Ancient Civilizations: Stone Tools

When it comes to tools of the ancient world, the oldest known were created from stone. Tools that were believed to be used as choppers and scrapers were discovered at the Olduvai Gorge, which is located within the northern section of Tanzania. In this article, you will learn of some of the materials that the earliest tools were made of.


The chopper and scrapers were created from simple chips of stone. They were also given the nickname of “pebble tools.” This sort of tool has been uncovered in areas, such as Ethiopia, the Congo, as well as Malawi. Breaking one edge of the material to make a sharp edge created the tool power of these simple pebbles. The way that these tools were created and functioned also resembles the arrowheads that were used by the Native Americans.




The arrowheads were created from a material called flint, which is considered to be one of the best materials to produce the greatest variety. So what exactly is this flint? It is closely related to an array of semiprecious stones called jasper, carnelian, as well as chrysoprase. These materials came in a wide-range of colors, such as red, yellow and green. These examples are known as mineral chalcedony. When a large section of black or gray chalcedony is found, it is called chert. When they are broken into smaller pieces, they become called nodules. When the gray or black chalcedony is located within chalk or limestone, these finds are referred to as flint. There is no known cause for the development of flint nodules.




Numerous early tools were also created from obsidian, which is a glass that is created by a natural process, namely originating from volcanoes. Obsidian is formed when granite and quartz is mixed with feldpar and mica and is melted by a volcano. When it cools at a fast rate, obsidian is the result. To get a picture of how obsidian worked, you can imagine the scattered pieces of a glass bottle or cup that has broken on the floor. When examining the pieces, you will notice that when the glass broke, it followed a certain pattern, where some pieces were larger than others, but the broken edges of the glass are always sharp to the touch. These fragments can easily be used as a tool for cutting, due to its sharp edges.


Additional Materials


Other stone tools that have been encountered have been made from great heat and pressurization that had occurred deep within the Earth. The materials come from quartzites and hardened shales. Regarding axe heads that are created from quartzites, users gain an advantage because they do not crack as easily.


During the later part of the Stone Age, flint and obsidian became the most popular materials used to create tools, but was soon replaced by evolving techniques. One example can be seen with microliths, which combines obsidian or flint that has been embedded into wood.