Stone chopping tool, c. 1.8-2.0 million years old
92.9 (length) x 88 (thickness) x 71.5 (depth) mm
Found at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, Africa


This is the oldest object in the British Museum and one of the oldest in the world.
Made nearly two million years ago by an early human ancestor in Africa, stone tools like this are the first known technological invention. Skillfully using another stone as a hammer to knock off a series of flakes from both faces of one end of a handy rounded cobble creates a strong, sharp usable tool edge. This can be used for a variety of butchery tasks and helped small proto-and early humans make the most of left-overs from kills made by predators such as lions. Using the chopping tool to smash open long bones enabled early humans to feed on the marrow fat inside. This provided a more nutritious food source than meat scraps and was a significant advantage for human survival and evolution.
This chopping tool was found by Louis Leakey on the first of his famous expeditions to Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania in 1931, partly sponsored by the British Museum. It shows that human life and the first technology began in Africa.


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