You are on page 1of 3


Clive, when I was growing up, we used to

call these stone tools.
>> Okay.
>> Is that the technical word?
>> So the technical word for
archaeologists is really lithics.
But stone tools is one of those popular
terms that is still applicable in the
archaeological literature.
Lithics is a term that is coming out of
the Greek word litos, so stone.
But the way we understand that as
archaeologist is that lithics are man
made stone tools meant for a purpose
meant to be used for a task.
One of the things that is also very
important about lithics is that
one has to realize that as they used to
say, especially in the 1960s, our species
was called the 'man the tool maker,' or
referred to as
>> Man?
>> Man.
>> Man?
>> Man.
[LAUGH] Which is a problem in itself of
Not only man made lithics, also children
learned their, how to make lithics.
Also women had a role in this, and these
are some of the elements that
archaeologists are becoming a little bit
more sensitive, too.
>> Sensitive, yeah.
>> However, it remains that
archaeologists are still questioning
what's, are humans the toolmakers and not
simply the tool users?
This is one of the main distinctions
between say, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, and a
chimpanzee or a benobo.
>> Yeah, I was going to ask because
aren't, like chimps or otters, they, they
use tools?
>> They use tools, but what they do, or
at least one of the distinctions that
that archaeologists and probably
anthropologists actually make,
is that an otter will pick up a stone and
bang it against an oyster on its belly,
but it's not really making a lithic out
of it, it's not making a tool out of it.
>> I see.
Okay, okay.
>> So, the fact that humans are tool
makers and tool users is one of the main
>> There's an intention to make the
>> There's an intention to make the
Also, well, how old is lithic technology
that is one things that people surely are
curious about.
Some of the earliest lithics, so, tools,
made out of stone, indeed are about 2.6
million years old.
one of.
>> Old Stone Age?
>> That's Old Stone Age, old, old lower
Paleolithic, so it's the most ancient
period for when the hominid species
Before that, our ancestors, the Australopithecus, we can assume that in Africa
they were probably using tools.
They might have already been making
tools, this is one of the big one million
dollar question us archaeologists have to
deal with.
>> Fighting over it.
>> We're still fighting over it.
One of the main discerning differences is
that lithics and starting from 2.6
millions years ago are made actually out
of stone.
So, they're using non-degradable
Before that, our Australopithecus
ancestors might have been using any kind
of biodegradable material.
Stick, wood, grass.
>> Folks, when we talk about formation
processes,what survives and what doesn't.
Take note.
>> That's very true.
That's, that's actually very true.
But, so after 2.6 million years ago, what
we know for sure is that Homo Habilis,
our earliest ancestor.
That's in the hominid species, is the
first guy who starts making stone tools.
They're also known as Oldowan stone
tools, because they were found in the
Oldowan region in Africa.
And this is known also sometimes as the
birthplace of modern humans or the
beginning of modern humans.
After that, you can assume that as the
human brain grew, as the physiology got
better and people became more capable at
moving their hands,
Using their opposable thumbs, then they
started making more and more complex
stone tools.
So this example which we have in our
collection is actually
a lower Paleolithic Homo Erectus hand ax
coming from Africa.
And it's a big bulky tool.
These are, these are artifacts that weigh
quite a bit.
This one here easily 1.5 to 2 pounds.
But, what is astounding about them is,
when you think about the, the evolution
of lithic technology, we started from
making pebble tools.
So, you know, you have a pebble, you
break it in half and then you use it to
you know cut something.
And then eventually, as the human mind
got better at creating reflective tools.
And creating more complex tools our
artifacts become more and more wonderful
and also more and more complex.
>> So how old is this sucker?
>> This one is easily one million years
old, probably a little bit more than
And it's funny you say a little bit more
than that because it can be 10,000,
100,000 years.
It's quite a bit.
But we have these kinds of artifacts.
So around this time, this is when humans
are starting to move out of Africa.
They're going into the Middle East,
they're going into Asia, they're going
into Europe.
So it's, it's really a very important
point for our human history.
You've got to also remember that ceramics
are not even around this time.
They have, they're, they only show up
10,000, 9,000, 8,000 years before Christ
and that depends on what kind of
discoveries you would like to believe.