Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

African Stone Age

  • Grant S. McCallEmail author
  • Rebecca Taylor-Perryman
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_658


The African Stone Age spans the first 2.5 Ma of human prehistory, beginning with the world’s earliest stone tool production and continuing through the historical period of European colonization. The African Stone Age includes a tremendous diversity in terms of the characteristics of its industries and the life ways engaged in by its makers. Archaeological research on African stone tool industries has had wide-ranging impacts on our understanding of processes of human evolution and the organization of past human societies.


The African Stone Age is conventionally divided into three phases, including the Early, Middle, and Later Stone Ages (ESA, MSA, and LSA). The ESA includes the Oldowan, Developed Oldowan, and Acheulean industries. Oldowan industry is thought to have begun with the world’s oldest known stone tool technology at the site of Gona, Ethiopia, dating to around 2.5 Ma (Semaw 2000). The Oldowan industry is characterized by the production of flakes using...

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Further Reading

  1. Barham, L. & P. Mitchell. 2008. The first Africans: African archaeology from the earliest toolmakers to most recent foragers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
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  3. Deacon, H.J. & J. Deacon. 1999. Human beginnings in South Africa: uncovering secrets of the Stone Age. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  4. Willoughby, P. 2007. The evolution of modern humans in Africa: a comprehensive guide. Lanham: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA