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The cultural period of the Stone Age that developed primarily in Europe between the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods, beginning around 10,000 years ago and lasting in various places as late as 3000 BCE. The Mesolithic is marked by the appearance of small-bladed, often hafted stone tools and weapons and by the beginnings of settled communities. European Mesolithic cultures existed contemporaneously with the early Neolithic cultures of the Middle East and disappeared in any particular region with the introduction of agriculture. Also called Middle Stone Age. Compare Neolithic, Paleolithic.