I guess that when most people hear the word “Neolithic”, they simply think about something old, not very old, but old enough to be dated back to a past when our ancestors could not eat a juicy pizza or enjoy a fresh beer – it seems they’d be wrong in both cases.
Funny thing is that most people use the term “Paleolithic” to label something that is very old, something that has “aged”, which you wouldn’t do any more, that has most of the time a relatively negative connotation. Paleolithic and Neolithic, though, are both part of the same larger period known as Stone Age.
However, going back to Neolithic, I think it should be considered again, this time with a more correct and modern interpretation – this word should actually be associated to the “Neolithic revolution”, which according to Wikipedia was:
[…] the wide-scale transition of many human cultures from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, making possible an increasingly larger population.
Now, looking at our history, we can often find that we humans, or I should say Western people (as I don’t have enough knowledge about how this whole Stone Age thing is perceived in the East) tend to think that there are some periods that produced “wide-scale transitions […]”. One recent example is the Industrialization.
I frankly dislike to imagine that such periods happened suddenly, as if our ancestors in the Paleolithic period were all limited or not capable of farming, or as if people in the Middle Ages were all ignorant and illiterate – let’s try to remind a few things that we use and that were created roughly in such a “bad period”: glasses, universities, printed books. Progress is something that doesn’t happen right away, and if people in the Neolithic had the chances to improve their farming techniques I am quite sure that they had to thank also the “poor” guys who were born in the Paleolithic.
Why am I being biased towards Paleolithic then, claiming that they were “poor” guys? Well, that’s the point – you see. This is the main issue that we face when we look at something that happened in a relatively remote historical period – we almost always think that in the past it was all bad, all terrible, etc.
Why Neolithic then? Well, at this point you should have guessed it already. If we are who we are and we have what we have, we certainly have to say thanks to the progress and improvements created over the years. Oh, I almost forgot: of course, today is better than yesterday.