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Oldest hand axes found

African discoveries offer glimpse of early tool-making complexity

By
10:46am, September 1, 2011

A patch of soil in East Africa has yielded the oldest known stone hand axes and picks, examples of what researchers call the Acheulian industry.

Acheulian implements unearthed at Kenya’s Kokiselei site date to 1.76 million years ago, slightly older than previous finds (SN: 1/31/09, p. 11), 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 a

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