The Stone Age

The Stone Age is characterized by population movements between continents, the evolution of the human species and slow cultural changes that were accelerated in its final stage. The Stone Age is divided conventionally into three periods: Palaeolithic (1,000,000 BC to 10,000 BC), Mesolithic (10,000- 6800 BC) and Neolithic (6800-3200 BC).

Along the passageway leading from the mythical past to the material remains of the Stone Age, finds are exhibited that testify to the most ancient human presence on Boeotian land. This is a period of thousands of centuries with very few or indiscernible material remains, which have largely been drawn from the depths of dark caves.

In the Mesolithic period, after the ice-sheets had retreated at the end of the Paleolithic age, milder climatic conditions prevailed. Populations moved over the sea, and there was a turn to marine dietary resources (fish and shellfish). Large mammals became extinct and hunting was oriented toward small wild game and birds. At the end of the Mesolithic Period man made the gradual transition from the hunting-gathering or foraging stage to the productive stage, by cultivating cereals and pulses, and domesticating animals. (Neolithic Period).

The development of agriculture and animal husbandry was interwoven with living in permanent settlements and led to a population increase. Alongside the settlements, caves continued to be used.

In Boeotia, open-air Neolithic settlements have been identified mainly on the plains, along river banks and on the coasts of the Euboean Gulf, i.e. locations that combined areas of arable land, pastures, mountains, rivers and lakes, providing the inhabitants with the means to obtain their food from tilling the soil and herding flocks, as well as from hunting and fishing. The most thoroughly investigated Neolithic settlements are at Magoula Balomenou near Chaeronea, Orchomenos and Eutresis.

The objects in showcases 21-27 provide a full picture of daily life in the Stone Age. Clay and marble figurines are exhibited, as are tools, such as scrapers, pyrite blades, adzes, obsidian blades and cores, stone weights, fishhooks and weaving accessories. Weapons also appear (obsidian arrowheads, slingstones), as does jewellery (pins, beads, decorative seashells, necklaces) and the typical pottery of the era.