Definition of Mesolithic in US English:



  • 1Relating to or denoting the middle part of the Stone Age, between the Paleolithic and Neolithic.

    In Europe, the Mesolithic falls between the end of the last glacial period (c.8500 BC) and the beginnings of agriculture. Mesolithic people lived by hunting, gathering, and fishing, and the period is characterized by the use of microliths and the first domestication of an animal (the dog)

    • ‘She discovered that the proportion of skulls with fractures and dents was greater for the Mesolithic than for any subsequent period.’
    • ‘Limpets are not much used in Britain today, but their persistence on Mesolithic midden sites, as well as on more recent middens, suggests that their role must once have been much wider than a food of last resort.’
    • ‘Well-preserved Mesolithic sites have been discovered recently off Tynemouth and in the Solent.’
    • ‘They found a grave pit containing fragments of bones which may be human, as well as Mesolithic and late Neolithic flint tools and pottery.’
    • ‘On the southern edge of Salisbury Plain is the final version of a henge and stone circle which has undergone many alterations since it was built during the later Mesolithic era 5,000 years ago.’
    • ‘The Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, can seem a very remote and ‘mysterious’ time.’
    • ‘During the Mesolithic, sophisticated hunting tools, including the spear thrower and the bow and arrow, were invented, the latter about 12,000 years ago.’
    • ‘These are the last remnants of the forest which stood in late Mesolithic times in this area.’
    • ‘Large areas of forestry had been cleared from the Mesolithic onward and mixed farming formed an established agriculture system across the whole of Britain.’
    • ‘But historians oppose the plan because they have evidence that the site contains important Mesolithic - or Middle Stone Age - remains.’
    • ‘The log boat tradition, once established in the Mesolithic period, continued well into the Middle Ages.’
    • ‘A hilltop Mesolithic hunting camp has been excavated in an unpopulated area of Perthshire west of Aberfeldy.’
    • ‘In origin, the Lialovo Culture results from local later Mesolithic groups adopting the use of pottery and characteristically Neolithic stone artefacts from groups further to the south.’
    • ‘This was extensively occupied in late Upper Palaeolithic and early Mesolithic times.’
    • ‘The way to find microliths (small Mesolithic flint barbs), he said, was to search springtime molehills.’
    • ‘Projects have been on shipwrecks and on Mesolithic sunken forests.’
    • ‘After that I worked on a Roman villa, a Mesolithic settlement, a Medieval settlement and within a Saxon Abbey precinct - all by the age of 17!’
    • ‘Orkney College's new archaeological geophysics unit are out at Minehowe this week, surveying the area of what could be Orkney's earliest Mesolithic settlement.’
    • ‘According to a prehistorian at Cambridge University, the numerous Mesolithic shell middens found around the Irish coastline represent the remains of communal banquets.’
    • ‘The other newly-discovered building, on the coast near Dunbar, is possibly the earliest, and certainly the most substantial, Mesolithic house in Scotland.’
    1. 1.1as noun the Mesolithic The Mesolithic period.
      Also called Middle Stone Age


Mid 19th century: from meso- ‘middle’ + Greek lithos ‘stone’ + -ic.