Object 2: Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool

May 27, 2021

Object 2: Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool

This African chopping tool is around 2 million years old. The stone was carved into butchering tools to strip meat and break into the bones of the animals on the Savannah. Its invention was a significant event in human history, as our current knowledge on the cutting of bone evolved from using stone tools, to more sophisticated utensils that are more suited to the task.

This object enriches this exhibition as it shows how our current knowledge has been shaped by historical development. This tool acts as a link between our generation and that of archaic humans, as we can understand how they led their daily lives. Further, it allows us to appreciate humans’ adaptation to their environments, as this object was developed to facilitate their survival. It is an excellent addition to the exhibition as it contrasts Hornedjitef’s sarcophagus by presenting a different type of knowledge—practical knowledge—which is embedded in this tool. As this object was one of the first tools developed, it played an essential role in shaping our practical knowledge which has improved throughout history.

This stone tool further enhances this exhibition as it reflects our current knowledge on evolution and the differences between humans and other species. We can understand that people who created this tool were not hunters but opportunists, and took advantage of the prey that was killed by others using their cutting tool. This object also contributed to our current knowledge on apes, as apes also create tools, but they do so when they need it while humans make them beforehand for future use. As such, this object conveys our human nature, as creating objects is an essential element of our humanity. Our current knowledge on humans’ evolution throughout history is shaped by our understanding of this chopping tool, as we can recognise the actions archaic humans took to survive.

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