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Archaeo News 

9 September 2011
The first advanced stone tool?

Whilst the first stone tools to have been found so far are recorded to be the 'Oldowan Tools' (named after the gorge in Tanzania where they were first found), dating from approximately 2.6 million years ago, they were very crude and were used simply for hacking and crushing.
     Until recently it was believed that the oldest 'advanced' stone tools were from Ethiopia and dating from approximately 1.4 million years ago. These tools were far more sophisticated and were chipped into shape to allow more delicate cutting and scraping techniques, as well as the previous crushing attributes.
     But now that boundary has been pushed back to approximately 1.76 million years ago by a find on the shores of Lake Turkana, in Kenya. These finds belong to a group known as 'Acheulian Tools', named after a high profile site in France. This is where the story gets both interesting and confusing. Acheulian tools have been generally found on sites also containing the fossilised bones of Homo Erectus and it was believed that they were developed from the cruder Oldowan tools as Homo Erectus advanced and became more skillful.
     However, on a contemporary site (dating from 1.8 million years ago) in Georgia, Asia, only Oldowan tools were found alongside the Homo Erectus remains. This could have two possible meanings. The first is that Homo Erectus (or a predecessor) migrated from Africa to Asia earlier and either never developed the advanced skills or individuals who had the skills died out before passing them on. The second theory is more radical and proposes that Homo Erectus began in Asia and migrated to Africa! Both these suppositions need more evidence before one or the other can be confirmed.

Edited from guardian.co.uk (31 August 2011)

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