The human species emerges in Africa. They spread out across the continent and develop more sophisticated tools.


Genus Homo

A group of mammals known as homo emerged in Africa and Eurasia about 2.8 million years ago. They use basic stone tools and gradually evolve into different species.

Paleolithic Continued

It is the Old Stone Age as Homo mammals have been using basic stone tools since the beginning of their existence. They smash weaker sedimentary rocks to create flint.

Pleistocene Continued

The earth has been in the New Ice Age for over 2 million years. Northern and southern regions are mostly covered in ice and snow. Many regions are dry as water is trapped in ice.

Glacial Cycles

During the ice age, the earth fluctuates between glacial and interglacial periods. Ice sheets expand during glacial periods, which reduces global temperatures and lowers water levels.

300,000-200,000 YEARS AGO

Early Modern Humans

Within the homo family of mammals, the human species arises in Africa. They have larger and more complex brains, which allows for increased problem-solving abilities and tool use.

Capable Hunters

Humans are strong hunters. Although slower, they are the best long-distance runners in the animal kingdom. Humans can also throw faster and more accurately.  

Nude Humans

Humans remain nude in the warm African climate. There is little need for covering or protection and it is a social norm. It also helps the body to sweat and avoid heat exhaustion while travelling. 

Dark Skin

Early humans have dark skin, which provides protection from ultraviolet radiation in the sunny climate. It gives them an advantage in traveling and hunting in Africa.

Humans are given the scientific classification of Homo Sapien, which is a Latin term meaning Wise Man. The oldest Homo Sapien fossil that has been uncovered is from Northwest Africa and dated to around 286,000 BP. 

Camp Society

The first humans form the simplest type of community, which consists of an extended family of about 30-50 people. Human camps remain small and mobile.

Dividing Camps

As a camp grows in population, they are forced to split in order to remain manageable. Additional human camps with a population of 30-50 emerge and spread out.

Y-Chromosomal Adam

Life is harsh and many human lines go extinct, especially in colder regions. However, all males genetically descend from a single surviving fatherly line that begins around this time.

East Africa

Humans spread throughout many regions of Africa. However, the human population gradually becomes centralized in the warmer and more survivable climate of East Africa.

Human prehistory, which takes place before the invention of writing, is deduced from studies in archaeology, genetics, and anthropology. As such, there is some debate as to the exact timeline of events. 

Egalitarian Community

Men tend to hunt, while women tend to gather or focus on childcare. However, members of a camp are equal and decisions are made by consensus. Men and women are held in equal importance.

Task-Based Leadership

Some camp members may take initiative to complete a task. However, they are strongly against any permanent authority. Successful hunters may gain a higher level of respect.

Primitive Communication

Humans communicate using simple sign language, sounds, and facial expressions. They react to emotional and physical conditions such as pleasure, pain, surprise, and exertion.


There is increasing respect for the wisdom of older members. There are no official leaders or laws, but customs begin to emerge and the elders may expect them to be followed.

Given the time between conception and birth, it is speculated that early humans were initially unaware that sexual intercourse was the source of childbirth.


Humans hunt for food and develop strong running skills, which helps them catch prey. However, having only basic stone tools, hunting is limited to smaller animals. 


Humans forage wild plants for nuts and fruits. They also catch fish, steal eggs, and scavenge for animals killed by predators or that have died of natural causes.


There are limited resources and no forms of storage or preservation. Food is consumed immediately. Dwindling resources have humans constantly on the move looking for fresh sources of food.


Humans live temporarily in caves or under trees. It provides protection from the weather and predators. They live in the wilderness near abundant sources of food and water.

Studies of living hunter-gatherer groups show that they work an average of 6.5 hours a day. Industrial societies which work an average of 8.8 hours per day.

Flake Tools

285,000 BP: Humans develop better techniques to slice off flakes from stone, which allows for the creation of stronger stone tools. Complex stone blades and grinding stones begin to be used.


The primary human tool is a small pointed stone, which is used for cutting, chopping, and digging. The non-hafted hand-axe is the longest-used tool in human history.

Makeshift Shelters

Humans gradually learn to build shelters with stone, mud, wood, and leaves. The huts, which are often located under trees or within caves, are temporary. 

Fire & Food

250,000 BP: Fire use becomes widespread and humans commonly cook their food. It may have initially been used to defrost food in colder regions, but is soon used to make food to last a bit longer.

