Stone tools

Let’s start discussing the stone artifacts (tools).


The Oldowan is significant for being the earliest stone tool industry in prehistory, being used from 2.6 million years ago up until 1.7 million years ago, when it was followed by the more sophisticated Acheulean industry. Oldowan tools were therefore the earliest tools in human history, and mark the beginning of the archaeological record

These tools are very simple stone tools.

“Oldowan tools are sometimes called “pebble tools,” so named because the blanks chosen for their production already resemble, in pebble form, the final product.”


We are not sure who or what used these primitive stone tools.

“It is not known for sure which hominin species actually created and used Oldowan tools.”

“Although the Oldowan tools were originally attributed to A. habilis, it is not known who made these tools at various sites.” … ions.shtml

For all we know, non-hominids could have also used these tools.

“There is presently no evidence to show that Oldowan tools were the sole property of the Homo line or that the ability to produce them was the special characteristic of only our ancestors.”

We even have evidence of chimps using stone tools.

“Chimpanzees learned to make and use stone tools on their own, rather than copying humans, new evidence suggests.”

So, the Oldowan artifacts cannot be definitely traced solely to man.

Another problem with stone tool dating is that stone tools are/were used even in modern times.

Another problem connected with the term Stone Age is that it was created to describe the archaeological cultures of Europe, and that it is inconvenient to use it in relation to regions such as some parts of the Americas and Oceania, where farmers or hunter-gatherers used stone for tools until European colonisation began.

And another problem is that these simple stone artifacts could’ve just been naturally formed, rather than made.

“archaeologists frequently have trouble distinguishing real knapped tools from similar objects splintered by natural forces.” … rca-spain/


The artifact that typifies the Acheulean is the biface (or handaxe).

In archaeology, a biface is a two-sided stone tool and is used as a multi purposes knife, manufactured through a process of lithic reduction, that displays flake scars on both sides. A profile view of the final product tends to exhibit a lenticular shape (i.e., as a convex lens). Bifacial artifacts can be made on large flakes or blocks, and may be grouped into numerous distinct classes.


Image … /Handaxes/

“Handaxes are large stone cobbles which have been roughly worked into an oval or triangular shape. They are pointed, or at least pointy on one end, and some of those pointy ends are quite tapered. Some are triangular in cross-section, some are flat. In fact, there is a lot of variability within the category.”

“Almost all handaxes have a point, are sized for the hand and shaped to be held. Almost no handaxes have notches for mounting.” … /Handaxes/

It supposedly spans a very long period of time.

“They were used well into the Middle Paleolithic (Middle Stone Age), and date between about 1.7 million and 100,000 years ago.”

They range in size and weight, but typically are around 12-20 cm long.

This one is 29 cm long and weighs 2 kg:

Bifaces are found practically all over the world.

“The earliest known Acheulean artifacts from Africa have been dated to 1.6 million years ago. The oldest Acheulean sites in India are only slightly younger than those in Africa. In Europe, the earliest Acheulean tools appear just after 800,000 years ago, as H. erectus moved north into Africa.” … ntro.shtml

“The largest bifaces in North America are found on the west coast in California.” … nblade.htm


“More and more archaeological discoveries show that bifaces are not absent from China, South and East Asia.”

“In this area, the presence of hand-axe has been recorded so far in China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Burma, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia.”

But, the surprising thing is that even though they were used for over a million years all over the world, we do not know exactly what they were used for!

There were no handaxes at the beginning of the Pleistocene, and none at the end, but for one million years in between this was the tool of choice for stone age man. Although everpresent in stone age culture, the exact purpose and use of this tool remains a mystery. … /Handaxes/

There has been much speculation about the purpose of handaxes. They were in use during a very early period in history and there are no recent cultural references to these forms of tools. Some of the suggested theories as to their use include: 1. general purpose tools for cutting, scraping, chopping, hacking and digging, 2. as heavy duty meat cutting tools for processing medium to large size animals, 3. as digging tools for excavating plants, burrowing animals or accessing water, 4. as cores that produced flakes that were in turn used as tools, 5. as bark-stripping tools to access the cambium layer of a tree for food and 6. as a projectile to be thrown as a discus might be thrown. … npage2.htm

The actual function of handaxes is debated. Some suggest they were not used as a chopping tool but for butchering large game. Scientists have shown that these tools exhibit wear common to butchery uses and these tools have been found in association with prehistoric elephant bones on intact “kill sites” of this period. Other scientists have theorized they were thrown into a herd as a deadly spinning projectile. Probably the most interesting theory and one that explains why many unworn and pristine condition tools have been found abandoned is that of the tool’s use not as a tool at all but as an aid to sexual attraction. Possibly, males used techniques of being able to fashion symmetrical stone axes to attract females and demonstrate they were the most capable individual for survival and support of a family. If you were a primitive human able to make a large symmetrical handaxe, this would show you were genetically superior and an excellent candidate for mating. There is much evidence that contradicts this theory but it sure is quite an interesting hypothesis. Based on the varieties of utilitarian handaxe designs, and not only obvious wear from use but actual well-thought flaking designs to best fit ones hand, there’s really little doubt that these stone tools were relied upon on a daily basis for primitive man’s existence.

