goes through the Kongemose, and finally ends with the Ertebølle people.  The Maglemosian followed the Mesolithic pattern of microlithic weaponry, antler and bone tools, and geometrically decorated axes and picks.

In the Kongemose culture, weapons became larger, signifying a symbolic use for purposes of status.  The Ertebølle culture continued to maintain high quality products, such as transverse arrowheads, trimmed core axes, adornments, and fish traps.[80]

4.  In Britain the Mesolithic started with broad-blade microliths and later developed narrow-blade assemblages.  Antler technology involved slender barbed points as well as antler mattocks.  Procurement strategies were divided between those that brought immediate returns (e.g., hunting) and those that brought delayed returns (e.g., fish traps, boating).

This appears to have led to a difference in social stratification: egalitarian hunter-gatherer groups on the one hand, and on the other, populations with more social complexity, the latter being required in order to afford delayed return procurement methods.[81]

The main sites are at Star Carr, Thatcham, Deepcar, and Nab Head.  Star Carr overlooks a lake, and a walkway was constructed which facilitated access.  The platform showed evidence of weapons manufacturing and elk hunting, including also red and roe deer.  Star Carr seems to have been a butchery site, and was used for only part of the year.  Thatcham was similar to Star Carr and may have been a base camp.[82]

Deepcar was also near a lake and was probably a temporary site, while the site called Nab Head was one of Britain’s earliest coastal sites, and archaeologists have found evidence there of a symbolic life, e.g., the possible use of figurines.[83]

In the later Mesolithic in Britain, there is continuity from the earlier Mesolithic, along with expansion of settlements.  As the Polar Front moved northward, the climate of Britain improved and the rise in sea levels led to full maritime conditions.  Sites such as those at Broomhead Moore and March Hill indicate the use of light shelters for homes and forest-clearing using fire.

This was done apparently to allow more browsing for prey animals.  A timber-framed structure was found at Howick, along with eighteen thousand stone tools.  At Mount Sandel in Ireland, salmon fishing was the main procurement activity and a handful of D-shaped huts were found, indicating occupation by a single family.[84]

5.  Low Countries (Netherlands, Belgium), to be continued.


[1] Donovan Courville, “Archaeology and the Duration of the Predynastic Period,” The Exodus Problem, and its Ramifications, 1971, Vol. 2, Chapter VIII; hereafter EP, Volume: Page.

[2] EP, 2:153

[3] Marvin Lubenow, Frozen in Time, 2004.

[4] EP, 2:153.

[5] EP, 2:153.

[6] EP, 2:157-58.

[7] EP, 2:159.

[8] EP, 2:160.

[9] Henry Morris & John Whitcomb, The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications, Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 1961, pp. 474ff.

[10] EP, 1:138ff.

[11] David Rohl, Pharaohs & Kings, A Biblical Quest, 1995, pp. 329ff.

[12] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 15:2.

[13] Galatians 3:17.

[14] Morris & Whitcomb, Genesis Flood, pp. 482.ff.

[15] Henry Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Master Books, 1984, pp. 416ff.

[16] Morris, Biblical Basis, p. 423.

[17] Morris, Biblical Basis, p. 423.

[18] Morris, Biblical Basis, p. 423.

[19] James N. Hanson, “An Analysis of the Post-Flood Population Growth,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 14, June, 1977, pp. 62ff.

[20] EP, 2:150.

[21] EP, 2:151.

[22] Hanson, p. 62.

[23] See P. K. McCarter, Textual Criticism: Recovering the Text of the Hebrew Bible, 1986, and James White, The King James Only Controversy, 1995.

[24] For background see, M. Boule & H. Vallois, Fossil Men, 1921, 1957, pp. 332ff.; G. Clark, Mesolithic Prelude, 1980, pp. 1-7; cf., also J. G. D. Clark, Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. 1, Part 1, pp. 90ff; J. Mellaart, Cambridge Ancient History, pp. 251-53.

[25] Boule, p. 339; Mellaart, p. 253, Graham Clark, p. 31.

[26] G. Clark, Mesolithic Prelude, pp. 2-3.

[27] Boule, Fossil Men, p. 333.

[28] J. Clark, Cambridge Ancient History, 1:1, pp. 90ff.

[29] Boule, p. 333.

[30] Boule, pp. 333-35.

[31] CAH, 1:1, p. 96.

[32] CAH, 1:1, p. 96.

[33] G. Clark, Mesolithic Prelude, p. 3.

[34] G. Clark, pp. 4-5.

[35] G. Clark, p. 5.

[36] G. Clark, pp. 6, 7.

[37] Kathleen Kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land, p. 36; emphasis added.

[38] Kenyon, p. 37.

[39] Kenyon, p. 42.

[40] Kenyon, p. 43.

[41] In fact, we now agree with most creationists in placing the Flood before the Pleistocene, or somewhere in the Cenozoic prior to the Pleistocene.

[42] Genesis Flood, pp. 312, 328.

[43] The New Geology, 1923, p. 705.

[44] Morris & Whitcomb, p. 483.

[45] Michael Oard, “The Geological Column is a General Flood Order with Many Exceptions,” in Reed & Oard, eds. The Geologic Column, 2006, pp. 99ff.

[46] Braidwood’s, Prehistoric Men, 1967, p. 92.

[47] Braidwood, Prehistoric Men, p. 95.

[48] Braidwood, p. 98.

[49] Braidwood, pp. 104-06.

[50] Braidwood, p. 108.

[51] For further discussion of the origins of food production and animal husbandry associated with the Fertile Crescent, see Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel, 1999, pp. 123ff., 180ff.

[52] Marjorie & C. H. B. Quennel, Every Day Life in the Old Stone Age, 1921, 1950, p. v.

[53] Quennel, p. 105.

[54] Cambridge Ancient History, 1:1, p. 97.

[55] Cambridge Ancient History, 1:1, p. 99.

[56] CAH, 1:1, p. 100.

[57] Geoff Bailey & Penny Spikins, eds. Mesolithic Europe, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008.

[58] Bailey & Spikins, p. 19.

[59] Ibid., pp. 66ff.

[60] Ibid., pp. 107ff.

[61] Ibid., pp. 159ff.

[62] Ibid., pp. 184ff.

[63] Ibid., pp. 205ff.

[64] Ibid., pp. 225ff.

[65] Ibid., pp. 245ff.

[66] Ibid., pp. 280ff.

[67] Ibid., pp. 310ff.

[68] Ibid., p. 332.

[69] Ibid., pp. 334ff.

[70] Ibid., pp. 29ff.

[71] Ibid., p. 30.

[72] Ibid., p. 31.

[73] Ibid., p. 32.

[74] Ibid., p. 33.

[75] Ibid., pp. 86-88.

[76] Ibid., pp. 89-90.

[77] Ibid., p. 93.

[78] Ibid., p. 103.

[79] Ibid., pp. 103-04.

[80] Ibid., pp. 110-13.

[81] Ibid., pp. 134, 141, 147, 156.

[82] Ibid., pp. 144, 145.

[83] Ibid., pp. 146, 147.

[84] Ibid., pp. 150, 151.