History is a narrative of what civilized men have thought or done in past times -whether a day, a year, a century, or thousands of years ago. Since men do not live in isolation, but everywhere in association, history is concerned with social groups and especially with states and nations. Just as biography describes the life of individuals, so history relates the rise, progress, and decline of human societies.
Man was living in Europe at a remote time. He was living there at a time when gigantic ice fields and glaciers covered a large part of the Continent ; when land-bridges connected what are now the British Isles with the mainland, Spain and Italy with Africa, and the Balkan Peninsula with Asia Minor; and when such animals as the woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, saber-tooth tiger, cave bear, bison, reindeer, and wild steppe horse ranged through the forests and over the plains. The duration of the Glacial Period in Europe must be reckoned by hundreds of thousands of years.
Man’s earliest tools and weapons were those that lay ready to his hand. A branch from a tree served as a spear; a thick stick in his strong arms became a club ; while stones picked up at haphazard were thrown as missiles or used as pounders to crack nuts and crush big marrow bones. Eventually, man discovered that a shaped implement was far more serviceable than an unshaped one, and so he began chipping flints into rude hatchets, knives, spearheads, borers, and the like. Such objects are called palaeoliths (oldstones), and the period when they were produced is therefore known as the Paleolithic, or Old Stone Age.