Acheulian flint hand axes unearthed at Kenya’s Kokiselei site date to 1.76 million years ago, slightly older than previous finds, say geologist Christopher Lepre of Rutgers University and his colleagues. Carefully shaped, double-edged hand axes and picks lay among much simpler tools — sharp flakes pounded off stones — at Kokiselei, the scientists report in the Sept. 1 Nature.
These finds underscore suspicions that stone flakes used as chopping devices, early tools known as the Oldowan industry, did not get supplanted by hand-ax making, Lepre says. Instead, the more complex Acheulian devices emerged while Oldowan implements — which first appeared about 2.6 million years ago in the same region — were still popular, although it’s unclear how long the two types of tools were used simultaneously at Kokiselei. Hand axes and other double-edged tools typify the Acheulian industry.
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