The origins of the Acheulean: past and present perspectives on a major transition in human evolution
The emergence of the Acheulean from the earlier Oldowan constitutes a major transition in human evolution, the theme of this special issue. This paper discusses the evidence for the origins of the Acheulean, a cornerstone in the history of human technology, from two perspectives; firstly, a review of the history of investigations on Acheulean research is presented. This approach introduces the evolution of theories throughout the development of the discipline, and reviews the way in which cumulative knowledge led to the prevalent explanatory framework for the emergence of the Acheulean. The second part presents the current state of the art in Acheulean origins research, and reviews the hard evidence for the appearance of this technology in Africa around 1.7 Ma, and its significance for the evolutionary history of Homo erectus.This article is part of the themed issue ‘Major transitions in human evolution’.