Human Evolution - Tools

Human evolution is the biological and cultural development and change of our hominin ancestors to modern humans.

Sticks and stones picked up unaltered from the ground were probably the only implements used by the great apes and earliest human ancestors. Stones that were smashed and broken to give a jagged edge on one end became the first stone tools deliberately made by humans' ancestors. This type of tool is called an oldowan tool, after the tool-making industry in the Olduvai Gorge. Stones that have been struck repeatedly with another stone (the hammer stone) to remove flakes and give it a distinct shape belong to the acheulean tool industry. Later on, tools became more specialised, with more flakes being removed from stones and their edges worked more finely. These tools belong to the mousterian tool industry.

More information about stone tools

Acheulean: tool industry characterized by roughly made hand-axes found at St. Acheul, France. This type of toolmaking occurred about 1.5- 0.2mya.

Advanced reduction flaking: the production of a more specialized tool by accurately removing small flakes along the edge or faces of a flake.

bi-facial: having two worked sides

Chopper: a tool made by flaking the edge of a roundish stone on one side.

Core: the piece of stone or raw material from which flakes will be removed and which can be modified and used as a tool itself.

Final reduction flaking: the removal of small flakes from both surfaces of the flake, often by applying pressure with a sharp piece of wood or bone.

Flakes: the thin pieces of stone that have been removed from a core.

Hafting: the fixing of some tools to hafts or handles to make them more efficient to use. Deer antler and wood of many types was used to hold the tool which was sealed in place with gum cement or gum cement and twine bindings. Twine or animal sinew was used to bind the handle in several places and keep it firm.

Hammerstone: a stone which is used for making other tools, to detach flakes from a core by percussion or striking.

Initial reduction flaking: the chosen stone is held in one hand and struck forcefully with another hand-held stone, the hammerstone or the chosen stone is struck onto an anvil stone. This action will detach a flake that can be worked further and also results in a sharp edge on the chosen stone, making a chopper or core tool.

Mousterian: tool industry characterised by finely made hand-axes, blades and points found at Le Moustier, France. This type of tool-making occurred about 200,000-35,000 years ago.

Oldowan: tools from the tool-making industry in the Olduvai Gorge, Kenya. This type of toolmaking occurred about 2.5 - 2 mya.

Pecking, grinding and polishing: Pecking is a quick way of removing material from a piece of stone by chipping at it with another stone. Grinding is a way of shaping tools by rubbing them on sandstone abraders. Polishing smoothed and shaped tools by rubbing them against another rock with water and sand.


Ms Jen Cork , Online Producer
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