DEVELOPMENT OF STONE AGE TECHNOLOGY
Technology refers to the making tools, equipment, structures and other things to facilitate human activities. Stone Age is the period in human evolution when man mainly used stone tools. The use of tools distinguished human beings from other animals. The Stone Age period began 2.5 million years ago and ended 5000 years ago. It is divided into three periods: Old Stone Age (Paleolithic), Middle stone Age (Mesolithic) and new Stone Age began and ended at different times in many parts of Old Stone Age.
Old Stone Age
Human beings first made stone tools in this period. There are two types of tools making technology in this period: Old wan and Acheulian.The Oldwan technique of tool making was named after Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania where Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey discovered Zinjathropus in 1969. The Oldowan technique involved the use of small tones or pebbles. Man used these tools for scraping, chopping and removing fresh from animal carcasses among other things.
At this stage man also used materials different from stone. Such materials included wood for digging sticks and clubs. Stone tools were used to sharpen sticks. Human beings also used shells, hides, bark or hides to make containers. At this stage of evolution, man was known homo-habilis or handy-man because of ability to make and use tools.
The Acheulean stone tools making technology is named after a pre-historic site near Saint Acheul in France. This is characterized by advanced tools as compared to Oldowan. At this stage of evolution the axe was big, pointed and oval shaped. It was used for butchery among other things. The axes were used in Africa, Europe and Asia between 1.5 million and 200.000 years ago. Acheulian tools were used together with Oldowan tools. Some of the Acheulian sites in Africa include Olduvai Gorge and Isimila in Tanzania and Kalambo Falls in Zambia..
Other characteristics of man in Old Stone Age
During this period man was a scavenger and lived on carcasses left by wild animals. Besides scavenging, man hunted wild animals like pigs and antelopes. Man used traps to catch animals or simply chased them. Man also gathered fruits, insects and roots. Man was nomadic and lived in overhanging rocks. Man lived groups of 20 to 30 people. This was because hunting demanded group activity.
Middle Stone Age
The middle Stone Age is the second stage of human evolution. In Africa this took place about 10,000 years ago. In this period man developed the idea of making smaller and better stone tools where blades were geometric in shape –for example, triangles, rectangles and crescents. The most important innovation in this period was the discovery of fire. With fire, men were able to improve tools. For example glue would be extracted from plants and used to fix spears and axes on wooden shafts. Man also used fire for cooking and keeping away animals at night. During the middle Stone Age man started using many types of food, for example cereals. Man harvested cereals using sickles made of flint and bones of animals. Other innovations in this period include animal traps made from animal skins and barks of trees, fish looks and traps, bows, arrows, baskets, textiles, dug out canoes, puddles, pottery among others. These innovations led to the beginning of farming and starting of New Stone Age.
New Stone Age
This period was marked by the most important innovation of man: the beginning of farming through domestication of animals and plants. Farming led to permanent settlements and the emerging of communities with big populations. Surplus production lead to wealth and trade.
The innovations were result of improvements in tools for different purposes- for example, clearing forests for farming. Tools would be used for longer periods without need for re-sharpening. In this period there was large scale trade in axes and stone. Other innovations include grinding stones, mortars and pestles for processing cereals, pottery for food storage, and plant fibres for textiles and weaving technology. In this period there was construction of houses with mud bricks, twigs plasted with clay and houses constructed with timber.
Towards the end of the New Stone Age about 6,000 years ago man made ornaments from copper. Man also made tin and copper into alloys. As a result, metal replaced stone as raw material for making tools. This marked the end of Stone Age.
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