THE OLDOWAN STONE TOOL
1.5 to 2 MILLION PLUS YEARS AGO
The oldest formally recognized stone tool assemblage in the world is Oldowan. This tradition of making simple flakes struck off unmodified cores began during the Lower Paleolithic period in Africa. The Oldowan stone tool industry was first defined from examples excavated from bed I and bed II at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Paleoanthropologist refer to Homo habilis as the maker of these tools because they appear in the fossil record about the same time or a little later than the earliest Oldowan tools. But there were also several other hominid species living at the same time on Oldowan sites in Africa. So it's a complicated issue as to which one or ones were making the tools.
Chopper Cores are among the most common forms of stone tools found on the earliest Stone Age sites in Africa. A large percentage of them are thought to have been made by Homo habilis nearly 1.9 million years ago. They also represent the simplest of stone tool technologies. Some may have been used for food processing operations that involved pounding, breaking or bashing. Other so called Choppers may only have been cores from which flakes were removed that were used for cutting or scraping. Some Oldowan Choppers may have been used for both purposes.
This Chopper Core was found in Bed II at Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania. It's thought to have been made by homo habilis nearly 1.9 million years ago.
This unmodified flake represents one of the most important stone tool types made by Homo habilis 1.5 to 2 million years ago. The first deliberately manufactured stone tools were simple flakes struck off an unmodified core. This example is made of chert. Most stone tools from the Lower Paleolithic Oldowan industry at Olduvai Gorge were made from the more common basalt. Basalt is a coarser stone that doesn't allow for reliable edge wear analysis like the denser chert with a higher silica content. Edge wear analysis with the use of a scanning electron microscope allows archaeologists to determine in some ways what types of materials the edges of the stone tool was cutting.
"Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory" Ian Tattersall,
Eric Delson and John Van Couvering, PP 387-392.