Humans emerged during the second phase of the Old Stone Age, known as the Middle Paleolithic.

European Interglacial Period

The ice age continues. Much of Europe remains covered in ice and snow, though some regions enter an interglacial period. Southern Europe becomes warmer and more hospitable.

European Migrations

210,000 BP: Humans forage for food around the Mediterranean and enter southeastern Europe. They reach the Apidima Cave in the Balkan Mountains, but they either return to Africa or die out.

Early Beds

Humans create bedding with grass and insect-repelling plants. They also use ash, which aids in insulation and may also help repel insects and scorpions. 

Stone-Tipped Spears

200,000 BP: Humans learn to shaft stone blades to thick wood branches and create spears with stronger stone points. The blade is secured using plant resin and/or animal tissues.

The Apidima Cave, located in Southern Greece, may be the oldest known evidence of humans living outside of Africa. However, the evidence is fragmentary and uncertain.

200,000-115,000 YEARS AGO

Penultimate Glacial Period

194,000 BP: The ice age enters a glacial period. Ice sheets expand and global temperatures decrease. Humans struggle to survive in the cooling period and many human lines go extinct. 

Middle-Eastern Migrations

185,000 BP: Humans, likely foraging for seafood, travel along the coast of the Eastern Mediterranean. They migrate into the Middle-East and take shelter in the Misliya Cave.

Early Clothing

170,000 BP: The glacial period continues to reduce temperatures. Humans begin to wear coverings made of animal skin and fur, which helps improve survival during harsher cold periods.

Stone-Heating Techniques

164,000 BP: Humans in South Africa learn to heat silcrete rock, likely by burying them under a fire. It allows them to flake off shards from the tough stone to create stronger tools.

Mitochondrial Eve

150,000 BP: Living conditions are harsh in the glacial period and many human lines go extinct. However, the genealogical line of one woman in Southeastern Africa survives.

South African Expansion

Humans from the Mitochondrial Eve line expand into South Africa. They are the ancestors of the Khoisan and San People. It is the first major separation between human populations. 

Central African Expansion

140,000 BP: Humans from the Mitochondrial Eve line migrate into Central Africa to forage the rainforest surrounding the Congo River. They are the ancestors of the short African Pygmies.

African Megadrought

135,000 BP: East Africa is hit with a megadrought, which reduces lake water by 95% in some regions. It may have severely impacted population levels and increased migrations toward sea shores.

All living humans can be genetically traced back to Mitochondrial Eve. She is not a specific woman or the only woman, but her line was the only one to survive.

Population Estimates

130,000 BP: The human population is estimated to be roughly between 100,000-300,000. There would be approximately 2000-6000 human camps throughout Africa.

Improved Communication

Humans increasingly associate sounds and gestures with certain meanings, which get passed down to offspring. Better forms of communication begins to gradually emerge.

Long-Distance Trade

Language and communication skills continue to improve. Humans increasingly practice long-distance trade and exchange such things as tools, flint, food, skins, and mates.


Improvements to communication allows humans to better collaborate or merge into larger tribal clans. They develop tools to catch larger quantities of fish and cooperate to hunt larger animals.

The origin and development of language is speculative as speech and communication leaves no archaeological records until the development of writing.

Eemian Interglacial

130,000 BP: The Ice Age enters an interglacial period and the earth begins to slightly warm. Northern continents are flooded with vast pools of water as ice sheets melt.

Western Asia Migrations

Western Asia sees a period of humid weather. Humans may have crossed the Red Sea from the Horn of Africa and migrated into the Arabian Peninsula in Asia.

Eemian Peak

125,000 BP: The interglacial period reaches its warmest peak. Winters are shorter, which may have allowed human populations to rebound and thrive in some regions. 

Widespread Fire-Use

Although some humans have been controlling fire for some time, its use becomes widespread. Using fire for light, heat, and cooking increases human survivability.

No human fossils dated to this time have been found in Arabia. However, archaeologists have found what appears to be human tools imported from Africa.

Homo Neanderthalensis

Neanderthals are a species of homo mammals that live mostly in Western Europe. They are stockier and store more body fat than humans, which helps them survive in colder weather.

Mousterian Technology

Neanderthals create thinner and more specialized stone tools. They fashion knife-like tools for scraping bark and animal hide. They also create sharper points for spearheads and dart throwing.

