Stone Age Wheel


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At sites dating from the Lower Paleolithic Period (about 2,500,000 to 200,000 years ago), simple pebble tools have been found in association with the remains of what may have been the earliest human ancestors. A somewhat more sophisticated Lower Paleolithic tradition, known as the Chopper chopping-tool industry, is widely distributed in the Eastern Hemisphere. This tradition is thought to have been the work of the hominin species named Homo erectus. Although no such fossil tools have yet been found, it is believed that H. erectus probably made tools of wood and bone as well as stone. About 700,000 years ago, a new Lower Paleolithic tool, the hand ax, appeared. The earliest European hand axes are assigned to the Abbevillian industry, which developed in northern France in the valley of the Somme River; a later, more refined hand-axe tradition is seen in the Acheulian industry, evidence of which has been found in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Some of the earliest known hand axes were found at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) in association with remains of H. erectus. Alongside the hand-axe tradition there developed a distinct and very different stone-tool industry, based on flakes of stone: special tools were made from worked (carefully shaped) flakes of flint. In Europe, the Clactonian industry is one example of a flake tradition. The early flake industries probably contributed to the development of the Middle Paleolithic flake tools of the Mousterian industry, which is associated with the remains of Neanderthal man.