Paleolithic Tool Technology


The earliest rock tools crafted by early hominins began during the Lower Paleolithic

period and day of the month to at least 2.5 million old ages ago. The sites that include the richest supply and

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grounds for the development of these early tools are at Gona and Hadar, Ethiopia and Lokalalei,

Kenya. There are two major tool industries that characterize the Lower Paleolithic period: the

Oldowan and the Acheulian. The Oldowan industry is based off the flakes and nucleuss discovered

at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, East Africa, and the Acheulian industry has been defined for the

polishs made to these flakes and nucleuss that transformed into bifaces, which functioned as

handaxes and cliverss.

The development of tool engineering from the Lower Paleolithic period in Africa began to

switch four hundred thousand old ages ago during the Middle Paleolithic period as Neandertal mans

emerged onto the scene. The rock tools present during this period can be characterized as being

finely refined flakes into a fluctuation of toolkits utilizing an attack known as prepared-core

engineering. Further invention of rock tools occurred during the Upper Paleolithic period in

Europe, where an drawn-out scope of diverse tools were crafted by modern worlds from rock in

add-on to cram engineering. These tools took on the form of blades that were twice every bit long as

they were broad, leting them to be mounted to wooden helves that could be used as hunting


It is good known that the development of Paleolithic tool engineering developed over clip

at the same time with early worlds as these persons adapted to their several environment.

The pattern of presenting crisp blows to individual stones to craft pointed flakes was refined and

perfected over clip through a series of inventions utilizing the same technique known as knapping.

( Chazan, 2012, p. 73 ) This study will research each tool industry highlighted above in farther

item and analyze the major polishs in tool engineering that took topographic point from the Lower


Paleolithic period in Africa to the Upper Paleolithic period in Europe.

Oldowan Industry

The Oldowan industry was the first theater of rock tool production by early hominin

species during the Lower Paleolithic period, or early Stone Age. Archaeological grounds

discovered at Olduvai Gorge, East Africa dating to between 1.9 to 1.15 million old ages ago

suggests that stone tools being used during this clip functioned dominantly as scavenging tools

to cut tegument and meat and interruption castanetss in order to uncover marrow. There is presently no convincing

grounds which indicates that early hominins practiced runing with this toolkit. The

fabrication manner for these types of rock tools was raping, a technique that involves the

precise percussion of stones to interrupt off smaller pieces into flakes. ( Chazan, p. 73 )

The Oldowan tool industry consists of basic nucleus and flake engineering that were refined

utilizing difficult and soft cocks. Difficult cocks were regular pieces of rock that were struck

against nucleuss like a cock for determining. Soft cocks were made up of pieces of wood and

bone that allowed flakes to be shaped into farther item and sharpened. The significance of this

early usage of hammerstone is its edification to make crisp borders to be used as a agency for

scavenging carnal carcases and bring forthing nutrient. This is apparent in the grassland Savannah

environment for which these hominins were populating. It can be argued that the distribution of these

tools was widespread amongst this species, particularly within groups. Archaeological grounds

discovered in Olduvai Gorge suggests that this species may hold built cardinal base cantonments or

huts, which proposes the thought that these persons retrieved rock and brought it back for

polish. It is presently ill-defined as to what hominin species in peculiar created these rock

tools. However, the archeological record holds the strong possibility that it was one of the first

species considered to be of the genus gay, known severally asgay habilisandgay


erectus. ( Chazan, p. 66-67 )

The Acheulian and Chopper Tool Traditions

For about one million old ages, hominin species continued to craft the flakes and nucleuss that

qualify Oldowan industry rock tools. The gradual passage from the traditional Oldowan

percussion technique of raping flakes and nucleuss was well improved 1.7 million old ages

ago whengay erectusforemost made an visual aspect with carefully refined bifaces that represent the

Acheulian and Chopper rock tool industries. These industries introduced the handaxe, a rock

tool renowned for being the earliest grounds of design by an early gay species. ( Chazan, P.

72 ) These bifaces can be categorized by design as being handaxes or cliverss. The

features that entail handaxes are pointed, comparatively crisp terminals on one side and rough

egg-shaped forms on the other. Smaller flakes are removed from the tool utilizing soft cocks, doing it

smoother along the borders and far less harsh on the sides. The chopper is strikingly similar in its

design, but different in visual aspect demoing a really wide, broad border instead than that of the crisp


The handaxe and chopper tools propose interesting inquiries sing their true usage and

map. It can be inferred that like their predecessors, the handaxe and cleaver rock tools were

used for scavenging and slaughtering carnal carcases. Furthermore, the multi-purpose design of

these tools allowed the user to execute an array of undertakings that may hold involved delving up

workss and burying nutrient, chopping wood, and clambering carnal fells. There is really lose grounds

in the archeological record that suggests that these tools functioned as runing arms or

missiles. It is appropriate to advert that early hominins continued to craft and utilize these rock

tools for over one million old ages, and it has been presented in archeology that the handaxe may

be the most of import invention that early worlds of all time introduced to the universe. ( Chazan, p. 72 )


Additionally, grounds suggests that the distribution of Acheulian industry rock tools extended

to the Middle East and subdivisions of Europe and East Asia over a span between 1.7 million old ages

ago to 200,000 old ages ago.

