StoneTool and Tool Production
Thepursuit for earlier cultures has become one of the foremost researchinsights in evolutionary explorations. Humans show evolved abilitiesfor complicated technological, symbolic, and social acts which aredistinctive amongst the existing species. Earlier evolutionaryexperts appreciated the significance of culture as a majorcontributor to the advanced human behavior. It is argued that thecontemporary human behavior may be a result of cumulative culturalevolution (Foleyand Marta 6).The question has been about what has evolved to give humans theircurrent capabilities. The prime area of change is the brain ofhumans, perceived as the cause of the unique mental powers. Oneresearch study relates to how the use of stone tools affected thecognitive capabilities of Homosapiens.However, the ancient Oldowan relics were too refined to signify thegenesis of human machinery (Hamand et al. 312). On that regard, theartifacts raise concerns as to the earliest makers, as well as thedifference between those tools and the ones made by recent humans.Archaeological evidence offer data vital in understanding humanprogress since the last common antecedent with Pan.Palaeolithic stone implements give a comparatively profuse andunremitting data of technological shift over the last 2.5 millionyears ago, detailing the steady appearance of new behavioral orcognitive capacities (McPherronet al. 857).
Inessence, evolutionary ancestors predetermined the evolution oftechnology through time, which provides evidence that tool productionwas as earlier as 2.5 milion years ago, or even earlier than that.Early people “knapped stones” to make sharp tools, whichrepresent an intermediate technical stage (Harmand et al. 312). Thediscovery shows that the frequent and competent design or productionof sharp tools was a dynamic factor in the development of man.Archaeologists trace the uniqueness of the hominin lineage to theevolutionary ancestors, especially in their use of stone tools, whichpoint out that the earliest man had the knowledge to produce and usethese artifacts skillfully. Therefore, the paper exploits theevolution of man by determining the link between archaeologicalremains, historic behaviors, and the essential cultural and cognitivemechanisms which aided the behaviors, with stone tool production anduse as the center of focus.
Evidenceon Stone Tool Usage and Production
Archaeologyoffers two primary bodies of evidence related to the progress ofhuman cognition, that is, the timing associated with innovation orcognition development, and the actual evolution of thosedevelopments. Particularly, the human evolution can be traced back tothe origins of shaping stone tools by hitting them with other stonesto produce sharp tools, which could then be used to execute varioustasks. The stone tools (lithics) present physical proof of human andpre-human technology, and can be utilized to examine the cognitivecapabilities of those involved in their production (Aeillo and PeterWheeler 201).
Thereis overwhelming evidence that earlier species used debitage productsto assist in daily activities (Harmand et al. 312). As a result oftheir completely inorganic content, lithic tools and debitage areinert and resistant of degradation. Consequently, the twoarchaeological remains (lithics and debitage) the most frequentlydiscovered artifacts in relation to human pre-history. Paleolithicstone tools are available in large quantity and display sequentialand geographic disparity through the entire course of homininevolution. Thus, stone tools are important in comparative studiesconcerning the evolution of humans cognitively and culturally.Initial records of Oldowan stone tools dated 1.75 million years ago(in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania) mapped the Homohabilis(hominins with chimpanzee-sized brains) as the first lithic toolmakers. However, Harmandet al. argued that the discovery of 3.3 million years old tools inKenya’s Lake Turkana shores is enough confirmation that the actualfirst tool makers may have been the Australopithecus(311). Other stone implements, for instance, animal bones located inEthiopia with cut marks dating back to the past 3.39 million years,are indicative of the fact that stone tool production and usecommenced before the Homohabilis(McPherron et al. 858).Finally, another stone tool identified in Gona, Ethiopia, dating 2.6million years ago, only cemented the fact that indeed,Australopithecuswerethe first hominins to produce and use stone tools (Semawet al. 171).
Themost ancient stone tools (dated 3.3 milion years) are associated withAustralopithecus,a group of hominins that had human and ape-like features, but withbrains that were relatively smaller. On the contrary, the lithictools hinted that these hominins had more advanced cognitiveabilities than was assumed. According to McPherron et al.,Australopithecushavetubular bone arrangement consistent with rock knapping andutilization (859). It is argued that the species were intelligentenough to make or knap, as well as use lithic tools. Australopithecusshared some similarities with the apes they had long arms withfingers that were extended and curved, short legs, comparativelysmaller brains, and were arboreal, spending most time on trees(Skinneret al. 396).Their cognitive and manipulative capabilities facilitated the art ofstone tool production and utilization.
