Stone: The First Tools

La piedra. Primeros instrumentos Pulse para ampliar Sala 5. Prehistoria. El universo Paleolítico. La tierra de los enigmas (Paleolítico Medio-Superior)

The Palaeolithic is the longest period in human history, when human beings learned to transform the raw materials available to them and fashion the first tools that allowed them to meet certain needs. This station consists of objects that illustrate the technical evolution of stone-working during that period.

Stone tools have been documented in the early stages of prehistory, as stone is abundant in nature and has survived better than other organic raw materials (wood, bone, plant fibres). At first, humans apparently used plain, unaltered cobbles. They later learned how to obtain a cutting edge by striking the stone several times, a primitive attempt at toolmaking. But the first true tool was the biface. Its almond shape and continuous edge were obtained by knapping the stone on both sides and retouching the edge according to a pre-imagined design.

Initially, each stone only yielded one tool, formed by knapping and retouching the cobble. Later, humans learned how to make better use of the raw material and produce a greater number of more specialised tools with less effort. First, they prepared a stone core so that flakes of a certain shape would break off when it was struck with a hammerstone. Each flake was then used to fashion a tool, such as an arrowhead. Later, the core was prepared to produce blade-shaped flakes. Each blade, whole or broken, could be turned into several small tools with very precise forms, such as burins or arrowheads.