The Mousterian and Middle Stone Age

Jumping frontward in clip, the human species known as the Neanderthals began to

dwell the Western parts of Earth in Europe from 130,000 to 30,000 old ages ago. Modern

worlds, a species arguably modern-day with Neanderthals besides populated East Africa and

many parts of Europe, nevertheless are non considered to be a portion of the same archeological

context as Neanderthals. The rock toolkit nowadays during the Middle Paleolithic period is

well different from the Oldowan and Acheulian industries discussed supra. For

illustration, the Neandertal mans exchanged the industry of handaxes for the precise polish of

flakes utilizing a technique called retouching. This allowed the single carving the flake to

command its form and modify it for a specific usage. Retouching provided Neandertal mans with the

ability to sharpen, thin, and unbend their tools to carry through several undertakings including hunting,

doing fires and burying their dead. ( Chazan, p. 105 ) Another indispensable feature of the

Mousterian industry is a prepared-core engineering known as the Levallois technique, which

involves fixing one side of a nucleus to be struck into a flake of a coveted form. This method of

rock knapping is regarded as being extremely sophisticated because of the careful organisation,

design, and planning of the percussion procedure.

An of import factor sing the Middle Stone Age is that Neandertal mans are the first

known species to attach their rock tools to wooden lances, therefore making a hunting arm. This

is a major leap forward in Paleolithic tool engineering within the expansive strategy of homo

development. Archaeological grounds points toward the usage of spear engineering in parts of Europe


and the Middle East, although existent remains are highly limited. ( Chazan, p.111 ) American

Archaeologist Lewis Binford challenged many claims sing the usage of Neanderthal rock

tools, to boot oppugning if the persons who crafted them were active huntsmans in truth.

The Upper Paleolithic in Europe

The Upper Paleolithic is the last phase in the Paleolithic prehistoric period and can be

loosely dated to 40,000 to 11,000 old ages ago. This phase is characterized by an immensely diverse

aggregation of rock and bone tools. There are five major tool industries that represent this

diverseness sing the Upper Paleolithic: the Chatelperronian, Aurignacian, Gravettian,

Solutrean, and Magdalenian. Each industry has been dated within the span of 40,000 to 11,000

old ages ago and contains alone pieces of rock and bone artefacts which make up the Upper

Paleolithic tool gathering. The dominant feature of this period is the debut of

blade engineering, which are flakes that are twice every bit long as they are broad in the signifier of

bladelets, endscrapers and burins. ( Chazan, p. 137 ) An interesting facet of the Upper Paleolithic

tool gathering is the usage of refined bladelets as hunting missiles. In add-on to the usage of

lances as runing arms, the atlatl functioned as a spear-thrower which enhanced hunting

efficiency as a whole. The atlatl is a aquiline piece of wood or bone with an indented cup at one

terminal which propels the butt terminal of a lance when thrown.

The diverseness and polish of Upper Paleolithic tools reflect the technological

inventions introduced to modern human civilization. Blade engineering, in peculiar

contributed to the creative activity of mobiliary graphics in the signifier of little statuettes and sculptures,

while other tools were created specifically to craft tools designed for several different intents.

The cause for the disappearing of Neanderthals around 40,000 old ages ago and the outgrowth

of modern worlds remains to be a popular subject for archeological argument. The replacing of


Neandertal mans with modern worlds can be attributed to the theory of hybridization, and grounds

that supports this belief suggests that trade webs were established in Europe between the two

species. Furthermore, greater population denseness and closely aggregative sets provoke

interesting inquiries sing their domestic inclinations and the distribution of toolkits

throughout these groups. The finely elaborate workmanship that characterize tool engineering

in the Upper Paleolithic period paved the manner for traditional hunter-gatherer societies and the

gradual outgrowth of agribusiness and domestication.


Paleolithic tool engineering is an interesting and indispensable point of prehistoric survey. The

development of unsophisticated raping percussion techniques of leveling flakes from nucleuss to

the polish of attaching diverse blade engineerings to wooden lances is a absorbing facet of

early human life. The highly gradual development of tool engineering reflects the

behavior of the persons who used these tools and the forms in versions to the

environment which early worlds occupied. This can besides be explained through analysis of rock

tool engineering in the stuff record. Technological invention throughout the whole of the

Paleolithic period occurred in springs and bounds and Michigans and starts over an highly drawn-out

sum of clip. This cardinal facet of tool engineering grants us a window into the yesteryear and

an invitation to understand the lives of the persons whom preceded the defining of homo




Chazan, M. ( 2012 ) .World Prehistory and Archaeology: Nerve pathwaies Through Time( Second Canadian ed. ) . Toronto: Pearson Canada.


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