Section 6.VI: Ancestor And Archaeology Gallery

Our ancestors were australopithecines 2 – 3 MYA, a good fraction of Chapter 6.  It is impossible to pinpoint the Australopithecus / Homo juncture down to the species level, but our ancestors of this time probably bore a strong resemblance to A. sediba (S. Africa, 2 MYA).

Australopithecus sediba. Neanderthal Museum. 1

The Oldowan industry was the first widespread technology.  It is characterized by pebble tools:  smooth river pebbles knapped into simple choppers. The Oldowan industry dates to late Australopithecus and early Homo species in Africa over 2 MYA.  Homo erectus then carried it out of Africa across Asia.    

A pebble tool characteristic of the Oldowan industry 2MYA. 2

Homo erectus (Africa, Asia, and Europe, 50 TYA – 1.9 MYA) had a body virtually identical to ours, just slightly more robust. (Turkana Boy below is an adolescent). 

“Turkana Boy”, a Homo erectus ergaster who lived in Kenya 1.6 MYA, is the most complete early human ever found. Neanderthal Museum. 3

The main differences between erectus and sapiens were in the face and head.  Erectus had prominent brow ridges and a long, flat skull. Their teeth and jaws were large, and their chin did not jut forward. I don’t know about you, but to me the nose is the final touch that makes me psychologically accept erectus as undeniably human.

Model based on “Peking Man”, Homo erectus pekinensis, China, 200 – 800 TYA 4

Homo erectus invented Acheulean hand axes and used them extensively 1 MYA. They knapped these handheld, hand-sized axes from hard rock such as flint, obsidian, or granite. 

The two faces of an Acheulean bifacial hand axe 5

The world’s oldest known wooden artifacts are 300 – 400 TYO hunting spears 6 attributed to H. heidelbergensis.  They were sharpened in a process that, some scientists hypothesize, involved the controlled use of fire. 7

A “Schöningen Spear”, German, approx. 300 TYO

Jump back to Chapter 7 Human Ancestor Gallery

Back to Section 6.V:  Conclusions




  1. A. sediba reconstruction:  Neanderthal-Museum, Mettmann, Germany. CC BY-SA 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons,  (Accessed, saved, and archived 7/11/21).
  2. Oldowan chopper image by Locutus Borg (Public domain), (accessed and saved 11/17/19).
  3. H. erectus model: Neanderthal-Museum, Mettmann, (accessed, saved, and archived 7/17/21).
  4. H. erectus simulation:  Cicero Moraes, CC BY 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons, (accessed, saved, and archived 7/17/21).
  5. Acheulean hand axe photograph by Locutus Borg (Public domain), (accessed and saved 3/25/18).
  6. Spear photograph by P. Pfarr NLD, CC BY-SA 3.0 de (, (accessed and saved 11/23/19).
  7. Hannah Fluck, “Initial observations from experiments into the possible use of fire with stone tools in the manufacture of the Clacton Point”, Lithics 28:15-19 (2007), (accessed and saved 11/23/19).
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