Stone Tools

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Students continued to learn more about stone tools – what they look like, their purpose, and how they were made.  In the early stages, starting maybe about 3 million years ago, humans made tools by breaking up stones.  The sharp edges flakes were used as knives, whereas others might have been used to crush or chop foods. These types of tools are referred to as “Oldowan”.  Starting around 1.76 million years ago, stone tools are more sophisticated. Typical of those times is the hand-ax which can take 8 hours to make.  The tools of this type and time are referred to as “Acheulean”.  To develop an eye for finding stone tools, instructor Dr. Sonia Harmand took the students to a site where Holocene (made during the past 12,000 years) stone tools are found on the surface.  Students surveyed the area and put a little flag next to any stone they thought might be a manufactured tool or a byproduct thereof.  This was an exciting expedition because all students found many, many stone tools!

A selection of simple Oldowan stone tools: choppers, flakes, and cores.

Students are familiarizing themselves with the Oldowan tools.

An Acheulean hand-ax- very common starting at 1.76 million years. It takes an experienced tool-maker about 8 hours to make one.

200 flags were taken to the Oldowan tool site. A flag was placed next to any rock that students thought to be a result of deliberate human act.

At the tool site: Getting ready to "hunt" for tools!

Spreading out and searching for tool- eyes firmly fixed on the ground.

Izaak is flagging a stone tool.

Flake made by human action?

Chelsea and Digser examining and flagging stone tools.

Great find!

Dr. Sonia Harmand is explaining how to differentiate between stone tools and rocks.

By | 2017-01-04T18:05:19+00:00 March 24th, 2012|Field School|Comments Off on Stone Tools

About the Author:

Hello, I am Anja Deppe. I am a physical anthropologist and am interested in all aspects of ecology and animal behavior. In Madagascar, I investigated how mouse lemurs (tiny primates) use their senses of seeing, hearing, and smelling to avoid predators. I am currently the director of the Turkana Basin Institute Field School and share my time between Kenya and Stony Brook University.