The Great Leap Forward
The earliest species of human were little different from the rest of the animals
that inhabited the earth. More often than not, they were preyed upon by larger species.
As you have learned, early humans eventually developed the use of tools and fire.
However 35,000 years ago, humans began to experience a series of major
technological, artistic and cultural advances. These developments are often called, ‘The
Great Leap Forward’. It was during this period that humans showed their first signs of
conscious planning, forethought and creativity.
The Great Leap Forward is important for many reasons:
1. Humans developed modern anatomy; they looked like us.
2. Humans began to create a wider variety of tools and weapons: needles, awls1, mortar
and pestles, axes, barbed harpoons, spear throwers and bows and arrows.
3. Human developed aesthetic appreciation. This means humans now enjoyed art and saw
a need for it in their society. They created cave paintings, sculptures and jewellery.
A pointed tool for making holes, especially in wood or leather.
1. Look at ‘The Venus of Willendorf’, found in Austria at:
a. How does ‘The Venus of Willendorf’ represent the ‘Great
b. Why does this figure represent fertility do you think?
2. Visit one of the most famous archaeological sites with
preserved cave art - The Cave of Lascaux in France – at:
a. Follow the links "Discover" and "Virtual Visit". Choose one of the galleries and view
b. Follow the link "Learn" where you can read about artist techniques, the themes of
the paintings and more. Use the "Quiz" option to see how much you have learned.
c. Make a brief summary of what you saw in the caves.