Archaeologists and historians taking the invention of writing as a turning point in the human evolution, examine the history of civilizations under two separate headings, “Prehistoric Ages” and “Historic Ages". Paleolithic Age which is the first phase of Prehistory covers the longest period of time among all levels of civilizations. In this period, human evolved from ape-like creatures into Homo sapiens whish is the last phase in human evolution. What makes Paleolithic Age different from Geological times is that the use of natural or man made tools and weapons. The beginning and end of Paleolithic period may change from area to area; the approximate chronology given above is for Anatolia.
The name Paleolithic derives from Palaios=Old and Lithos=Stone, thence it becomes "Old Stone Age".
One major development of this period was that the human had learned to control the fire which they used for cooking and heating their caves and also for protection from the wild animals.
Living conditions of Paleolithic Age were hard and the nature was cruel to human being. The life was totally wild. They lived in the caves or occupied the rock and wood shelters. They tended to stay in large groups and had to share their food with other family members.
If we had had a chance to take a look at those people, we would have seen a crowded flog of people living like animals. Basically their living conditions depended on their hunting and fishing abilities, or collecting edible plants from the nature around them. In this sense, we can say these earliest groups were just consumers as they didn't know yet to produce any thing and they always tried to take advantage of the nature. The remains of bones and other remains of wild animals have been found in the caves in large quantities, so we understand that these people just ate their food and left the remains there in their cave. All the tools they had had to be obtained from the nature such as flint axes, obsidian cutters and scrapers. It was yet too early for the human to build sophisticated and complicated weapons and tools. Also, they didn't have a settled life yet, whenever the food sources around them diminished; they had to move on to other locations. The natural conditions were quiet equal for human and wild animals. However, towards the end of the Paleolithic Age, human produced some art as well, they painted their cave walls with the depiction of their everyday lives, such as hunting scenes, symbolic paintings related to fertility, and wild animals. The art they produced was the most distinctive element which differentiates human being from the wild animals. The archaeological excavations have revealed that the Paleolithic life was available in almost every part of Anatolia. Especially, the diggings in the Euphrates basin in the SW Turkey have brought many Paleolithic settlements to the light.
Some of the Paleolithic sites in Anatolia are;
"Yarimburgaz Cave" near Istanbul", being the oldest evidence for human presence in Turkey. Inside the Yarimburgaz cave have been found the remains of wild figs and olives and the bones of some wild animals.
"Karain Cave " from Antalya in Mediterranean area reflects the best preserved wall paintings. "Okuzini Cave" has also provided interesting wall paintings that give us idea about the artistic values of Paleolithic people. In addition to the above dwellings, also from the same region, we can count "Beldibi", "Belbasi", "Kumbucagi" and "Kadiini" Caves.
The examples of the tools and other artifacts produced and used by Paleolithic People are on display at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, and at the Archaeological Museum of Antalya and at many other state museums all around Turkey.