Archaeologists in Kenya have unearthed ancient stone tools used by early man from as long as three million years’ ago, surpassing the age of such stone tools found in the Ledi-Gararu site in Ethiopia which date back 2.6 million years.
As reported in the journal Science the stone tools were found on the banks of Lake Victoria at the Nyayanga site in the Homa Bay area of western Kenya.
Alongside the stone tools, known as Odowan, used by early hominids the archaeologists also found the teeth of Paranthropus, described as a “muscular-jawed ape-like” creature, an upright walking species that roamed the African savannah.
Oldest record of stone tool use has archaeologists confounded
The findings at the Nyayanga site have confounded archaeologists as Paranthropus is not a direct ancestor of man and until now has not been linked to the making and use of stone tools.
It had been thought that stone tools were used only by early Homo Sapiens, the modern species of man but no Homo Sapiens fossils were found during the excavation.
It is believed that the stone tools were used to carve up hippos and pound plant materials such as tubers and fruit.
Professor Rick Potts from the Smithsonian Natural Museum said: “The association of these Nyayanga tools with Paranthropus may re-open the case as to who made the oldest Oldowan tools.”
Kenya, and indeed wider East Africa, have long been considered passive players in human development and the mazy timeline that is ‘civilisation’. However, new research shows that Africans from the region played a very important role in shaping the Swahili societies that were very influential in the area some 775 years ago.
If you are interested in this sort of thing, you may find these articles interesting:
‘New research on apes and early humans explains why we stand upright’
‘DNA study demonstrates Africans’ key role in Swahili civilization’
For greater detail on this article’s subject matter, read Science magazine’s ‘World’s oldest stone tools discovered in Kenya’.