Paleo Diets are Trending; but What Exactly Was A Paleo Person?

Paleo is a buzz word right now. The Paleo diet is hugely popular (in fact I'm giving a version of it a try right now). The diet's basic idea is that you "eat like a caveman". What you eat on the Paleo diet isn't exactly what a caveman would've eaten; but that needs to be the subject of another blog post! This post is just to help you understand what a Paleo person actually was, when they lived, and also teach you a little bit about the Neolithic people (the folks who came after the Paleo people).

When did Paleo people live?

Paleo people lived lived a long time ago. We're talking 2 million to 12,000 years ago. To put that in perspective the latest (meaning closest to us in time) Paleo people walked the Earth in 10,000 BC. Paleo is short for Paleolithic, which means "Old Stone Age". These folks obviously used stone tools. In college I had a professor make stone tools for us in class; it was pretty cool to see how this process actually was carried out.

Where did they live?

Well, they lived in caves. Yep, not surprising. They also built rudimentary structures, so they didn't just live in caves. They created art; paintings on cave walls and small stone statues. Archaeologists are still finding this stuff today!

What was life like for a Paleo person?

Um, not good. Being a Paleo person would've basically been pretty un-fun. Life was difficult and short. Paleo people were hunter-gatherers. They moved around constantly following their food sources and eating what was available. This is where the concept behind the Paleo diet comes in. The idea is that our bodies are still conditioned to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

This means that our bodies store fat to be burned as energy at a later time. This is because sometimes Paleo people couldn't find food for a few days maybe even close to a week. Therefore, their bodies would need that stored fat to keep them alive. Make sense huh? Paleo people didn't eat grains (like wheat) because farming didn't exist.

Paleo people lived short lives. You'd be really old if you made it to 30. Oh, and.... let's not forget the Ice Age was happening during this time period too. Sea levels were lower (because of all the frozen sea water at the poles), so there would've been more land area on the surface of Earth. The whole Earth wasn't a frozen tundra; but it was way colder than now and a lot of places we live in now would've been really difficult to live in.

Who are the Neolithic Folks?

Around 12,000 years ago the Ice Age ended. People started to figure out how to domesticate animals. Meaning they started keeping wild game in cages, over time these animals became domesticated farm animals. People also started to plant the seeds from the wild fruits, vegetables, and grasses they gathered. Over time farming developed and those wild grasses turned into our grains; wheat, rye, barley, oats, etc.. This time period is called the Neolithic Age, meaning "New Stone Age". People were still using stone tools, but because of the invention of agriculture they were able to settle down and start building towns, then cities; and along the way creating complex societies!

Reconstruction of Neolithic Stilt Houses

When did Neolithic People live?

They lived around 10,000 BC to 3,000 BC. Agriculture developed at different times in different parts of the world, so the date of 10,000 BC reflects the earliest date when agriculture was invented in the Middle East. After 3,000 BC people started using bronze tools; which brought about the Bronze Age.

And that's it. Now you know a little bit about Paleo people and their lives. I wouldn't trade places with one; would you?