The Prehistoric World

Perhaps one million years ago or more, small groups of hominids moved into Europe from Africa, during warmer interstadials of the Ice Age.  Cave art appears in the Upper Palaeolithic during the last ice age. The development of Neolithic farming communities between 5000 and 3500 BC is characterised by the use of pottery, agriculture, domestication of animals, mining and the construction of megalithic monuments, such as Stonehenge and Carnac.  Metal-using communities emerged during the bronze and iron ages, probably from Mesopotamia or south-east Asia, with stratified urban settlements and kingdoms, and the first writing. 

The Museum has substantial collections of pre-historic stone artefacts from Africa and Europe, especially from the important site of Swanscombe.  Spear heads, swords and axes in bronze come from hoards and ritual deposits.