Researchers from Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation have found that prehistoric Oldowan and Acheulean stone tool technologies are tens of thousands of years older than previously thought, according to a new study.
The new study, which was published in the Journal of Human Evolution, claims that Oldowan stone tools were developed some 2.617-2.644 million years ago, 36,000 to 63,000 years prior , while Acheulean stone tools date, developed 1.815-1.823 million years ago, were made 55,000 years earlier to what existing evidence suggests.
This discovery was based on a statistical modelling method newly used in archaeology, and provides greater insight into the chronology of human evolution, in addition to their dietary habits and behavior. Oldowan and Acheulea stone technologies helped early humans gain access to new foods, along with preparing animal carcasses.
The authors of the study included Dr. Alastair Key, Dr. David Roberts and Dr. Ivan Jarić from the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, noted the importance of their discoveries.
"Our research provides the best possible estimates for understanding when hominins first produced these stone tool types. This is important for multiple reasons, but for me at least, it is most exciting because it highlights that there are likely to be substantial portions of the artifact record waiting to be discovered," said Dr. Key, who is a Paleolithic Archaeologist.
Dr. Roberts, a conservation scientist, referred to the reliability of the new method, saying "The optimal linear estimation (OLE) modelling technique was originally developed by myself and a colleague to date extinctions. It has proved to be a reliable method of inferring the timing of species extinction and is based on the timings of last sightings, and so to apply it to the first sightings of archaeological artifacts was another exciting breakthrough. It is our hope that the technique will be used more widely within archaeology."