The road almost not taken led to the discovery of a lifetime. In 2011
archaeologists Sonia Harmand and Jason Lewis of Stony Brook
University and colleagues took a wrong turn as they followed a creek
bed, surveying sites around Lomekwi, near Kenya’s Lake Turkana. A team
member spotted stone tools eroding from sediment laid down 3.3 million
years ago, making them the oldest ever found.
Up to 8 inches long, these tools are larger, heavier and less refined than
those of the 2.6-million-year-old Oldowan
type, the previous record-holder of the
oldest tool title. Like Oldowan tools, the
Lomekwian tools were clearly modified
with intention, Harmand says. The maker
mainly used a two-handed technique,
holding a core on another large rock, or
anvil, and hitting it with a hammer stone
to release sharp flakes.