This chapter summarizes what people know about the beginnings of the human species in Asia, the long Paleolithic period or Old Stone Age, the Neolithic revolution, the origins of agriculture in Southwest and Southeast Asia, the beginnings of civilization in India, Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan, and the close connection between Korea and early Japan. It aims to provide the stage for our exploration of the literate societies that emerged in Asia in the second millennium b.c.e., when written records provide much richer sources for understanding the history of the peoples of Asia. Paleolithic cultures were widespread in Japan at least 40,000 years ago, differing little from those of the Asian mainland. The spread of Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures across Asia certainly involved exchange as well as independent parallel developments, and archaeologists regularly make discoveries that shed more light on this fascinating period. The Aryans had an advantage over older communities in South Asia, despite their more primitive culture.