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 Museum Explorer

Tools and technology in Africa

Stone chopping tools

Length: 78.000 mm

P&E PRB 1934.12-14.3, 5 and 7

Stone chopping tools

From: Tanzania
Date: about 1.8 million years old

These chopping tools and others like them are the oldest objects in the British Museum. Chopping tools are the world's first technological invention.

Tool-making began in East Africa about 2.4 million years ago. Early humans began to shape the tools they needed, instead of just picking up sticks or sharp-edged stones. They discovered that by using a hard stone as a hammer, they could knock flakes off both sides of a pebble to create sharp edges. These tools could be used to chop branches from trees or cut meat from large animals.

Tools which could also be used as weapons gave early humans an advantage over animals trying to catch the same food.