This type of sequence is known as a ‘relative chronology’ - it puts things in order but will not indicate how old the individual components are. Today, while the basic principle of the Three-Age System remains, we can subdivide the most ancient, the Stone Age into old (Palaeolithic), middle (Mesolithic) and new (Neolithic). The ages of bronze and iron are comparatively much shorter and have their own internal divisions, often based on differing styles of pottery or metalwork.
'Darwin’s revolutionary theory of evolution suggested that man’s origins lay within the animal kingdom.'
There were also great advances in associated sciences, with the work of Charles Lyell in geology and Charles Darwin in biology. Together these debunked traditional views that man was entirely separate from the rest of creation, absent until comparatively recent times. The association of stone tools with the bones of extinct animals demonstrated that prehistory was of a considerable duration, while Darwin’s revolutionary theory of evolution suggested that man’s origins lay within the animal kingdom.