So, it is quite surprising that “primitive” man would make and use the biface all over the world, and yet us “advanced” modern man cannot even determine what they were actually used for. (There is though one theory that I find to be the most plausible)

As for dating the Acheulean artifacts, it’s not so certain.

“Providing calendrical dates and ordered chronological sequences in the study of early stone tool manufacture is difficult and contentious.”

There are also many assumptions used to date them. In particular, the assumption that tool complexity evolved over time.

Relative dating techniques (based on a presumption that technology progresses over time) suggest that Acheulean tools followed on from earlier, cruder tool-making methods, however there is considerable chronological overlap in early prehistoric stone-working industries and there is evidence in some regions that Acheulean tool-using groups were contemporary with other, less sophisticated industries such as the Clactonian[7] and then later, with the more sophisticated Mousterian too. It is therefore important not to see the Acheulean as a neatly defined period or one that happened as part of a clear sequence but as one tool-making technique that flourished especially well in early prehistory. The enormous geographic spread of Acheulean techniques also makes the name unwieldy as it represents numerous regional variations on a similar theme. The term Acheulean does not represent a common culture in the modern sense, rather it is a basic method for making stone tools that was shared across much of the Old World.

Also, it is assumed that Homo erectus used the biface, so if a biface is found, it is dated to fit within Homo erectus.

Grumpy wrote:otseng

We even have evidence of chimps using stone tools.

Chimps have never been known for using fire(many early tools were fire cracked quartz, the edges are razor sharp), flaking techniques or employing rocks in any more sophisticated uses than as a hammer or projectile. Some chimps are known to create tools out of stems for “ant fishing” etc. but they do not show the ability to create these highly technical tools.

What I was referring to was Oldowan artifacts.

So, the Oldowan artifacts cannot be definitely traced solely to man.

That opinion is in no way supported by the evidence. No known creature alive today could make or use them as anything other than a hammer(Otters can do that)and these artifacts are MADE, INTENTIONALLY, by techniques that are quite difficult to become good at(I have tried it). No creature(other than hominids)appearing in the fossil record has descendents that could do this.

What Mode 1 tool have you tried to make?

And another problem is that these simple stone artifacts could’ve just been naturally formed, rather than made.


What, exactly, do you find to be simple about the above hand axe? Try to make one.

You are misquoting me. Again, what I was referring to was Oldowan tools, not Acheulean tools.

And no, I do not find a biface simple.

We may not yet know exactly which form of man did what when, but it was a form of man, whatever each species was called.

The term “man” keeps on being thrown around haphazardly. What defines something to be a “man”?

They have no modern counterparts(even the stone using tribes today are fully modern men, just restricted by their environment as to materials available). We can not know things that we have no conception of.

I find it interesting that such “primitive” tools are able to stump us modern men. I think this is indicative that they were much smarter than we make them out to be.

But a sharp point backed by a kilo of hard rock would be far superior as a weapon to kill game than a big stick, wrapping a piece of rawhide around the big end would give great grip and the point could break the neckbone or bash the head of fairly large animals.(and other men, as well). We may never know all the possible uses, I think it was an all around tool/weapon. It was sharp enough to shave(though I doubt they did), cut meat, break nuts, scrape hide(though a shard would be better), skin game, etc.

The problem is that it was intentionally made so that it is sharp all around. To use it as a “hand axe” or to scrape hide would be problematic since it would cut into the hand. If it was used for such purposes, it would make more sense to not sharpen where it was held by the hand. Shaving would also be highly unlikely. For one thing, they are much too large to be used as shaving devices. (Unless they were really quite hairy dudes)

And, in general, these tools did become more complex, better made and eventually someone came up with the idea of combining a big stick with a hammer head, then a sharp point on the end of a stick, then a spear(by this time no more hand axes were being made, obsolete technology), an atlatl, a bow, etc.

I don’t buy that bifaces are less complex than a spear. It certainly took a lot of effort to make a biface, probably even more than a spear. Also, we know what spears can be used for. But the usage of bifaces remains a mystery. So, since we don’t know its function, it cannot be said how less complex it is.

SailingCyclops wrote:

Bifaces are found practically all over the world.

So, it is quite surprising that “primitive” man would make and use the biface all over the world, and yet us “advanced” modern man cannot even determine what they were actually used for.

Whether or not we know exactly what they were used for is irrelevant. My question to you is this: Were the artifacts pictured above manufactured by man or beast? By “man” I mean Man as you have defined him in your “Creation Model”.

No, I do not think it is irrelevant. Because if one does not know the purpose of the artifacts, one cannot say that they are “simple” tools. And one cannot say that the users of such tools were more “primitive” either.

And yes, I do think that man created them.