The Paleolithic Period 1.500.000- 21.000 BC   

The first stone age is divided into three periods: the Lower Paleolithic (from 12,00000 to 90000), the Middle Paleolithic (from 90,000 to 35,000BC) and the Upper Paleolithic (35,000 – 17,000BC). According to the excavations carried out at Pella, the Paleolithic period dates back to 12,000,00 BC, which modifies the chronology currently found in the literature. Neanderthal man, “homo sapiens”, appeared during the middle period as a nomadic, predatory hunter who killed wild animals for his sustenance and ate plants he could find. He probably followed the migratory movements of the animals and just as they did, lived near springs. His only tools consisted of hewn stones used as scrapers and knives of shaftless hatchets.

The Paleolithic period is characterized by small bands of hunters. They did not know how to grow crops and raise livestock; mainly the people were cave-dwellers or wandering groups of hunters.

Very few Pre-historic excavations have been carried out up until now in Jordan, but several surface survey’s bear witness to the presence of prehistoric man throughout the country which was much more fertile during the stone age than it is now. Lithic tools have been gathered in the Wadi al-Hasa and Wadi Rum areas, as well as around Ma‘an and Al-Jafar in the southern part of Jordan and in the northern Jordan Valley where recent excavations at Pella provide proof of successive Paleolithic culture and in the eastern desert at Al-Azraq, ‘Ayn al-Asad and al-Kharranah.

  •  The Lower Paleolithic

There are numerous sites and isolated finds of the Lower Paleolithic era recorded in Jordan. The majority of these are derived rather than in situ surface scatters of lithic artifacts. A small number of in situ sites, however have been located and several have undergone test excavations, yielding not only lithics but also fossil animal bones .All known sites of this period in Jordan are open air rather than cave or rock shelter sites, for example the Al-Azraq Basin, Wadi al-Bustan (near Al-Shawbak), Tabaqat Fahl ( East Jordan Valley), Ras an-Naqab(southern Jordan).

The environment of the Middle East during this period was considerably different from what it is today. Climatic conditions fluctuated between cool and moist to cool and dry. Many areas of Jordan experienced a higher water table, which resulted in numerous springs throughout many regions of the upland plateau such as Al-Azraq Basin.

  • The Middle Paleolithic

Sites of the Middle Paleolithic in Jordan, like those of the lower Paleolithic, have been most frequently recorded in derived contexts, primarily as deflated surface scatters of lithic artifacts. Unlike the lower Paleolithic, however there are examples of in situ Middle Paleolithic sites from rock shelters , such as Ras an-Naqab and Wadi al-Hasa.

The sparse evidence that we have from Jordanian sites shows strong similarities with the artfictual inventories and chronological placements of assemblages of the Levantine Mousterian Complex as found within the rest of the Levant, but the Jordanian sites also show some important differences. Beyond differences related to the techno-typologic compositions and chronologic positions of assemblages, environmental evidence from Levantine Mousterian deposits in Jordan also contribute to our understanding of paleoclimatic setting for this period at regional scale.

  • The Upper Paleolithic

Systematic surveys and excavations throughout Jordan during the late 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s have documented extensive use of a wide variety of environmental zones during the Upper Paleolithic, only some of which were comparable to the Mediterranean coastal and woodland ecological setting that generated the initial interpretive frameworks for the Levantine Upper Paleolithic. Sites of this time period occur in a variety of ecological settings and various site types, including both rockshelters and open-air sites, and in lacustrine, marshes, desert, and steppe environmental settings. The diversity of site types and setting represent different temporal periods and comprise some interesting technological and typological variability.

Up to 20,000BP, the late Upper Paleolithic has been documented at a number of sites in Jordan in the eastern Wadi Al-Hasa, Wadi Jilat, Al-Naqab and near Al-Azraq Basin.