Oldowan and Acheulean Stone Tools

A new study suggests that Homo erectus , a precursor to modern humans, was using advanced tool-making methods in East Africa 1. The study, published this week in Nature, raises new questions about where these tall and slender early humans originated and how they developed sophisticated tool-making technology. Early humans were using stone hand axes as far back as 1. Homo erectus appeared about 2 million years ago, and ranged across Asia and Africa before hitting a possible evolutionary dead-end, about 70, years ago. Some researchers think Homo erectu s evolved in East Africa, where many of the oldest fossils have been found, but the discovery in the s of equally old Homo erectus fossils in the country of Georgia has led others to suggest an Asian origin. The study in Nature does not resolve the debate but adds new complexity. Study co-author, Craig Feibel, is among the team of researchers that returned in to West Turkana to put dates on hand axes excavated earlier. Credit: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

This 1.4 million-year-old hand axe was chipped off a hippo femur

The Oldowan is the oldest-known stone tool industry. Dating as far back as 2. Homo habilis, an ancestor of Homo sapiens, manufactured Oldowan tools.

some of the oldest stone hand axes on Earth. The ancient tools, unearthed in Ethiopia in the last two decades, date to million years ago.

Thank you for visiting nature. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer. In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript. Hand axes from southern Spain have been dated to nearly a million years old, suggesting that advanced Stone Age tools were present in Europe far earlier than was previously believed.

Acheulian axes, which date to at least 1. But in Europe, sophisticated tool-making was thought to stretch back only around , years. Cave sediment levels that included the two axes also held what some archaeologists believe may be small tools made using the so-called Levallois technique of shaping stone, known to have existed in Europe only about , years ago.

Handaxes Rock the Stone Age

When people think of Viking age weapons, they usually think first of the battle axe, and the image that forms in their mind is a massive weapon that only a troll could wield. In reality, battle axes in the Viking age were light, fast, and well balanced, and were good for speedy, deadly attacks, as well as for a variety of nasty, clever moves. The axe was often the choice of the poorest man in the Viking age. Even the lowliest farm had to have a wood axe left for cutting and splitting wood.

In desperation, a poor man could pick up the farm axe and use it in a fight.

The hand axe found with the body of the Alpine Iceman is one of the to the early Copper Age because of the radiocarbon dating of the axe.

Human ancestors living in what is now Spain fashioned double-edged stone cutting tools as early as , years ago. Europe’s Stone Age has taken an edgy turn. A new analysis finds that human ancestors living in what is now Spain fashioned double-edged stone cutting tools as early as , years ago, almost twice as long ago as previous estimates for this technological achievement in Europe. If confirmed, the new dates support the idea that the manufacture and use of teardrop-shaped stone implements, known as hand axes, spread rapidly from Africa into Europe and Asia beginning roughly 1 million years ago, say geologist Gary Scott and paleontologist Luis Gibert, both of the Berkeley Geochronology Center in California.

Evidence of ancient reversals of Earth’s magnetic field in soil at two archaeological sites indicates that hand axes date to , years ago in one location and to , years ago in the other, Scott and Gibert report in the Sept. Until now, most researchers thought that hand axes unearthed at these sites were made between , and , years ago. Other European hand ax sites date to no more than , years ago.

Europe’s oldest axes discovered

It dates to the Late Acheulean to about , years ago. It’s made of pink quartzite. This article illustrates and describes several examples of Acheulean handaxes from Africa and Europe. They are most remarkable for the extremely long period of time they were produced in Africa, Asia and Europe. Plus the fact that they were made by a different species of human, Homo erectus.

dating to this period and culture contain extensive evidence for the hunting of Although hand axes continue to be made during the Middle Paleolithic, this.

But new research is showing that advanced Stone Age tools got to Europe close to the time they reached other sites outside of Africa. In a letter published today in Nature, two archaeologists have shown that axes from southeastern Spain are from , years ago, much older than had been believed. What was surprising was that older axes hadn’t been found before in Europe, says archaeologist Luis Gibert, a co-author on the letter. The new research has almost doubled that time period, from , to , years ago, Potts says.

