Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The advanced toolmakers of Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge is one of the world's most important sites for human origins research.

As far back as the Early Stone Age people were engineering stone tools in complex ways to ensure they were right for the job, according to new research in Tanzania’s famous Olduvai Gorge.

Mechanical testing of raw materials and artefacts by British and Spanish scientists has revealed that Palaeolithic hominins selected different raw materials for different tools based on how sharp, durable and efficient they were.

They made these decisions in conjunction with information about the length of time the tools would be used for and the force with which they could be applied.

This, the researchers say, reveals previously unseen complexity in the design and production of stone tools during this period.

The research, which employed experimental methods more commonly used in modern engineering, was led by anthropologist Alastair Key from the University of Kent, UK, and is described in the journal Royal Society Interface.

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