The advent of simple tools gave human ancestors a competitive edge against the larger, stronger, and more ferocious beasts of the age. Even the most basic stone tools developed over time, growing increasingly complex and varied from the earliest sharp rocks that served as a catch-all for many hunter-gatherer societies. Beyond that, these tools and their developments showed increased cognition among early hominids and spoke to their resourcefulness and understanding of the world. Listed below are some of the earliest tools known to mankind, some of which exist in some form or another today.
Blade cores were chunks of sharp rocks used as the source for other types of tools. Pieces of stone would be flaked off of the core, in the shape of thin, rectangle-like chips; these were crafted into knives, scrapers, spear blades, hand axes and other tools and weapons. Blade cores were so crudely fashioned that it is sometimes impossible for archaeologists to tell if a stone is a tool or a naturally formed rock.
An end scraper is a tear-drop shaped piece of stone used to scrape fur and fatty tissue from the hides of animals, though they also could have been used to smooth wood or bones as well. Anthropologists believe that end scrapers were not only handheld tools but were also sometimes attached to a wood handle. The main purpose of the tool appears to have been to aid in the production of animal hide clothing and shelter.
Burins were stone tools with a rounded grasping end and a sharp, razor-like working end. The tools were formed by striking off a small stone flake from a larger stone flake. Burins were used for carving other materials such as bone and wood. They were wielded either in hand or attached to a wooden handle.
Awls were small, circular stone flakes with multiple sharp points around the tool's circumference. Prehistoric humans used the awls to shred and slice fibers for use as thread and fishing nets. The tool also could have been used to punch holes in leather and wood and to cut animal skins when making clothing. While typically made of stone, bone awls have been found, though bone tools are softer and less durable than stone.
A Clovis spear point is a specific type of North American stone spear point. Clovis points are leaf-shaped with a triangular point and a wide, grooved end made to fit into spear shafts. They could be used for distance hunting, where the spear would be launched at a large animal for safety, or to lunge at prey when at close quarters.
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images