British scientists have found that the inhabitants of the Olduvai gorge in Tanzania, inhabited in the Paleolithic age (approximately 1.8-2 million years ago), creating stone tools for specific tasks. The material for the guns was chosen with an eye on a few characteristics: sharpness, durability and efficiency. This is the first evidence so complex approach to the production of implements of stone in the early stone age, according to a study published in the journal Royal Society Interface.
People began to use simple tools of stone in the Paleolithic era, and over time, methods of development of tools by hominids evolved and became more complex. Depending on what technology, in what time period and what material was produced artifact, archaeologists combine findings in certain “stone industry”. It is estimated for example that in the early Palaeolithic tools, usually created by means of the upholstery, and basic material was dominated by gravel. However, the regional stone culture also always have their own characteristics.
Previously, for example, researchers have shown that the prehistoric inhabitants of Kenya deliberately picked the most durable materials to create guns. Thus they have optimized their performance and achieve maximum effectiveness of the tools. Now a team of scientists from the Institute of archaeology UCL and the University of Kent under the leadership of Dr. Kay under Alastair (Alastair Key) found evidence of the most comprehensive approach to the creation of tools in the Stone age. Hominids from Olduvai gorge 1.8 million years ago picking up the material based on the combination of sharpness, durability and efficiency.
To ensure that the choice of the Paleolithic people was conscious, scientists have conducted a series of controlled mechanical testing. During the experiments, they used samples of three types of rocks that were in the possession of hominids and collected in the gorge: quartzite, basalt and siliceous shale. Each of them scientists have tried to cut two-millimeter vinyl pipe, checking the sharpness and caused cutting attacks on the oak branch to test the samples for strength. As a result, the researchers determined the strength, energy and displacement of the material required for cutting each of the three types of rocks. It is possible to prove that performance really depended on the choice of material.
After they studied how often each of the types of rocks used for the manufacture of specific types of guns and how the selection has varied over time and between different archaeological sites in Olduvai. Most often, the population of the gorge is preferred to use a slate which turned out to be superior to other options for the combination of sharpness, the power of withstanding pressure and the life span of the material.
Thus, scientists have demonstrated that the ancestors of modern man chose the material, depending on the circumstances and the specific needs of more than 1.8 million years ago. In addition, the researchers hope that tested in this work, mechanical tests, previously used only in studies of fracture mechanics, will help other archaeologists to better understand the behavior of populations of the stone age.
Previously, scientists have foundthat the most ancient small stone tools belonged to the people of the Acheulian culture and were knives for cutting meat. The oldest known stone tools have been discovered in Kenya, their age is 3.3 million years old.