Lithic industry – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Video of the manufacture of a flint tool.

Lithic industry or lithic technology is the production of lithic tools, i.e. stone tools (different types of rocks and minerals), as opposed to metallurgy.

The archaeological discovery of lithic industry, and the set of utensils that is its result, is a clear example of human activity, although other animals (chimpanzees, otters, Egyptian vultures) occasionally use stones as tools; Since they do not manage to manufacture them, the fact that nonhuman animals have developed some kind of lithic industry is nothing more than a hypothesis.

The lithic industry in prehistory comprises the following stages (dating refers to a periodization broadly valid for the Old World):The Palaeolithic (before 10,000 years BP) with lithic industry of boulders and flint objects.The Mesolithic (10 000 BP – 5000 BP), tools are manufactured to drill (perforated, openwork), with arrow tips (tips with peduncle and fins), with geometric microlithic tips (circle segments, trapezoids, triangles) and, above all, the production of small sheets that were fixed with resins to the primitive sickles made with cane, bone or wood.The Neolithic (5000 – 2000) with the use of flint, gold, silver and copper, which were perfected as their intelligence and manual dexterity improved.

The lithic tools were an important acquisition for the development of our human lineage, helping in the adaptation to new environments by allowing to modify the diet incorporating tubers or meat of large herbivores.

The capacity for the production of tools has developed from the first stones carved on one side, to the complex computers and machines of today, through a whole series of very diverse techniques, but always trying to take advantage of their qualities and phenomena to achieve specific objectives: first to adapt to the environment and then to adapt the environment to us.

Types of techniques in the lithic industry[edit]

Several different types of techniques that were developed over time are distinguished. These techniques, which currently serve to date the deposits, meant great advances in the ability to dominate the environment, their development was very slow and modified the habits of their users. According to the technology they used in their execution, the following periods are distinguished:Lomekwyaense[edit]

Proposed in 2015 by Sonia Harmand, based on findings at the Lomekwi site in Kenya, where artifacts dating back 3.3 million years were found. It constitutes the oldest evidence of lithic industry and is dated several hundred thousand years before the appearance of the genus Homo. [2] Toolmakers had deliberately selected large, heavy blocks of strong stone ignoring smaller blocks of the same material. [3]​

Nuclei, flakes and anvils were found at the site. A flake is a piece of rock shaped like a cutting splinter that is detached from the stony mass, called the nucleus.

Harmand states that these are very old tools to have been manufactured by individuals of the genus Homo and postulates the hypothesis that the manufacture of tools may have had a very important role in the appearance of our genus. [4] Other researchers believe it is hasty to say this and suggest that whoever made these tools died with their knowledge, and stone tools were “reinvented” again hundreds of thousands of years later. [5]Olduvayense (Mode 1)[edit]

Developed in Africa by the first humans (Homo Habilis), they are very simple tools that require a small energy expenditure for their elaboration, so it is assumed that they would be manufactured according to their needs and abandoned after use. These are stones, usually boulders, flint or similar, which were carved to obtain the edge on one of its sides. They consisted of crushers, which were used to extract the marrow of the bones, or thin flakes with edges that served to cut. Its origin is located in Africa at least 2,800,000 years ago (Shungura Formation, Omo River, Ethiopia) and in Europe in 1,000,000 years, such as those found in the Sima del Elefante site in the Sierra de Atapuerca.

Mode 2 biface, more elaborate than mode 1.

More elaborate tools dated to 1,700,000 years ago were found in African regions. These tools had the characteristic of being carved on both sides and of being, some universal and others specialized.

The most characteristic piece is the so-called biface (it was also called hand axe but this denomination is erroneous, since they acted more as a peak for incisions or cuts) that had very diverse uses serving for a multitude of heavy tasks, cutting, scraping, drilling,… So much so that, colloquially, they are called “the Swiss Army knife of the Paleolithic”. It is a stone of great hardness, usually flint, which is carved on both sides until a triangular shape with a semicircular base is achieved. Tools were also developed for specific uses such as: trihedral peaks, clefts, raederas, denticulate, etc.

This technology required a great energy expenditure, it was necessary to look for the precise and convenient raw material, carving it with great care and skill, so its use was durable, it remained in the power of the individual for his daily work. Both the raw material itself and the tools already made were also traded.

This industry lasted for more than a million years, in the deposits of the Gallery of Sílex and Sima of the bones of the Atapuerca, in Spain, have been found in a period between 600,000 and 300,000 years. Musterian (Mode 3)[edit]

It is characterized by a new way of carving the stone in which other elements are used for its work. Until then the stones were carved by hitting them with other stones. With this new technique, known as the Levallois technique, previously the nodule must have been carved using the Clactonian technique, wood or bone beaters are used and it is made on a previously treated stone core.

The original stone core has a truncated pyramidal shape and is struck to obtain flakes that will then be used for the elaboration of specialized instruments. This allows the obtaining of smaller and more diverse elements. This was the technique used by Neanderthals for almost their entire existence. Upper Palaeolithic (Mode 4)[edit]

It stands out for the elaboration of the handles for the instruments. These are already small and of very specific use and are manufactured, especially, for their purpose.

In Western Europe, the Châtelperroniense, Aurignacian, Gravettian, Solutrean and Magdalenian cultures stand out.The Paleolithic is a stage of prehistory characterized by the use of carved stone tools; Although, other organic raw materials were also used to build various utensils: bone, antler, wood, leather, vegetable fibers, etc. (poorly preserved and little known). It is the longest period in human history (in fact it covers 99% of it), extending from about 2.5 million years ago (in Africa) to about 10,000 years ago. Etymologically means Ancient Stone Age (παλαιός, paleos=ancient, and λίθος, lithos=stone), the term was created by archaeologist John Lubbock in 1865, as opposed to the Neolithic (modern stone age); constituting together what is called the Stone Age (the elaboration of stone utensils is insisted on to establish opposition to the Metal Age). The technology people of the Paleolithic were nomadic, that is, they settled in a place and stayed in it until natural resources were exhausted. Neolithic (Mode 5)[edit]