Australopithecusproduced stone tools by knocking them with sufficient force tocontinuously detach a set of superposed unidirectional and adjacentflakes. For instance, the tools unearthed in Lake Turkana regioncomprised of sharp flakes of stone thought to have been sheared offfrom relatively larger rocks for use in cutting. These were definedas choppers, flake-like implements created by shearing one or morepieces of a larger stone (Skinneret al. 398).In addition to the choppers, other types of stone tools have beendiscovered along the timeline in different geographical areas. TheOldowan stone implements, with the oldest (dated 2.5 million years)discovered in Gona, Ethiopia, classify as flake tools. These weremade with many flakes, or by chiseling off small pieces a core washit with a hammerstone to smash off a flake (Foleyand Marta 7).Another evidence of stone flakes dates back to the past 1.75 millionyears, and was found in Olduvai Gorge of Tanzania. Apart from thestone flakes and choppers, crude bifacial tools have also beenidentified in Peninj, Tanzania, and dates back to the period 1.6million years. Crude bifacial tools were ax-like carvings from rocks,wood antlers, or bone. They were produced by fragmenting materialfrom two or more sides of a stone, bone, or wood. Finally,archaeologists have also mapped hand axes dated 0.7 to 0.25 millionyears ago, for example, in France and Western Asia. Although the handaxes bear resemblance to bifacial stone implements, they wereproduced from more advanced technology (Semawet al. 169-170).
Evidencesuggests that the use of stone tools by hominins improved theircognitive capability, helping them to advance from one invention toanother and allowing them to easily execute tasks such as huntingwith ease. Notably, the evolution of lithic tools started with simplechoppers, stone flakes, bifacial stones, and hand axes in that order.With these tools in place, hominin species could execute a wide arrayof tasks such as wood cutting, digging up roots, and extractingtubers, as well as other buried materials (Aeillo and Peter Wheeler112), and easy feeding without relying entirely on dentition. Hence,the hominins adapted by eliminating the need for larger dentition,and instead, utilizing most of the energy obtained from the diet toadvance their cognition and motor skills (McPherronet al. 859).
Toolmaking, diet, and the size of brain are all thought to impact eachother. Apparently, the cognition of human evolutionary ancestorsprogressed as an operational capacity to adapt. Stone tools were usedto process food from game meet (Semaw et al. 172), which, in turn,helped in the development of their brains. With increased brain size,the capability to device more complex tools was acquired, therebyenhancing the hominins’ strategies of gathering food. That, inturn, facilitated a better diet quality that could be sustained by asmaller digestives system, and the generation of more energy thatpromoted the development of larger brains over time. As Aeillo andPeter Wheeler noted, meat products helped in the evolution of humanbrains (221). Thankfully, the hominin species manufactured stonetools that were instrumental in the hunting process and cutting ofmeat from carcasses for food. They, thus, provided meat in theirdiets to sustain brain development.
Whilethe concept of how meat helped in the evolution of human brain may beunrelated to archaeology, examining how the need for meat, alongsideother dietary requirement, informed the development of stone tools bythe hominins is essential in tracing of tool production. Choppers andscrapers by early hominins were utilized to break bones and derivemarrow, as well as cut meat off the bones (Domínguez-Rodrigo,Travis and Henry 20930).The hominin tool (dated 2.6 million years) associated withAustralopithecusdiscoveredin Gona was a scraping implement utilized to cut up meat in anattempt to satiate the dietary needs. The tool is argued to have beendeveloped before there was an increased brain size and improved meatdiet for the hominins (Aielloand Peter Wheeler 208).Meanwhile, a jaw bone of an antelope dated 2.5 million years ago wasidentified in Ethiopia’s Lake Yadi. The jaw bone had cut markswhich implied that a sharp stone flake was used to slice out thetongue by the then hominin (Australopithecus) (McPherronet al.858). Therefore, hominins developed tools to aid in their scavengingpractice of obtaining meat and marrow from carcasses.
HomininGenera and Species Associated with Stone Knapping
Increasedreliance on stone tools and enhanced manipulation of sharp objectswas the result of the adaptive shift from evolutionary ancestorsconcerning new foraging strategies. Homosapiens’ supposedlyproduction of particular implements from adapted bones of animals,alongside other aspects like art and distinct hunting tools, hasculminated in the definition of an apparent cognitive and behavioralgap between Homosapiensand the rest of the species belonging to the genus Homo(Domínguez-Rodrigoet al. 20932).
Becausestone tools provide physical evidence of pre-human and humantechnology, as well as the way they evolved cognitively, a lot ofarchaeological studies have been done to verify the human genera andspecies involved in the production and utilization of tools. Initialevidence of Oldowan stone tools dating back to 1.75 million years agoplaced Homohabilisas the initiators of stone tool knapping (McPherronet al. 858).However, the latest discovery of a lithic tool (named Lomekwi 3)dating back to 3.3 milion years ago in Kenya’s Lake Turkana shorespushed back the existing records to near a millennium. These toolswere manufactured nearly one million years before the first knownartifact ascribed to the hominin group or genus Homo(Harmandet al. 313). The revelation invalidated the previous belief thatknapping of stone tools was associated with the arrival of thehominins belonging to the genus Homo.Over the past few decades, ensuing findings backdated the initiallithic implements to the past 2.6 million years and credited theinitial stone tools to first Homoto about 2.4 to 2.3 million years ago (Aeillo and Peter Wheeler 202).Therefore, stone tool production that dates back to the past 2.5million years is attributed to the hominins. Australopithecus hasbeen the genus ascribed to the manufacture of the tools during theperiod, with such species as Australopithecusrobustus,Australopithecusafricanus,and other hominins previously thought incapable of knapping stones.Australopithecusrobustusis attributed to the production and the use of stone tools found inSouth Africa’s Swartkans and Sterkfontein dating back to the past1.8 million years because the remains of the species discovered inthe sites, based on radiocarbon dating, were about 1.8 million yearsold. Additionally, in Zambia’s Broken Hill, several lithicimplements were determined which show proof of shaping by cuttingusing stone tools, as well as polishing. The tools are ascribed tothe first phase of Middle Stone Age, with Australopithecusafricanuslinked to the art (Foleyand Marta 10-11).
TheOldowan stone tools used by hominins or Australopithecus have, atlength, been contemplated to be the simplest forms of tools to havebeen produced about 2.5 million years ago. The stone tool datingabout 2.5 million years located in Bouri, Ethiopia, is attributed tothe works of Australopithecusgarhi asthe skull bones identified from the same area dated back to the sameperiod. In the shores of Turkana, however, an artifact dated 3.3milion years ago has been found and accredited to the homininclassified as Kenyanthropusplatypus. Evidencefrom Dikika, Ethiopia, also identified stone tool artifacts as old as3.39 million years, and is associated with Australopithecines (Semawet al. 171).
Thehominins who used the latest discovered tools reportedly hadconsiderable abilities in relation to manual dexterity, depthplanning, and selection of raw materials. They have been shown topossess tubercular bone patterns that resemble those of humans, thus,able to make and use tools. Through Oldowan technology, homininsprocured raw materials (core and hammerstone) of the necessary size,shape and composition. What followed was the flaking of the toolalongside the examination of core, the selection of target,positioning of the core, the selection of hammerstone grip, andprecise percussion. This provides evidence that the evolutionaryancestors of the modern-day humans not only had the ability toproduce tools but to accomplish other complex things, a sign ofimproved cognitive ability (Harmand et al. 311).
Evolutionin Tool Making Behavior
Adiverse Paleolithic tradition developed by anatomically modernhominins suggests an increased complexity in stone tool productionsuggesting an evolution in their cognitive ability. Between theuncomplicated, prehistoric Oldowan culture built by distant earlyhominins and the latest varied Upper Paleolithic culture establishedby anatomically modern hominins, there occurs a trend of increasingcomplexity of stone tools marked by striking technologicalinnovations through the hominin evolution continuum. The course ofcognitive transformation was certainly steady and occurred throughseveral hominin forms (Aeillo and Peter Wheeler 207).
