The Elements of Evolution (79-2) Acheulean Industry


By a record based on artifacts, the Stone Age pro-gressed via qualitative improvements of implements and ornamentation. Coarse pebble-tools gave way to bifacial hand axes. These cleavers were at first thick and rough. Later ones were finer. Knapping gave way to more refined methods of lithic reduction.

Acheulean Industry

The term Acheulean refers to Saint-Acheul: a suburb of the town Amiens in northern France, 120 kilometers north of Paris. Hewn stone hand axes – oval and pear-shaped – were found there.

The archeological industry of tool manufacture across Africa, Europe, and much of southern Asia during the latter part of the Old Stone Age (Lower Paleolithic) (1.7–0.2 MYA) is termed Acheulean.

Acheulean tools, typically found with Homo erectus remains, represent refinements from cruder Oldowan works. Stone of various quality was worked symmetrically, on both sides, using multiple-stage production techniques.

A site in Arabia found H. erectus stone tools. Rather than haul quality stone from a nearby hill, the locals contented themselves with lesser-quality rocks.

To make their stone tools they would use whatever rocks they could find lying around their camp, which were mostly of comparatively low quality to what later stone tool makers used. They really don’t seem to have been pushing themselves. Not only were they lazy, but they were also very conservative. The environment around them was changing, but they were doing the exact same things with their tools. There was no progression at all. ~ Australian archeologist Ceri Shipton

Acheulean tools were commonly implements for manifold tasks: hacking wood off a tree, cutting animal carcasses, shearing hides. Some appear to have specific uses, such as unearthing tubers and roots.

Carved bone, antler, and ivory tools have been found. Aesthetic sensibility as well as craftsmanship appears in some Acheulean work: among the earliest examples of artistic expression found.