About 1,000 years ago, people in Southwest Asia made an amazing discovery. They learned that if they planted the seeds of wild grasses, new crops would come up.
Thus Began the New Stone Age in Southwest Asia. It was called the New Stone Age because people began to grow their own food. They did not have to be nomads, even though they still depended on stone tools.
However, in many other parts of the world, the Old and Middle Stone Ages continued for many thousands of years. In some areas, Old Stone Age societies even existed into the 1900s.
At the same time that people began to grow their own food, some people became pastoral nomads. That is, they raised livestock and traveled from place to place in search of grazing areas for their animals.
Many people, such as the desert-roaming Bedouins of present day Iraq, Syria, and other areas, are still pastoral nomads.
About three million years ago, a huge explosion shook half of East Africa. A volcano spit out clouds of fine ash that fell on the surrounding land.
Then rain came. It turned the blanket of ash into thick mud. Before the mud dried, two individuals walked across the landscape. As they walked, they left their footprints in the mud.
In 1976, a group of scientists discovered the footprints preserved in stone. They were amazed at their find. The footprints are almost identical to those made by modern humans walking in wet sand.
A million years after the footprints were made, early hominids began making stone tools. By studying these tools, we learn about the development of prehistoric culture.
The first use of stone to create tools began the earliest period of human culture: The Stone Age. The Stone Age was a period during which hominids, including modern humans, made lasting tools mainly from stone.