The Neolithic period, also called New Stone Age, began when men first developed agriculture and settled in permanent villages. It ended with the discovery of bronze. The prime medium of Neolithic art was pottery. Other important artistic expressions were statuary of the universally worshiped Mother Goddess and megalithic stone monuments.
Free standing sculpture had already begun by the Neolithic, the earliest being the anthropomorphic figurines, often embellished by animals from the very beginning of the Neolithic discovered in Nevali Cori and Göbekli Tepe near Urfa in eastern Turkey, dating to ca. 10th millennium BC. The mesolithic statues of Lepenski Vir at the Iron Gorge, Serbia and Montenegro date to the 7th millennium BC and represent either humans or mixtures of humans and fish.
In Central Europe, many Neolithic cultures, like Linearbandkeramic, Lengyel and Vinca, produced female (rarely male) and animal statues that can be called art. Whether the elaborate pottery decoration of, for example, the Želiesovce and painted Lengyel style are to be classified as art is a matter of definition.
Megalithic monuments are found in the Neolithic from Spain to the British Isles and Poland. They start in the 5th Millennium BC, though some authors speculate on Mesolithic roots. Because of frequent reuse, this is difficult to prove. While the most well-known of these is Stonehenge, were the main structures date from the early Bronze age, such monuments have been found throughout most of Western and Northern Europe, notably at Carnac, France, at Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands, in Portugal, and in Wiltshire, England, the area of Stonehenge, the Avebury circle, the tombs at West Kennet, and Woodhenge. One tomb found in New Grange, Ireland, has its entrance marked with a massive stone carved with a complex design of spirals. The tomb of Knowth has rock-cut ornaments as well. Many of these monuments were megalithic tombs, and archaeologists speculate that most have religious significance.