Birch Tar

Neanderthals remove bark from birch trees and distill the bark into a sticky tar. They use the tar as an adhesive for binding animal hide and to improve the handle on stone tools.

Neanderthal Population

Neanderthals reproduce slowly and their populations remain small. However, with the warmer climate, their populations grow and they expand into North Africa and Western Asia.

Neanderthals fossils were first discovered in Germany’s Neander Valley in 1856. The valley was named after 17th century German hymn writer Joachim Neander, whose last name translates to New Man.

Middle-Eastern Migrations

125,000 BP: Humans cross from Africa into the Sinai Peninsula and enter the Middle-East. They take shelter in the Es-Skhul and Qafzeh caves near the coastline of the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Abbassia Pluvial

120,000 BP: There is an extended wet period in North Africa. Lakes, rivers, and swamps bring lush vegetation and animals to what is usually the Sahara Desert. Humans expand into the region.

Human-Neanderthal Interaction

Humans come into contact with Neanderthals in Northern Africa and South-Western Europe. They likely compete, interact, and trade cultural and technological ideas with their homo mammal cousins.

The First Jewelry

Humans and Neanderthals perforate gastropod seashells. They carry and possibly trade them far from the coastline. The beads are the earliest known form of jewelry.

Jewelry, likely a common item of trade, may also be the earliest form of culture and symbolism.

115,000-70,000 YEARS AGO

Last Glacial Period

115,000 BP: The glacial period returns and global temperatures are in decline. Water gets trapped in ice and the earth enters a dry period. Tribes must compete for dwindling resources.

African Back Migrations

There is a sharp decline in temperatures. Perhaps due to the cooling weather, there is a massive migration of human populations from South Africa back into East Africa.


Humans in South Africa and Neanderthals in South-Central Europe begin to cook shellfish. Seafood may have become an increasingly important source of food in the colder climate.


Humans and Neanderthals likely practiced cannibalism, especially during food shortages. They appear to butcher remains and divide the meat covered bones. 

The practice of cannibalism is deduced by the large number of butchered human bone fossils. The butchering may have been caused by predators, but the large amount seems implausible as the sole cause.

Ochre Colouring

Humans start using ochre, a natural earth pigment with colors ranging from yellow to deep orange and brown. It is used in rock art, body paint, rituals, and other symbolic items.


Humans in Southeast Europe and the Middle East bury their dead. Some skeletal remains are stained with red ochre and grave goods are sometimes placed beside the deceased.

Blombos Cave Workshop

A coastline cave near the southern tip of Africa is used to create tools and ochre-based pigments. The primitive workshop is the earliest form of economic organization and manufacturing.

Early Culture

Humans may have developed distinct cultural traits around this time. Separated human populations begin to have their own unique style of body paint, jewelry, language, and rituals.

Although there is some debate, human burials may be the earliest indication of religion and/or idea of an afterlife.

East Asia Migrations

Humans migrate as far as East Asia and likely interact with Neanderthals. Some humans take shelter in a limestone cave complex, which becomes known as Fuyan Cave. 

Neanderthal Interbreeding

Neanderthals and humans interbreed in Altai Mountains of Central and East Asia. The human line dies out or is assimilated, but the Neanderthals survive and carry human genetics.

Earliest Permanent Structure

100,000 BP: Humans in Northeast Africa place sandstone slabs in a semicircle, which are likely used to help create shelters with skins or brush. It is the oldest known human structure.

Semliki Harpoon

90,000 BP: Humans in Central Africa create barbed fishing points using carved bone fragments. They use the harpoon to spear 1.8 meter long catfishes in the Semliki River.

Toba Super-Eruption

75,000 BP: The Toba volcano explodes in a cataclysmic super-eruption. Ash and noxious gases fill the atmosphere and the earth experiences a volcanic winter.

Global Cooling

The earth is already cooling from the ongoing glacial period. The Toba Super-eruption and the subsequent volcanic winter cause the earth to enter a devastating 1000-year cold spell.

Extinction Event

The extreme cold period causes human and animal populations to drastically decline. Humans that migrated out of Africa either die out or return to the continent.

One Family Line

The total human population may have dropped to less than 10,000 people. The population decline may also be the reason for the only surviving family line of Mitochondrial Eve.

The Toba Eruption is one of the largest volcanic eruptions in earth’s history. However, there is debate over its effect on human populations.


Humans communities remain confined to Africa but are spread out throughout much of the continent.