It is difficult to say when biology as a separate science, or even science itself, really began. Though they had virtually no knowledge of what anyone would today call physics or chemistry, the men and women of the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods probably knew some primitive medical techniques. The Paleolithic period was a preliterate epoch which lasted from roughly two million to 10,000 B.C., while the Neolithic age was a later preliterate period that lasted from about 9000 B.C. until the first civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The people of the preliterate eras may have even classified a variety of plants and animals, although in no sense did they have any knowledge of these facts as a “science.” However, the shrewdest of the early species of humans of the later Paleolithic era, Cro-Magnon, at the very least, would have soon found out which plants were toxic, which were not, and which were suitable for medicinal purposes. They also probably knew which kinds were appropriate for dyes, poisons, and so forth. Nor did organized biology begin to emerge even with the earliest true civilizations in the West—the ancient empires of Egypt and Mesopotamia, which began roughly 3500 B.C.
KeywordsCorn Penicillin Syria Acidity Pyramid
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