They used analysis of changes in the Earth’s magnetic fields to date the axes. This dating technique works because the Earth? Very fine-grained magnetic materials in the rock will orient themselves with the current magnetic field, making it possible to measure which era a given area came from by dating the polarity of the Earth? You could use the flakes that come off them to whittle sticks to dig for grubs, you really could use them to do a lot of things.

They were really handy things to carry around with you,” he says. The first documented appearance of such hand axes was in Ethiopia about 1. Evidence shows they made their appearance in India about 1. They were used by early humans, called Homo erectus, until they began to be replaced by a smaller, more mobile kit of specialized stone tools about , years ago, Potts says. Perhaps even more interesting than the previous gap in the arrival of the hand-ax technology is why the axes weren’t more popular outside Africa, says Ian Tattersall, curator in anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Common at sites in Africa, the hand axes are much rarer in Europe and Asia.

Palaeolithic Handaxes from the North Sea

The ability to make a Lower Paleolithic hand axe depends on complex cognitive control by the prefrontal cortex, including the “central executive” function of working memory, a new study finds. PLOS ONE published the results, which knock another chip off theories that Stone Age hand axes are simple tools that don’t involve higher-order executive function of the brain. The skill of making a prehistoric hand axe is “more complicated and nuanced than many people realize,” Stout says.

Hand axes were made by early humans in Europe around , years Acheulian axes, which date to at least million years ago, have.

Homo ergaster , a strictly African species, existed between 1. The Turkana Boy. Unlike tiny, apelike Lucy, he was 1. His body was almost modern, but his adult brain was only cc, with a long, low, thick braincase, receding forehead, bony browridge, prognathic chinless jaw, and large molars. His nose, however, was human-like. Human Evolution and the Inferences from the Turkana Boy.

The Turkana Boy had no apelike reliance on trees. His narrow pelvis and barrel-like chest emphasize bipedalism. A narrow pelvis in females implies a constricted birth canal, limiting the amount of brain growth before birth, and prolonging infancy, as in modern humans. A reduced digestive tract indicates a diet containing more meat and tubers. Cooking might have made food more digestible although persuasive evidence for fire use post-dates , years ago, after H. The hot, dry environment of Africa may explain the slim, tall body, which promotes heat dissipation; the projecting, external nose conserved moisture.

He may have had hairless skin for efficient sweating.

Search the objects

It is therefore not useful as an indicator of chronology in order for it to be considered as a marker it has to be accompanied by other complementary and independent archaeological data. Rare archaic indian: 48, with examples from a living and , suggesting that were once. He felt that he could recognize beauty in early prehistoric tools made during the Acheulean: It seems difficult to admit that these beings did not experience a certain aesthetic satisfaction, they were excellent craftsmen that knew how to choose their material, repair defects, orient cracks with total precision, drawing out a form from a crude flint core that corresponded exactly to their desire.

But fossils dating after , years ago now indicate that H. sapiens The Acheulean Hand Axe Tradition Oldowan toolmakers produced sharp flakes but did.

Hand axes are fairly common finds at sites dating between 2 million and 1 million years old. These sturdy tools have two sides also called faces and a sharp edge at one end. But hand axes are usually made of stone, so archaeologists working at the Konso Formation in southern Ethiopia were surprised to find a hand axe worked from a large chunk of bone buried in a 1. When Tohoku University archaeologist Katsuhiro Sano and his colleagues compared the bone to a collection of bone samples from large mammals, they found that their ancient hand axe had once been part of a hippopotamus femur thigh bone.

The Konso find is only the second bone hand axe archaeologists have ever found, and one of just a handful of bone tools from sites older than 1 million years. Based on fossils found at Konso, the hominin who flaked off a chunk of hippo femur and worked it into a nice, sharp hand axe was probably a Homo erectus. Members of the species walked upright and were built a lot like modern humans, and they eventually spread from Africa, across Europe and Asia, and all the way to modern Indonesia.

At least one member of this species left behind a 13cm-long hand axe that is, according to Sano and his colleagues, an excellent piece of craftsmanship. The toolmaker apparently flaked a large, flattish piece of bone off the side of a hippo femur; you can still see the outer surface of the bone on one side of the hand axe.

But the toolmakers at Konso knew what they were about. By alternating those flakes between one face and the other, the toolmaker made a remarkably straight 5cm-long cutting edge at the working end of the hand axe.

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