Lithic tool evolution

Lithic tool evolution

Oldowan Tools

Lithic tool evolution started around 2.6 million years ago in the Afar triangle with the introduction of the Oldowan tool tradition. While this may not be the oldest Oldowan tool use, it is the oldest we currently know of. Hominids used these tools until around 500,000 years BP. Oldowan tools were made by striking a hammerstone against a core of another rock, creating a bulb-like break that led to the creation of the tool. This technique was called lithic reduction. For more information on types of material used and a more indepth methodology for creation of an Oldowan tool, see the above link. More tools were developed between the first appearance of the Oldowan industry and the latest appearance.


One such industry of tools is called the Acheulian industry. Acheulian handaxes, they are commonly called, range from about 1.7 million years ago in the West Turkana region of Kenya. These tools were used up until around 100,000 BP. These tools are made with in the same fashion as Oldowan tools were, using lithic reduction. The main difference between the two types of tools is that while Oldowan tools are unifacial, Acheulian tools tend to look tear-shaped and have bifacial characteristics, with both sides of the stone sharpened instead of one.


The subsequent tool industry which replaced (yet still existed beside the Acheulian industry) is known as the Mousterian industry, which used a prepared core technique. The Mousterian industry is mostly identified with homo neanderthalensis .


The Magdalinean industry, also known as Aurignacian, came about some 34,000 years ago with the carving of bone into hooks or points. This technique is found in Europe and Southwest Asia.


The Solutrean technology that developed in what is now known as France and Spain, came out of this prepared core technique. None of these blades are found before 21,000 BC.

Clovis, Folsom

The Clovis Culture is the next step in lithic tool evolution. These points came to represent highly mobile hunter-gatherer societies and can be found as early as 13,500 BC. They were made from flint and were rather large to exploit the megafauna that was included in the North American megafauna. These eventually spread southward into Panama. There are two competing theories as to how this technology evolved; one stating the technology was developed in the New World, and the Solutrean hypothesis

The Folsom Culture evolved from the Clovis culture some 9,500 years ago and represent a fluted point in which the middle of the blade is cut out for easier fastening to projectiles. This technique was developed in North America and Canada. The folsom point was smaller than its predecessor, the Clovis point, possibly due to the warming that took place during the Paleocene.

ee also

*Lithic analysis
*Lithic reduction

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