Hacilar. . Anatolia. Turkey.
Ankara. Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.
While the names we use to distinguish between the Paleolithic and Neolithic are based on the techniques used to work stone, the real distinction between the periods is based upon the development of agriculture and the domestication of animals. These were momentous developments in the human story because they made it possible for people to create permanent settlements. These objects --jawbones of animals that have been inset with sharp pieces of flint-- symbolize this change. This is a scythe that was used to harvest grain. No longer were human beings forced to devote all their time to the gathering of wild plants or to following the animals in their yearly migration.
The Neolithic grinding stone from France shown on the bottom is like many found around the world. Similar stones were used by Neolithic women in the ancient Middle East to grind wheat, by Chinese women to grind millet, by pre-Columbian women in Mexico to grind maize, and by Native American women in California to grind acorns. It is argued that the Neolithic revolution was led by women since they had been the gatherers and were most involved in the gathering and later cultivation of plants. Someone might have observed that a few of the seeds dropped in the previous year near the temporary camp had grown when they returned the following year. This observation may have led to experimentation with seed planting.