The prehistoric period during which stone was used to make tools and weapons and is synonymous with the paleolithic. ~3.4 mya - 10 kya. In African archaeology, stone age chronology is divided into Early Stone Age (ESA): ~2.6 mya to ~300 kya; Middle Stone Age (MSA): ~300 kya to ~50 kya; and Later Stone Age (LSA): ~ 50 kya to ~39 kya.
- Early Stone Age is characterized by the development of the first African stone tools, such as the Oldowan technology used by Australopithecines, and the later Acheulean technology, used by Homo erectus.
- Middle Stone Age is characterized by a transition from Acheulean to Levallois technology and the earliest known modern human behavior.
- Later Stone Age is characterized by microlithic industries and punch-struck blades, revealing fully modern human behavior.