Encyclopedia > Prehistory

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Prehistory usually refers to the period of human history before writing. Or more precisely, the period that left no written records that we know about, whether originals or later copies. In Egypt, prehistory would end around 3500 BC. In New Guinea, prehistory would end around 1900. Still earlier periods of time are usually known as geological history.

When did prehistory begin? People disagree. Some would begin it with Homo erectus, around 1.5 million years ago. Others would begin it around 40,000 BC, with the Cro-Magnons.

Prehistory is often subdivided by a three-age system:

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