Oldest stone tool from 350,000 years ago identified in Israel

A team of Israeli archaeologists identified the oldest tool known to date, which was used for grinding or scraping around 350,000 years ago.

Oldest stone tool
Oldest stone tool © University of Haifa

It Is A Cobblestone, Some 50,000 Years Prior To Homo Sapiens.

It is a cobblestone, a type of small, rounded stone that preceded Homo sapiens by at least 50,000 years, which was found in the 1960s in the Tabun cave of Mount Carmel, in northern Israel, but studied thoroughly only today.

Previously, such tools were not supposed to have been introduced until much later, about 200,000 years ago, researchers from the University of Haifa revealed.

“While the tool is apparently ‘straightforward’, its early appearance and the fact that it is unparalleled at such an early stage in human evolution give it global significance,” the archaeologists said.

The scientists detailed in their study, published in the Journal of Human Evolution, those prehistoric hominids used it to “gently scrape”, however, exactly for what purpose is still unknown.

A Different Way Of Working

Oldest stone tool
© Ron Shimelmitz / University of Haifa

Although older stone tools, dating to 1.5 million years ago, were previously found with evidence of blows or hammer blows, which are vertical movements, the newly discovered artefact appeared to be the first stone used for roughing, a pebble of dolomite, with markings similar to those found on later tools of that type.

Ron Shimelmitz, one of the study’s authors, explained that abrasion, which required horizontal movement, was a different way of working.

“The small cobblestone is of immense importance because it allows us to determine the first origins of the action of abrasion and how cognitive and motor abilities, which developed during human history, eventually evolved to become important phenomena in human culture to this day today, mainly involving abrasion and the development of food production techniques, stationary settlement, agriculture, storage, and later an increase in social and economic complexity,” the researchers stressed.