The Archaeology of Ancient Tools

Session Date: 
Feb 21, 2020
Speakers: 
The earliest known stone tools have been found at the site of Lomekwi in Kenya and are dated to 3.3 million years. Metal (copper) tools appear in several places by about 4000 B.C. onward and slowly replaced stone weapons and domestic tools. In brief, humans used stone tools for 3 million years. Bone tools and tools made of wood were also used throughout this long period but lithic tools were always the most common. The long history of stone tools is punctuated by important innovations such as the emergence of diverse forms and stable patterns of knapping indicating planning and foresight, the adoption of the Levallois technology for the production of regular and thin-edged flakes and the use of hafting. The hafting of stone tools was an important advance in the technological evolution of Paleolithic humans. Joining a wooden handle to a knife or scraper and attaching a sharp point to a wooden shaft made stone tools more efficient and easier to use. Evidence of hafting in the Middle Paleolithic and in the Middle Stone Age of South Africa is growing and is not limited to points hafted on spears for thrusting or throwing. Geochemical evidence indicates that adhesives such as resin, tar and bitumen were used. In the Upper Paleolithic a large variety of handles made of bone or reindeer or deer antler were made. Metal technology is completely different from stone knapping and the fact that metal weapons and domestic tools are more resistant and harder than stone tools created the condition for the collapse of stone tool production and their total abandonment.