Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Acheulean Industrial Complex

  • Kathleen KumanEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_653


For almost a million years in Africa during the first phase of human cultural development known as the Oldowan industrial complex, there appears to have been little directional change in tool technology. As sophisticated and variable as that technology had been, many archaeologists justifiably consider it a time of relative technological stasis, with differences across assemblages being relatively minor. Although the success of the simple core and flake adaptation was evident in its long endurance, by 1.7 Ma innovations began with the appearance of the Acheulean. An adaptive and technological threshold was crossed with the knapping of large flakes (>10 cm in size) and the shaping of heavy-duty tools (handaxes, cleavers, and picks) for specific tasks. The Acheulean industrial complex, together with the Oldowan, is referred to as the Earlier Stone Age (ESA) and persisted until c. 0.3/0.25 Ma in Africa. Mary Leakey (1971) published the first detailed description of the Early...

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Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies & Institute for Human EvolutionUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa