In 1980, Alvin Toffler introduced us to a new way of analyzing history, of looking at the world: waves of change. He did so in a book called The Third Wave (New York: W. Morrow, 1980). His particular way of describing or categorizing reality is interesting and has a lot of appeal.
His First Wave began about 12,000 years ago (10,000 b.c.e.). Up until then (or during what archaeologist refer to as the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age--500,000 b.c.e. to about 10,000 b.c.e.), people had been hunter-gatherers living in small nomadic bands of about 30 individuals. These consisted mostly of extended family.
They constantly moved around in search of food, hunting animals and gathering edible plants (leafy greens, roots, nuts, berries, grains, etc.). The small bands of humans often followed herds in their migrations.
Life was generally precarious, and people were at the mercy of the vagaries of the weather and natural disasters. They were often only one step ahead of starvation as, being nomadic, they moved around frequently and could not build stores of food.
The hunter-gatherer social structure was simple and technology poorly developed. Their tools and implements were made of wood, stone, and bone and included such things as hand axes and scrapers, fish hooks and harpoons, spear points and arrow heads.