Jan Bartek - AncientPages.com - Archaeologists have discovered North Africa's oldest Stone Age hand-axe dating back 1.3-million years. The find made during excavations at a quarry on the outskirts of the country’s economic capital Casablanca is a made major discovery shedding new light on the history of Acheulian technology.
Acheulian tools were produced during the Lower Palaeolithic era across Africa and much of West Asia, South Asia, East Asia, and Europe and are today associated with Homo erectus and early Homo sapiens.
The discovery was made during excavations at a quarry on the outskirts of Casablanca. Image credit: Nature: D. Lefèvre
The world’s oldest Acheulean tools are about 1.76-million-year-old. These ancient tools were found in Africa and were most likely used by Homo ergaster, who first appeared about 1.8 million years ago.
The discovery of an Acheulean axe is exciting because the find pushes back by hundreds of thousands of years the start date in North Africa of the Acheulian stone tool industry associated with a key human ancestor, Homo erectus, researchers on the team told journalists in Rabat.
“This “major discovery … contributes to enriching the debate on the emergence of the Acheulian in Africa”, said Abderrahim Mohib, co-director of the Franco-Moroccan Prehistory of Casablanca programme.
Before the find, the presence in Morocco of the Acheulian stone tool industry was thought to date back 700,000 years.
New finds at the Thomas Quarry I site, first made famous in 1969 when a human half mandible was discovered in a cave, mean the Acheulian there is almost twice as old,” Agence France-Presse reports.
The international team behind this discovery informs excavations at the Casablanca site have been carried out for decades and have “delivered one of the richest Acheulian assemblages in Africa.
According to Moroccan archaeologist Abdelouahed Ben Ncer, “the beginning of the Acheulian in Morocco is now close to the South and East African start dates of 1.6 million and 1.8 million years ago respectively.
The scientists say the finds show the earliest humans were designing and shaping tools to fit specific needs. Image credit: Nature: R. Gallotti
Earlier humans had made do with more primitive pebble tools, known as Oldowan after their East African type site.”
“It is very important because we are talking about prehistoric time, a complex period for which little data exists,” Ben Ncer said adding this “study also made it possible to attest to “the oldest presence in Morocco of humans” who were “variants of Homo erectus”.
See also: More Archaeology News
As Agence France-Presse reports “in 2017, the discovery of five fossils at Jebel Irhoud in Morocco, estimated at 300,000 years old, overturned evolutionary science when they were designated Homo sapiens.
The Moroccan fossils were much older than some with similar facial characteristics excavated from Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, dating back about 195,000 years.”
Written by Jan Bartek - AncientPages.com Staff Writer