Theinitial phase was punctuated by the Oldowan technology, in whichsimple stone tools like scrapers and choppers were produced and usedby hominins as early as 1.4 to 2.5 million years ago and beyond. Suchlithic tools were crude, made by simply shearing one or severalpieces off a large stone. By 1.7 to about 0.25 million years ago,termed as the Achuelian period, bifacial flaking technology dominated(Semawet al. 170).During the time, the tools produced were symmetrical, and includedfake tools, crude biface implements, and hand axes. The era marked amajor cognitive and symbolic hominins’ progress, with the speciesinvolved in the production of tools undergoing noteworthy increase inbrain size in relation to reduced increase in body size. On thecontrary, some archaeologists argue that modernization process tookplace after the Oldowan and Acheulean periods, that is, about 300,000years ago (Skinneret al. 397).That was the phase that saw the introduction of composite lithicimplements, marking the beginning of the African Middle Stone Age(MSA). Essentially, composite tool manufacture demands of theplanning and coordination of many separate duties compared to thetechnique of stone flaking in the previous stone culture. The era isperceived as a leading milestone concerning human’s history oftechnology which marked the appearance of modern cognition (Foleyand Marta 12).
Despitethe disagreements among researchers about which tools are moreadvance or date the earliest, the bifacial flaking technology used bydifferent hominins indicate that the stone tools differed in terms oftheir production method and use. Lithic tools were developed throughvaried procedures of knapping to break raw stone material. Forinstance, hominins hit a raw stone core on another stone or organichammer to obtain a flake. However, to get a sharp flake, the homininhad to use desirable force, identify correct core position, andstrike at the right angle. That could only be achieved throughpreplanning and use of considerable skill, indicating that theknappers made use of their brains, thereby resulting in increasedcognition over time (Harmand et al. 315).
Thediscovery of the innovation from different archaeological sites alsosuggests that stone making and usage existed over diverse timelines,meaning that production and utilization occurred simultaneously.Apart from the 3.3 million years stone tool uncovered in Kenya’sTurkana, one of the irrefutable proofs for tool manufacture is the2.5 million years old Gona (Ethiopia) implement. Such early cases ofmanufactured artifacts are not common. However, after 1.8 millionyears, the incidences of sites increased alongside the concentrationof stone tools and typological density (Skinneret al. 399).Varied data from site evidence, relative to the lithics with thecarcasses of animals, show that most hominins relied on stone toolsfor survival during as at 1.8 million years ago. Hominins were notonly producing Oldowan, but also Acheulean tools that dominated theAfrican and Eurasian landscapes by 0.8 million years ago. Furthertechnological shifts occurred during the MSA starting from 500,000years ago and was extensive in Africa’s Central Saharan environmentand beyond by 280,000 years ago (McPherronet al. 859).
Pittingabrasive and fracture damage to the stone tools suggests thatdifferent hominins used different techniques as they produced theirtools with the complexity of these techniques increasing as theymoved up the timeline (Samaw et al. 176). During the Oldowan period,choppers and scrapers were obtained by shearing one or pieces off alarge stone. However, Acheulean technology was characterized byhitting stone cores at precise angles to produce sharp flake tools,fashionably chipping materials off one or both sides of a rawmaterial (stone, wood, or bone) to produce a biface tool, orincorporating more skills and planning to manufacture hand axes. Themarks on such tools are fossilized to provide good insights into howdifferent timelines featured distinct techniques of stone toolproduction by hominins (Skinneret al. 398).
Skillsin Manufacturing and Using Tools
Thehominins controlled and understood the principles of breaking stones,which allowed them to obtain tools from flakes secured through anarray of methods. While producing flakes, hominins made use of theirbrains or cognition. They had to choose a sufficient material for thehammer and the core. In addition, the knappers made use ofabstractedness that facilitated the visualization of the probableflake within the core prior to its production. Furthermore, thehominins appreciated the primary mechanics of fracture and thebehavior of the core under modification. Finally, the knappersreacted to the core material and its changing state, and alteredtheir striking angles and positions are required (McPherronet al. 858).This shows a strong logical and geometrical conceptualization of thehominins’ physical world, with an immense capability to visualizeand envisage future results of the knapping process(Domínguez-Rodrigoet al. 20931).
Usingtheir cognitive abilities, hominins selected stone tools fromdifferent rocks. The selection was based on size and composition. Forinstance, to successfully create an Acheulean blank, hominins optedfor heavier hammerstones as compared to the manufacture of simpleOldowan flake production. It is argued that the large core materialswere supported on the ground during hammering as opposed to holdingthem in the hand. To maintain the core in a desirable position,cobbles or boulders were utilized (Harmand et al. 314).
Theutilization of the tools required large capacities of rocks forhammering and supporting of the core, which, in itself, is a rock tobe modified to attain the required implement. McPherronet al. pointed out that thehominins had the skills to break stones since they depended on thetools for survival (857). They could manipulate and rotate the coreand the hammer using hands and adjusting their body postures. Inaddition, the hominins had the know-how to maintain the required edgeangles during knapping, open the boulder core by eliminating unwantedflake, produce symmetrical stone tools, and chip or fashion theresulting implement to effectively serve its role. Besides, they hadthe knowledge of the best premium sandstone to make the tools,something that was considered during the procurement stage of toolproduction (Aeillo and Peter Wheeler 209).
Otherarchaeological sites have suggested considerable motor skills andsophisticated know-how in relation to reduction sequence. Studiesfrom Paris Basin’s open-air sites identified patterned multistagereduction sequences, precise error restoration, for instance, throughthe termination of hinge fractures, and accurate application of forceby hominins. Oldowan stone knapping is argued to be an involvingsensory motor practice unique to the hominins, and signifies theinitial observable steps amounting to modern cognition (Semawet al. 173).There is a connection between tool production and brain functioningor development. While hominins engaged in flaking of stones, thecortical and subcortical sections of the brain became more activated.These regions are related to motor and somatosensory processing, andare associated with complicated spatial cognition that needsinterceding spatial and sensory information. Therefore, any knappingmethod by the hominins featured the utilization of cognitive skillsand reasoning, thereby causing gradual advancement of their brainsand contributing to the high-level human-like cognition (Foleyand Marta 9).
Thevarying level of evidence may suggest that hominins experimented withthe methods of manufacturing lithic tools, although all casesinvolved significant cognitive and motor skill input. For example,during Acheulean hominins practiced the art of making large cuttingtools through intentional shaping and structured flaking. They alsoproduced advanced scrapers (e.g. Karari scrapers identified atKenya’s Koobi Fora) by intentionally getting rid of flakes thatoccurred around the circumference of fractured cables. Through suchexperimentation and practices, hominins designed tools that aidedtheir scavenging and hunting activities, while their cognitionincreased (Domínguez-Rodrigoet al. 20932).
Advantagesof Using Stone Tools
Severalbenefits are associated with the use of stone tools among hominins.First, besides altering or improving the cognitive ability of thehominins, the utilization of stone tools also modified theirbiological predisposition lithic tools increased the fitness ofhominins to adapt in various environments. Second, stone tools wereinstrumental in the hunting process and cutting of meat carcasses forfood in the form of flesh and marrow. Likewise, through the use oflithic tools, hominids could easily chew their food without the needto use heavy dentition they adapted by eliminating the need forlarger dentition (Aeillo and Peter Wheeler 220).
Whilearchaeological sites were previously associated with archaictechnology, the recent findings have proven otherwise. Evidencecollected in a number of archaeological sites suggests that humanevolutionary ancestors (hominins) had more complex capabilities andskills. They had knowledge of how to reduce rocks and fracture themfrom certain angles to produce sharp cutting objects such as flaketools, scrapers, hand axe, and bifacial stone tools. Equally, theyhad planning skills and could procure and move rocks to themanufacturing sites. Hominins successfully manufactured stone toolsbecause they possessed motor skills and cognitive abilities theycould select and manipulate core materials using force to come upwith functional hunting and cutting tools. Although the initialevidence ascribed the first tool makers to Homohabilisas early as 1.75 million years as discovered in Olduvai Gorge ofTanzania, latest findings in Turkana shores (Kenya) presented a stonetool aged 3.3 million years, indicating that Oldwan lithic implementswere first produced by Australopithecines and other ancient hominins.
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