Prehistory: Stone Age in Azerbaijan

Gobustan rock art

Azerbaijan’s Stone Age is split into the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic eras. It was studied in Gazakh, Karabakh, Gobustan, Lerik, and Nakhchivan. Researchers discovered stone materials belonging to the Stone Age in the Shorsu gorge situated near Gyrag Kasaman in the Qazakh province. According to archeologists, ancient humans had first settled in the Azerbaijan territory 2 million years ago. The Stone Age period involved two different human species: Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis.


The Paleolithic era began from the first human species’ habitation in this region and lasted until the 12th millennium BCE. The Paleolithic is redivided into three periods: The Lower Paleolithic period, The Middle Paleolithic period, The Upper Paleolithic period.

Lower Paleolithic

The Lower Paleolithic era lasted until 100 thousand years ago in Azerbaijan. The ancient people living in the Lower Paleolithic era in Azerbaijan were analyzed in the Guruchay valley, based on the Azokh cave materials. In 1968 CE, archeologists discovered the lower jaw part of azykantrop in the Acheulean age layer in the Azokh cave. There were mysterious raw materials for making various tools in the Guruchay valley. Ancient people collected stones from Guruchay to make labor tools (instruments)

Middle Paleolithic

The Middle Paleolithic period started 100,000 years ago and ended around 35 thousand years ago. This time is also called the Mousterian culture. The lifestyle of humans and people settlements of this era have been studied in Karabakh (Azokh, Tağlar caves, and Zar caves), Qazakh (the mystical Damjili cave), and Nakhchivan (an elongated Qazma cave). Archeologists discovered more than 2000 stone tools and thousands of ancient animal bones belonging to the Mousterian culture in this region. Mousterian people evolved to the Lesser Caucasus’ southern slopes, from the ancient Mil lowland to Jeyrancol in a large range. The main devices of this period were basic sharp-pointed tools. The main occupation of ancient tribes during this era was hunting and gathering (reasonably common throughout the world during this time.)

Upper Palaeolithic

The Upper Paleolithic period in Azerbaijan remained from 40-35 thousand years ago to nearly 12 thousand years ago. Both caves and outdoor camps represented the Upper Paleolithic history in Azerbaijan. Archeologists discovered instruments of the Upper Palaeolithic era in Zar, Damjili, and Gobustan camps. During this era, the cave bear and the giant deer became extinct, and the ancients began hunting Caucasus gazelle, deer, roe, mountain goat, and other mammals.


Nearly 12000-13000 years ago, the Upper Paleolithic era was replaced by the Mesolithic era (12.000 BCE-8.000 BCE). Numerous animal bones were discovered in Mesolithic camps in Gobustan. Findings show that hunting had a significant place in the life of the ancient tribes of Gobustan. They hunted wild donkeys, wild horses, deer, oxen, and other animals. The tools were more sophisticated in the Mesolithic period.


According to archaeological research, the Mesolithic era was replaced by the Neolithic age in the VII-VI millennium BCE. Because of the Neolithic period’s agricultural revolution, ancient tribes began spreading over regions with pleasant conditions for farming. Archeologists discovered material and cultural examples of the Neolithic era of Azerbaijan in Kultepe in Nakhchivan, Damjili cave, Shomutepe, Gobustan, Haci Elemxanli Tepe, Toyretepe, and other minor settlements.


The Chalcolithic or Eneolithic period (6th – 4th millennium BCE) was the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age. Being laid around the Caucasus hills that are abundant in copper ores, there was a convenient condition for the early development and formation of copper processing in the Azerbaijan regions.

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