Man In Mesolithic Age
The Mesolithic Age
The Mesolithic Age is also termed as the Middle Stone Age. It was probably from from Ireland that that the first humans used wooden boats to cross Scotland to reach Antrim. Sea levels and land kept rising and moved at a fluctuating pace leading to the re-emergence of a northern bridge connecting Scotland and Antrim and the southern land bridge from the Irish Sea.
Animals and humans are believed to have migrated to Antrim via these bridges. Between the remains of the Mesolithic people found in the southern regions of Scotland and northern regions of Ireland, continuity in terms of culture can be seen. In Western Europe the last place where human settlements were seen was Ireland. Perhaps, humans lived here for around ten thousand years.
In Danish history, the longest period was the Mesolithic Age. In Denmark hundreds of skeletons of the people living in Mesolithic period have been found. As compared to modern day human beings they were smaller, with women having an average height of 150 centimeters and men being 170 centimeters in height. They had a shorter average lifespan, especially the women. People living during this period can be termed as ‘the little people’. They had a rough facial appearance which is related to the rigorous chewing required to eat foods like meat etc.
Way Of Life
The Mesolithic people were hunters and gatherers and also concentrated on activities on the shores or rivers, lakes and sea besides waterways, but did not indulge in farming. They hardly ventured into the interiors of forests due to which the ecosystem of Ireland was not affected. Antrim is one country where a lot of evidence of the Mesolithic people is seen.
In the 1970s, Mount Sandel in the Londonderry county and Sligo county excavations had taken place. Charcoal leftover from the cooking fires, remains of the huts of the Mesolithic people dating way back to the period 7000 BC and 6500 BC have been found. Tools used and flint have been found at a raised beach at Curran in the Antrim County. At Lough Boora and Offaly County, evidence of the Mesolitihic people has been uncovered by archaeologists.
Arrows tipped with flint and sharpened pieces were used for bird and animal hunting. Heavy spears were used which couldn’t be thrown too far. Wild boar, duck and deer were mainly hunted down. Autumn was the season when they hunted for these food sources. They used flint barbed harpoons for spearing unsuspecting eels and salmon, with great skill and patience by standing in a river, motionless. In autumn, summer and spring, women did the main work of gathering berries, fruits and hazelnuts to enrich the meat diet. In winter, wild boar was commonly hunted, as food resources were very few.
Animal skin was used over a wooden frame to create boats and tree trunks were used to create dug-out canoes. Meat was carried to the outdoor fire sites for cooking it and it was eaten communally. Clothes and houses were made from animal skin. They made houses out of animal skin spread over a wooden frame in the shape of a bowl and lived near lakes and rivers.
The dead were treated with great respect and different kinds of goods were buried along with the dead in a belief that there is life after death. They must have fought and even killed each other during arguments as seen in the wounds on the skulls of adult males.
At county Tyrone, at the Ulster History Park located near Omagh, the reconstructed homes of these people and be seen. They moved to new sites along with their houses. There wasn’t any kind of competition to capture land as there were hardly any people. No evidence of any kind of weapon used against another human has been seen.
Artefacts, axes, awls, arrowheads, knives etc, available of the Mesolithic period were made in flint. Antlers, plant material and wood were also used to make items which indicate that the Mesolithic people were gradually moving towards modern technology. Constant development was seen in the making of flint arrowheads to suit the changing environment. Fishing boats were used, and woven branches were best used to make fixed traps, spears and hooks. Edible roots, nuts and shellfish were gathered in nets and baskets. Berries, edible plants, mussels and oysters, made their staple diet. Many fish bones have been uncovered at the preserved settlements.
They introduced agriculture and domesticated cattle gradually. Evidence indicates that the Mesolithic people started spreading towards the eastern coast of Ireland, the Shannon basin from south west England and Wales. Towards the end of the Mesolithic era, technology for making coiled pottery and earthworks was introduced. The population started declining due to wetter climate and many of the Western Ireland lakes turning into bogs as known today.