Figure 2: Two-million-year-old stone artifact (core) from Riwat in Pakistan

 

On account of its fine-grained texture quartzite was used for making tools during the Lower Paleolithic stage. Wherever it was not available, local rocks like basalts, granites, fossil wood and even limestone were made use of, thereby revealing Early Manís level of adaptability to a given set of landscape conditions. With the help of hammer stones consisting of rounded blocks of chert, quartzite or dolerite, river cobbles or fresh nodules/chunks of quartzite and other suitable rocks were flaked from one or both surfaces and fashioned into chopping tools. In many cases large flakes were struck off from these cores and, by means of soft hammers of wood or bone, these flakes were in turn transformed into other tool-types such as hand axes, cleavers, knives, awl, points, etc. In size these measured 10 to 15 cm. long As the American anthropologist Leslie White pointed out, these artifacts served extra somatic means of adaptation to man and were used for various life-sustaining activities such as hunting, digging up of tubers and roots, animal butchering, and cutting down of shrubs and bushes for laying oneís camp.

 
   

Figure 3 : (a) 1.2 million-year-old Lower Paleolithic (Acheulian) cultural level exposed in excavation at Isampur in Karnataka; (b) Close-up of a chipping cluster.

 

Excavations at sites like Chirki-Nevasa (Maharashtra), Paisra (Bihar) and Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh) gave some interesting information about Lower Paleolithic technology. This cultural stage is also called the Acheulian, after the French site of St. Acheul. Isampur, located in Hunsgi valley of North Karnataka, is another important locality, occupying an area of three-quarters of a hectare. Excavations conducted here from 1997 to 2001 made it possible to understand various aspects of site history: its location close to a paleochannel with a perennial water body and affording a good view of the surrounding uplands; on-the-spot occurrence of limestone blocks ideally suited for flaking; procurement of suitable nodules of chert, quartzite and basalt from the vicinity to serve as hammer stones; shaping of limestone blocks into cores by knocking off irregular projections; detachment of large flakes from these cores; and reshaping of

 

these flakes into hand axes, cleavers, knives, perforators chopping tools, etc. In the main trench (70 m2) excavated on this site five or six chipping clusters (measuring 6 to 7 m2 in extent) were exposed with artifacts lying in various stages of manufacture. At these working clusters two or three persons were actually sitting and carrying out tool-manufacturing activities.

 

Figure 4: Early Acheulian artifacts from Isampur in Hunsgi valley, Karnataka (core, cleavers, hand axes, perforator, knife and hammer stone).